Apparently ASUS marketing team sees no problem in review samples shipping with different BIOS to editors. Those samples are set to ‘OC mode’ by default, while retail units require special software to be set into the same mode.
The problem is that manufacturers force reviewers to test cards in certain overclocking mode, which boosts overall performance. In order to test those cards in the same mode as retail units, reviewers need install bundled software to manually change GPU profile to so-called ‘gaming’ mode.
So theoretically this is not a big problem, even the difference in performance is minimal (due to aggressive boost clocks on new cards). The problem however is that reviewers are not told that their units ship with different BIOS than retail samples.
This obviously puts reviewers into uncomfortable situation, who are unaware of such practice and it might affect the final results where one card is faster than the other by 1-2%.
Official statement from ASUS follows:
“ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 graphics cards come with exclusive GPU Tweak II software, that provides silent, gaming, and OC modes allowing users to select a performance profile that suits their requirements. Users can apply these modes easily from within GPU Tweak II.
The press samples for the ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 OC and ASUS ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1070 OC cards are set to “OC Mode” by default. To save media time and effort, OC mode is enabled by default as we are well aware our graphics cards will be reviewed primarily on maximum performance. And when in OC mode, we can showcase both the maximum performance and the effectiveness of our cooling solution.
Retail products are in “Gaming Mode” by default, which allows gamers to experience the optimal balance between performance and silent operation. We encourage end-users to try GPU Tweak II and adjust between the available modes, to find the best mode according to personal needs or preferences.
For both the press samples and retail cards, all these modes can be selected through the GPU Tweak II software. There are no differences between the samples we sent out to media and the retail channels in terms of hardware and performance.”
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