ASUS and MSI came under fire last week when reviewers discovered that both were shipping graphics cards to hardware reviewers that featured higher than expected clock speeds. While most of us wouldn’t mind receiving a product that performs better than stock from the factory, the problem arises from the fact that this configuration is different from what general consumers that purchased the exact same cards received.
In MSI’s case, cards were shipping to reviewers with OC Mode engaged, which cranks up the GPU clock to 1708 MHz and sets GPU boost to 1847 MHz. Cards shipping to consumers are set by default in Gaming Mode, which sets the clocks slightly lower, resulting in slightly degraded performance. The difference in clock speeds is probably only worth a few frames per second at most, but the main concern that reviewers and enthusiasts had is with the lack of transparency.
While ASUS issued a statement almost immediately after the news aired to give its side of story, MSI largely remained silent — until now. The company has issued two new BIOS updates for its GeForce GTX 1080 Gaming X and GeForce GTX 1070 Gaming X graphics cards. The BIOS updates change the behavior of the cards to match what reviewers have seen — OC Mode is now enabled by default. This also means that you don’t have to install the MSI Gaming software to take advantage of these higher clock speeds.
MSI issued the following statement to TechPowerUp, the publication that originally aired all of the dirty laundry on GPU “juicing”:
Retail cards are set to 'Gaming Mode' by default, which offers the best Performance per Watt, while still giving close to 'OC Mode' in-game performance. In order to enjoy the best performance and all features of MSI GAMING products, we highly recommend to use the MSI Gaming App which is available for free on MSI.com and the driver CD. The MSI Gaming App allows you to apply one of three performance profiles with a single click, instantly giving you the desired performance.
As several reviewers have stated, software like the MSI Gaming App is often not used in reviews. This is why review samples of the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 GAMING X graphics cards are set to 'OC Mode' to ensure that reviews demonstrate the same performance available through the MSI Gaming App.
MSI appears to be tap dancing around the issue and doesn’t seem to understand the there is a fundamental problem with shipping graphics cards to customers that differ in performance from what reviewers receive. We must admit, it seems like a very trivial thing to get worked up about, but better transparency could have avoided this whole brouhaha.