A few posts on TechPowerUp have highlighted issues with GTX 1080 and 1070 cards from Asus and MSI. Specifically, both vendors have been caught shipping cards to reviewers that were configured for overclocking mode out of the box, while retail cards are shipping at base clocks by default.
Asus responded to the inquiry on this issue by noting that reviewers and buyers alike can adjust the clock speed via its utility, and “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.
GTX 1080 and 1070 Cards from Asus and MSI
The truth behind this happening is that vendors have been pulling tricks for over a decade, without anyone noticing. In older days, they’d overclock the CPU buses slightly, by pushing the clock to as up as 136MHZ. In such cases, the CPU cores would automatically run at maximum turbo speeds, and gain higher frequency, and hence improving performance by significant amounts.
Asus Corp. claims that these changes were only made to help reviewers… but it seems like it’s a secondary reason. The real, understandable reason behind this maximum performance trick, to secure top placement on a comparison graph between competing vendors. Sick move.
There is a scintilla of truth to Asus’ statement. Because reviewers often review many cards at once, making certain that you’ve configured every piece of OEM software required to enable a given feature can be confusing. Since a review is a presentation of a product under objective testing conditions, Asus can make the argument that they want to make certain the product is tested in the right conditions. It’s not completely wrong. The problem is, those “right conditions” may be just as applicable to the end-user, who may not bother installing or configuring OEM software, either — particularly if they have the long-standing opinion that OEM software is more or less garbage.
The bottom line is that manufacturers should keep stock speeds stock and offer overclocking modes through clearly communicated alternate settings — not preloaded BIOSes pulled for reviewers.