I agree, instead of binning and throwing away who knows how many chips that fail validation, they probably just slapped on a one-size-fits-all (over)voltage, which seems to have backfired tremendously.
I mean, if by undervolting you gain performance while lowering power draw at the same time, RX 480 could've not only looked better in reviews (decisive lead over 970, very close to stock 980), but there likely wouldn't have been an issue with pulling too much power over the PCIe slot. Imagine how much better the launch could've gone then.
As an aside: Intel had the exact same issue with mobile Haswell CPUs. My 4900MQ was a blast furnace at stock voltage, and it wouldn't even run full turbo but 100 MHz less because it was constantly pushing against its TDP limit. I undervolted by 80mV (yes, 80mV), shaved off 7C, and the thing now runs full turbo all the time. But the real kicker for me, was that the stock voltage was enough to get a stable 4GHz OC on my 4900MQ (default turbo = 3.6 GHz). Intel seriously dun goofed there.
Before anyone tells me my statement about Intel is invalid because "hurr durr sample size = 1 trollololol fail", do a search around the web and you'll see that being able to undervolt mobile Haswell CPUs and being able to maintain stability is a pretty general phenomenon. FWIW I also had a 4700MQ and 4800MQ to play with, the 4700MQ could be undervolted by 60mV, and the 4800MQ did 50mV.
Edited by magnek - 7/1/16 at 3:21pm