FragBox 2 Failure Ruffles Falcon Feathers

Discussion in 'Computers & Gadgets' started by Kyle_Bennett, Oct 31, 2005.

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  1. Kyle_Bennett

    Kyle_Bennett El Chingón Staff Member

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    The orginal thread on this evaluation can be found HERE. While you can read the full evaluation HERE.

    This particular thread is devoted to the discussion of the article posted HERE, entitled FragBox 2 Failure Ruffles Falcon Feathers.

     
  2. QuimZ

    QuimZ Gawd

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    I see no reason for an apology to Falcon NW, MSI, or ATI. Chris reviewed that system perfectly, as a consumer. How would anybody here feel if they spent $3k on a prebuilt system to have it show up with a faulty video card?

    How are these systems tested before they are shipped? I figure they at least bench these systems, wouldn't a faulty vid-card show less than satisfactory results? I know I had a 6600GT refurb that artifacted like crazy and crashed during 3Dmark.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it sounds like they want an apology for a conclusion that was basically made by both Chris and the techs at Falcon NW.
    The videocard may have been at fault here, but when you're lowering ram timings in fully functional systems to get games to run properly it's pretty obvious that the mobo/chipset has problems.
     
  3. Mav451

    Mav451 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Not really...it seems Falcon is more concerned with the damage on (the reputation of) ATi's chipset than "wanting an apology". Wanting a clarification and explanation is fine. I guess Falcon is making alot of Xpress200 systems if they are raising this much racket though...

    (lol do [H] readers even matter that much, when none of us buy pre-builts nyway?)
     
  4. emaciated

    emaciated [H]Lite

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    Good editorial, thanks for bringing the controversy to us, your readers. Falcon NW said that they replaced the video card, and that immediately solved the problem, but did they say that was the only thing that they did to resolve the stability (was the ram still running slow timings)? Also, what did they replace the video card with, an ATI or the same Nvidia solution?
    If you pay $3k + for a system I would think that some R&D would be done by Falcon to ensure that it was stable.
     
  5. forcefed

    forcefed Gawd

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    You cant expect the falcon guys to test every single rig they build for 100% stability, theres so many components in it that diagnosing it is no small feat. But what you should expect is bfg to test their cards to ensure stability, and from all the recent bfg posts in the video forum it doesnt look like they're doing that.
    My faith in bfg has gone downhill, sure they have a great warranty but their rma process is half assed from all the complaints i've seen and sometimes you end up with a non-working rma'd card.
     
  6. QuimZ

    QuimZ Gawd

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    Exactly, I just edited my OP with a similar statement.

    I'm sure they have a burn in and I would think they'd bench them individually.

    On the other side of the spectrum with this system. Shit happens. This review wouldn't stop me from buying a falcon system. We all know they are an excellent company, and would fix any problems that would arise. However, I don't see why Chris should amend his review. The chipset and mobo are unstable with a good or bad video card, so it should stand.
     
  7. jdracer47

    jdracer47 n00bie

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    I happen to have one of these boards in question at home in an Aspire X Pack case with a 6800 GT in it. It ran flawlessly until Saturday when I fired up Battlefield 2 and got nothing but studdering. The memory timings are screwed up, and have been for awhile. You can set the CAS latency but nothing else. I end up with 2-3-3-8 timings for Corsair Pro 3200XL ram. I will be dumping this board, it doesn't have any overclocking features anyway.
     
  8. emaciated

    emaciated [H]Lite

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    No, but you CAN expect that they test certain graphics cards with every chipset the offer, that is the whole point of a computer company. Dell, for example (a larger company granted), rigorously tests and certifies that upgrades they offer to consumers when they buy online work. In the case of the Fragbox it's almost like the first batch of systems WERE the only R&D that Falcon did. I would be pissed if that was my experience.
     
  9. SilverMK3

    SilverMK3 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I would assume their R&D was fine in designing the system. Like they said, you can't predict a bad video card slipping through the QA process when being manufactured. Its unfortunate that BFG seems to be having more issues than most other companies in this regard - I had a bad 6600GTOC myself that was difficult to diagnose (artifacting and instability under load), and a friend had one who's ram-sinks fell off while in his case. This assessment, of course, brings into question FNW's QA process - but then again it DID seem like the type of problem that wouldn't occur unless you were actually using the system.

    I think HardOCP is being a bit stubborn in their refusal to take the box back and confirm that the problem was fixed by the replacement video card and not caused by the motherboard chipset. I hope they give FNW a chance to redeem themselves by reviewing another system in the future. Also, who buys such a purpose-built, high end gaming system for BF2 and settles for onboard sound when BF2 supports the X-Fi? Having good positional audio makes such a huge difference in FPS games!
     
  10. QuimZ

    QuimZ Gawd

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    I would expect that from Falcon Northwest. We aren't talking Dell value systems, we are talking about $3,000 gaming machines.

    Agreed.
     
  11. RHollister

    RHollister Limp Gawd

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    Falcon Northwest seems to think that you were reviewing the hardware. It wasnt a review of the hardware it was a review of the service/build quality/time put in to tweak/etc of the system. We all know that the BFG cards are sweet, the ATI chipset sucks, memory is good. yada yada yada. When i start to read the review i wasnt looking for it to tell me if the 3800+ was fast or not, i was reading it to see what kind of system Falcon put together, if they still had what it took to make a decent gaming system, selection of hardware. Selection of hardware shows alot about a company. The fact that they even chose the MSI board with the ATI chipset for a 3200 "gaming" system sums up everything perfectly i think. Anyone in the know building a 3200 gaming system isnt going to chose that MSI board and to make things even worse pair the MSI board with the GTX? Granted there should be no problems, but I would have put an ATI card in there before I put a NVidia. I think that FNW is the only one with some explaining to do. Why would they have chose the ATI chipset if they werent getting any kind of push (dare i say compensation) from ATI? Here is how i think things went down. ATI reads the review sees that [H]ard cited the Motherboard/Chipset for the instability. ATI calls FNW says why was [H]ard having stability problems with their system? FNW applies any and all fixes that ATI has to offer including retarding the timing of the memory. Then they pull the video card and ::::voila:::: it is fine. ATI then gets on FNW's case to tell [H]ard that it was the video card that was bad since ATI doesnt want a bad rap out there but no way in hell could they possibly defend themselves in this case without looking like sleezebags. I have heard nothing but GREAT things about FNW in the past. I wouldnt buy a computer from them without doing research though, and research would point to not getting that motherboard. This doesnt change my opinion much about FNW but it does lead me to believe that ATI will do anything to keep the bad publicity of their products out of the press.
     
  12. LyCoS

    LyCoS Limp Gawd

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    i think it's ashame, you guies should have held off publishing before getting the whole thing settled, it would have avoided this kind of situation. Now ATI is pissed off, falcon is pissed off, readers like me are pissed off (i don't want to have to hear this kind of stories between intergrators, manufacturers, and review sites). Rushing to conclusion never solved anything really, i understand Chris Morley might have been pissed off by an unstable system, but you really should have held off publishing... once you get the whole picture, that's when you publish. Standing behind your opinions about the ATI chipset isn't going to make you right. You where wrong about the diagnostic, the graphics card was to blame, falcon could demonstrate it, from there on i hope everyone has learned their lessons...

    Falcon for comercialising an imature system,
    hardocp for publishing an imature (it was not finished) article...
     
  13. AACDIRECT

    AACDIRECT Limp Gawd

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    One issue is how much testing do they do. Would a comsumer be willing for the manufacture to test their system for hours? days? weeks? To test every popular game for a couple hours each would take up days if not weeks. One other thing is what happens when a new driver or bios or MS update comes out. Do you start the process over again? One of the greatest strengths of the PC market is the diversity but it is also one of its weakness. It very well could be that F-NW tested they system but just not with that game. (Not everyone plays that game....but many do.)
     
  14. emaciated

    emaciated [H]Lite

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    Granted, they don't have the time or resources to test that each and every patch and game work, some of that cannot be done. But, these companies get hardware far in advance of what us consumers do, they have a lead time on the actual launch of a product to ensure that there is at least a measure of stability, and most would use that time to their advantage to test stability with current drivers and games. I'm not saying that Falcon didn't do that, I'm not saying that it is impossible to predict a bad graphics card, but I am saying that Falcon should have at least known that it was a possibiliy. I am saying that they did have ample time to test the system before it went out the door.
     
  15. 9iron

    9iron n00bie

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    Well, atleast you guys are professional enough to apologize for your mistake. However, I agree with the poster above....you should have figured out what the problem was before going to press with the review rather than blaming the ATI chipset prematurely based on your previous personal dislike of it. Now I wonder if I can get a fair, unbiased, objectional review from you guys without letting your personal preferences hinder the process....
     
  16. Mons

    Mons Limp Gawd

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    I am one of the many happy customers of Falcon Northwest. I have always been very happy with the machines I have received from them. I plan on continuing to conduct business with them in the future as I feel they build excellent gaming machines. Reading the Fragbox 2 evaluation from the [H] has been a painful experience for me as I wanted a machine from Falcon NW to absolutely shine. Having said that, I applaud the [H] for their honest review and the anonymous method in which they approach reviewing pre-built systems. It is the ONLY way to truly evaluate a system builder. If I buy a $3000+ pre-built machine from Falcon NW, it better work out of the box. It should do so without skipping a beat and be hungry for more. Stability issues with mainstream games from a system builder who builds machines expressively for gaming is completely unacceptable. I am surprised the [H] was so patient and spent a week troubleshooting the problem. If I were sent such a machine, it would have been going back in less than a week! In conclusion, kudos to the [H] for continuing the give the average consumer honest evaluations of the hardware we obscess over for our hobby. Being a Falcon NW customer and reading this review is akin to being punched in the stomach. I know I will get over it, and Falcon NW will be a better company with an even better product because of it. Just remember the [H] is always around to keep you honest.
     
  17. Razz_mon

    Razz_mon n00bie

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    I've had my board for over 3 months now and had ZERO issues with it but I also have a ATI 850XT running with it, as far as sound I have a soundblaster X-fi (I used the onboard for about a month). The System run's smooth (Zero lock ups), I'm using Corsair XMS 3200 ram 2-3-3-6 no problem.
    Games I play.
    BattleField 2
    CS:source
    UT2004
    DOOM 3
    Flatout
    GTR
     
  18. XamediX

    XamediX 2[H]4U

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    Wow.... who uses an ati xpress chipset in the first place? If i pay $3k+ for a computer, it better be fckin tested with every game that is out. For my money they better have the resources and time otherwise they are in the wrong business. If not, i'll build my own and and save about $1,000 and trouble of sending the system back. As far as the timing between review beng published and the system being sent back, Kyle has said for so long that the purpose of blind tests is so they get a real consumer experience.

    Hehe i swear you should get a discount if you choose an ati chipset. I agree with RHollister that they werent reviewing the hardware, but how it was put together, what parts they choose, etc. I wouldnt buy OEM's anyway but I dont understand how as a company you charge a customer $3k for a machine that doesnt support sli, only has one gtx, only 10/100 ethernet, subpar onbaord sound, and an ati xpress chipset? Booo.... and now there were some problems... surprise!
     
  19. foofighter06

    foofighter06 Gawd

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    The best chipset out for 939pin AMD processors is the Nforce 4 lineup.
    It seems that FNW can't wedge a Nforce 4 board in the smaller Fragbox, so they went with what they had available. The ATi chipset doesnt really match up to a Nforce 4 ultra very well.

    FNW shouldn't be mad that they used a motherboard chipset that isn't top of the line, but it seems some of their statements are trying to protect a slower ATi solution.

    Even if the cause of the problems weren't related to the motherboard, it's FNW's fault that a reviewer would point to a perceived weakest part first, when they are having problems. FNW decided to go with an ATi chipset and they are gonna have to live with it. :eek:

    FNW should just use the SLI capable Shuttle solution and be better off.
     
  20. foofighter06

    foofighter06 Gawd

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    Don't forget bad USB performance.
     
  21. Json23

    Json23 [H]ard|Gawd

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    I would not bother with an apology either.

    However, I can't help but feel that this whole issue could have been resolved by simply getting your money back for the first fragbox, and getting another identical fragbox through an alias ( don't let falcon know that HardOCP was the group getting it ) and doing a make-up review, but being sure to include the problems that incurred with the original box.

    I can tell you from personal experience, buying something for around $2.5-3K and not getting a fully functioning product right out of the box is just bad business, and would likely result in a person being wary of all products produced by that company, regardless of how well the RMA process might have worked. *cough, sony cough*
     
  22. jdracer47

    jdracer47 n00bie

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    This may be my problem, I originally had an X850 XT in mine and it ran flawlessly. I put in the 6800 GT when I decided that I wanted the ATI card in my main system. Eventually the 850 will end up back in this board once the X1800 XT arrives.
     
  23. Ratboy

    Ratboy Limp Gawd

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    I think 6.5 was a very forgiving score considering they shipped a defective system and then argued about it. And then they took a week to figure it out. Bottom line is that box never should have went out the way it was. If I spent 3200 on it and it was unstable I would have rated it A LOT lower.
     
  24. RedOctober

    RedOctober Limp Gawd

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    There is one critical fact that has been overlooked. As someone previously responsible for all product quality at Falcon Northwest, I must emphasize one very important thing:

    HardOCP should be commended for their commitment to obtaining review product incognito.

    Let me paint this picture a bit differently:
    • HardOCP requests review system
    • Falcon commits to review system, hand-selecting components to perform
    • System recieves extra preparation and additional tweaking by dedicated "review machine" assembly technician
    • Defective video card is found during extensive BF2 testing
    • System is reviewed by HardOCP, and no failures exist

    The reason why Kyle insists on not doing that is simple: it's not an accurate customer experience, which is what really matters.Now I must insist that I have no knowledge that the problem would be caught, but it's important to consider.

    Now I know the technician who assembles review machines at Falcon. I brought him onboard at Falcon, I trained him, and he's a good friend of mine. He, more than likely, would not have missed that video card failure.

    Summary: the difference between the production envoronment and the review machine assembly environment is different at Falcon, and it's different at every company. No amount of "offering to correct a defective video card after the fact" will change that. HardOCP found the difference.
     
  25. calebb

    calebb 1337 liek JeffK

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    Good article + good followup.

    Thanks for the review, Hard|OCP.

    Caleb
     
  26. Kyle_Bennett

    Kyle_Bennett El Chingón Staff Member

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    For those of you that are pointing out that we jumped the gun on our conclusions, I would have to disagree. While simply switching out a video card may have miraculously solved all problems, I still think the issues are a little bit deeper rooted based on our experiences with the chipset and feedback from others. I personally was 100% satisfied with the conclusion when we published the article and quite frankly, Falcon Northwest never really idicated that they thought otherwise either. So yes, hindsight is 20/20, but I think it hardly points out that we were going off half-cocked.
     
  27. Beniled

    Beniled n00bie

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    See this is wy i love [H]... They have integrity. I am certain had this been another reviewer site, the whole issue with the fragbox 2 would have been something like "we encountered a sleight(sp?) problem with the system while running BF2, but FNW had us up and runing....." and that would have been that, a footnote to a footnote as it where. But the fact that [H] stands by it's eval process and are unwilling to run any(even nonexistant) risk of contaminating the outcome is commendable to say the least. I do not believe that FNW would do anything more for [H] then anyother consumer. In this instance I am certain they would simply replace the card and send it back. But the fact remains that other companies would not be so virtuous, they would tweak the system in question and send back something we would never see. So the situation comes down to who do you serve? Accept the system back and write a possibly influenced article, or don't and uphold the values of the reader? I find it refreshing to know that [H] serves us the readers, not the corporations that they review. FNW has been, in my experience and opinion, a straight forward and honest company. But that is not the issue. [H] can not play favorites, if they allowed the system back they would have to allow all companies the opportunity to muck around with their systems for the same amount of time with out the supervision of [H]. And that would destroy the validity of this process. So my hat is of to you the fine ladies(?) and gentlemen at [H]ardocp.com. I proudly stand by anyone who would stand by me and I stand by [H]. As for the statements made in the thread pertaining to the actual eval, well i will respect the forums and post my opinions there. Thank you.
     
  28. chrisf6969

    chrisf6969 [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I like the backdoor PR "back & forths" to be shared like it was in the aftermath. It lets you know whats really going on, and I'm sure many websites have these issues, have PR go back & forth, then post a rosy article after its all said & done. When in reality if this had been bought by an end user with no troubleshooting expertise. He would have had problems not known why and problem just given up on playing BF2 and moved on to Quake 4 or other game which worked. Which means he got a faulty system and possibly never had it fixed.
     
  29. Kyle_Bennett

    Kyle_Bennett El Chingón Staff Member

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    Thanks for the kind words and thanks for pointing out what I have not had time to type up yet. You have hit the nail on the head. FNW cannot take our actions "personally." Our evaluation process will certainly mature as we move forward, but certainly our focus is going to remain pinpointed on the customer experience.
     
  30. magoo

    magoo [H]ardForum Junkie

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    Stuff happens, even to the best of system builders. I think you need to ask yourself what would a "normal" person like me have to do.....and to [H] fault they didnt do that.
    I would have had to RMA my box back and have Falcon do the work to figure it out. I liked the review right up to the part where Chris identified himself and pulled the plug on the whole deal. A person like me cant do that. I either get my money back or work with the company......if youre going to do consumer reviews then do them from MY perspective.....youve done that with the purchase process....and you should do it with everything else too. Let the company know AFTER the fact....not in the middle. [H] poisoned the water by giving themselves up....now well never know if the problem was fixed, if the video card was a fluke, and how the games ran after the "fix".
    I understand Falcon's frustration....i understand Chris' frustration as a consumer who wants to play BF2 and his special order 3000+ dollar machine wont do it.... but we never got to see the "real world" outcome and thats a shame on both parties. :D
     
  31. darronk

    darronk [H]Lite

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    I have to admit, I was impressed with the original review.

    The journalistic integrity displayed by HardOCP here should be commended. They were going for a typical customer experience, and they got one. I'm not saying there was anything wrong with FNW (In fact their customer service should be held up as an example for everyone to follow), but they did choose a bad motherboard in the first place.

    It does pay to ask the question, what research did FNW do in the first place as to chosing their components? It would be brutally obvious to me, that if a motherboard need RAM to be downclocked, and it needed a driver update to get 5.1 sound operating correctly, that maybe it's a bad motherboard, and therefore I would look for a different solution.

    The fault does lie with the motherboard here. Not a bad graphics card, but a motherboard based on a chipset that is inherently faulty.

    Well done HardOCP. I hope to see more reviews like this.

    Oh, and Onboard Sound in a $3000+ machine? WTF?
     
  32. RedOctober

    RedOctober Limp Gawd

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    Exactly.

    I do agree (and I know for a fact) that the average customer will get very good service from FNW - both in pre-purchase sales asistance and post-purchase technical support. The average FNW customer would not, as a general rule, have access to the president of the company. They would not get explanations and REBUTTALS IN ALL CAPS.

    Frankly, they'd be much better taken care of without the president getting involved. That's been my experience with the tech support guys.

    For the record, my vote is to have issues like this resolved completely incognito. We'll all get a better picture that way. Instead, we got a pissing match about blame and and offer to "prove" what the defective component is.
     
  33. Chas

    Chas [H]ardness Supreme

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    It WAS settled. The techs were pretty much adamant that it was a problem with the motherboard. And the system was, subsequently, returned. As would any $3200 system that was unstable, in spite of numerous attempts to troubleshoot it with help from Techsupp.

     
  34. darknite

    darknite Gawd

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    I personally think that was a great review, i give thumbs up to both falcon northwest and hardocp. If i was the consumer, i would have got my money back, as he said i think like 3 times?

    I too have had the ati chipset in here and it was such a PITA. We worked on this system for at least a week. Kept getting nv32.sys bsod's or close to it. (Basically video card driver)
    there was no option to change voltage on pci-x. (cuz that fixed my problem with a 6800 one time) So we think that might have been part of it.
    We changed ram, ram timings, cpu, card, everything. We think its a big thing between nvidia cards and the ati chipset. It would do exactly the same thing. Lock up. and this was in 3dmark01...i mean what crap locks up in that. This guy spent like 2500 on a system, some place in Cali. and we tell him we "think" its the video card. He hasnt been back for like 3 weeks so hopefully that fixed it.

    So with my 2 cents in and subscibing to this post :cool: great review. But man im glad i customize my own systems and dont have to deal with tech support.

    [​IMG]
     
  35. Beniled

    Beniled n00bie

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    Actually they did test THAT system with THAT game. One of the subjects covered in the other thread is that they did infact test BF2 on the system ordered with [H]'s cd key.

     
  36. magoo

    magoo [H]ardForum Junkie

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    I agree wholeheartedly with NOT amending the original article.....BUT the issue was never resolved in the fashion that you or I would expect. We dont get to talk to the President. We send the box back after troubleshooting.....and rely on the company to honor its warranty or not.....thats part of the "consumer experience", too. :D
     
  37. Chris_Morley

    Chris_Morley Former [H] Consumer Managing Ed.

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    I'm also open to the possibility that the error didn't show up until after we received the system...of course there's plenty of possibilities we all still do not know EXACTLY what the problem was.
     
  38. darknite

    darknite Gawd

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    Well...look at the upside of all this

    You sacrificed your time to play BF2 :D

    On a really kick ass system
     
  39. Diseaseboy

    Diseaseboy [H]ard|Gawd

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    Would have been interesting if you accepted Falcon's offer of getting the system back with both the new and "faulty" video card and tested the "faulty" videocard in a non-ATI chipset motherboard using the rest of Falcon's components to see what would happen.

    Scott
     
  40. Kyle_Bennett

    Kyle_Bennett El Chingón Staff Member

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    This was noted and addressed in the orginal thread and I have discussed this with Chris. We will do it differently next time.
     
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