Is Gigabyte trying to obfuscate inferior hardware?

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It’s tough sometimes distinguishing one hardware version to the next, especially when there are all these revisions floating about. Revisions often mark a slight improvement on an existing model, phasing out the older ones while retaining the same name. They are often also clearly marked, even if you’re getting a superior, or more efficient product under the same name. That’s how it’s meant to work – but Gigabyte has seemingly broken that rule in many twisting ways.

I was pointed in the direction of a peculiar piece by UK Hardware Info earlier today, who detailed a startling discovery made over the December holidays. One of Gigabyte’s motherboards, the GA-P85-D3, has undergone routine revisions since its launch, as is usual in the hardware industry. What is unusual is how stripped down and inferior the newer revisions are, as so vividly depicted in the two images below.

gigabyte-b85m-hd3-rev1-and-rev2-animated

It’s easy to see immediately that the boards are not the same, but it’s also easy to mistake the two since Gigabyte doesn’t differentiate between the revisions in the board’s model number. Most companies do, such as ASUS and MSI, while others don’t, like Antec, XFX and Seasonic. That’s perfectly fine if the revision you’re selling to consumers is either identical or better, but it’s a different story  when a motherboard is pretending to be something more powerful than it really is.

And the differences between the two revisions in question, although small, make a big difference. The Rev 2.0, for example, doesn’t feature the UEFI DualBIOS of Rev 1.0, which in itself is the biggest difference between the two. There are also slight changes to the mosfets for CPU power, with Rev 1.0 featuring three mosfets for all three phases while the Rev 2.0 only features two per phase.

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So what does that all mean in actual, real-world performance? As UK Hardware Info points out, quite a bit actually. The Rev 2.0 struggled to keep up with the older revision, often buckling under overclocking tests and throttling back due to high temperatures. The Rev 1.0 was clearly the better board, with far less CPU throttling and therefore greater performance in almost all the tests. Which is completely fine, aside from the fact that Gigabyte seems to be trying to hide this from its consumers.

If you take a look at both product listings on the official Gigabyte page, you’ll notice that they are listed as two different revisions of the same motherboard: The GA-P85-D3 Rev1.x and Rev2.x. The issue start arising when you glace over the specifications, which are identical for both boards. The Rev 2.x even lists EFI DualBIOS as a feature, when it is clear that the motherboard only contains a single BIOS chip. So already the differences are being completely glanced over and hard to discern, but it becomes worse for retailers.

The product and EAN codes for all revisions of the motherboard also happen to be identical. This is a massive problem, because retailers use these codes to automatically generate listings for new products. So if a product revision is different from the last, the EAN code should be changed to reflect this on the store front and inform customers. Without it, the listing is automatically generated and the specifications sourced from the first revision; the motherboard that is more feature filled and powerful than the one actually being sold. This is a global problem, but it’s already affected at least one unlucky consumer locally.

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So what’s essentially happening is that newer, less powerful revisions of this motherboard in question are being advertised with features they don’t have, and the only way consumers can tell is by opening the box after a purchase. It’s a clear attempt to disguise cost cutting at the expense of honesty, and which not only affects those purchasing the hardware but reviews too. Suddenly reviews of the first revision can’t be applied to the second, even though theoretically Gigabyte is saying they’re the same thing.

It’s an underhanded move, and one I hope Gigabyte looks into seriously when considering revisions. It’s not something evident in the more expensive products they manufacture, but having to leave consumers guessing over revisions (and in some cases outright lying) is no way to conduct business.

Last Updated: January 13, 2015

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff's a bastard.

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