AMD has confirmed that it will be updating the terms and conditions of its processor warranty, following the discovery that - technically - the use of third-party coolers would render said warranty null and void.
The launch of the Zen architecture brought with it a new feature, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), which is best thought of as traditional dynamic frequency scaling in reverse: While older-generation processors would drop from a pre-configured maximum speed if they encountered excessive heat, XFR-equipped processors can increase above their headline maximum if given sufficient cooling. In short: For the first time, XFR means that replacing the stock heatsink with something more robust will actually improve performance without the need to start manually tweaking frequency and voltage settings yourself.
Naturally, such a feature - combined with the fact that Ryzen, Zen's consumer-oriented implementation, is unlocked for overclocking as standard - means that replacing the stock heatsinks of processor-in-box (PIB) retail bundles is common practice, but a practice which appears on the surface to fly in violation of the terms and conditions AMD places on its limited liability warranty.
Currently, AMD's PIB warranty clearly states that it will be rendered 'null and void if the AMD microprocessor which is the subject of this Limited Warranty is used with any heatsink/fan other than the one provided herewith' - meaning that the use of third-party coolers is expressly prohibited, though proving their use during warranty claims is an exercise left up to the reader. Having spotted the issue, enthusiast site Overclock3D reached out to AMD and received confirmation that the warranty terms are outdated: 'That FAQ [frequently asked questions list] is five years old,' AMD's James Prior told the site. 'We'll have an update soon(tm) to clarify things.'
That clarification, one would hope, will include the removal of the term and its prohibition on the use of third-party coolers, though AMD has not yet provided details nor updated the warranty terms themselves.
AMD has published its promised clarification, which reads in full: 'Is the warranty for my AMD Processor-in-a-Box (PIB) still valid if I use a different heatsink/fan (HSF) other than the one provided in the PIB? Yes, provided that the selected HSF, when properly installed and used, supports operation of the AMD processor in conformance with AMD’s publicly available specifications. Use of HSF solutions determined by AMD as incapable of such performance or which are determined to have contributed to the failure of the processor shall invalidate the warranty.'
November 22 2019 | 13:00