AMD released its Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver and software package last week, which introduced a handful of new features and significant changes such as AMD Link, a simplified user interface, and expanded performance metrics and tuning. According to tests by TechPowerUp, the new drivers also include an unadvertised benefit—significantly lower non-gaming power consumption. The idle power draw of the Radeon RX 6800 XT, for instance, drops from around 28 watts to under 10 watts with the Radeon Software Adrenalin 21.4.1 driver versus 21.3.2, while power draw during media playback sees a similarly sharp decrease from 50 watts down to around 33 watts.
Why AMD didn’t mention these huge improvements is anyone’s guess, but a closer look at the numbers could drop some hints. Even with media playback power draw dropping from roughly 50 W to 35 W, the RX 6800/6900 series chips still end up using more power than competing NVIDIA GeForce RTX 30-series SKUs. The RTX 3070 pulls 18 W, while the RTX 3080 does 27 W, both of which are lower.