Interviewing Palit Microsystem’s Darren Polkowski
Overclocking and RMAing
Overclocking can pose to be a daunting task for the average consumer. Glancing over Palit.biz I noticed in your News feed that you recently released a card with a custom PCB with two BIOS chips. Would you care to explain what this dual-BIOS card offers to the average consumer and to the enthusiast?
You are referring to our HD 4870 Sonic Dual. We believe that building a stronger product from the ground up. That is not lip service or marketing hype. Why would a company build a graphics card with a dual BIOS? We know that our customers want to push their hardware faster. Of course overclocking and overvolting can void your warranty but why not give consumers the ability to what they want to do? By making the product to suit the overclocking community we also build a more reliable card for the majority of consumers that does not overclock. Think about it this way, if we build a better, stronger and more reliable product, the overclocker can stress it with more confidence and the Average Joe can know that his normal operation will be worry free.
From our perspective we know that the better we make a card the less likely we are going to see it come back to us as a failure. Better equates to less RMA and this has shown up in all our products. Staying with the HD 4870 Sonic Dual, adding the second BIOS allows people who accidentally flash the video BIOS incorrectly know that they didnt just “brick” the card. They can flip the switch to the other BIOS and be back in business again. I have gotten plenty of emails and forum posts from users stating that this feature has saved them.
Additionally we like to do things above and beyond what the “reference design” calls for. Sticking with that HD 4870 Sonic Dual as an example, we manufacture that card with an 8-layer PCB (Printed Circuit Board). Why would we do something like this as it cost more yet we sell it for about the same as the reference cards from the other guys? Simply put, it is better and you deserve it. Palit has been making cards for the rest of the world using standards that are above the competition and now we get to share that with North and Latin American consumers as well. More layers means less overall EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) and cross-talk. We can put power and other circuits on different layers which insulates them from the other wires. This leads to better signal transmission in each of the wires that travel across the card as well as less heat buildup as the wires are not so tightly fit together.
The HD 4870 Sonic deviates further from the reference design in how we cool it. We built our own cooler with dual fans that are PWN (Pulse Width Modulation) controlled so the user can throttle the fan to the level they need. More importantly it doesnt have that annoying droning that you hear on the reference design cooler. The revised version of the card has native HDMI, DisplayPort, Dual Link DVI, and 15 pin VGA outputs. We also revised the design to accommodate 1GB of memory (we have both a 512 MB version and 1 GB version of the HD 4870 Sonic Dual). No other card company has all of these options.
Is there a possibility of seeing an HD 4870×2 or GTX 280 with a similar dual BIOS feature?
Since we control the manufacturing of our cards, we work closely with AMD and Nvidia engineers so we can deliver products with features like a Dual BIOS and much more. Currently that is the only card in the world to feature a Dual BIOS. If you want to see more products with this feature please tell us that you do.
Palit is always open to make cards with the features and options that consumers want. I want your readers to gives their wish list. Perhaps you can start a thread in the forums discussing the features and things you want to see in a video card. From there we can take the top ideas and put it into a poll and have you vote on what you want to see. The movie Field of Dreams put it this way, “if you build it, he will come.” The philosophy for manufacturing with engineering is not far off. If we build a product you really want, you will buy the product you really want. It is in all of our interests to get your feedback. Consumers get the products they want and the companies do what they are set up to do, reward their stakeholders with profits.
Lately there’s been a movement towards watercooled cards. I’ve noticed that a large quantity of Palit video cards have large heatsinks with large and quiet fans. Does Palit plan in the future offering a watercooled video card or continue with the large heatsinks?
We are about to announce something regarding this very topic but I cannot let the cat out of the bag just yet. You have seen a lot of innovative and customer-centric development from Palit over the past year. You can plan on seeing that continue. As I have told Legit Reviews many times, we are not some cookie cutter company. We are here to lead. If the competition doesnt want to step up to the plate, that is their prerogative but there are only leaders, followers and those who fall by the wayside. They will either have to innovate, copy us or get out of the market. Prior to our involvement in this marketplace the practice was business as usual. That is simply not acceptable to Palit and we want to deliver more to the consumer and we have many more initiatives on the way.
Would Palit ever consider selling bare cards for aftermarket watercooling enthusiasts?
That is a liability issue. Think about it from the factorys point of view. If they warranty the card, they expect the air cooler they put on the card to satisfy the cooling tolerances it has proven and done the cost analysis and failure projections for. Let me put it to you this way, would a rental car company lend you a car without a license or major credit card, and the smell of alcohol on your breath? They would not be willing to trust that consumer and just as much as we cannot certify the cooler, the mounting procedure used, the thermal compound used, etc. It leaves a lot up in the air. Therefore if a card was made available without the cooler there is no way they could warrantee it. Our program for water-cooling will take care of this hurdle but that is all I can say about it at this time.
I was not able to easily find the Palit Warranty for their videocards and motherboards however I did easily find the RMA form. What sort of warranty does Palit offer?
As of the time this interview, we offer a two year warrantee no questions asked. The card either works or it doesnt. We dont believe in hassling consumers but we dont want to take back good cards either. We have a very simple process for RMA and our support staff is fantastic. We are on the cusp of adding more services for our customers shortly. The first service we are going to roll out is a free step up to a third year. All the consumer will have to do is register their card on our consumer site. We are doing a complete overhaul on how our site operated for the consumer so people can get more out of their graphics card provider than ever before. I would love to go into detail publicly but we are not ready to share it just yet. That is one thing I love about Palit, they are always moving forward. As a consumer I always want more from the companies I support with purchases, I love seeing them deliver more back to me. Palit is doing this and is revolutionizing the experience consumers have been used to.
Are there any additional fees included in RMAing a product besides shipping from the consumer to your facility?
If the card fails, we will replace it. If the card is fine (without issue) when we receive it, we will ship it back at the customers expense. That is the worst case scenario. The only reason we do that is to make sure people arent sending us cards for no reason. Putting the burden of this cost helps cut down on wasteful claims. Overall it is a painless process and if people have questions our support staff is extremely responsive.