A lot of people are returning their Sandy Bridge motherboards (and CPUs) because of this defect, many for good reasons, but many for bad reasons. In my opinion, it is better to keep your system until the fixed motherboards are available, and then RMA the motherboard then.
Good reasons return your SB motherboard:
1. You use many (4+) SATA drives that are sensitive to theoretical data corruption. In other words, you need the additional 4 SATA II ports that are faulty.
2. None of the currently available workarounds are practical or appealing to you.
3. You donâ€™t want to use hardware that has a defect in it, even though it may not affect your operation of the hardware. In other words, you feel that you should not be paying for defective (but functional) parts on principle.
4. Your SB purchase was an impulse buy to begin with and you had reservations already before the chipset bug surfaced. In other words, in was a marginal decision to begin with.
5. You need/want the money. Basically, youâ€™d be better off not having bought Sandy Bridge to begin with.
Most other reasons I can think of to return a SB motherboard are panic reactions that, in my opinion, have a weak logical basis.
1. It has a defect, and because itâ€™s defective it must be returned right away even if it works perfectly fine with what you do. If you dislike buying defective hardware on principle, itâ€™s one thing; to knock the SB â€œfiascoâ€ based on pure practicality is another. If the defect doesnâ€™t affect you, then returning SB just means you lose the use of the computer until you replace it.
2. Youâ€™re simply worried that the defect will corrupt your hard drives. Itâ€™s true that if you do nothing about it for years, it might. Takes steps now to mitigate the risk, and your risk of losing data to the SATA controller bug is almost certainly less than your risk of a normal hard drive failure. Itâ€™s unlikely the bug will occur to begin with (5-15% over 3 years of use?), itâ€™s even more unlikely that even if it does occur, it will occur before the new fixed motherboards come out (<3 months), itâ€™s still more unlikely that even if it occurs before itâ€™s replaced that it will corrupt data. And, to top it off, thereâ€™s always the SATA 6.0 gbps port which isnâ€™t affected at all.
3. You want to punish Intel. Personally, Iâ€™d classify this as a bad reason. I doubt you returning your motherboard will do much if anything to punish Intel at this point.
On the other hand, there are also good reasons to keep your Sandy Bridge computer (for now).
1. Itâ€™s basically the fastest (yes yes, 970/980x) affordable platform around currently, and now even more exclusive, since itâ€™s harder to buy now. So what if the platformâ€™s got a defect? If you donâ€™t have anything in the SATA II ports, it wonâ€™t affect you; itâ€™ll get fixed eventually anyways, and meanwhile, you have something nothing else can affordably touch.
2. The defect is not necessarily essential to the working of your computer, especially if you only use 2 SATA devices. Additional workarounds also exist, such as PCI or PCI-e SATA cards.
3. You donâ€™t have to wait the 1-3 months (or more, if you donâ€™t want to pay even more for an SB motherboard when theyâ€™re fixed) in the meantime. So you get 1-3 months more use out of your SB machine than anyone else.
4. If you donâ€™t have a good reason to return your SB motherboard in the first place (see above list), then it creates more hassle for everyone as vendors try to deal with the huge backlog of people trying to return boards for good reasons, for bad reasons and the panickers.
5. You do not have a â€œgoodâ€ backup computer. Well, this would be personal preference. Iâ€™d rather use a Sandy Bridge over anything older than a Core2 Duo/Athlon.
6. Theyâ€™re going to fix it in the next couple months, and you can live with the theoretical risks for that long.
Bad reasons to keep your Sandy Bridge:
1. Itâ€™s only a 5-15% chance of it happening over 3 years. Well, maybe. Intel used a â€œsyntheticâ€ way of testing this, and 5-15% is too high to leave to simple chance. If you are going to keep it, then take some simple steps to mitigate the risk.
2. RMAâ€™s and returns are too much of a hassle. If a fix is available and you are too lazy to apply it, then youâ€™re responsible for whatever happens. Nothing might happen (see how many crappy PSUs donâ€™t blow stuff up) but then again, you might get a PSU that fries your motherboard.
So, I think itâ€™s obvious that I feel that much of the RMA/return fever is silly. Personally, I think most people havenâ€™t thought through most of the facts available and are making rash decisions. My theory is that people are hitting the panic button.
Iâ€™m getting a SB i5 2500 system shipped tomorrow, and I personally would love to buy 6-7 more for our office even knowing about the bug. But I know exactly what our needs are, and where the problem lies, and I know that the problems that could arise donâ€™t outweigh the benefits of having the i5 2500 machines, especially I'm 100% sure it won't affect our use of the machines. If you return your SB system, more power to you, but please make it an informed and rational decision!
Do I need the onboard SATA II ports, and want/need them to be absolutely, 100% reliable? If yes, then return and buy something else.
Do I hate the idea of spending money on something that isnâ€™t 100% working? If yes, then return for a refund.
Do I need the money? If yes, then return for a refund.
Do I feel the hassle of RMAing the board and installing it outweighs the hassle of setting up a new computer? If yes, then return and buy something else.
Otherwise, implement risk mitigation and keep your system until the new, fixed motherboards are available and RMA it then. You just lose a perfectly functional, high performance PC if you return it now.