AMD’s new driver finally fixes a nasty bug where some RDNA 3 GPUs guzzle too much power

Radeon RX 7700 XT and Radeon RX 7800 XT
(Image credit: AMD)

AMD’s latest graphics driver release has apparently resolved a longstanding problem with RDNA 3 desktop graphics cards using way too much power at idle, and unnecessarily running up bills a bit with certain PC setups – those running high refresh rate (or resolution) monitors, or multiple displays.

This is according to testing carried out by our sister site Tom’s Hardware, who measured the power draw of the RX 7000 range with the new Adrenalin driver 23.12.1 compared to the previous 23.11.1 release.

We should note that the latter driver, 23.11.1, improved things from before, too – the situation was pretty bad previous to that (the RDNA 3 flagship could idle at up to 90W, in fact). Indeed, according to Tom’s testing – on a PC running the various AMD GPUs and connected to an Acer X27 Predator 4K monitor (at 144Hz) – that version 23.11.1 actually cured the idling wattage issues for RX 7900 XTX and 7900 XT graphics cards.

AMD’s RX 7800 XT, 7700 XT and RX 7600 GPUs remained problematic with 23.11.1, though. Taking them in turn, the RX 7800 XT still used a hefty 33W when idling – with the PC just sat there doing nothing, not even moving the mouse – which was reduced to 12.9W with the newest driver.

As for the RX 7700 XT, that GPU previously used 27.5W when idling, but that was reduced to 12W with Adrenalin driver 23.12.1.

And finally, the RX 7600 used 17.1W and that was knocked down to a considerably tamer 8W with the new driver.

The RX 7900 XTX was at 17W with the previous driver, and stayed at that level with the new release. Similarly the RX 7900 XT was at 13.6W with the previous release, then crept up to 15.1W now (not a meaningful difference).

Analysis: Apparently not everyone’s catered for here

At this point, all these RDNA 3 GPUs are idling at 17W or less, and are around the level we’d expect – although of course this is just one set of tests using a single monitor running at a refresh rate of 144Hz.

Your mileage may vary, and looking at anecdotal reports on Reddit, some folks with multiple monitors are still saying they are suffering from excessive idle power usage with driver 23.12.1 – or even that the situation actually got worse with the latest release.

Those with a single high refresh rate display – like Tom’s – seem to be experiencing the problem having been cured with their AMD GPU (broadly speaking).

Multiple display configurations are a lot rarer than high refresh rate monitors, of course – and 144Hz isn’t even that high going by the top rates these days – so hopefully only a small niche of AMD RDNA 3 graphics card owners are still affected at this point. And with any luck, Team Red will be able to pin down the fix for them in the next Adrenalin version, perhaps.

In case you missed it, AMD’s new GPU driver also ushered in an improvement for gaming laptops and handhelds, namely the HYPR-RX Eco mode which promises big power savings and a chunky extension to battery life with any luck.

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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).