I had to do a double-take after spotting this story yesterday evening. HardOCP found out that Best Buy is now stocking retail-boxed GeForce graphics cards straight from Nvidia. The GeForce GTX 460 box HardOCP nabbed has a design that looks straight off the Nvidia website, and the card inside has a plain black cooler shroud with green highlights—again, just like the product shots on Nvidia.com.
I fired off an e-mail to Nvidia to see if I could get a response. The company replied with this statement:
NVIDIA and Best Buy are working together to offer PC customers the opportunity to experience firsthand the latest in PC technologies right inside Best Buy stores. As part of this broad initiative, NVIDIA is supplying to Best Buy specific GeForce models built and supported by NVIDIA. These products will only be available at Best Buy and will complement GeForce products from our partners. We will provide more details on this next week.
Interesting. Old-timers might remember that ATI used to offer retail-boxed Radeons, but I believe that was back before the AMD buyout. Why is Nvidia following in the same footsteps now? The move might help draw more attention to the Nvidia brand, although from a hardware standpoint, I doubt there's much of a difference between Nvidia- and partner-branded reference cards... aside from the sticker, of course. I suppose we'll find out more next week. (HardOCP says it'll have "the full story" later this morning, too.)