AMD driver v23.3.1 very occasionally causes 50% performance degradation on Windows 11
This morning, the foreign press published an article about AMD's high-end graphics cards, namely the RX 7900 XTX, XT and 6950 XT, simply because they are so much cheaper than their Nvidia counterparts. So while the hardware side is great and hard not to recommend, the software side can be a different story, as AMD is often no match for NVIDIA when it comes to GPU drivers.
In the latest 23.3.1 version of the driver, AMD has fixed a major nasty problem that caused display drivers to crash and time out, resulting in error reporting tools popping up and older cards being affected, forcing such users to use the MPO workaround. While this is great, the latest drivers also appear to cause a significant performance loss of over 50%, at least for a small percentage of users. This performance issue was found on 3DMark Time Spy, a synthetic benchmark test based on DirectX 12.
Steam user "opinali" reported a performance drop on his Windows 11 22H2 PC running Radeon 7900 XTX and Ryzen 9 5900X. They write:
My TimeSpy scores (both regular and extreme) have dropped massively on the Ryzen 5900X + 7900 XTX. Example.
Both tests were done with the same configuration, the CPU was automatically overclocked by Ryzen Master, but the GPU was stock.
The important detail is that I did this test after updating the Adrenalin driver to 23.3.1 which was released yesterday, so this could be a driver issue, but I ran many other benchmarks from 3DMark and others and also played some games and there were no other performance drops, only TimeSpy which was a catastrophic >50% loss.
In response, a 3DMark developer said that they were unable to reproduce the problem themselves, although they did note that around 3% of Time Spy users experienced a performance drop after updating to the latest 23.3.1 driver.
UL benchmarking has confirmed that AMD has been able to reproduce this, and it appears to be a problem on AMD's part. However, this issue may only be present on the Windows 11 Release Preview Insider channel, which may explain the small number of users affected.
While this driver bug is currently known to only affect 3DMark, it is possible that some games could also be affected, although the performance hit in games is unlikely to be that severe as Time Spy is a synthetic workload.
Nvidia isn't immune to the bug either, as it was recently found to increase CPU usage. Fortunately, it has since been fixed.
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