Let’s recap. Intel launched Sandy Bridge. Intel found a bug in the 6-series chipset, necessary for all Sandy Bridge systems. Intel issued a stop shipment on all 6-series parts. Due to some financial regulations, Intel had to make the stop shipment known publicly before it could inform its partners. As a result, companies like Apple, ASUS, Dell, Gigabyte and MSI found out when you and I did. They were not happy.

The bug, which we’ve documented here and further explained here, impacts the reliability of the four 3Gbps SATA ports on 6-series motherboards. It does not impact the two 6Gbps SATA ports on those boards. If a notebook uses the faulty chipset (B2 stepping) and only uses the two 6Gbps SATA ports, it is not affected. 

Intel has since announced that it has resumed shipment of chipsets for use in systems that fall into the aforementioned category (only using the two 6Gbps ports). Everything else remains stopped until the fixed version of the chipset (B3 stepping) is available.

Gigabyte was first out with a replacement strategy for existing 6-series motherboard owners. You can exchange your board at the place of purchase, or return it for a full refund. Pretty simple.

ASUS and MSI quickly followed suit, however their policies were a bit different to what Gigabyte proposed early on.

If you want a full refund, that will be handled by your original place of purchase. Vendors are currently in the process of figuring out how long they need to extend their return policies in order to cover all customers.

If you are happy with your board and just want an exchange, both ASUS and MSI will be handling the exchange directly. ASUS’ page on the exchange is here, and MSI’s is here.

The terms are pretty similar between both companies. Fixed motherboards are expected to be available in April. You’ll ship your B2 stepping board in and you’ll receive a similar B3 stepping board in exchange. 

ASUS will provide free 2-way “standard shipping” for both your B2 board and the B3 board. Your new board will have a warranty that starts from the time it is shipped. ASUS offers two options to expedite shipping. If you provide your credit card number ASUS will temporarily put a charge on your account for the MSRP of a replacement board and ship it to you in advance. Once ASUS receives your B2 board it will remove the charge from your account. The other option also involves you providing ASUS with your credit card number, however ASUS will not charge your card right away. As soon as you have shipped your motherboard (and the carrier lists the package as In Transit), ASUS will ship out a replacement board. As long as there are no issues with the board you send in (e.g. serial numbers match and it's eligible for RMA) then your credit card won't be charged. ASUS mentions that the scope for exchanges is limited but it doesn’t mention a specific date. 

MSI also provides free shipping and has committed to 3-day shipping both ways. You’ll get a pre-paid UPS label, send your board off, and get your new board via UPS 3-day as well. Update: MSI says it has added an advance RMA option as well. MSI places a time limit on the exchange program: you must register your motherboard or MSI system by April 30, 2011. 

Unfortunately none of the motherboard makers have been able to convince Intel to pay for a Z68 upgrade program. Intel’s Z68 chipset is due out sometime in Q2 (likely April/May) and adds the ability to overclock your CPU while using Intel’s processor graphics as well as support for SSD Caching. 

Intel has done a good job in being proactive in addressing the problem early on, however I don’t see any favors being done for the end users. These are Intel’s most loyal customers, the ones willing to pay top dollar on day one to buy the latest and greatest. Free two-way shipping is an expectation, not a show of appreciation. Free upgrades to Z68 or maybe even work with vendors like Newegg to provide gift cards as a sign of appreciation would’ve been nice.

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  • taboc741 - Friday, February 11, 2011 - link

    As a microcenter employee I know that corporate has already issued a policy that return or exchange on the recalled boards (of any manufacture) will be taken up until the new boards are available and period of time past that. Though the document said they were still working with our suppliers to find out how long we can make that policy for. Please remember though, this only applies to boards/computers purchased from Microcenter. Reply
  • Impulses - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    FYI, neither company waited until today to announce their plans... Maybe the press release went out today or Anandtech just got around to reporting it, but representatives for both companies had announced these policies by last Friday (at least) on enthusiast message boards or if you called them directly... They're both doing more than GB's doing anyway, by providing replacements directly instead of whenever the seller gets stock, and providing expedited cross shipping options.

    I've no allegiance to either of them btw... My last mobo was an ASUS P5Q Pro for a C2Q and I was very happy with it. I just bought MSI's P67A-GD55 for a SB system I haven't even had the time to put together but I'm very happy with how MSI has handled the recall.
    Reply
  • davehcyj - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Asus made an announcement the same day as Gigabyte, its just Anandtech didn't cover it until now. Also MSI followed right behind Asus, but apparently just recently changed their policy on cross shipping. Reply
  • cactusdog - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Correct, I posted the link to the Asus recall statement in the story about Gigabyte but obviously he didnt read the comments. I saw recall statements from just about all the manufacturers when Gigabyte released theirs. Reply
  • Etern205 - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    Asus posted their statement on Feb 1st.
    And a member from VR-Zone posted a topic on Feb 4th
    regarding-the-sandy-bridge-chipset-design-error-0-a.html
    This site took 7 days to get this info up...
    Reply
  • dertechie - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    This was announced a few days ago, same day as the Gigabyte announcement. Anandtech was otherwise occupied with shiny smartphones, and it's not like any of the companies can actually do anything about exchanges until February.

    I got mine through Microcenter, I'll have to check their exact policies, I think I may be able to do the exchange there in person. Got an email from them about 2 days after the bug came to light about it.

    So long as it's on Intels dime, everyone is going to be as accommodating as they can.
    Reply
  • aaron88_7 - Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - link

    Took long enough? Asus found out about this recall no earlier than you or I, setting up the procedures for a massive recall is no easy feat and you're complaining about how long it took? You can't even get a new board until April so what difference does it matter how long they take to draw up the plans for their recall policy?

    I think it's pretty awesome they will let us cross ship the board so I can simply swap out the old with the new. My biggest worry was being without a computer for a week or more while waiting on the RMA process. You call that dropping the ball?

    I think some people just want something to complain about. This isn't Asus's fault, it is Intel's fault. If you are going to complain at least blame the right people!!
    Reply
  • StinkyPinky - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    What's the point of exchange? Sounds like the better option by far is to just get new board and then send in the old one for a refund. No downtime and you can pick which board you want. Reply
  • quiksilvr - Tuesday, February 08, 2011 - link

    That's what I was thinking as well, but I guess to save headaches on their end the exchange option works best. Reply
  • AnnihilatorX - Thursday, February 10, 2011 - link

    But the refund window depends on when you bought the board. I bought this in January, It would be great if the vendor offers refund in April but I doubt it. Reply

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