A (very) hot potato Are AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XTX reference graphics cards heading for a recall? That's the nightmare scenario team red could be facing after legendary overclocker Roman 'der8auer' Hartung discovered a potential reason for the cards' overheating issues: a faulty vapor chamber.
As a recap, we heard a couple of weeks ago that some AMD Radeon RX 7900 XTX MBA (Made By AMD) reference models are experiencing thermal issues involving GPU hotspot temperatures, or the maximum temperature read by the sensor, reaching as high as 110C.
der8auer hoped to uncover the cause of the high temps, so he purchased four Radeon RX 7900 XTX cards to perform some tests. It was discovered that the installation orientation made a difference, with horizontal setups improving temps by 20 degrees, but the overhearing issue still reared its head after just one minute once the burn-in test started.
The overclocker also investigated factors such as cooler weight and gravity to see if they were influencing the high temps. He used a specially designed stand to confirm these were not part of the problem. Mounting pressure was also ruled out as a cause by dismantling the cooler, removing the support bracket, and shortening the standoffs by 1.5mm.
That left one theory remaining: a problem with the vapor chamber, which could be related to the choice of material or a design flaw, possibly preventing the water from traveling back after condensing. der8auer said he is certain this is where the issue lies. He didn't have time to take the chamber apart for further investigation but may do so in a future video.
The overheating isn't affecting every Radeon RX 7900 XTX reference card: the one we used in our review didn't show any unusually high temps. However, a defect within the vapor chamber likely means the problem is more widespread than first realized and likely impacts a higher number of users than Nvidia's melting 16-pin 12VHPWR adapter issue, which AMD gleefully mocked in a tweet.
AMD last week said that it was aware of the problem with its RX 7900 XTX reference cards. It advised users experiencing unexpected thermal throttling to contact AMD support.