Nvidia's Founders Edition graphics cards are just reference designs

Scorpus

Posts: 1,984   +231
Staff member

When Nvidia announced the GeForce GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 on Friday, there was a bit of confusion surrounding the "Founders Edition" cards that were listed alongside standard cards at a higher price. The GTX 1080, for example, was shown as having two variants: a regular card with an MSRP of $599; or a Founders Edition with a price tag of $699.

At the time, many speculated that the Founders Edition card would be specially selected to provide better overclocking performance, or that it would be factory overclocked by Nvidia themselves. As it turns out, the Founders Edition is not nearly as special: it's just a standard reference designed card.

So why would you want to spend an extra $100 (or $70 in the case of the GTX 1070) on the Founders Edition card when it doesn't provide any real performance advantage? Well, that's a good question, and Nvidia has some interesting answers.

Basically, Nvidia feels as if their reference design is the best version of the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070. They want to have their design on the market for the life of the card, which is why you'll be able to purchase Founders Edition cards from Nvidia directly.

At the same time, Nvidia doesn't want to compete directly with board partners, which is why partners can sell their variants of the card for less. If Nvidia sold their version at the same price as partners' versions, this would impact the sales of partners and their relationship with Nvidia.

From this perspective it seems as though Nvidia knows the Founders Edition will be a niche product for people who aren't concerned about pricing and want the original design of these cards. It's almost a given that budget conscious buyers will get a better deal purchasing a custom cooled, factory overclocked card for a price closer to the MSRP than Founders Edition.

However Nvidia does have one advantage up their sleeve, and that's timing. It seems as though you'll be able to get a Founders Edition card much sooner than a partner customized card, so if you really want a new GTX 1080 or GTX 1070 ahead of others, you can pay a bit more to get an early reference design. But like with previous launches, those who want a custom card might need to wait a few months before partners polish and deliver their designs.

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amstech

Posts: 2,643   +1,804
At the same time, Nvidia doesn't want to compete directly with board partners, which is why partners can sell their variants of the card for less. If Nvidia sold their version at the same price as partners' versions, this would impact the sales of partners and their relationship with Nvidia.
My brain is having trouble grasping this paragraph.
 

madboyv1

Posts: 1,611   +500
At the same time, Nvidia doesn't want to compete directly with board partners, which is why partners can sell their variants of the card for less. If Nvidia sold their version at the same price as partners' versions, this would impact the sales of partners and their relationship with Nvidia.
My brain is having trouble grasping this paragraph.
Do you perchance remember when OEMs were bashing Microsoft for even making the Surface and Surface Pro? Same thing could happen here with Nvidia and it's OEMs, if the later wants to be dicks about it. I guess Nvidia thinks that by charging more they'll cannibalize less sales, but in reality they'll still be cannibalizing early adopters anyways, which is probably one of the larger demographics purchasing high end cards.
 
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Theinsanegamer

Posts: 1,999   +2,473
Nvidia just milking their fanbase like good little cows full of money. There is no reason these blower coolers should const more than the dual/triple fan setups 3rd party cards normally come with, other than to squeeze more profits from fanbois.
 

hahahanoobs

Posts: 3,035   +1,207
You do get vapor chamber cooling (it's back), fancier shroud than last year, a backplate and it's compatible with the new SLi connectors.
 

cldmstrsn

Posts: 204   +166
This is actually great because last year I was looking for another 780 so I could SLI but they were nowhere to be found so this means I can get one 1080 then in about a year or 2 I can still be guaranteed to find one. At least thats what I took from it.
 
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Adhmuz

Posts: 2,062   +854
Seems suspicious to me, considering review samples are already floating around, I really wouldn't be too surprised if the partners already have designs in the works and won't be too far behind the launch with their revisions. I'll be waiting for the STRIX GTX1070 by Asus, or whatever they're replacing it with as their top end air cooler.
 

theBest11778

Posts: 298   +127
I think it's mostly for the custom water cooling scene as most full card water blocks are designed for the reference designed PCB. Should make it easier for people to know their blocks will work with these cards instead of having to find an OEM who didn't change the PCB layout. Just a thought.
 
R

RustyTech

I have this feeling that if I don't see something from the Red Team soon or if I don't see 980ti go down in price (which seems that they may not), Nvidia's gonna get $200 extra from me :p seeing how I got my 690ti a while back, hopefully this SLI setup will last 4-5 years :D
 

Kenrick

Posts: 631   +401
Tell all you want about polaris but everyone would agree that the titan reference cooler is the best looking cooler in history of video cards and this is a reference card which is flexible in water cooling posibilities.

no one is forcing you to buy it.
 

GhostRyder

Posts: 2,151   +588
Personally I am not a big fan of this mentality with the stock designs. I normally look at stock versions because I like them to be cheap so I can throw a waterblock on them. Oh well, not a big issue since there will be other versions of this card. Hopefully though this will not translate to the other cards upping their price in response.
 

dividebyzero

Posts: 4,840   +1,264
My brain is having trouble grasping this paragraph.
Used to be a time when the reference cooler was the baseline and sometimes cheapest cooling option. Once Nvidia introduced the NVTTM cooler with the GTX 600 series it added a lot of expense to the total manufacturing bill. OEM/ODM's started offering cheap plastic knock-offs at the same price and began realizing a higher profit and the NVTTM ended up becoming a mid-market option even though it was a reference design (AMD's reference coolers could also be seen in the same light with reduced BoM models such as Sapphire's Flex series that look like Vapor-X's but feature a PCB with a lower layer count and some truly bargain basement chokes), often competing with aftermarket coolers in popularity. Nvidia and Best Buy sold a lot of the reference cooler GTX 970's when Nvidia listened to clamoring.

What in effect Nvidia is doing is not competing with the reduced-BoM cards that MSI, Palit/Gainward/Galax etc are putting out with a higher manufacturing cost NVTTM. AIB's used to have all the pie, they'll effectively have to earn it now.
Reduced cost Galax GTX 1080:


The reference card would sit between this and something like this

Seems suspicious to me, considering review samples are already floating around, I really wouldn't be too surprised if the partners already have designs in the works and won't be too far behind the launch with their revisions. I'll be waiting for the STRIX GTX1070 by Asus, or whatever they're replacing it with as their top end air cooler.
Partner custom boards are already in the hands of reviewers.
I think it's mostly for the custom water cooling scene as most full card water blocks are designed for the reference designed PCB. Should make it easier for people to know their blocks will work with these cards instead of having to find an OEM who didn't change the PCB layout. Just a thought.
The reduced BoM cards should also feature the reference 5+1 phase PCB, so unless people are looking for a high-ish ASIC quality, even the $599 cards should suffice for watercooling.
Do you perchance remember when OEMs were bashing Microsoft for even making the Surface and Surface Pro? Same thing could happen here with Nvidia and it's OEMs, if the later wants to be dicks about it. I guess Nvidia thinks that by charging more they'll cannibalize less sales, but in reality they'll still be cannibalizing early adopters anyways, which is probably one of the larger demographics purchasing high end cards.
Nvidia began cannibalizing AIB sales when they began selling direct to consumers. All that effectively happened was that the board vendors upped their game with custom PCB's, BIOS's, and cooling. Much fewer vendor models now sport reference clocks, so the consumer ends up with a modest clock bump and more bling than they used to.
 
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