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RTX 4000 graphics cards: Nvidia, who are you kidding? – A comment

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With the RTX 4000 series, Nvidia is once again misleading buyers – an expression of the aggressive corporate culture that has characterized the GPU pioneer for years.


Hooray, the RTX 4000 graphics card series has been announced, after more than two years finally more performance for gamers! For 50 percent more performance, according to manufacturer information, only around 30 percent more money is due! So everything as always in the market for graphics cards suitable for gaming, which is subject to very special rules thanks to a duopoly?

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Not at all! The company Nvidia, which is already very much driven by marketing, has made a special effort this time to confuse interested parties and not only shifted the price structure upwards. The time of the announcement – because it will only be delivered in a few weeks – the naming and the few technical details contain as many smokescreens as possible so that interested parties are possibly duped.

This becomes clear when, after the polished announcement video, specifications are submitted that did not appear in the live stream. Because the RTX 4080 with 12 GB is not just a slightly cheaper model of the 16 GB card, but a completely different graphics card – despite the same name “4080”. It is based on a different GPU, the AD104 instead of the AD103 (decreasing numbers mean larger GPUs for Nvidia), and it has 21 percent fewer shader units. The clocks of the smaller model are a bit higher, but that hardly compensates for this disadvantage. The price difference is so big at around 370 euros that many people will probably choose the smaller model – at first glance it only has less memory than previous GeForces.

Of course, tech-savvy people don’t just buy by model number and RAM configuration, but globally, marketing often wins against specification. Example USA: There are still the large computer retail chains like Microcenter, where dozens of graphics cards are on the shelves. And because Nvidia also reserves control over the design of the packaging for all suppliers of GeForce cards as part of its Green Light program, in the case of two RTX 4080 there should only be 12 or 16 GB on it as a big differentiator.

Given the data of the smaller card, it should have been called the RTX 4070, as usual in the last three generations. Why didn’t Nvidia do it the same way? This can only be due to the presentation of AMD’s R7000 series scheduled for November 3rd. If it turns out to be surprisingly fast and cheap, you can quickly add an RTX 4070, possibly also Ti models from 4080 and 4090. Nvidia just couldn’t wait to see what the competitor would bring, not even for a few days handing over the title of the fastest graphics card. Egos play a big part in that.

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This is not only the case with product marketing, but also firmly embedded in Nvidia’s corporate culture. This only became visible recently when EVGA ended its collaboration with Nvidia after more than 20 years. Among other things, the CEO complained about a lack of respect, with Nvidia claiming any enthusiasm for new products only for itself and leaving nothing to the so-called “partners”. This could also be seen in the introductory video for the 4000 series: Nvidia had not shown a card from a graphics card partner manufacturer.

Other Nvidia partners can also be used to verify that for a few generations, prices have only been announced to partners on the day of the launch, Nvidia’s own Founders Edition models are always the cheapest, and manufacturers have drivers for reasonable tests in advance not or only in a very limited form. In short: hardware manufacturers should invest large sums in development and production without knowing exactly the price, performance and stability. If something goes wrong, they can of course take responsibility for it with their own brand name.

Speaking of drivers: Nvidia’s distrust of its direct customers leads to the bizarre situation that graphics card manufacturers have asked journalists in the weeks before a market launch if they could leave the drivers somewhere inconspicuous. This is of course contractually forbidden, but it does not mean that media are generally preferred at Nvidia or even treated with respect. The decades-long list of patronizing, pressure measures and other things is too long for this comment, so just two examples from more recent times: In 2018, all media that still wanted to receive test samples or information should have a general NDA for all times and all products and technologies sign, and in 2020 the YouTube channel Hardware Unboxed was excluded from sampling because it did not test the graphics cards the way Nvidia would like.

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Anyone who thinks that this is all too sharply worded or simply a “free market” should watch the outburst of anger by the great Youtuber Linus Sebastian (LTT) on the Hardware Unboxed case, which contains a few more stories from the sewing box. It’s about fairness, respect and good cooperation – also with the “end customers”. But it seems like those count less and less for Nvidia, at least as far as gamers go.

Last quarter, Nvidia’s gaming division made $2.04 billion in revenue, with data center GPUs accounting for $3.81 billion. The growth in the latter was 61 percent, while there was a 33 percent decline in game cards. In the conference call for financial journalists, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang then announced that it would “cut sales over the next few quarters to correct inventory at retailers. We have also put programs in place for price positioning of our current products to prepare for prepare the next generation.” Read: The prices for the RTX 3000 are being kept artificially high because there are still too many of them. It is logical that with such practices the prices of the RTX 4000 have to be even higher.

Hey, Nvidia: It’s not the players’ fault that you misjudged GPUs in your production predictions for the crypto mining boom that has finally ended. It is also not their fault that the wafers at TSMC have now become more expensive again after your short trip to Samsung as a production partner. The fact that you react to your own wrong decisions with extreme prices and deceptive packages like the RTX 4080 with 12 GB seems panicky and not a bit as confident as you might expect from a technology leader for gaming GPUs. Although: A graphics unit from AMD has been in Playstation and Xbox for two generations. There are certainly good reasons for this that you just didn’t see about ten years ago.

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