MSI released a statement today regarding the "review card doping" accusations leveled at the company by hardware review site TechPowerUp. In the statement, MSI denies any wrongdoing. It says that the "OC mode" setting enabled by default on the review cards is available to any owner of the company's Gaming X graphics cards using the MSI Gaming app.
The statement goes on to explain that reviewers generally don't use software like the MSI Gaming app, and MSI feels that its products aren't being represented properly in independent reviews as a result. To make sure that potential customers are aware of the true performance available from the Gaming X cards, MSI says it sent cards to reviewers with a modified firmware that forces the card to run in OC mode full-time.
Our take is that this argument falls a bit flat, considering that most gamers probably don't install this software, either. Secretly shipping cards with custom firmware that forces "OC mode" on seems far more likely to backfire (as it has) than just promoting the required software and making it easy to get to. All that effort might not be worth it to begin with, though: as MSI itself points out, the difference between the OC mode and the default Gaming mode on the GTX 1070 is a scant 26MHz of boost clock.
If you're the owner of an MSI GTX 10-series card and don't want to install the MSI Gaming app, MSI has helpfully provided firmware updates for its GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 cards that lock OC mode on, just as the company's review firmware does. The brave can get the firmware for the GTX 1080 Gaming X card here, while owners of the the GTX 1070 Gaming X should look here. These firmwares are, according to MSI, the same ones loaded on cards that reviewers received. Bear in mind the heat and noise consequences of such a thing before you update—or just skip a risky firmware update entirely and install MSI's software.
Here's MSI's statement in full:
MSI Review samples and MSI retail cards are identical in terms of hardware and performance. Both have the exact same performance profiles available through the MSI Gaming App. All information about these performance profiles is clearly communicated and can be found on the respective product pages. (example: https://www.msi.com/Graphics-card/GEFORCE-GTX-1070-GAMING-X-8G.html)
Retail cards are set to ‘Gaming Mode’ by default, which offers the best Performance per Watt, while still giving close to ‘OC Mode’ in-game performance. In order to enjoy the best performance and all features of MSI GAMING products, we highly recommend to use the MSI Gaming App which is available for free on MSI.com and the driver CD. The MSI Gaming App allows you to apply one of three performance profiles with a single click, instantly giving you the desired performance.
As several reviewers have stated, software like the MSI Gaming App is often not used in reviews. This is why review samples of the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 GAMING X graphics cards are set to ‘OC Mode’ to ensure that reviews demonstrate the same performance available through the MSI Gaming App. The award winning TWIN FROZR VI cooling is designed to handle each performance profile flawlessly, giving you the lowest noise in the industry and consistent performance so gamers can focus on their gameplay.
For those who prefer not to use the MSI Gaming App but still want to enjoy the same ‘OC Mode’ performance by default, we have released an alternative vBIOS with ‘OC Mode’ enabled by default.
Learn more about the MSI Gaming App here: https://gaming.msi.com/article/msi-gaming-app-article