A news post from one of our fellow review websites posted a very serious question relating to significant differences between two variants in a model. The brand in question is Gigabyte, and the issue is highlighted with an example of 2-3 variants with two motherboards- B85M-D2V and B85M-HD3.
Ideally, Rev versions of anything usually is made for out certain minor differences- sub-components from one brand or model/rev of the chip is changed to a newer one for multiple reasons. Makers of connectors/sockets, etc.changed from one to another. Understand- changed and degraded have two different meanings. You cannot justify degraded components in rev versions under any circumstances.
Highlighting the issues about the D2V, a visual comparison listed the following differences:
- Rev 1.1 used 3 MOSFET implementation along with 3 phase power circuit design. The Rev 2.0 version used one.
- Dual BIOS implementation in Rev 1.1, but a single BIOS chip implementation found in Rev 2.0. It should be noted that Gigabyte regularly talks about dual bios. While 2.0 rev version spec does not mention dual BIOS chip, it should be noted that the Rev version that is first highlighted to end users is always the first rev version.
- ASMEDIA USB 3.0 controller missing in Rev 2.0. The chip is present in Rev 1.1 near the HDMI ports.
- Few components around the Audio Codec and chipsets in rev 2.0 in comparison with Rev 1.1.
Interestingly, the D2V Rev 3.0 has a dedicated audio hardware zone which basically has a small portion of separate PCB dedicated for audio to prevent electromagnetic interference. Rev 1.1 and 2.0 owners may not appreciate it, depending on what they give higher priority to. But to the rest of us, many would say that Rev 1.1 and 3.0 should have been a different model number.
HD3 was even more detailed, as the boys of Hardware.Info tested and compared the units. Suffice to say that many components responsible for power regulation was not only changed, but amperage, MOSFET count and gate drivers per phase was reduced. For those who are curious about the analysis can read it in their site. Respects to Hardware.info for highlighting this issue as a responsible review site and credits to Shatul Durlabjhi for sharing this.
To add further, HD3 also has a separate audio PCB implementation. The colour of the PCB is not a big deal. but notice the absence of LGA socket outlines on the Rev 3.0 and the absence of a chip to the right of the HDMI I/O port in Rev 1.0 and the other two Revs. I personally wish that newer rev will have best of first and Rev 3.0.
In one corner, you can give a credit to Gigabyte for at least mentioning the rev version in their website. Let’s be clear that other brands, even Asus, does not have this practice. Gigabyte also made efforts to inform users to check the rev version. Pictures of the newer rev version are also listed under the respective tabs. In this regards, one can appreciate the amount of information disclosed.
But two good deeds does not justify the significant differences between the Revs, something that a tier 1 brand at the least shouldn’t do irrespective of the cost of the motherboard. It also should be noted that those who access product info via Gigabyte website, you will always see the first rev version featured in the site, with links provided to newer ones. Ideally, I (and many end-users) would prefer that latest rev should be the one that is listed, with the links to the older ones provided. Any consumer naturally will. It is misleading, especially when it should be noted that online retailers use pictures, specs and features list from the first rev that is listed on the website. A live example is Newegg, who listed Gigabyte GA-B85M-D2V with dual bios feature which is in first rev version, but not in the older one. At the time of writing, the latest listed rev is D2V is Rev 3.0 which also does not list dual bios feature.
It’s a very concerning topic that eventually will alienate end users enough to lose faith in a brand, irrespective of the brand’s present reputation and irrespective if its listed or not (more serious if it’s not listed). Reduction of components and removing advertised features is simply not right. Switch-and-bait of sub-components is frowned upon and does damage the brand’s name even if a brand says that it meets the ‘minimum’ spec of marketed benchmarks. A real-world example is what happened to PNY and Kingston with their SSDs not too long ago, and the reaction can be clearly seen in Reddit and even by fellow review websites. Don’t be surprised if eventually entities like EU or a developed country’s trading authority will make it a necessity- irrespective of the products.
URL redirection to the latest rev via search engine or on-site search is important, and it shouldn’t take much effort for Gigabyte since they’ve made a honest effort in listing it. At the same time, Rev versions must be mentioned along with the model (B85M-D2V V1, V2, V3, etc.) especially when any component has such significant variants. This not only helps users to be aware, but also with retailers who list these products online for sale. Note that in countries like India, many distributors have a tendency to control prices by overstocking which adds further confusion and mess for the end users as one may not get the latest rev even after few weeks have passed away. Having a separate tab showing the differences between the rev or having notes (just like BIOS notes) helps a lot. If you really think about it, considering that Gigabyte already made an effort by listing different set of pictures, specs and features list they’re almost there. But reducing the components counts and the amperage cannot be justified.
In the case of Rev 3.0 which has separate PCB implementation for audio sub-components, some might even ask why are online retailers not highlighting the feature. Like I said, mentioning Revs is a must especially with such changes.
Other brands should take note and be just as responsible, especially the ones that do not mention rev versions in their product page. No matter what excuses you may give, one should simply come clean and just get it over with. The differences in your rev versions might not be big for you as a company representative (or so you claim), so what’s the harm in disclosing it?