Manufacturers often release revisions of products and this can complicate things for customers as these revisions may have slightly different and sometimes even significant differences versus the original product. Last week Hardware.Info received a tip from one of its forum users that Gigabyte rolled out a revision of the B85M-HD3 motherboard that looks very different from the original model. A search on Google and Gigabyte's website reveals the Taiwanese motherboard maker often pushes out revisions of its motherboards, mostly in the budget segment.
Lately, it seems revisions appear to be primarily instigated by cost considerations, such as in the case of the new Gigabyte B85M-HD3 revision which has a lower number of CPU power supply phases and some other feature changes. Unlike some other manufacturers, Gigabyte is honest on its website about the different versions of its motherboards but just like Hardware.info we're not thrilled to see this approach as it makes things complicated for end-users who often have no way of knowing which revision they'll be getting.
Although Gigabyte is fairly honest about the differing versions on its website (even though changes like a lower number of phases are not to be found in the official specification lists), this is not an approach we are enthusiastic about. The reason for that lies in the way Gigabyte brings the new products to market, using exactly the same manufacturer and UPC codes as for the original versions. Thanks to that, distributors and online shops (who work with automatic links based on these codes) cannot tell the difference. Hence, they can receive - and thus, sell - a different product, without being aware of the change in the product. Of course for you, the end user, there is no way at all to tell the difference, until you receive the product and open the box.
So, as a potential buyer you check specifications and photos of the product at the shops, but these are based on the first revision; once you order, you will probably receive a newer revision. Because price comparison engines such as Hardware.Info also use UPC and product codes to categorise information, these also don't spot new revisions and thus keep showing old specifications and photos. And thus this way too doesn't offer you as customer correct information about the product you are ordering.
Hardware.Info decided to test two revisions of the B85M-HD3 motherboard over here and found significant differences in performance. The site notes that during video encoding the Rev 1.0 motherboard didn't throttle back the CPU and measured MOSFET temperatures around 80°C. In the case of Rev 2.0, it takes just 6 minutes before the board throttles the CPU back to 800MHz as MOSFET temperatures reached 105 to 112°C. With more aggressive Turbo settings, the CPU throttles already after a mere 4 minutes of video encoding.