We’re Still Waiting on Too Many of Nvidia’s Turing Promises

High-end PC gamers and enthusiasts are the kind of consumers most companies dream about: a collection of people eager to spend thousands of dollars on performance hardware. And two years after the well-received 10-series cards from Nvidia, a Vega response from AMD that failed to move the performance-per-dollar needle significantly forward, and enduring over a year of crypto-driven price craziness, those consumers were pretty eager for something new to get excited about.

But here we are more than two months out from the Turing launch, and Nvidia doesn’t have a whole lot to show for its effort, other than a trio of high-priced cards that are consistently failing to arrive in stores at their promised starting prices.

When Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang first announced its Turing architecture, packed with AI cores and real-time ray tracing features, he called the latter feature “the Holy Grail of our industry.” It was hyperbolic posturing to be sure—something we’ve come to expect from most major product launches--but also believable. The demos shown off by Nvidia promised a level of real-time visual realism that had only been seen before in pre-rendered cutscenes or Hollywood CGI masterpieces from studios like Pixar.

Now, Nvidia is selling its own Founders Edition cards at their promised prices, which is fine. But at the initial RTX launch, the company put up a slide showing third-party 2080 Ti cards starting at $999, 2080 cards at $699, and RTX 2070 cards at $499.

A quick look at Newegg and Amazon tells us that most RTX 2080 cards are selling for more than the premium Founders Edition pricing (north of $800 in the US and £600 in the UK), nowhere near $700. And the same is generally true of third-party RTX 2080 Ti cards—if you can find them in stock. As we wrote this on the official launch day of the RTX 2070, third-party variants of that card weren’t yet showing up for sale. And Nvidia’s own product page had a “Notify Me” button for its $599 FE variant (£549 UK), which will presumably arrive on October 17th as promised. But recent history tells us it’s extremely unlikely that we’ll see a 2070 card anywhere near its promised $499 starting price anytime soon.

Of course, card scarcity and inflated prices are nothing new for graphics card launches—I remember paying about $30 (22.74 pounds) over MSRP for my ATI Radeon HD 2600 XT in the weeks after it launched in mid-2007. But a $30 premium is a lot easier to tolerate than $100 or more.

And the high card prices are particularly hard for consumers (and reviewers) to take when the most-hyped features of RTX--namely ray tracing and AI-assisted super sampling (DLSS) can’t be definitively tested yet, because there are no games that support those features yet.

We’re expecting Battlefield V in November, and though Shadow of the Tomb Raider is out now, there’s no official word on when its ray tracing features will roll out. So while Microsoft pushed its DirectX Raytracing API out in the recent October update, RTX buyers--or potential buyers--are left with a modest list of promised games for both ray tracing and DLSS, and no clear indication of just how well the new cards will run with games with these future features.

As our own Chris Angelini asked in his RTX 2070 review, “Will ray tracing make enough of a difference to compel a graphics upgrade?” That’s definitely not a question reviewers should be asking three cards into a graphics card line launch--particularly one that’s arriving more than two years after its predecessor. And rather than competition from AMD, its those still-very-available previous-generation 10-series cards that are posing the biggest argument against Nvidia’s expensive new RTX cards. Again, let’s throw to our esteemed emeritus EiC for his expert analysis:

“So, what’s up with the lackluster reception of Turing-based graphics cards? It’s a three-part interplay of hyped-up technology that can’t be used yet, comparisons to plentiful Pascal-based cards, and a resulting (negative) perception of value. In generations past, Nvidia gave us more performance at a comparable, if not better price.

This time around, the company is mostly competing against its own cards with MSRPs reflecting a lack of competition. GeForce RTX 2070 is basically a step sideways for anyone who was previously eyeballing GeForce GTX 1080. GeForce RTX 2080 is a step sideways for anyone with a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. Only GeForce RTX 2080 Ti sets itself apart as an unrivaled winner among folks who were previously willing to pay $1200 for Titan-class frame rates. Buy Pascal or buy Turing; Nvidia wins either way.”

That last bit is key of course. While Nvidia would probably be happier if consumers picked up one of its latest cards, it’s making money either way. And without a competitive lineup from AMD--which isn’t expected at least until its 7nm Navi cards arrive sometime in 2019--Nvidia has little incentive to lower its prices.

Though it’s impossible to say yet exactly how well RTX cards are selling, clearly they are selling, as evidenced by the spotty availability of the $1,200-plus RTX 2080 Ti and the fact that third-party RTX 2080s are still mostly priced at $100 or more above Nvidia’s starting MSRP.

It’s understandable that the low availability and high prices would annoy (and in some cases, anger) enthusiasts who are used to getting more pixel-pushing power for their money. But at least there are (for the time being at least) plenty of GTX 1080s and GTX 1080 Tis available for those who don’t want to pay more for untested features such as ray-tracing and DLSS.

The bigger issue is why Nvidia is, in effect, over-promising and under-delivering with its RTX lineup--at least here in the early days of Turing card availability. Of course the company will rightly say it doesn’t have control over the price of third-party cards or when developers push out new games or updates. But with no new high-end cards from AMD on the market yet either, it’s unclear why Nvidia launched these cards when it did, rather than wait a few months. And of course it could have sold its own Founders Edition cards at slightly lower prices, pushing its third-party partners to be competitive.

We’re sure to see more than a few enticing games with ray tracing and DLSS features by 2019. By then the stock of 10 series cards may have dried up, and we’ll be able to actually evaluate the RTX cards on their key new features.

Until then, many looking for value in the high-end card market will likely keep looking to older cards--or waiting to see what AMD can deliver with Navi. Even if Navi only brings enough competition to bring down prices on today’s Turing offerings, that will be a boon for Nvidia’s sales numbers. Hopefully more RTX cards in consumers hands will also entice more game developers to push through features that take advantage of the uniqueness of Nvidia’s Turing hardware.

Note: As with all of our op-eds, the opinions expressed here belong to the writer alone and not Tom's Hardware as a team.

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  • compprob237
    "Just buy it."
  • Other Comments
  • compprob237
    "Just buy it."
  • jcroe72
    Navi is around the corner
  • redgarl
    `Hopefully more RTX cards in consumers hands will also entice more game developers to push through features that take advantage of the uniqueness of Nvidia’s Turing hardware.`

    Well, with AMD owning the console business and every PC games are console ports, Nvidia is not going to get a lot of support. The industry knows it, they know it and AMD knows it.
  • jimmysmitty
    251426 said:
    `Hopefully more RTX cards in consumers hands will also entice more game developers to push through features that take advantage of the uniqueness of Nvidia’s Turing hardware.` Well, with AMD owning the console business and every PC games are console ports, Nvidia is not going to get a lot of support. The industry knows it, they know it and AMD knows it.


    Yet tons of games use Gameworks like the originally AMD based Tomb Raider series. Big name games too like The Witcher 3. Final Fantasy XV. Etc. Consoles don't support Gameworks yet plenty of big name games support Gameworks. Its almost as if when developing the game for PC they can and do develop for PC exclusive features especially since its was a $32billion dollar market last year.

    Just to put it in perspective of $116 billion, the total for the year for gaming, it was 28% of the entire market. Consoles were 29%. Mobile gaming had vastly more with 43%. Either way PC and Console gaming were pretty much head on in terms of sales. Why would a developer not take advantage of features the majority of players probably have to get a nice slice of that pie? Answer, they will because they like to make money.

    People seem to not understand that the consoles mean nothing for PC. nVidia has the better performing GPU right now and has for a while. That means sales are higher and thus more people can take advantage of those features.

    While RTX sales are not going to be high at first unless AMDs Navi comes in swinging like an Irish boxer its not going to change much and once nVidia can lower costs for their refresh will still own the market and plenty of devs will take advantage of the available features.

    As for the cost, this is normal. No card has ever launched, that was top of the line that is, at MSRP. If retailers can take advantage and price gouge they will. Look at crypto mining. When that was the rage and AMDs cards were great for it they were inflated to hell. You could sell used GPUs from AMD for higher than its MSRP.

    Prices will settle in time once inventory channels normalize and hype blows over.

    As for features, like anything it will take time and eventually catch on. I remember when DX11 first launched. Very few games supported it but slowly and surely games started to add it in and eventually more games supported it than DX9.
  • kinggremlin
    251426 said:
    `Hopefully more RTX cards in consumers hands will also entice more game developers to push through features that take advantage of the uniqueness of Nvidia’s Turing hardware.` Well, with AMD owning the console business and every PC games are console ports, Nvidia is not going to get a lot of support. The industry knows it, they know it and AMD knows it.


    Nvidia doesn't develop these features and just tell developers, "Good luck." That's AMD's game plan. Nvidia heavily subsidizes developers and works with them directly to make use of their features and optimize for their hardware. Nvidia isn't dominating the AI and compute markets because of their hardware, it's because of their polished software ecosystem and all the money they pour into helping developers use their platforms.
  • DavidC1
    2674438 said:
    fact that third-party RTX 2080s are still mostly priced at $100 or more above Nvidia’s starting MSRP.


    Third-party manufacturers aren't stupid you know? They add more software, has better features and the cooler makes the GPU run quieter and run at lower temperatures. Why would they price it lower than the "Founder's Edition" which is really a reference design?

    The reason the Turing GPUs are expensive is because Nvidia jacked up the price of the reference version with the Founder's Edition nonsense starting with Pascal.
  • jas1nt
    Hang on a minute. Waiting for Nvidia's Turing promises? What happened to "Just buy it"?

    Consumer - It's too expensive.
    TomsHardware - "Just buy it"
    Consumer - Nothing uses Ray Tracing yet.
    TomsHardware - "Just buy it"
    Consumer - I don't want to have Ray Tracing when my whole life flashes before my eyes.
    TomsHardware - "Just buy it"
    Consumer - But I want to buy a dish washer, not a graphics card.
    TomsHardware - "Just buy it" - Actually, it's not worth it at the moment. Buy a older card. it should suffice.
    Consumer - I think I'll go to a different website to check for news. Thanks TomsHrdware!
  • chaosmassive
    today articles

    We’re Still Waiting on Too Many of Nvidia’s Turing Promises - Matt

    few days later...

    We're pleased with Nvidia's Turing Performance, I Believe Nvidia's Ray Tracing Is Future, SO JUST BUY IT !, The More You Buy, The More You Save ! - Avram
  • binhquangdao
    Just buy it.
  • PapaCrazy
    Not interested in a $700 2080 blower card. I don't think we'll see many anyway because of the 215w TDP. Prices for open fan cards need to come back down to reality, below what they expect for the low end blowers.
  • Olle P
    I agree with the writer: The sale start of the new RTX series should go hand in hand with the release of support for the new features in games.

    46807 said:
    Third-party manufacturers ... add more software, has better features and the cooler makes the GPU run quieter ... Why would they price it lower than the "Founder's Edition" which is really a reference design?
    Most third party cards add one or two features over FE, and cost similarly.
    While I agree that FE is *a* reference design, it's not *the* reference design, since it's factory overclocked by ~10% above the official boost clock.

    So there are other third party cards, especially RTX 2070 variants, that don't add stuff, and also are not factory overclocked. These cards do cost less than FE.
  • milkod2001
    'We’re Still Waiting on Too Many of Nvidia’s Turing Promises' In other words we at Tom's are still waiting for fat cheque form NV, otherwise will be honest about Turding.
  • AgentLozen
    Quote:
    Hang on a minute. Waiting for Nvidia's Turing promises? What happened to "Just buy it"? Consumer - It's too expensive. TomsHardware - "Just buy it" Consumer - Nothing uses Ray Tracing yet. TomsHardware - "Just buy it" Consumer - I don't want to have Ray Tracing when my whole life flashes before my eyes. TomsHardware - "Just buy it" Consumer - But I want to buy a dish washer, not a graphics card. TomsHardware - "Just buy it" - Actually, it's not worth it at the moment. Buy a older card. it should suffice. Consumer - I think I'll go to a different website to check for news. Thanks TomsHrdware!


    You must have put some time into this. I love theatrical posts that use scripts or mock articles. I've written a number of them myself.

    I've been seeing these "Just Buy It" posts periodically for the last two months. I know there was a bit of a backlash to the article in August and its fun to be outraged. I'm curious to know why we never see posts that read "Why You Shouldn’t Buy Nvidia’s RTX 20-Series Graphics Cards (Yet)". This article, which went live a day before the Just Buy It article, prophesied many of the problems with Turing we're discussing right now. It even opens with "...there’s a few solid reasons you shouldn’t jump on the ray-tracing train and purchase one of the new Turing-based GPUs." That doesn't sound like something Nvidia would pay Tomshardware for.

    I like seeing a good catch phrase to sell a legit point. What bothers me is when its the war cry of a bunch of misinformed jerks. So what do you say we Make America Great Again and move on, huh?
  • CatalyticDragon
    In January 2018 NVIDIA said this of their TITAN V card; "it's not for gaming". They were _really_ strong on this point. They said it's for AI developers, gamers go elsewhere otherwise you'll be wasting your money on a chip 50% devoted to AI training.

    Ten months later they released the exact same architecture, almost the exact same chip and said "it's for gamers now!"

    It's almost like they got completely caught unaware when the big buyers of GPUs developed their own custom AI hardware and were left with a lot of stock to push.

    The 2080 cards are fast but I'm not sure you'll ever see their full potential because AI training just isn't a task games will need. You don't train AI models in games. The AI inference performance is great but such extreme overkill as to be questionable.
  • johnrob
    This is really frustrating for me as a high fps enthusiast.

    2 years ago if I wanted >144 fps at 1440p I needed to spend ~$750 on a gtx 1080ti. I didn't have it at the time, still don't. But now, 2 years later, I need to spend $850+ for the same level of performance.

    I guess I'll just stick with my gtx 980 and 1080p, which is fine I guess. I was really hoping to upgrade this gen though.
  • Samuel White
    Holy Hell i came here to troll with the "JUST BUY IT!" and i am a day late and a dollar short. I guess Nvidia didn't pay Toms for their "JUST BUY IT" advertisement a month ago and Toms is upset they didn't get their money. AMD isnt the greatest, but when its only a half step behind Nvidia and 6 steps ahead on budget cards they should get the "JUST BUY IT" post from Toms.
  • tim.hotze
    I've said this before and I'll say it again: The real benefits of raytracing are going to come from games that are starting production NOW, not games that have a few ray tracing effects added later, the same way that during the 3D movie fad, movies shot in 3D were much better than converted ones.

    That means it'll be ~2 years before we see games that REALLY benefit from raytracing, and by that point in time, they'll be targeting Nvidia's 21xx (or 30xx? who knows these days) GPUs, with whatever performance and raytracing upgrades happen between now and then (and will probably be on a 7nm+ process, which will likely make a fairly significant difference in speed).
  • tim.hotze
    2748711 said:
    Navi is around the corner


    And I've got high hopes but low expectations. It might be the last GCN-based chip, but the rumors of a "RX 590" based on a 12nm shrink of Polaris don't give me high hopes that AMD is planning on blowing up the market with Navi in early 2019 (since they'll presumably be selling Polaris-based products for a while, otherwise, why spend the money on the shrink?).

    I think a best case scenario is something competitive with the 2070 series, sometimes touching 2080 performance. Hopefully Navi includes support for both GDDR and HBM, since Vega's availability was severely hampered by the HBM shortage (which has likely also hampered AMD's ability to cut prices).
  • quilciri
    1823012 said:
    This is really frustrating for me as a high fps enthusiast. 2 years ago if I wanted >144 fps at 1440p I needed to spend ~$750 on a gtx 1080ti. I didn't have it at the time, still don't. But now, 2 years later, I need to spend $850+ for the same level of performance. I guess I'll just stick with my gtx 980 and 1080p, which is fine I guess. I was really hoping to upgrade this gen though.


    You can pick up a used 1080ti for $450 or less right now.
  • lumineZ
    The RTX 2080 - 2080Ti are to expencive... period.
    It does not matter if you have the money to buy 10 cards if you want to. Its still to expencive.

    I always vote with my wallet, and there is no way in hell I am gonna support a company with the prices they want atm... nuts!