Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BFG leaves the graphics card market

http://www.hardocp.com/news/2010/05/18/bfgtech_exits_graphics

BFG Tech Announces Exit From Graphics Card Category, Continues On With Power Supplies And Laptops/PCs

Libertyville, IL – May 17, 2010 – BFG Technologies today announced their exit from the graphics card category. The company will continue to sell their line of BFG Tech power supplies as well as their Deimos gaming notebooks and Phobos gaming systems.

"After eight years of providing innovative, high-quality graphics cards to the market, we regret to say that this category is no longer profitable for us, although we will continue to evaluate it going forward", said John Slevin, chairman of BFG Technologies. "We will continue to provide our award-winning power supplies and gaming systems, and are working on a few new products as well. I’d like to stress that we will continue to provide RMA support for our current graphics card warranty holders, as well as for all of our other products such as power supplies, PCs and notebooks."

BFG will continue to offer RMA, telephone and email support for qualified BFG Tech graphics card warranty holders, but will no longer be bringing new graphics card products to market.

One can almost hear the screams emanating from Nvidia over this. BFG has been one of their most loyal partners, exclusively offering Nvidia's cards from day 1. BFG was also one of only two vendors to produce AGEIA PHYSX add-in cards, and helped to push PhysX as a viable physics solution for game developers.

The line about the graphics card business no longer being profitable is, well, telling. It's been no industry secret that Nvidia's actual graphics chips were horribly expensive to produce, and that Nvidia was having to sell many of their chips at a loss in order for the card vendors to make a profit. Last years loss of XFX to a multi-vendor approach was one of the first signs that things weren't going well for Nvidia.

The list of vendors making Nvidia-hardware only is still rather long. ECS, EVGA, Galaxy, Palit, PNY, Sparkle, and Zotak all still manufacture Nvidia branded graphics cards exclusively. The list isn't exactly encouraging though.

ECS has a longtime reputation as a budget vendor. They tend to make reliable products, and I enjoyed the 755-A2 I had. It was a steller product, offering 90% of the performance of an Nvidia Nforce3 250gb, but at way less than 90% of the cost. Which, really, was the only reason you'd buy something from ECS. You bought from ECS because you could not afford anything better.

Unfortunately for Nvidia, that's also what Palit, Sparkle, Galaxy, and Zotak are all known for. Providing budget cards, at a budget price-point, for the buyer who just can't afford any better. I've gone through a couple of Sparkle graphics cards outfitting older computers for people who wouldn't switch to ATi cards, and... the Sparkle cards are cheap. I've had a Zotak that a client requested, and the build quality was... disgusting. I've gone through a couple of Palits, again because the buyer didn't want an ATi card.

So, of the remaining Nvidia only vendors, it's just EVGA and PNY. PNY is better known for their desktop memory, but they are a good vendor, although I've never actually had hands on with any of the graphics card products. EVGA? Well, my triple-sli system uses EVGA. They are a good brand, good customer service... and one can't help but wonder how far away from offering ATi cards they are after today's announcement from BFG.

With a less than stellar exclusive line-up of graphics cards vendors, and previous exclusive vendors manufacturing cards for the competition, one just has to wonder how big of a financial disaster Fermi is for Nvidia and their board partners. Reading between the lines, it was a disaster big enough to take one of the best out of the game.
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