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OEM Graphics Cards

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August 13, 2011 7:27:28 PM

I may be beating a dead horse here, but am I the only consumer that would like to see OEM graphics cards w/out chassis/heat-sinks/fans?

We all know we can purchase aftermarket coolers for our video cards, but as a consumer I don't want to pay for all the pretty plastic and aluminum when I'm simply going to throw it aside when my new water-block arrives.

Adjust the cost accordingly, and package me an OEM reference board, and let me handle the cooling.

The market for CPU coolers has exploded, and created some brilliant designs and competition. Imagine where we could go with graphics cards.

What do y'all think?

Tom's has enough sway w/ manufacturers to get the ball rolling on something like this.

More about : oem graphics cards

a b U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 7:37:41 PM

I disagree. Many consumers - probably most by a large margin - don't want the hassle of reviewing, selecting, purchasing, and installing a separate heatsink.

With matched coolers - companies get to select the ones they think work the best with their systems - and meet consumer preferences for value. As you know, many already offer several versions of some models with different cooler to partially address your concens.

I certainly would not have an objection to them also selling "OEM" cards without a cooler, but I bet the reason is they do not believe there is a market and don't want to deal with the added headaches and costs of customers complaining or trying to warranty repairs on cards ruined because of inadequate or improperly installed cooling assemblies.
a b U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 7:49:08 PM

Yep. Warranty is a lot of the reason this has never happened... not packaging a cooler with your card means that the end user MUST put their own cooler on it. And we all have seen how quickly an inexperienced user can utterly destroy a perfectly good card trying to put his/her own cooling system on it.
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August 13, 2011 7:49:40 PM

Like most of Tom's readers, I do a lot of research before I build a system. Whether it's an HTPC, a workstation, or a gaming rig cooling is a major decision that takes place during any build.

Manufacturers should still sell their normal boards, but should also have a cheaper, limited warranty version of their PCBs w/out the cooler.

Warranties and customer hassle hasn't stopped Intel and AMD from selling OEM versions of their CPUs
a c 202 U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 8:52:08 PM

You understand just how tiny the market would be? You are talking a small fraction of custom system builders, who are a tiny fraction of the total number of systems sold. OEM CPUs make sense because there are mid sized system builders who dont order by the 1k lot but put aftermarket heatsinks on the units and dont need the massive quantity of crappy heatsinks, GPU heatsinks on the other hand are good at their job and dont always necessitate replacement.

Im pretty sure most of the people who bought the cards without heatsinks would do so because it was cheaper and not realize that they needed to put their own heatsink on it and cook the card, costing the companies a ton of money in warranty repairs and RMAs, too much money at risk and not enough potential profit to be worth it so i highly doubt it will ever happen, primarily because your average computer user is a moron.
August 13, 2011 9:44:30 PM

No matter how tiny the market is, there's still money to be made, and I don't think it's as tiny as all that.

Companies like Alienware, Voodoo, Falcon Northwest, and many more employ water-cooling in many of their systems. If they can not only reduce their costs by decreasing labor, and eliminating the excessive costs of copper, fans, and labor from the manufacturers that they purchase from; that's a higher profit margin for them.

The fact alone that Dangerden, Koolance, and EK have a market at all tells me that a simple reference PCB has a place.

A simple warning label on your product can eliminate morons installing a card w/out a cooler. Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't overclocking void your warranty anyway? Besides, the OEM market, and the market that I'm talking about ISN'T for morons. It's for enthusiasts like myself and others that know what they're doing.

Another benefit, albeit unlikely, is that perhaps some standards in PCB layout might arise if people want to migrate their aftermarket coolers from one gen to the next.
a c 130 U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 10:10:31 PM


@ sha7bot,

How much money do you seriously think your going to save by not getting the reference cooler on the card ?
OEM CPU chips are made to be supplied to system builders and should not be available to the general public, enthusiast or not. These chips are single digit denominations cheaper. Bottom line they are supplied as such because there are huge companies out there who want them supplied that way. Some leak through to the retail outlets but not many.
System builders can and do overclock these chips and employ various cooling systems,
A. to allow these over clocks and B. to add a reason to charge more.
Now, relative to a CPU a GPU is a many fold more complex piece of technology. The very idea that people should be supplied the GPU without the cooling attached is quite frankly laughable to me.
There are so many variations on each GPU family and each requires different levels of cooling, generally speaking a lot of these cards are built on the same PCB which means at a base level its not possible without rejigging the manufacturing process to make it possible to fool proof the fitting of compatible coolers, like you can with a CPU.

Also on a less technical note it takes away the profit part of the whole process from the board partners. I don't know if you are aware but selling the reference cards isn't really that lucrative for the board partners its the non reference cards with the higher clocks and the third party coolers that actually make the money for them.
This is the main reason it wont happen.

Mactronix :) 
a b U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 10:28:07 PM

I really don't see them doing this at all. The fact Intel and AMD are going for better integrated card solutions, and with AMD talking about reducing the amount of discrete cards they make, I don't see them trying to please such a tiny market.
August 13, 2011 11:10:04 PM

Thanks for everyone's replies, but I'm not here to solicit arguments. I'm here to drum up support for the idea that simple PCBs be sold to the community.

Companies such as MSI, EVGA, Asus, ect... can stay out of the picture. There will always be a place for the layman to buy their cards, and more power to them. However consumers such as myself like choice, and if my choice is to purchase just the hamburger, minus the bun, then I see absolutely nothing wrong with that.

You ask how much money will I save? Honestly, unless I can see a cost breakdown of materials/labor I can only guess, but look at how much a motherboard costs. Arguably for more complex, and far more materials. It boils down to a simple PCB, but in most cases MORE THAN HALF the cost. What's the biggest difference? Both have I/O ports, far more for MBs. Both have voltage regulators, the MBs is much larger and more complex. Both have Processing units, in most cases a MB has two.

The biggest difference is the GPU, the memory, and the cooling unit. You cant tell me that all that copper and aluminum and those fans don't cost a lot of money. Or at least enough to make a difference to me: The consumer.

The fact of the matter is that computers should be like the auto industry: infinitely customizable.

People can argue all they want about why AMD and nVidia aren't doing it, but until the community tries it out... well, words are wind.
a c 130 U Graphics card
August 13, 2011 11:30:12 PM

So basically what you are saying is you have come up with an idea and no matter what anyone says you think its a good idea and others opinions and informed reasoning on the matter can go and hang because you think the idea is valid so it must be.

You are clearly talking on a subject you have limited understanding of as you seem to think a simple Motherboard is more complex than a GPU.

You have stated your idea and have been given reasons why it would not work, your talking nonsense saying things like "Companies such as MSI, EVGA, Asus, ect... can stay out of the picture" So how does that work then ? who makes the cards if they don't ? As i said you clearly don't understand the process you are arguing about or else you would know how ridiculous that statement is.

Mactronix :) 
a b U Graphics card
August 14, 2011 1:08:33 AM

sha7bot said:
You ask how much money will I save?

Very little. Eliminating the cooling - mostly a fan - will save vary little and most will be offset by the added cost of manufacturing and stocking (at the plant, wholesale, and retail levels) another part - and that's before getting the the RMA and warranty issues and all the angry customers if the manufacturer does not assume responsibilitie for the customers screw ups.

sha7bot said:
The fact of the matter is that computers should be like the auto industry: infinitely customizable.

Not from the manufacturer - they actually have relatively few options, and especially after considering the large volumes and dollar value of sales. I think it was Ford that said his customers could have any color as long as it was black. Assembly lines are highly standardizef and allow few options. Infact the in recent years the trend is the other way, where they build different model cars a few standard chasis and try to standardize parts as much as possible.

sha7bot said:
People can argue all they want about why AMD and nVidia aren't doing it, but until the community tries it out... well, words are wind.

And so are ideas - especially ones that it is very likely companies have considered and rejected - or never considered worth discussing. Do you really think none of the large marketing, engineering, and product development staffs at all those different brands never thought about "your" idea?
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