The GPU review conspiracy: are vendors sending overclocked review samples?

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There’s nothing quite like unboxing a brand new bit of computer hardware, installing it – and then running your first new game or benchmark and seeing higher number or better frame rates. For a PC gamer, it’s genuinely one of life’s greatest pleasures.

The sort of hardware that will give you that sort of joy is, admittedly, terribly expensive – so it’s generally best to do a lot of research, checking up on reviews and benchmarks from your favourite online hardware sites, or even magazines.

But if, through no fault of their own, those sites were lying to you? That seems to be what’s been happening, with reports from both hardware.fr and techpowerup  (via WCCFTech) suggesting that Graphics cards vendors have been a little dishonest. How?

They’ve apparently been sending out review samples that are clocked higher than their retail counterparts. Two of the most prominent manufacturers seems to have been implicated, and they’re probably my favourite vendors: MSI and ASUS.

Take a look at this comparison shot from Techpowerup, showing the clock speed differences between retail and review sample units of a 1080.

While the differences in clock speeds are marginal really and by themselves aren’t enough to cause controversy, they are just high enough that outlets might suggest they’re better cards than competitor ones. It’s worth noting that these higher frequencies are in the card BIOSEs, and not just soft overclocks enabled through software.

Says Techpowerup:

“The cards TechPowerUp has been receiving run at a higher software-defined clock speed profile than what consumers get out of the box. Consumers have access to the higher clock speed profile, too, but only if they install a custom app by the companies, and enable that profile. This, we feel, is not 100% representative of retail cards, and is questionable tactics by the two companies.”

And it’s been happening for a while, too.

It’s such a minor boost that I don’t see there being any grand inquiries or anything, but if this is all true, it is a little murky – and at the same time, sad and honestly, unnecessary.

 

Last Updated: June 17, 2016

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