It’s been a hell of a week for graphics card enthusiasts. Yesterday, Nvidia’s 1060 was officially revealed, promising a card that matches the former flagship GTX 980 in performance, for a fraction of the cost.
It also came to light that AMD’s equally budget-conscious, recently released RX 480 has a power draw issue, frequently pulling far more power from the PCIe bus than the spec allows for. It’s ideally an issue that shouldn’t have happened. In its quest for perceived power efficiency, AMD opted to use a lone 6-pin connector to keep the card’s TDP at 150. Had its engineers instead opted for an 8-Pin, there wouldn’t be an issue with power draw, but once again AMD’s cards would be fingered as being power-hungry. It’s something that’s happened anyway, with Nvidia being confident that the 1060 has a TDP of 120w.
That said, AMD’s response to the situation has been fantastic. They’ve owned up, admitting that the card draws too much power, and promised that a driver-based solution would be coming this week. And they’ve delivered.
The new 16.7.1 Radeon driver is available, and it seems to have lowered the power draw of the card significantly, without any perceivable compromises to performance. According to the folks at PCPer the AMD RX 480 when set to compatibility mode still sometimes draws a little more juice than the PCIe spec allows for, but it’s such a small overage that it’s no longer potentially dangerous.
“With the two new fixes, AMD has brought the reference boards back to where we expected them to be. The power phase weighting adjustment is in my mind, the most crucial change. By allowing the 6-pin power connection to provide more of the power to the card than the +12V on the PCI Express graphics slot, there is significantly reduced worry about power draw through the motherboard. Even though we still found that the current readings were over the 5.5A level that the specification says is a maximum, the change gets the RX 480 much closer, and with zero impact on card performance.”
Here’s what the new driver does:
You can – and really SHOULD – download the 16.7.1 driver if you own an RX480 from AMD right now. Just remember that the compatibility mode that lowers TDP is off by default, so if you’re worried, you may want to toggle that on.