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.
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.
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.