ASUS Sandybridge B3 swap out – act now!
On January 31, 2011, Intel issued a recall on all 67-series motherboards due to a flaw in the Cougar Point Chipset. A hardware issue, in which the chipset’s SATA-II ports may fail over time, cause failure of connection to SATA-II devices, though data is not at risk. Intel claims that this problem will only affect 5% of users over 3 years. However, heavier I/O workloads can exacerbate the problem. Quote from wikipedia
This issue nearly put the kibosh on the upgrade to my current rig; as the news first broke the day I ordered all my lovely new kit! – at that stage no one (including resellers) knew to what extent and how many people this problem was going affect. So to be on the cautious side I decided to cancel my order and wait it out.
After a week or two things settled down as details came out from Intel, and James and Eric (who had ordered the week before and were now awaiting delivery) had some what convinced me that it would not be a problem as we could use the alternative SATA 3 ports available on the Asus board.
So I ended up re-ordering and jumping on the Sandybridge waggon; with the expectation of getting a replacement at a later stage.
For the short term I had even taken the gamble of using the affected Intel SATA 2 ports for my Raid 0 setup; as I could afford to loose this if it ever did die on me; it was faster at booting up not having to go through the alternative Marvell bios screens.
The solution to the problem came with the B3 revision of boards that came out a few months later.
Details on how to find out what Asus board you have and if you are affected can be found here.
I was a bit upset that Asus were not offering to supply the replacement board before having to send back the old one; this meant at least a week without my new machine!
The perfect moment came whilst I was busy reviewing the ASRock Z68 Extreme4 so I took the opportunity to send back my Asus board for the B3 replacement and this is how it went:
As I had all my box contents (pre-warned that I was going to have to do a swap) when filling out the online request form I ticked the ‘All accessories included’ & ‘Retail packaging included’ along with my contact details and motherboard serial number.
After a few days I received a pre-paid DHL postage sticker with some instructions to call DHL for pickup.
I boxed it all up and then put into another packing box with plenty of padding. Interestingly the DHL postage said it was for a parcel weight of 1kg, but I’m pretty sure it was well over that! (More like 2-3kg)
Anyway it must have arrived on-time as 4-5 days later DHL had tried to deliver my new replacement Board; that’s a pretty good turnaround; unfortunately I was not in. After 3 failed attempts (I work week days like most people) I ended up having to drive 60mins to pick it up from their depot.
The replacement board came poorly packaged; relying solely on the standard retail motherboard box for protection as it was only wrapped in one of those plastic bag postage envelopes.
On opening the outer bag the box looked pretty battered and I was a bit upset due to the care and attention I put into sending my old board back.
Clearly this may have reduced the resale value; if for instance I decided to sell this one for a new Z68 Board.
The new Box clearly has B3 plastered over it to distinguish it from the defective ones before; and a sticker was placed onto the board to also bring home the point.
Luckily the board was not damaged and has now been installed and is working great.
I still have the now legendary ‘double boot’ problems of my last board.
I have managed to get back to my last boards configuration and am now running with a stable 4.6 overclock again.
The board came with a later bios (1502) than my last board; but I can see no differences.
Asus’s own swap-out program was quick and efficient (if you don’t mind a slightly battered box in return) but is coming to an end soon (30th June), so if you have a board that you want replacing, now is probably the best time to do so, as after this period it will be down to the individual resellers to sort out and you may not get the same level of service!