Gigabyte in Ebenezer Mode
When is a revision not a revision?
Published: 23rd December 2014 | Source: US Hardware Info |
We've heard a lot in recent times about the difficult state of the global economy. This has led to companies going out of business, or drastically slashing their product ranges. Some have even greatly expanded their value models at the expense of their higher end ones. Supply and demand being the fickle mistress that it is.
As you can imagine we get a lot of news come our way here at OC3D, whisperings of the next silicon to wow us, or what is on the R&D table at various companies. Like so many things though we don't really mention it until we have concrete proof in our hands. Or, as in this case, in front of our eyes courtesy of the people at US Hardware Info.
We don't think it's a telling tales out of school to say that a lot of the Gigabyte motherboards in recent times have been less than stellar. We've seen UD5s that barely worked, Gaming models that required umpteen, near daily, BIOS beta's to be stable. The whole thing is a bit of a mess. But there were enough good ones that they were still a force. Hell I decided upon a Z97X SOC Force myself for my latest system (although the orange had much to do with that). So when the word came that Gigabyte had been stripping their motherboards of features from the release/review models to the ones they're building the most of, we were shocked. This does, at least in terms of confirmed changes, affect the system builder models more than the high-end, attention grabbing, ones. That's why we've been loath to put out suspicions into the public arena without hard evidence, and the evidence is largely on motherboards we don't review.
Those folks at US Hardware Info do review such motherboards and go into great depth in the article linked above. For the ease of 'at a glance' we're borrowing their image so that those of you with a penchant for rending your fanboy garments can be assured that changes definitely have been made.
Changing hardware specification is always a touchy subject with us for two big reasons. Firstly we want you to trust our reviews and this can only occur if the product you purchase matches the one that is reviewed. All manufacturers provide revisions of their motherboards but these are usually advertised as such. Revision, in PC terms, means improvements. It means that the large scale public testing has discovered errors that need fixing, or changes in component price have meant improved specifications at no extra costs. A mere glance at the above image, with its miniscule rev 2.0 on the bottom left corner, shows two motherboards that are so different they might as well be entirely different. You'd certainly not read a review of the one with power-phases a plenty and expect to receive the rev 2 board with it's "so few PCB layers it's gone from black to brown" aesthetic.
The second, and to us even more important, issue is that this is the thin end of the wedge. What is the difference between a company producing two such disparate motherboards as Gigabyte have done without updating their motherboard specifications page on the website, and a company producing a "balls to the wall, no expense spared" model just for hardware websites to review, and then an entirely different one for the public to buy? Because reviewing the B85M-HD3 rev1 most definitely wouldn't give you the scores you'll see from the rev2 you'll find in your box.
As someone who owns a Gigabyte motherboard this dismays me greatly on a personal level. But I am in the fortunate position of seeing nearly every hardware item that is released and, if things aren't how they should be, having a direct line to the manufacturer to secure something more befitting my expectations. You, dear reader, have at least got the wherewithal to know that knowledge is power and so are, at least now, aware that Gigabyte are doing this. The majority of people have no clue at all and just pop to their local PC emporium to buy whatever it is they can afford. Those people will be bitterly disappointed that Gigabyte have chosen to make such horrendous changes in the name of bigger profits.
We always though a revision was to reduce the cost to the consumer whilst providing the same level of hardware. Or providing even more hardware for the same price. Not providing far less hardware for the same fee to up the share price for the manufacturer.