Nvidia and EVGA End Their 20-Year Partnership – Here‘s Why It Matters

Graphics cards and gaming PCs are on the minds of many tech enthusiasts these days. Between supply shortages and cryptominers gobbling up inventory, getting your hands on a powerful GPU for gaming or content creation feels nearly impossible.

So when news dropped that EVGA, the beloved PC hardware manufacturer, abruptly ended its business relationship with the dominant player in the GPU industry – Nvidia – shockwaves rippled through communities like r/buildapc on Reddit.

But why does this 20-year partnership dissolving matter so much? And what does it mean for the future of the graphics card landscape – not to mention your chances of buying a GPU at a reasonable price?

Let‘s analyze this apparent bad breakup between two PC gaming juggernauts and the potential fallout.

EVGA and Nvidia: From Tight Partnership to Splitsville

EVGA has been all-in on Team Green for over two decades. Since 1999, they have exclusively used Nvidia graphics processors in their wide array of graphics cards, motherboards, and prebuilt desktops oriented around PC gaming.

Back in March 1999, Nvidia launched the RIVA TNT2 to critical acclaim – their first major hit GPU aimed at 3D gaming. EVGA signed on to manufacture custom add-in board (AIB) variants of this pioneering card, tweaked for higher clocks and performance. It marked the start of a long, massively successful technology partnership.

In their early days together, Nvidia granted EVGA and other AIBs ample freedom to push the boundaries of graphics card design. EVGA leveraged this flexibility to create unique offerings like:

  • Dual-GPU cards
  • Models with expandable onboard memory
  • Spacious multi-slot cards
  • Aggressive overclocking with enhanced power delivery

Their customized graphics cards attracted legions of loyal customers among the PC enthusiast DIY crowd.

By the 2010s, EVGA‘sGeForce-based cards represented a staggering 40% of Nvidia‘s graphics card market share in North America:

YearNvidia ShareEVGA Share

As Nvidia cemented itself as the dominant player in desktop graphics cards, riding high-end GPU architectural breakthroughs like Turing and Ampere, EVGA rose in prominence right alongside them. At one point, EVGA‘s GeForce offerings accounted for 80% of the company‘s revenue. The fates of these two brands felt deeply intertwined.

That all changed over the course of 2022. Citing numerous ongoing frustrations around:

  • burdensome restrictions
  • poor communication channels
  • financial losses on current GPUs

EVGA elected to severe ties with Nvidia as soon as they sell off remaining inventory. Such an abrupt ending shocked many in the industry.

But cracks in the foundation between Nvidia and EVGA were apparent for some time beforehand…

Early Signs of Trouble Between the Two PC Gaming Powerhouses

Initially everything seemed rosy – Nvidia designed exceptional GPU technology powering state-of-the-art graphics cards built by EVGA. Gamers flocked to stores to snag the latest EVGA offerings based on new Nvidia architecture launches like Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell and so on.

Behind the scenes, however, tensions slowly simmered between Nvidia and their AIBs.

More Restrictions on Design Innovation

While once granting flexibility for creativity, Nvidia gradually began tightening restrictions on AIB customization. Going against the early spirit of innovation, constraints made it nearly impossible for EVGA to meaningfully differentiate Nvidia reference boards.

Unique features fans came to expect from EVGA like dual-GPUs, heat-pipe coolers spanning multiple expansion slots, and support for memory upgrades were reined in by mandated design limits. Nvidia also closely guarded exclusive access to the highest end GPU packages and chips. This hindered EVGA‘s capacity to push performance ceilings.

Delays in Resource Access Critical for Development

In the past, EVGA leveraged early access to critical GPU resources like drivers, documentation and development tools to prep next-gen cards immediately after an architecture launch.

Lately though, Nvidia began dragging their feet providing these materials to board partners. Last-minute dumps of resources right as new GPU product lines went live stunted EVGA‘s efforts to ready best-in-class custom models. Inferior access blocked them from optimizing performance and innovation capabilities.

Concerns Around Anti-Competitive Practices

Rumors circulated suggesting Nvidia deliberately undercut pricing of AIB partner graphics cards by offering Founders Edition models below market rates. Their direct-sales Founders Edition GPUs, produced cheaper than what partners could match, allegedly aimed to choke competition.

Facing pricing pressure from Nvidia themselves on one side and an entrenched secondary "scalper" market on the other, EVGA struggled to keep offerings reasonably aligned with MSRPs and profitable. This fuelled accusations of anti-competitive behavior from Nvidia to undercut their biggest booster.

While never overtly hostile, Nvidia‘s shifting posture towards AIB allies aggravated EVGA leadership. By 2022, the wounds festered too deep, setting the stage for a momentous divorce right as a new generation of GPU tech enters the spotlight…

The Breakup Heard ‘Round the Tech World

After over 20 years and enduring recent tensions, EVGA ultimately pulled the ripcord, announcing the end of their partnership with Nvidia on September 16th, 2022.

"Unfortunately EVGA cannot continue to operate at a loss in this environment and still provide the level of quality and support gamers expect from EVGA graphics cards," noted EVGA‘s Jacob Freeman.

With their statement, EVGA pledged to sell off all remaining current-gen Nvidia GPU inventory. Once the existing stack of graphics cards sells through, however, EVGA will cease all production of new Nvidia-powered video cards. Instead they will explore alternative options to power future products (AMD perhaps?).

The timing surprised many analysts, coming mere months before the launch of Nvidia‘s brand new RTX 40-series Lovelace graphics cards – the anticipated successor to Ampere. By exiting before this next-gen rollout, the door permanently closed on EVGA ever producing an RTX 4090 or RTX 4080.

While technical details around the breakup remain vague, most industry insiders agree that years of deteriorating financial equations, communication channels, and innovation throttling at Nvidia‘s hands drove EVGA away for good. The wounds span too deep to salvage the formerly healthy relationship.

Fallout: What Are the Ripple Effects of This Bombshell News?

Make no mistake – EVGA stepping aside sounds alarm bells across the entire desktop graphics card realm. As one of three prime Nvidia AIB partners along with ASUS and MSI, EVGA delivered around 40% of Nvidia cards in North America.

Their absence leaves a gaping hole that risks supply shortages, price hikes, and sub-par support experiences for GPU consumers. Expect the following aftershocks:

Supply and Demand Whiplash

Bracing for surging demand around the RTX 40-series debut this fall, Nvidia likely leaned heavily on EVGA‘s production bandwidth to buffer volume needs and avoiding stock-out situations. Without EVGA assisting, concerns around inventory drying up quick abound:

LaunchAvg. Units Sold
RTX 3080~800k units in 1st 8 weeks
RTX 3090~200k units in 1st 6 weeks

As the figures show, latest generation graphics cards sell by the hundreds of thousands right out the gate nowadays. Miners and scalpers exacerbate demand strain. Nvidia‘s remaining partners must aggressively ramp up output to compensate for the evaporated 40% capacity hole left by EVGA.

Price Hikes

Rising inflation already spelled pain for gadget buyers in 2022. Yet with EVGA bowing out right as next-gen GPU competition intensifies between Nvidia and AMD, even pricier graphics may loom.

EVGA‘s economies of scale directly helped Nvidia manage cost inflation by spreading fixed expenses over higher output volumes. Without EVGA sharing these manufacturing efficiencies, production expenses per unit increase for other Nvidia AIBs, risking even higher retail costs passed onto consumers.

Reduced Innovation

As one of the last AIBs truly pushing custom GPU designs to differentiate, EVGA exiting shrinks innovation diversity across gaming graphics cards. Their absence may shift focus towards competitively-priced reference models. So hardware variety and creativity stagnates, leaving Nvidia rivals as the only innovation avenue.

While DIY PC builders lose a trusted partner renowned for quality and service, Nvidia also forfeits a key vehicle that rocketed their GPUs to domestic dominance over decades. By restricting AIB freedoms, they boiled away a prime brand ambassador and revenue channel.

So while you may have never dropped big bucks on an EVGA FTW3 ULTRA RTX 3090 yourself, effects from this industry-shaking breakup will shape your next graphics card purchase options and budgets. As for what it signals for the GPU landscape long-term? Time will tell but moreitored competition and restraints on ingenuity seem likely.

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