Update: AMD has now released the fixed driver, Crimson 15.11.1 Beta. This release also contains several other fixes according to AMD’s notes, including further game fixes and some Radeon Settings bug fixes.
Original: Last week we covered the launch of AMD’s new Radeon software known as Crimson. Crimson is a departure from the Catalyst name, offering an updated interface and promising a larger range of quality assurance testing moving into the new DX12 era. Part of this includes several new features, and it’s worth reading into Ryan and Daniel’s piece on the new software. Despite the best intentions, it happens that this new driver also comes with a few issues that are leaving some users concerned.
As reported in this Reddit thread over at /r/pcmasterrace, the new drivers are causing some graphics cards to adopt an abnormal fan profile, limiting the fan speed to a maximum of 20% by default. As a result, during workloads that require the graphics card, the components on the card are heating up faster than intended. It should be noted that the extent of this issue is hard to determine at this point, as a random spread of users seem to be affected right now.
Technically this should result in the GPU hitting thermal limits and causing the chip to reduce the voltage and frequency, though according to these reports it seems that some of the affected cards are failing, either as a result of VRM overheating or other board design issues relating to high temperatures, even if the GPU throttles down, because of the low fan speed. So despite the GPU throttling, the sustained power draw combined with the low fan speed still increases the temperature, and rather than trip some sort of fail-over giving a BSOD, some GPUs seem to have components that are susceptible to the temperature before a fail-over kicks in.
Some users are reporting that this is a global overdrive setting fixed in the software, which can be re-enabled by following these instructions to remove the 20% fan speed limit. However this hotfix requires re-enabling every time the system is restarted. The fan speed should also be able to be changed using third party software (MSI Afterburner, EVGA PrecisionX).
Instructions from /u/Mufinz1337: ‘Make sure it states OFF if you want your fan speeds to be automatic’
We received an email late last night from AMD stating that the problem has been identified and an update to the drivers will be available at some point today, Monday 30th November.
The problem seems to revolve around system configurations that seem confusing to the initial release of the Crimson software, resulting in an odd initial fan setting that is fixed when the software initialises (although it seems to be a random assortment of GPUs affected, even for those with seemingly straightforward systems). Some users have reported their cards have permanently failed, although the exact causes as to why are unknown at this point. We have seen reports pointing to VRM quality of cheaper cards being poor outside the specified temperature window, though at this point we have not heard of any OEM releasing a statement regarding replacement – users with cards in warranty should under normal circumstances be able to get their cards replaced with their retailer, and it will be up to the retailer/OEM to manage the issue further up the chain with distribution.
For users affected, they can either do the manual fan adjustment each time they boot their system, roll back drivers via DDU, or wait for the driver update later today. We will post links here when we get them.