NVIDIA hurting AIB partners with Founders Edition cards
With the launch of the NVIDIA Pascal cards, NVIDIA introduced the Founders Edition cards, which were essentially reference cards made and marketed by NVIDIA themselves directly to consumers. This has reportedly hurt profits of NVIDIA’s add-in board (AIB) partners who also design and sell graphics cards with NVIDIA chips.
Sources report that the sum of profits earned by the world’s six top graphics card suppliers amounted to US$159.49 million, encouraging the Taiwanese GPU maker to enter the market directly with their GTX 1000-series of graphics cards. Founders Edition cards bypass AIB partners like ASUS and MSI, potentially raking in the AIB partners’ share of profits too. The Founders Edition cards are also pricier, giving NVIDIA a higher profit margin per card than their AIB partners.
Previous rumors of Founders Edition cards having better binned chips as compared to those of AIB partners have proven to be untrue, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear cut advantage of getting one. What remains to be seen is how their partners will respond to this. While it may not affect giants like ASUS and MSI, smaller AIB partners who exclusively design NVIDIA cards might be severely hit by NVIDIA selling Founders Edition cards. There are also rumors of NVIDIA planning to expand the Founders Edition program.
Pokdepinion: Previously reference cards were usually cheaper, and also were necessary if you want to slap a full cover waterblock on your cards. Now with reference cards being even pricier than cards made by AIB partners, I find it difficult to consider them in light of the AIB partners excellent designs, unless you really want to go down the watercooling route. Even if you look forward to watercooling your graphics cards, waterblocks for ASUS ROG Strix cards are available from Bykski.