AMD’s new GPU driver is reportedly causing serious performance issues with RDNA 3 graphics cards under Windows 11, though the bug is a rare occurrence from what we can tell.
Another point to note carefully here is that apparently the problem is only affecting 3DMark runs, specifically the TimeSpy benchmark (we’ll come back to that later).
VideoCardz broke the news that a software engineer at Google (Osvaldo Doederlein) running an RX 7900 XTX with the most recent version 23.3.1 of the Adrenalin driver ran into trouble with much lower TimeSpy results than should have been produced.
Indeed, Doederlein’s results came out at more than 50% slower than normal, a massive performance loss.
One of the developers at UL (which makes 3DMark) replied to Doederlein to say that they raised the issue with AMD, and it appeared to be related to the latest driver version.
The dev observed: “We also looked at our [3DMark] database to compare results on the previous driver vs. new driver on any result using 7900XT or XTX and can confirm that this appears to be a real, if very rare issue.
“Among all results with the new driver, approximately 3% of the results show abnormal (very low) scores on Time Spy. No similar group of very low scores appear on the results with the previous driver version.”
Doederlein went on to clarify that they are running a test version of Windows 11 (Release Preview – so the most stable build), which the 3DMark dev noted isn’t supported by the benchmarking suite.
The developer added that AMD did eventually manage to reproduce this severe performance glitch and that “it is starting to look more and more like a driver issue,” with the best course of action for those bothered by the gremlin being to roll back to the previous driver. Or alternatively to just sit tight and wait for the fix to be deployed.
Analysis: More than meets the eye
There’s a bit more to this than meets the eye, as further in the thread on the Steam forums replying to the original complaint from Doederlein, there’s an RX 6800 GPU owner saying they’re affected – so maybe it’s not just an RDNA 3 issue – and that rolling back to the previous AMD driver version did not help. (The 3DMark dev seems pretty sure that the problem does pertain to the most recent AMD driver, though).
Furthermore, a couple of Nvidia RTX 4090 owners have chimed in saying they have been hit, too – but that’s just two scattered reports, so add seasoning there. Still, the commonality here appears to be running test versions of Windows 11. Indeed, one of those RTX 4090 owners lays the blame at the feet of the preview version of the next big update for Windows 11 (Moment 2).
Despite that, AMD still believes this bug to be a driver issue, so we’ll stick with that as the most accurate diagnosis so far – although it’s possible that the problem is also wrapped up in using a preview version of Windows 11, too.
The more positive news is that whoever is being affected here, it’s seemingly a rare bug. The broader concern for those encountering this issue is that maybe it’s slowing down games as well as 3DMark benchmarks, and it’s easy to see how folks might get paranoid about that possibility.
It’s certainly something that occurred to Doederlein, who as a result ran a whole bunch of tests on games. That included benchmarking with Guardians of the Galaxy, Horizon Zero Dawn, Dying Light 2, Batman Arkham Knight, Returnal, and more, but Doederlein found no performance hit whatsoever with any of them. So it does indeed seem like a benchmarking-only issue only, fingers crossed – hopefully AMD will shed more light on the bug in due course.
What we can rule out is that it’s any kind of 3DMark problem, because as the dev clarifies, the TimeSpy benchmark “has not been modified for ages”, so the misbehavior is clearly down to the AMD driver or Windows 11 (or both in combination perhaps, as mentioned).