Nvidia’s last-minute rebranding of the 12GB RTX 4080 will be a pain for GPU makers

Nvidia’s last-minute rebranding of the 12GB RTX 4080 will be a pain for GPU makers

Nvidia’s last-minute rebranding of the 12GB RTX 4080 will be a pain for GPU makers

Nvidia’s last-minute rebranding of the 12GB RTX 4080 will be a pain for GPU makers

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Late last Friday, Nvidia decided that “delaunching” a lower 12GB version of its upcoming GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card so that it could be renamed and released later. This was good news for people who care about this sort of thing—the $899 12GB RTX 4080 and the $1,199 16GB RTX 4080 were fundamentally different cards with very different levels of performance.Giving both the same name could have created unnecessary disappointment and confusion for buyers of the cheaper card.

The problem for GPU makers is that Nvidia planned to launch the cards in mid-November, and partners have already started manufacturing and packaging them to ship to retailers. Gamers Nexus spoke to sources from two of Nvidia’s board partners about some of these logistical hurdles, reporting that existing boxes for the 12GB RTX 4080 cards were “collected and destroyed” and that Nvidia is “at least subsidizing the boxes, or part of them, to be replaced.” The changed GPUs will reportedly be reintroduced or relaunched (or not launched?) around CES in January 2023.

There will be costs for other board partners as well, both for GPUs already in production and those that will be produced after Nvidia decides on a name (Gamers Nexus says that hasn’t happened, but that the “4070” or ” 4070 Ti” seems most likely). GPU coolers usually have the card name and model number printed somewhere, occasionally prominently with programmable LEDs underneath. These coolers will either need to be rebranded, reprinted, or replaced to replace the old RTX 4080 branding with the new branding.

The BIOS on the cards will also need to be re-flashed so that the GPUs are properly identified (both for drivers and operating systems) with their new model number instead of showing as RTX 4080 cards. Gamers Nexus and its sources didn’t know for sure if Nvidia will also be tweaking the card’s specs to match its new model name, though Nvidia’s post from last week makes that sound unlikely.

“The RTX 4080 12GB is a fantastic graphics card, but it’s not named properly,” it says original blog post. Changing its specs just because it’s changing its name could run the risk of making it less “fantastic” and would likely cause the same consumer backlash that prompted Nvidia to change its name.

Finally, Gamers Nexus says Nvidia will “also reduce the price” of its rebranded GPU to reflect the new name. This could be inconvenient for partners who have already produced the cards given their old retail price, especially because profit margins for these board partners are reportedly already quite low. If you built GPUs for (say) $700 or $800 expecting to sell them for $900, you’d only have so much room to drop the price before you start losing money, and we don’t know if Nvidia would offer some kind of rebate or reimbursement partners who have already purchased those GPUs.

When asked by Ars about reimbursement, a Nvidia spokesperson told us the company had “nothing to add.”

One partner who won’t be affected by this? EVGA, which severed its longtime ties with Nvidia in September due to an alleged lack of communication and competition from Nvidia’s first-party Founders Edition cards. There was another side to this story – EVGA’s profit margins on GPUs they were reportedly lower than some of Nvidia’s other board partners because they didn’t make their own boards or coolers, for example—but if you want to prove that Nvidia could be difficult to work with, “renaming GPUs weeks before release and only partially compensating partners for problems” is a pretty good example.

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