In the past week or so there has been some chatter on the web with some interesting discoveries in regards to Gigabyte budget and entry level motherboards. As you guys probably know once Gigabyte releases a motherboard, often it’s common to find a new revision weeks or a few months later.
For the entry-level and budget segment Gigabyte has been caught a bit red handed as the entry level SKUs often are sometimes downgraded, quite a bit. A forum user on our Dutch colleague website Hardware info in their forums was the first to notice that the board he bought (B85M-HD3) did not look like the board that was reviewed on many websites.
4 phase PWM Controller
3 Phase PWM controller
Ampere rating mosfets
Mosfets/gate drivers per phase
3 per phase
2 per phase
Gate drivers per fase (PWM controller spec)
Intel Spec Turbo
After some comparisons the boards and indeed, revision 2.0 of the board have downgraded, one phase less, cheaper components. After putting it to the test, it became apparent that the performance of that motherboard is slower as well. It is mentioned that the Rev 1.0 B85M-HD3 motherboard does throttle back the CPU and measured MOSFET temperatures around 80°C during video transcoding. Now, for revision 2.0 it takes merely 6 minutes before the board throttles the CPU back to 800MHz as MOSFET temperatures of 105 to 112°C have been reached due to the hardware differences.
What the guys unfortunately did not do, not even mention it, is that there also is a revision 3.0 of the board. Again pretty big changes though mostly aesthetically on a positive note, this round (rev 3.0) a little better with Nichicon caps, dark matte PCB and isolated audio. Overall let's be honest not a bad looking product, but the problem remains ... that's not the B85M-HD3 specs wise anymore.
After looking back further a bit we noticed that many budget board in a later revision have been 'cut-down' quiet a bit. Some examples:
GA-B85M-HD3 V2 lacks one power phase
GA-B85M-D2 series V2 lacks one of the two dual-bioses
GA-P85-D3 series V2 got smaller heatsinks
GA-B85-HD3 / GA-Z87P-D3received a smaller PCB, smaller heatsinks
So from the looks of things overall Gigabyte has been tampering with later revisions quite a bit, often to save on costs. But in all honesty sometimes we also noticed improvements on several SKUs. We'd figure this all is relevant enough to make the issue more know and 'out there' as you guys need make an informed decision when purchasing a product, this also obviously applies to resellers and distributors. We like to state that revisions of motherboards are common and a natural thing these days, where Gigabyte is going wrong though is that all these products are sold under the very same EAN/UPC code, meaning distributors purchase product revision A while they receive product B or C. But if a product is significantly different (less phases) or is performing even slightly less due to changes on the ODM side, then that raises significant enough questions.
Before closing this news item I wanted to state that Gigabyte is honest on its website about the different versions of its motherboards, but it is just weird that if you read a review on a B85M-HD3 and you decide to purchase it, that you receive a completely different looking and performing product. We'd advise Gigabyte to create different SKU/EAN codes as some of their product after revising, are substantially different and that has an effect on the purchasing behaviors of you, distributors and resellers.
Let me also add that from what we are seeing, this mostly applies to entry level motherboards in the 50 EUR range, we have not seen any significant enough changes on proper mainstream and high-end SKUs. We'll be looking into other ODMs as well, as it might be not just Gigabyte doing things like these.
We posted this last news-item of this year 2014 to raise awareness in the industry.
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