A Word On Warranties
In all of our zest for looking at power and performance, we inadvertently put MSI’s five-year warranty announcement on the back burner. However, a recent look into the support practices of motherboard vendors compelled us to shine a spotlight on this oft-overlooked aspect of PC ownership.
|U.S.A. Warranty Service|
|ASRock Z68 Extreme7||Asus P8Z68 Deluxe||Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD5||MSI Z68A-GD80|
|With Registration||N/A||Three Years||N/A||Five Years|
|Without Registration||Three Years||Three Years||Three Years|
|Registration Period||N/A||Three Years||N/A||30 Days|
|Advanced Replacement||Not Advertised||Asus Premium Service||Not Advertised||Not Advertised|
Each of these warranty programs is accompanied by features and problems that are too complex to fit into a chart. For example, ASRock officially does not service end-users directly, but instead insists that they contact the vendor that sold the board. However, the company does provide a contact for those who have found their respective resellers unresponsive, and this buyer has been able to secure replacement boards direct from ASRock's service department, without revealing his identity as a reviewer. A very direct letter detailing the exact problem and test procedures that verified the issue is far more likely to warrant a response than a simple list of parts followed by "the system won’t boot."
For ASRock owners, the bigger issue is that the warranty has always been very short. Though we had previously viewed this shortcoming as a cost offset for "bonus hardware," we were still a little surprised that nobody else had called them out for it in an effective manner. Knowing that big spenders aren't as forgiving when it comes to service shortfalls, we took it upon ourselves to do just that.
ASRock responded with a three-year upgrade exclusively for North American Z68 Extreme7 buyers. That's a great start that we'd like to see spread across all of its high-end products and high-volume countries. Since ASRock's least expensive products compete with OEM-branded parts, a two-tiered warranty would likely suffice. We'd also like to see a full description of that warranty on its website.
Asus provides the industry-standard three-year warranty with a few additions, such as online service and the ability to secure advanced replacement. Advanced replacement requires a credit card to protect the value of the replacement motherboard, and anyone using advanced replacement must pay for shipping both ways. Any service requires registration for Asus Premium Service, but that can be done at any time during the warranty period, which is nice.
Gigabyte prefers that customers choose their seller as a first point of contact, but doesn’t require them to do so.
MSI’s enhanced five-year warranty requires registration within 30 days of purchase and detailed documentation. Not satisfying those requirements reverts the Z68A-GD80 to the firm’s standard three-year warranty. All manufacturers start their standard warranty from the date the board is built. But MSI’s original (3-year warranty) registration process at least allows its standard (three-year) warranty to be extended from the date of manufacture to the date of purchase.
MSI does offer the longest warranty period, but you have to be speedy and meticulous in order to take advantage of it. The enhanced warranty still adds even more value to the least-expensive motherboard in today’s lineup, and MSI is using that coverage as a proof point to illustrate its confidence in the "Military Class” circuitry, the benefit of which we'd be otherwise unable to quantify.