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Gigabyte: Asus Lied & Fooled Customers

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 65 comments

Last week Tom’s Hardware had the opportunity to sit down with Gigabyte’s technical team in Taiwan and discuss motherboards, energy efficiency and the competition. Gigabyte’s technical team wasted no time in jumping into charts, benchmarks and comparisons with its main competitor, Asus. Gigabyte’s technical manager spent time comparing several motherboards from both Gigabyte and Asus, specifically those that claim good power to performance efficiency ratios.

Asus Gigabyte 1

When the slides were shown, the message from Gigabyte’s technical team was obvious: Asus outright lied about its performance figures.

According to Asus’ own documents, motherboards labeled with an EPU logo contain an "Asus Energy Processing Unit." Essentially, these motherboards are supposed to contain components designed specifically to lower power consumption and provide better electrical efficiency throughout — there’s really no logical "processor" involved. Asus claims that EPU motherboards can deliver up to 80.23-percent "power savings" from motherboards without EPU components.

Asus Gigabyte Asus Gigabyte Comparision

At this point, Gigabyte claims that there are no truths to Asus’ claims of 80.23-percent, and in fact is more realistic at 58.6-percent. Gigabyte says that Asus made no changes to its motherboards via firmware, design or component changes — only numbers were changed on product advertisement and packaging. Gigabyte noted that Asus was "playing numbers marketing" and "cheating end users."

Gigabyte claims that when Asus compared its EPU motherboards to Gigabyte DES equivalents, Asus had no engineering of the DES system at all, and provided incorrect comparison figures and graphs to the public. Several motherboards were compared: Asus P5E3 Deluxe, P5E3 Premium and Gigabyte’s EP35-DS3L. According to Gigabyte’s testing, its own boards had significantly higher levels of efficiency at system start and during fluctuations in load.

The comparison test used the following industry standard components:

CPU: Intel Q6600 (1066MHz FSB) quad processor Motherboards: Asus P5K SE/EPU, Gigabyte EP35-DS3L Memory: Geil DDR2-1066 1GBx2 Graphics: Gigabyte NX86S256 Storage: Western Digital 80GB CPU Cooling: Coolermaster RS850-EMBA

During all loads, Gigabyte’s DES system bests the EPU system with figures ranging anywhere from 4.1-percent to a whopping 17-percent difference at maximum savings settings. In fact, Gigabyte claims that Asus’ EPU system "cheats" by lowering certain system frequencies by small amounts to reduce power consumption, instead of actually providing better power throughput. In the EPU "Walk Mode," which is its most efficient mode, Gigabyte claims that Asus’ EPU does its trick by down clocking 10-percent and dropping Vcore voltage — possibly affecting CPU stability.

According to Gigabyte:

"We found that [Asus’] EPU in 4 phase mode CAN NOT act PWM phase changing while Asus still claims EPU is a hardware based energy saving chip. Don’t get fooled. The EPU (AIGear3+) is pure software based, not hardware!"

In fact, Gigabyte engineers pointed out that the "EPU" chip on Asus motherboards do no processing at all and simply handles software behaviors, and does not control any hardware functions on any part of the motherboard. Gigabyte goes as far as saying that the EPU chip is "fake." Asus says that its EPU system is a 4 phase power management system, but Gigabyte argues otherwise, saying that the EPU has absolutely no phase changing capabilities at all.

"How can you believe it? Everything [Asus] say are lies," said Gigabyte.

At the board level, Gigabyte pointed out that Asus’ boards used poor quality capacitors that were not manufactured in Japan. "Asus uses non-Japanese made metal solid capacitors to fool you," said Gigabyte. "Asus still tries to [cut] cost down."

Gigabyte pointed out that the capacitors used on all of its boards are made directly from high-quality Japanese manufacturers. Specifically, Gigabyte said it prefers to use those from Chemico or Fujitsu. Gigabyte engineers said that capacitors used on Asus boards are ones that are known to blow under load.

In related news, TG Daily has story about the Gigabyte event, but in an entirely different light. Apparently, an editor from a well known website made way with confidential Gigabyte information, and TG Daily was told that the editor cabbed straight to Asus’ headquarters with sensitive Gigabyte data. This act alone makes things more difficult for all parties, especially those hosting and those attending events like these down the line.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    navigator1 , May 13, 2008 5:51 PM
    It would be interesting for Tom's Hardware did their own comparison of the energy efficiency of the boards in question. Tom's certainly has the technical abilities to do so.
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , May 13, 2008 4:46 PM
    Why are companies fighting like a bunch of kids....
  • 0 Hide
    xxsk8er101xx , May 13, 2008 4:48 PM
    if this is true i'll have to remember to look for a different Brand motherboard. I don't like companies that lie.
  • Display all 65 comments.
  • 1 Hide
    njalterio , May 13, 2008 4:55 PM
    What are the chances that Gigabyte is simply making these claims to denounce their competitor? I am not particularly biased towards any one company, but I highly doubt Asus misled so many people about their product. That kind of thing is something big companies will get sued over.

    I think the only thing that is apparent from this article is that Gigabyte is not very professional at all when it comes to discussing competitors.
  • -3 Hide
    romulus47plus1 , May 13, 2008 4:57 PM
    LOL for the news
  • 3 Hide
    lopopo , May 13, 2008 5:00 PM
    I have always held Asus in high regards but messing with my hardware is like messing with my emotions
  • 0 Hide
    nukemaster , May 13, 2008 5:05 PM
    how often have you had caps blow? i have on one used board, but i don't know what it went through. Every other board, be it solid or not has held up well. Hell my ESC K7S5A has run for years of load and overclocking without issues.

    Waiting for Asus to bitch at gigabyte, I have boards from both and they both work fine.
  • 1 Hide
    MadHacker , May 13, 2008 5:12 PM
    They say the capacitors are unknown non-Japanese made.
    Does that mean that the Japanese are the only country that can make good capacitors?
  • 0 Hide
    piratepast40 , May 13, 2008 5:40 PM
    Oh great - now we have a supposed technical website that is engaging in cheap sensationalism and calling themselves journalists. It's like hearing one side of a childs story and then announcing to the world that you are on their side. This is a real blow to Tom's reputation but unfortunately is the immature behavior many (so called) professional journalists are engaging in. Shame on you Tom's for getting engaged in childish allegations and finger pointing.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2008 5:47 PM
    I believe Gig on this one. They wouldn't be so sure and outspoken about this is they were not very, very sure of their finding. These manufacturing companies can get away with so much because no one is really digging into the technicals and mechanics and exposing the lies.

    This BS marketing stuff goes on all the time though. The false claims, generic vs brand, same parts used in 10 brand name products claiming to be the best...it goes on and on.

    I'd like to see Toms try and do a 3rd party test of the claims and see if there is truth or not. If Gig is right I would NEVER, ever buy another Asus board - ever!
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2008 5:47 PM
    Oh, and I'm glad Toms reported this. I like reading these types of stories just as much as others. It's the BUZZ that keeps me interested. If you are bashing Toms for this story you're probably just an Asus fanboy.
  • 12 Hide
    navigator1 , May 13, 2008 5:51 PM
    It would be interesting for Tom's Hardware did their own comparison of the energy efficiency of the boards in question. Tom's certainly has the technical abilities to do so.
  • -2 Hide
    JPForums , May 13, 2008 6:22 PM
    Direct from Asus's P5E3 Premium motherboard pages:
    http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=640&l4=0&model=2069&modelmenu=1
    Enables the Most Energy Efficient Motherboard in the World
    Enables the Most Energy Efficient Motherboard in the World
    The ASUS EPU utilizes innovative technology to digitally monitor and tune the CPU power supply with improved VR responses in heavy or light loadings. It automatically provides power for higher performance or improve efficiency by 50% when the PC is running low intensity applications. Working together with AI Gear 3+, this can help you attain the best possible power efficiency and energy savings up to 80.23% to help save the environment.

    Gigabytes claims 58.6% is a more realistic energy savings figure. They also state that they test under load. So what they are really ridiculing Asus for, is performing 8.6% better than their excerpt claims for low intensity apps. They claim auto phase changing, but don't really give details. My suspicion is that they just mean changing power modes based on load like is done in various laptop components. So it makes sense that undervolting and underclocking the components would be considered. I see no mention of the "PWM phase changing" that Gigabyte is so interested in denouncing. I also see nowhere on the site that claims to use Japanese solid capacitors. As an engineer, I feel that a drop in price with no change in performance, stability, and reliability is a good thing.

    So what Gigabyte really seems to be saying is:
    Asus didn't do phase change the way we did. Ours is more advanced.(So they are lying)
    Asus posted a statistic based on an idle system in addition to their low intensity stat. They should only post the stat that we post for comparison. (So they are lying)
    Asus is making their board cheaper by using non-Japanese capacitors and didn't specifically state that they were not Japanese caps on their site. (So they are lying)

    The fact of the matter is, Gigabyte has the more advanced phase change system. Gigabyte (only) posts the more realistic statistics on their site. Finally, Gigabyte uses the better capacitors.

    However, from what they show, I can't say Asus lied about any of it. I don't know about previous comparisons, but it seems like Asus just tested in a way that emphasized their strengths. Gigabytes testing was obviously done in a way that emphasized theirs. Posting extra (useless?) statistics, while typical of marketing, isn't lying. If Asus deems that "Japanese" solid capacitors aren't necessary from a reliability standpoint, why should I be upset. After all, it wasn't too long ago when they were all electrolytic. Ironically, they didn't blow up on a regular basis either.

    If Gigabytes methods are so much better than Asus's, then it will show in the end product. Gigabyte should try making sure good benchmarks are present to show this rather than bicker over method's and marketing.
  • 3 Hide
    ap90033 , May 13, 2008 6:34 PM
    Uh I used to be an Asus fan but after a few crappy boards from them, I switched to Gigabyte and have been very happy....
  • 1 Hide
    KyleSTL , May 13, 2008 6:46 PM
    It's Gigabyte, not nVidia, they wouldn't be calling shenanigans without having good reason (I hope, since I am a slight Gigabyte fanboy).
  • 0 Hide
    onearmedscissorb , May 13, 2008 6:51 PM
    It does seem kind of childish, but consider this line:

    "Gigabyte claims that when Asus compared its EPU motherboards to Gigabyte DES equivalents..."

    Gigabyte seems to be defending themselves, more than making a baseless attack against Asus.

    I've owned two Asus boards, and while I think it might be a bit strong to outright accuse them of lying, I'm inclined to agree with Gigabyte. I don't find Asus to exactly be the most forthcoming, that's for sure.

    On one of my boards, when the processor hit a whopping 40C, as if that's hard or uncommon, it would massively throttle back the voltage, literally making it useless for anything but the internet. This function could not be adjusted or disabled, nor was it mentioned ANYWHERE. I didn't even find out what was going on until I did a LOT of research into it. Now why in the world would someone build something like that into a motherboard you go out and buy yourself to begin with? I can't say I've even encountered a cheapo pre-manufactured PC that did something like that.

    The other I have is an Asus P5K SE. Now obviously, I'm not talking super high end stuff here, but they advertise on their site that it supports 1600 FSB, which I would take to suggest that it can, without a doubt, run stable at that speed. Trouble is, it won't even post at about 1500 mHz, no matter how insane I go with dumbing everything else down just to see if it will work. And it gets better. I thought maybe it was a BIOS thing, so I recently updated, and then, it couldn't even post beyond 1333 with several newer versions I tried, and I had to roll back. Wow, what an improvement!

    It's lacking some settings in the BIOS that I figure would allow it to be able to handle 1600 mHz, but they didn't add them in new updates. It's even more crippled after they started advertising that it could do better, and made new BIOS...mmmmkay.

    Maybe there are only certain revisions or something that can really handle it, but they don't stipulate that at all, and other boards I could have gotten for cheaper would have been just fine.

    I gather that some of their higher end stuff is pretty good, but when you get down to it, that's not my bag, or most peoples', for that matter. From all I've ever been able to tell, they really screw you on that end.
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2008 7:57 PM
    undervolting is a real pain in the arse. i had a P5K, VID 1.285, default voltage was 1.300, and it dropped to 1.254 under load. and down to 1.22 under 100% load with a q6600. then i went mad, because i had to set Vcore to 1.35(!), and it fall under 100% load to 1.26, with 60% load hitting 1.31V. on stock speed, to get it stable. yeah, lower Vcore means lower power consumption, but it means also unreliability too under higher load. oh, and on the website it states, that the board features a voltage damper. its featured in the bios too, but it does nothing at all. on the p5k premium/wifi its working, but hell, its was a little bit disappointing to see, that i was cheated. ok, you can enable it by some modding, but again... with modding, not out of the box, as they state. and its drop isn't linear, so getting a prime stable overclock with a quadcore on p5k is like finding a grey donkey in heavy fog.

    conclusion? i selld the p5k (besides the problem with the huge drop, it was an excellent overclocker, was capable of stable 540fsb), bought a p35-ds4, have 1.3 @bios, drops under load to 1.288, and drops to 1.265 at full load. and its prime stable @ 3ghz.

    playing with Vcore results in system instability/near-to-impossible detectable bugs, and that is what Asus is doing. they have some pretty cool boards (Commando, p35 deluxe wifi), but the others... lowering consumption by lowering Vcore is something, what is inacceptable.
  • -2 Hide
    unifiedonboarddecoder , May 13, 2008 8:04 PM
    That's slander!!! All brands have lost credibility...except MSI! MSI is better than ASUS and Gigabyte combine through magical technology that puzzles scientist. MSI, the best of the best. If you don't have one than you're not the best so pick up a MSI board today loser.
  • 1 Hide
    coldmast , May 13, 2008 8:29 PM
    @unifiedonboarddecoder, LOL, might as well go for ABIT which is so advanced they can ship out hardware without having a finalized BIOS.

    I believe that no marketing is ever true, the P5K-SE is a really cheap board {as it is cheap to buy, most likely an "X-series" type board} I don't expect anything extreme about it, and I don't read all this magical pixie dust as anything more then hype. Marketing loves pivot table because they can always rearrange the data to make it look positive.

    what idiot uses a $230 Q6600 with a less then $70 board, for EFFICIENCY no doubt.

    Want efficiency? look at the power supply.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , May 13, 2008 8:43 PM
    I've never been let down by Asus, and just because Gigabyte says they suck, im not gonna switch over brand. If energy efficiency is all that matters to you then this whole thing might have some weight, but I dont really care either way.

    And if you do care about efficiency, you will notice that none of these slides here show any data, it is all Asus bashing coming in from Gigabyte. EPU sucks! we ROCK! BUY GIGABYTE! My daddy is stronger than yours and he said Asus sucks so he's right. To indirectly quote Dilbert : studies have shown that accurate numbers aren't any more useful than the ones you make up. If you try to use slide 24 as an example of a graph, please explain to me what the numbers on each axis represents. Seriously, who made that graph? Another marketing genius?
  • 4 Hide
    aevm , May 13, 2008 8:49 PM
    First of all, I'd like to see these claims confirmed by some independent tech site. I own a Gigabyte motherboard myself, but I'm not going to believe that sort of thing 100% without a little confirmation from other sources.

    Second, even if they're true, it doesn't mean Asus is a bad company or makes bad products. It just means their marketing guys need a good kick somewhere, and maybe some should be fired.
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