Updated Gigabyte has accused rival motherboard maker Asus of rigging recent benchmark tests. It alleges that Asus "clandestinely" enabled a hidden overclocking mode in its BIOS that made certain Asus mobos appear to run faster than they do in the real world.
Asus quickly responded to the claim by formally launching the hidden mode as "an exclusive innovation for graphics performance enhancement".
According to a memo published by ExtremeTech, Gigabyte decided to test Asus' boards based on Intel's i915 and i925 chipsets after its rival's products took the lead in a number of independently conducted third-party tests that explored the a variety of Intel-based boards' graphics performance.
When it came to Asus' P5AD2 Premium board - based on the i925X - Gigabyte claims an investigation of the board's BIOS revealed a setting called 'PEG Link Mode'.
"This setting clandestinely overclocks the frequency of memory and core engines of ATI-based PCI-Express graphics," Gigabyte's memo claims. "It was also found that 'PEG Link Mode' is not an enhancement feature for the motherboard, as it provides enhancement only to the graphics card's memory and core engine frequency, ostensibly with the sole purpose to obtain higher benchmark results on 3D graphics".
Gigabyte alleges that Asus did not tell reviewers that it had enabled 'PEG Link Mode' or told buyers that their ATI graphics cards would automatically be overclocked.
The upshot, said Gigabyte, is that this "clandestine overclocking" of the attached graphics card's memory and core clock frequencies is "misleading to the public, seeks an unfair means to gain an advantage over the competition and frankly sets a bad example which competitors may be forced to follow".
There's perhaps less of an issue here if all P5AD2 Premium boards ship with the graphics enhancing mode since the tests will represent users' experience of off-the-shelf products.
Even so, it's still questionable behaviour - on any product maker's part - to overclock one or more components of a user's system without the user's knowledge.
Asus has now admitted the mode is present, as a "unique feature that enables users to boost graphics card performance for superior video quality", and has added a PEG Link Mode user-adjustable setting to its BIOS. Would it have done so it Gigabyte had not made its allegations public? ®