AMD HAS RESPONDED to our review of its Scout graphics card selector, an online expert system which we found, well, less than expert.
But far from popping a horse's head between the Inquirer's virtual bed sheets, AMD called to say thanks for stress-testing the site.
"We take feedback seriously and will be making some changes to the expert system," said Richard Baker, one of AMD's marketing chiefs.
The random pricing issue Inq encountered was, Baker said, a problem the expert had in knowing whether it was dealing with prices inclusive or exclusive of VAT, which will now be debugged.
The site is aimed at customers who are unsure of what card to buy, for example, if they were upgrading an old desktop PC, not graphics experts, Baker explained.
As for the choice of graphics card Scout recommended on our visit, "it's a subjective opinion, as the comments from your visitors prove," said Baker.
For those who didn't catch the original walk-through, here it is:
We’ve been fiddling about with AMD’s graphics card selector ‘tool’ – purportedly created to make life easier for punters confused as to which GPU to pick for their graphical needs. Unfortunately, we discovered AMD’s logic to be sadly lacking.
Perplexed punters who wind up on ATI's Graphics Scout are given a whole host of options to choose from in order to help them pinpoint exactly what is important to them in terms of graphics capability and which card would best suit their needs. All well and good, but let’s try it out:
Clicking on “Start” we chose the “Games” tab and selected Online Gaming. We then went to the “Video” tab and selected “HD Content and Blu-Ray Films.” Calculating our ideal graphics card, AMD’s graphics scout told us we’d better buy a 4670. Fine.
We pressed “X” and closed the window. Leaving our first two choices in the basket, we decided to add in both icons from the “Photos” tab – “watch and organize photos” and “edit photos.” Calculating again, Scout told us we would still need a 4670. fine, still no problem.
But then we decided to add all four icons from the “Office” tab to our basket – along with our previous choices – only to discover, to our immense confusion, that upon calculation, Scout decided we only needed a 4550 card. Hmmm.
Things got stranger. We cleared all the icons from our basket and went to the “Video” tab. Choosing only “DVD”, we calculated and were told we’d need a 4550. We cleared the “DVD” icon from the basket and, instead, replaced it with just the “Watch Videos Online” icon. Guess what? Apparently Scout reckons we only need a 4350 for that! So, if you take AMD’s advice, then buying a 4350 for watching video online means that you’d need to upgrade in order to watch a DVD. Logic anyone?
Adding insult to injury, it would appear the charming folks at Overclockers UK have also figured out how to manipulate spaced-out-Scout to their needs. Clearing our basket we chose DX10+ from the “Games” tab, calculated our ideal dream card, and were told we’d need a 4890. Checking out the list of E-tailers on the right, we found Overclockers UK - a “‘Trusted AMD partner” - flogging the card for just £99.
We clicked through, only to find that the product we’d selected was actually £114 including VAT. “Oh well,” we thought, “what’s another £15 anyway?” On closer inspection, however, we noticed that the product wasn’t even a 4890 at all, but an inferior 4870. Prospective punters who didn’t notice the single digit change from a ‘7’ to a ‘9’ could easily have purchased a card (through AMD’s recommendation engine) which didn’t fit the criteria they’d asked for. Way to screw your customers, DAAMIT.
Seeing such badly written code, we’ve come to understand why AMD seems to have so much trouble with more complex stuff like drivers. We also wonder whether AMD can offer us any assurances that the guys writing their drivers are more talented than the people doling out customer advice. We sure hope so.
Of course, we also hope that after discovering these horrendous discrepancies, AMD will do the honourable thing and fix its graphics scout to avoid scamming its customers.
But in the meanwhile, if you need advice, you’re better off looking elsewhere than AMD’s ‘helpful’ site. µ
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