Review Index:

AMD Radeon RX 480 Power Consumption Concerns Fixed with 16.7.1 Driver

Author: Ryan Shrout
Manufacturer: AMD

Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Witcher 3 at 1080p

Power Testing Results - Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p

If Metro: Last Light at 4K was our worst case scenario, I wanted to look at a couple of “normal” cases, the same ones we measured in our initial power story. Starting with Rise of the Tomb Raider at 1080p and the High image quality preset, how do the new 16.7.1 driver changes affect it?

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Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p) power draw, RX 480, 16.6.2 driver, Click to Enlarge

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Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p) power draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver, Click to Enlarge

Without enabling the Compatibility mode switch in the driver, power consumption changes look very similar to what we saw in Metro at 4K. The total power consumption is actually a few watts higher with the new driver, hitting 157 watts on average compared to 154 watts with 16.6.2, but the big change is in the source of that power. The PEG slot drops average power draw down to 66-67 watts while the 6-pin picks up the slack and jumps to nearly 90 watts. That new separation between the white and blue lines of power draw is what you should be paying attention to – that demonstrates the new weighting of power phases to the GPU.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p) current draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver, Click to Enlarge

Looking at the current ratings for each power source with the new 16.7.1 driver we clearly see that the PEG slot drops, pulling the same 5.75A in Rise of the Tomb Raider as we saw in Metro: Last Light at 4K. This is significantly closer to the rated 5.5A mark.

What happens if we enable that Compatibility Mode switch?

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Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p) power draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver (Compatibility ON), Click to Enlarge

Flipping that switch for compatibility mode to ON we see an overall drop in power consumption; we are now under 150 watts on average! This also marks the first time we see the power draw from the PCI Express slot under 65 watts. 6-pin power consumption is still higher than 75 watts (hitting 84-85 watts) but is still a much more reasonable level consider the buildout of the hardware.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p) current draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver (Compatibility ON), Click to Enlarge

Current draw with this mode enabled on the PEG slot +12V line is now under 5.5A (!!) for the first time. The 6-pin connection is pulling over 7A, though with each of the two +12V connections rated at 8A (physical connection rating, not PCI Express rating), I feel more than comfortable with that swap.

Rise of the Tomb Raider (1080p) 16.6.2 16.7.1 16.7.1 (Compat ON)
MB Slot (PEG) Power 72 W 66 W 63 W
MB Slot (PEG) Current 6.2 A 5.7 A 5.4 A
6-pin Power 76 W 89 W 84 W
6-pin Current 6.4 A 7.6 A 7.0 A

Power Testing Results - The Witcher 3 at 1080p

My final data set for power consumption today comes from The Witcher 3, still at a more standard resolution of 1080p. Image quality setting are set to Ultra (with Hair Works disabled throughout).

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The Witcher 3 (1080p) power draw, RX 480, 16.6.2 driver, Click to Enlarge

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The Witcher 3 (1080p) power draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver, Click to Enlarge

As I saw with the Rise results above, I see just a few watts more power consumption with the new driver in TOTAL power draw; up to 160 watts from 155 watts. But the split of power draw from the two different sources continues to be improved, with the PEG slot pulling less than 70 watts on the +12V line. The 6-pin connection increases its power draw to 90+ watts.

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The Witcher 3 (1080p) current draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver, Click to Enlarge

Current draw in The Witcher 3 looks very similar to Rise of the Tomb Raider as well: the PCI Express slot is now drawing 6A.

What happens if we enable that Compatibility Mode switch?

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The Witcher 3 (1080p) power draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver (Compatibility ON), Click to Enlarge

With the compatibility mode enabled we see total power draw in The Witcher 3 fall to 152 watts total and 64 watts from the PCI Express slot itself. This marks another case where the power draw is now under the recommended limit from the PCI-SIG.

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The Witcher 3 (1080p) current draw, RX 480, 16.7.1 driver (Compatibility ON), Click to Enlarge

Finally, looking at the added benefit of the compatibility mode on current draw, the PCI Express slot is pulling right at 5.5A, with the 6-pin connection hitting 7.2A or so.

The Witcher 3 (1080p) 16.6.2 16.7.1 16.7.1 (Compat ON)
MB Slot (PEG) Power 74 W 68 W 64 W
MB Slot (PEG) Current 6.5 A 5.9 A 5.6 A
6-pin Power 76 W 90 W 85 W
6-pin Current 6.4 A 7.7 A 7.2 A

Video News

July 7, 2016 | 11:08 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

More one driver and RX 480 will be sweet in power draw and performance!

July 8, 2016 | 02:28 AM - Posted by Travis Paul Santelmann (not verified)

I just built a brand new system. And I am excited about what I have received and built so far.

Intel i5 6600K 4.8Ghz "Silicone lottery"

Mini ITX Z-170 board

Raid 0 SSD's

DDR4 3000 CAS 14

I built my system to be powerful! And normally I buy Nvidia cards, and there are reference cards that overclock very good! I use to own a GTX 660 OEM it's default clocks were 864 Mhz core, and it had 1152 cuda cores. I overclocked the thing to 1,641 Mhz Core, and 8800 Mhz memory! It was faster than a GTX 770 at the time. I still have screen shots of it.

Now I have been building computers since the Nvidia 6800 Ultra was a beast, and ati 9800XT all in wonder too. Hearing those models brings back memories.

I get my AMD RX480 8GB tomorrow! I am super excited, I'm not concerned with power draw, as far as I know the 6 pin is wired exactly like a 8 pin. It has the same amount of 12v rails in the connector. So I do not think power is a limiting factor, as there is not communication between the 6 pin, and PCI-E power draw, there also not a functioning ground on the RX480 that even tells it that a 6 pin is plugged in! The card just has a hard time getting over 1,400 Mhz.

I do not think there is alot of AMD cards that reach over 1,400 mhz anyways.

Either way, I run a Intel CPU that I love and these RX480 cards are just phenomenal! In DX12 they just smash a gtx 980! And with the 8GB of vram, that we require in these games.

It is a great card for $200-$240 BF1 is about to come out, and it utilizes DX12 so this was a big factor for me in buying this video card. Enjoy maxing it out with a RX 480 GB.

The gtx 1070, and gtx 1080 are very fast! Ridiculous POWER . And they overclock even further to make them faster.

Gtx 1070 has proven to maintain about 42+ fps in 4K

Gtx 1080 is the first video card in our history to give you smooth 60+ 4K gaming frame rates. And once overclocked it's even better. The thing is a beast! But, you pay for it.

If had the $400 I would have bought a GTX 1070 instead of a RX480, but I only had about $250 left in my build budget. And seeing the DX12 performance with async compute it makes me feel even better I did.

But, I'm not gonna talk junk about 1070, or 1080. Hell, I wish I had a GTX1080.

But, Nvidia is all about money. They want you to buy there newest product out, and once the next gen cards are out , they do not care about you anymore.

If you can afford to buy top end cards every 2 years then do it.

But, I'm only playing on 1080P right now and a RX480 is to much for that

Nvidia is selfish though I must say, the GTX1060 is only 3GB for $250? 3GB is not enough!! And $300 for 8GB 1060? Better off buying a gtx 1070. They were suppose to be $379.99 but, they have sold for $450 for so long now that $400+ has become normal MSRP.

July 8, 2016 | 05:17 AM - Posted by K0MEPCA (not verified)

Off-topic but... 1,641 Mhz Core, and 8800 Mhz memory on an OEM GTX660 is very hard to believe. People rarely manage to squeeze 1300MHz Core on these cards. You say you still have a screenshot so I say pics or it didn't happen!

July 9, 2016 | 02:20 PM - Posted by Anonymous Nvidia User (not verified)

Good write up. The rx 480 should serve you well for 1080. 8 gigs is overkill though.

With weaker video cards 2 gbs is more than enough. 3 gigs ala 1060 should be sufficient especially if it is gddr5x like rumored. 4 gigs is usable in a select few games like AC Unity at 1080. Very little difference in benches for 950 2 GB vs 960 4gb. 960 is better overall card with double the ram but doesn't outperform 950 by much.

In my opinion 8gb on rx 480 is a waste of chips for 1080. It's only a selling point on future proofing. 4 gigs is plenty.

July 11, 2016 | 02:15 AM - Posted by Vlad (not verified)

There's no 3GB GTX 1060. That was a false rumour and most likely it will be a GTX 1050.

July 8, 2016 | 03:12 AM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

So Ryan, while the fix of giving more time to 3 of the Power Phases does alleviate the problem, it also has the disadvantage of unbalancing the use of those 6 Power Phases.

So you end up with 3 Power Phases being used more, with more power going through them. - that can't be good.

Designing from scratch you would know you are drawing more from the 6-PIN and would have 4 power phases wired into that option, leaving the other two for the lower use PCI.

In Conclusion, If I was in the market for this card, I'd not be wanting to end up with one of these first ones. Even if the "lower level" fix partner cards did was to reassigned the Power Phases, I'd still be concerned about the power draw.

On top of that - You have a manufacture totally misleading about the TDP of this card, a TDP number that WILL be used in the future to compare cards, and used in graphs from review sites etc, further misleading people about what they are actually getting

That doesn't sit well with me. Sorry AMD, not this time... see you again next year.

July 8, 2016 | 12:20 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

The higher draw from the three 6-pin phases is still well within what those components can safely handle.

July 9, 2016 | 05:08 AM - Posted by tuklap

You can sue AMD for posting a misleading TDP, By the way, Nvidia did that too on their gtx 970..
seems that you build your system without power allowance?!

July 8, 2016 | 03:46 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I was leaning initially towards Nvidia 1060 but AMD RX 480 seems quite a good deal.
Does Radeon RX480 support ZeroCore?
If so, will ZeroCore shut down RX480 when I switch my primary graphis to Intel IGP in bios?

July 8, 2016 | 07:34 AM - Posted by ShadowXaero (not verified)

The GNC architecture in general supports Zerocore.

July 9, 2016 | 05:09 AM - Posted by tuklap

It's GCN not GNC"Supplements" ehehehe.. yeap.. GCN Architecture supports Zero Core technology

July 8, 2016 | 08:42 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Best quote I've read:

Much ado about nothing.

July 8, 2016 | 10:48 AM - Posted by Wayne M (not verified)

Honestly, fix? To remain within spec the card would need to be clock locked. The FIX would be an 8 pin connector, a 4 & 6 pin connector, 2 - 6 pin connectors, a 6 and 8 pin connector or 2 - 8 pin connectors....

The solution to flawed hardware like this AMD card is to avoid it like the plague and if you must buy a video card now get a 1060, 1070 or 1080 and let AMD chips go in set top boxes. Mind you I have AMDs in this PC now and I almost picked up 2 of these ill fated cards. Thanks to PCPER I indeed see the light.

July 8, 2016 | 11:21 AM - Posted by Batismul (not verified)

So did a few poor friends of mine. They waiting on the full reviews of the GTX 1060 but they overclock everything so they will definitely go for it as you can overclock to 2.1Ghz according to some leaked info and on forums.

July 9, 2016 | 05:13 PM - Posted by jabbadap (not verified)

No need. Proper fix is to move current 50-50 power distribution(3 phases for pcie slot and 3 phases to 6-pin) to more pcie connector.

There is hw design "flaw" with distribution: it's no matter what connector you are slapping to it even 3*8pin connectors would still be distributed 50-50. AMD's fix is routing power distribution towards 6-pin connector, luckily for them vrms is very good and solid and the used IR -controller can be programmed to tune power distribution more to 3 -phases that 6-pin connector uses(Max is 30-70 distribution) and they will easily withstand it.

July 8, 2016 | 03:24 PM - Posted by Jdwii (not verified)

Man I have to say the comments here make me sad from Nvidia and Amd fans. The conspiracy theories to the hate of either Nvidia or Amd is such childish nonsense.

First I'll start off by saying the 480 Rx is an amazing card for the money.
Second since I'm a tech nerd I like to know which company has the better architecture and why and in some ways they can be better at some things and worse in others.
The 480rx performs like a 970 out of the box but has lower over clocking ability and uses the same amount of power despite being on 14nm.

This makes me come to the conclusion that Polaris is probably at the level of Maxwell in terms of performance per watt.Therefore Nvidia is still one step ahead.

Again however Amd has the price performance thing hands down but having that alone has never gotten them that far.

Must have design wins and that will be better and at that they got consoles but that's about it.

July 8, 2016 | 03:27 PM - Posted by Jdwii (not verified)

This site lacks an edit feature

Must have design wins and things will be better and at that they got consoles but that's about it.

July 8, 2016 | 08:47 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

If you're registered and verified, you can edit.

July 8, 2016 | 05:16 PM - Posted by Diglo1 (not verified)

I though about 5% loss in real performance, but 3% max means pretty much nothing and newer drivers will probably take that lost performance back. AMD did great job fixing this if it even was problem at all. You should enable comp mode just so to lower the tdp for lower noise with almost 0 loss in performance.
Now sense this has been fixed it means no more whining on rx 480 power issues.
Now this is small step for AMD, but great leap for gaming community sense AMD actually fixed hardware problem unlike NVIDIA. I'm talking to you gtx 970.
Now you can hate me for what I said, but the facts are now out.

July 8, 2016 | 07:28 PM - Posted by Nicholas Kane (not verified)

Yeah. no. it's still not fixed. My only option is to buy a power supply that has more, but I honestly don't think the driver did anything for my pc. And if it didn't it's spiking somewhere near 250W. Not acceptable.

July 8, 2016 | 11:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Why have you a link in the article that links back to the article, so its linking to itself.


July 9, 2016 | 05:05 AM - Posted by tuklap

Seems like Ryan is still not impressed?! lol!

July 9, 2016 | 07:45 AM - Posted by donut (not verified)

Harry up custom 480's I want one.

July 10, 2016 | 07:33 AM - Posted by J Nevins (not verified)

Anyone actually got this working on Win8.1? Loads cant and it seems AMD forgot 8.1 support on their website and driver?

July 12, 2016 | 12:16 PM - Posted by D00mM4r1n3

Don't need a new videocard, need a new AMD motherboard chipset that supports all the new fastest ports and stuff. I want to build an ITX system with their desktop CPU rather than an APU. Nvidia failed hard last time they tried to release a motherboard chipset, they're a one-trick pony.

July 12, 2016 | 02:21 PM - Posted by Anonymous Nvidia User (not verified)

Google search and motherboard am3 USB 3.1 and look for one in your price range.

July 12, 2016 | 09:09 PM - Posted by StephanS

So I got a Saphire RX 480 4gb ($199 on amazon) and I'm playing with undervolting.

I think AMD botched the design in term of voltage levels required

Also AMD fan profile is way, way to slow to adapt to temperature.

When I start furmark, it starts at 1205mhz.. then start to drop after 30 seconds... as low as 875mhz... then slowly ramp back up.
It takes 1 full minute for the fan to reach its target speed to lower temp and for furmark to be rock steady again at 1205mhz.

The stock cooler is not so bad. It does reach 3200 rpm in furmark to keep 1205mhz... but in games so far its not even going to 2200rpm

What I dont get is that I can lower the voltage much lower then 940mv WHILE furmark is running (and I see the fan RPM drop)
but starting the computer with those voltage crash the driver.

It seem to me Polaris 10 could run at 1.2ghz and 910mv if the whole chip was balanced right. Because all the units seem to be happy at 1.2ghz and 910mv when stressed out.

So furmark 1.17 score is 4486 for the P1080 benchmark.

I haven't checked, but gaming at 940mv VS 1150mv might be a HUGE power saving. I'm glad the card doesn't get hot at all or loud with the stock cooler.

July 13, 2016 | 09:16 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I still think of the possibility that Radeon RX480 was built for lower clock frequencies, but performance at the end fell short of what was expected from it at 150W power draw. Whether this belonged to the new 14nm-Process or the 4th-Gen-GCN, don't know. But I think problems popped up at a point where it was too late to change board layouts to 8pin. So the card was pushed up to 1266 Mhz to overcome GTX 970 performance while the PCIE-Specs were left aside. With the new driver, AMD seem to have found a workaround for the initial performance lack/higher power draw. Late, but good. I think the card finally is a lot nearer to what was expected from the launch product. Nice!

July 15, 2016 | 11:06 PM - Posted by Drake

Bryan at TechYesCity suggested that because this is a driver fix that it won't take affect until after the card tries to boot and that some older motherboards simply won't boot with the RX480.

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