The (lack) of quality at Gainward


I bought a Gainward Ultra/1200XP card (nVidia FX5900) last January and were quite atisfied with it, using it both in Linux (work) and Windows (games) in dualhead mode.

This lasted until beginning of November when while booting the computer the motherboard gave a error-beep and nothing showed up on the screens. Reading the diagnostic lights in the rear of the computer (I am using a MSI KT6-Delta, MS-6590, mobo) I was informed that the BIOS had detected a video RAM R/W error.

I tried with two other videocards, a PCI-based Matrox MGA-2164 card which worked fine (albeit slowly) and a noname nVidia GF2 card which likewise worked fine (why btw. do you need to reinstall the windows-driver when both cards use the same driver, there was no such hazzle with the Linux-driver).

So I returned the card to the shop where I had purchased it, they took it, made the RMA and sent it back to Gainward. It took 3 weeks before I was informed that a card had returned. Now I didn´t inspect it closer at the shop, since the bag was sealed and looking through the antistatic bag it looked like a new one. One thing I was wondering about was that there were no message or note with the card. Since the shop had warned me that I would be responsible of paying any cost in case the card wasn´t broken I assumed that there had been something broken.

I took the card home and noted at closer inspection that the card in fact was used, the semitransparent wings on the two fans showed depositions of dust with clear traces of attempts to scratch if off. I started to get bad feelings, which worsened when I had installed the card and booted the server. The BIOS-screen had clear vertical lines lines drawn (see the first image). The lines disappeared as the bootup process switched display mode and went to the second stage, the detection of the S-ATA-drives (see second image), but then they reappeared on the boot manager (see third image). The Windows splash-screen was similary corrupted (see fourth image).

At this point I shut down the computer and attached the second monitor to see if the problem was the output on the card, alas not. The same stripes were present on both screens (see image, the next and the next image).

What was noteworthy was that the image got corrupted also on random places such as the menulists (see this image) and the moving dialogs or Windows across the lines would corrupt the videomemory (see this image). At all time the desktop was represented in the most basic setup, 16 colours and 640x480 resolution. I could change the resolution as well as the colourdepth and refresh rate, but this would result in a black screen with the monitor blinking as in stand-by mode. No, there was no 15 second return to previous graphics mode which anyone would expect in such case. Also if rebooted to normal mode Windows would be in the same state. Booting to VGA-mode (or safe) would give me a picture. The driver which I installed is the latest stable one (see this image).

Since the problem was already visible on the BIOS post-screen, the problem could not be driver-related, furthermore the drag-around corruption would implicate that the problem was still the memory. But what is most discerning is that Gainward apparently just sent me another card which had been RMAed (or it was the same, I should have taken a picture or two of the original one) without any explanation what had been the problem or how they had fixed it. Worst of all, they didn´t test the part before sending it back.

I filled the form at Gainward site, located at:
Putting the following text in the subject-field:
Why do you send broken cards as replacements?´
and wrote in the question area:
I sent you via my local seller a broken card for replacement and after 3 weeks
you sent me back another broken card without any description of the defect nor
what the replacement was (new, used or repaired).

I find it quite irresponsible that you do not use any kind of apparent quality
check when handling replacements of defective products choosing instead to
return just about anything in hope that the customer might be satisfied at his
time expence.

for a more detailed description of the problems on the replacement 
The form actually starts your email software according to your preferences and opens an prefilled message which is addressed to

Update, 2004.12.03
I tested the card on a totally different computer (PIV 2.4, Intel D865GBF mobo) with the same result, multiple vertical stripes across the screen. I did an installation of Linux which froze totally when the graphical part started (see this pixture, this, this, this and this).

Update, 2004.12.17
I got the second replacement card. This time a Ultra/1600XP (it is a FX5900Ultra with an additional Firewire as well as a 5.1 soundcard). The soundcard was missing from the package which wasn´t that bad since the original package did not contain any extra cards. The videocard however was another used card which didn´t cheer me up much. The cover was somewhat scratched which may indicate that the card had been fitted with some additional cooling or similar. Installed the card and fired up Windows (which of course required a reinstall, sigh). No visible artefacts were however visible. After reboot fired up CS:S which worked flawlessy for over 8 hours of continuous game (yeah, I had a really bad shortage :-). Insofar this replacement has no problem and I am quite satisfied.

Copyright (c) Paul-Erik Törrönen unless explicitly mentioned otherwise

Masseter koirakoulu

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