Through a series of BIOS updates, Gigabyte last month announced it added native support for PCI Express Gen. 3 technology on over 40 of its existing motherboards, and along with support for Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge processors, it was a solid announcement for system builders looking to future proof. At least it should have been, only MSI is taking Gigabyte to task over its PCI-E Gen. 3 claims.
This isn't some off-the-cuff remark being blown out of proportion by the media, either. MSI put together a multi-page PDF document filled with marketing slides explaining exactly why it thinks Gigabyte is misleading customers with its "Fake 'Gen 3' series."
In order to take advantage of PCI-E Gen. 3, MSI argues motherboard makers need to equip their boards with compliant hardware, including Gen. 3 switch chips, capacitors, and resistors, as well as offer up the right amount of voltage via the BIOS. According to MSI, nearly all of Gigabyte's Gen. 3 ready boards aren't equipped with the right parts, and of course MSI touts its own Gen. 3 boards as being fully compliant.
Much ado about nothing? Not according to MSI's internal testing. The slides go on to show what happens when you pop a 22nm Ivy Bridge chip into Gigabyte's P67A-UD4-B3 motherboard, one of the many models listed as Gen. 3 ready. Unlike MSI's Z68-GD65 (G3) motherboard, Gigabyte's board dropped down to Gen. 1 x8. According to MSI, only one of Gigabyte's Gen. 3 ready motherboards is compliant with the next-generation specification, and that's the G1.Sniper 2.
"All other boards? No Gen. 3 support!," MSI emphatically concludes, with a 'fail' graphic displaying a pile of Gigabyte motherboards.