Often times hardware manufacturers release revisions of their launched hardware. A large scale case back then was when Intel had to release a B3 stepping to their 6-series chipsets due to problems with the SATA ports. More current cases are like the changes to Kingston SSDNow V300 (source) when Kingston had to look for another supplier for their NAND chips, which resulted in SSDs that do not perform to the same level as the SSDs that reviewers received. While it may be appalling to consumers that they might get something different from what they had in mind when reading the advertisements or reviews on a specific piece of hardware, this is a rather common phenomena. Which brings us to the current issue about the motherboard revisions done by Gigabyte.
There was an issue brought to light by hardware.info regarding Gigabyte’s take on revisions. The page has found some rather major differences between the revisions, e.g. the number of CPU power phases were reduced from 4 to 3, removal of secondary BIOS chip, less MOSFETs per power phase, among others. They even prepared a nice little .gif for easier viewing of the changes between the revisions of the B85M-HD3 in particular.
While some may scream bloody murder at these changes on these motherboards, but one must first understand, revisions are not always upgrades. We are all for free improvements under the name of revisions but let’s face reality. Revisions could happen because a component may have supply chain issues, or the cost of the component may have increased, but the changes generally do not change the overall specification of the said piece of hardware. It may also be removal of certain components deemed unnecessary, for example the secondary BIOS chip on the B85M-D2V which most probably will go unused due to the fact the motherboard is a lower-end model.
Consumers must also bear in mind that eventhough the hardware they see in reviews or advertisements may be different from the revision of it they purchased, Gigabyte themselves and most other manufacturers have a disclaimer on their specifications page that goes something along the lines of :
The entire materials provided herein are for reference only. GIGABYTE reserves the right to modify or revise the content at anytime without prior notice.
We are in no way supporting these unannounced changes but it is the responsibility of the consumer to check which revision they are getting when they are purchasing a new piece of hardware. Gigabyte are quite honest with listing out every revision they have on their webpage and it’s up to consumers to look up any changes that may be deal breakers for them.
We do not condone these practices as most consumers nowadays are educated and often search for a review of hardware in mind before deciding to spend their hard earned money. These practices of unannounced revisions render a lot of reviews unreliable simply because the reviewers were practically testing a different piece of hardware. As a team of reviewers ourselves, we do not wish to recommend consumers into buying something, but when a consumer purchases a revision of the version we test, our test results are not reflected in his/her purchase.
The only advice we can come up with is to confirm with the seller which revision you will be getting especially if you are buying online, Google the model number along with the revision number to find if there are major changes that will affect your usage of that piece of hardware. If the seller seems unsure, do not purchase from him/her. Users must be more aware of the version they are getting as this practice has been going on for a long time. Consumers may also vote for a change in policies with their wallets and stay away from revisions that are unannounced or without updated performance tests that reflect the changes. It still all boils down to the fact that consumers must be more alert to avoid being disappointed with their purchase.