Nvidia program ties GPU warranty support to voltage limits

EVGA’s GeForce GTX 680 Classified is a beast. The card combines a hot-clocked GK104 GPU with 4GB of RAM on a custom circuit board with 14-phase power delivery circuitry. An oversized blower keeps the thing cool, and there’s a port for EVGA’s EVBot remote overclocking tool—well, there was when we saw the card at Computex earlier this year, anyway. In the EVGA forums, Product Manager Jacob Freeman confirms that the EVBot functionality has been removed from the card “in order to 100% comply with NVIDIA guidelines for selling GeForce GTX products.” Voltage control, even via an external device like the EVBot module, is verboten, Freeman says.

Overclockers.com was the first to cover the story, and Bright Side of News has done some further digging. Turns out voltage control limits are part of Nvidia’s Green Light program, a certification process designed to ensure cards meet certain requirements. According to Nvidia Senior PR Manager Bryan Del Rizzo, overvolting is supported “up to a limit,” in order to “protect the life of the product.” Del Rizzo claims Nvidia won’t stop graphics card makers who want to overvolt their products wildly or want to provide users that freedom via voltage controls. However, doing so disqualifies products from receiving warranty support from Nvidia. Add-in board makers are free to provide their own warranty coverage, of course.

EVGA isn’t the only graphics card maker to run afoul of the Green Light program’s rules. MSI’s GeForce GTX 680 Lightning Edition card reportedly offered users too much leeway to tweak voltages and had to be scaled back to comply. Del Rizzo notes that MSI chose warranty coverage over extreme overvolting support, just as EVGA appears to have done with its Classified card. He also says those choices have no bearing on how many graphics chips are allocated to the card makers.

If the only penalty for deviating from Nvidia’s prescribed voltage guidelines is the loss of warranty support for that product, it’s hard to fault the policy. AMD and Intel certainly aren’t expected to provide warranty support for CPUs running far beyond stock speeds and voltages. Enterprising modders aren’t being prevented from busting out soldering irons to perform their own warranty-voiding voltage mods, either.

Comments closed
    • bcronce
    • 7 years ago

    Not to be ATI vs nVidia, but I under-voltaged my 6950 while overclocking it and its temp dropped about 6c under-load and ran run 24 hour burn-ins just fine.

    After a while, I realized that I don’t even need to OC my card, so I trimmed back the OC a lot, but left just a bit.

    Unless new games come out that actually load down the GPU, I’ll probably purchase medium performance GPUs from now on and undervolt/clock them.

    • Krogoth
    • 7 years ago

    Overclocking GPUs is kinda pointless these days unless you are into epenis points.

    It just makes more sense to upgrade to a higher tier. You end-up spending the same amount via the extra tools, aftermarket coolers and such to make lower-tier silicon perform the same as its higher-tier counterpart. Not to mention that there are far less headaches and heartbreaks along the way.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Well with a lot of card manufacturers, using an aftermarket cooler will void your warranty too.

    • Bensam123
    • 7 years ago

    So, to understand this properly… I buy a card through EVGA and a warranty through them, but the card is also warrantied from Nvidia to EVGA? So, really I’m getting a warranty from Nvidia?

      • shank15217
      • 7 years ago

      yup, when evga card breaks, evga needs to show nvidia its their gpu that broke before evga recovers from that loss.

      • clone
      • 7 years ago

      Nvidia guarantee’s it’s product quality to EVGA, EVGA uses that warranty as a subsidy of it’s own warranty.

      it gets even better though because Nvidia buys an insurance plan on it’s GPU’s so that if they fail they collect….. think if it like a farmers crop insurance in case of drought or natural disaster…… although I had heard that the premiums on that behind the scenes insurance skyrocketed after the mobile 8xxx disaster several years ago which may be why Nvidia has chosen to alter it’s policies.

      either way I’m not for or against the choice, certainly seems a reasonable move.

    • WillBach
    • 7 years ago

    I’m busy not playing Diablo III each night because after two RMAs, my Gigabyte 560 Ti OC still doesn’t work. I hope NVIDIA’s decision has the desired effect.

    • brucethemoose
    • 7 years ago

    [quote<] If the only penalty for deviating from Nvidia's prescribed voltage guidelines is the loss of warranty support for that product, it's hard to fault the policy. [/quote<] Does anyone else see this as a very bad direction for Nvidia to take? Out of all companies, you would think EVGA and MSI would be the ones to forgo the warranty and unlock their cards, especially the very top tier, non reference GTX 680s with beefy VRMs they paid engineers to design for the sole purpose of overvolting. These aren't Nvidia spec reference cards, we're talking about the 680 Lightning and Classified. But this isn't the case... so the warranty is probably more valuable than it appears to be, too valuable for even MSI and EVGA to give up on low volume cards with big profit margins and a reputation. Like US states receiving federal money for highways, they're not forced to comply with the Nvidia, just strongly encouraged. Look at this from a positive point of view, and Nvidia just wants to protect your card, and burn less money on customer support/replacing burnt out cards. It ultimately hurts consumers and manufacturers a little, but not Nvidia. If you're a conspiracy theorist, you would argue that Nvidia's an evil corporation strong-arming manufacturers, and removing features we consumers deserve to rob us of our money. You might argue that this has something to do with the fact that GK104 wouldn't be competitive with Tahiti if it wasn't already clocked so high (there's some truth to this). You also might point out that AMD doesn't do such things (which is untrue). For me though, the scariest thought is that this is a step towards horrendously locked down CPU market. The reason doesn't matter... As far as I know, you can't even buy a 680 with unlocked voltage. If you can, now you have to pay extra. If the laws of competition are broken once again, and AMD follows suit, it won't be long before we have to pay for "K" edition GPUs with unlocked multipliers.

      • faramir
      • 7 years ago

      LOL yeah, who the fuck wants to overvolt their gear ? I want to UNDERvolt mine, in order to keep it running as cool as possible, while still meeting the factory performance specs.

    • Walkintarget
    • 7 years ago

    One thing to consider, and its somewhat covered in the eVGA thread on this, but if an end user has to RMA a Classified card in a years time that is part of an SLI config, chances are quite high that they may not get back an EVbot enabled card to pair with their other EVbot enabled card.

    Somebody is going to be making a big stink about it, but I hope they realize they can’t fault the vendor.

      • willmore
      • 7 years ago

      Why not? eVGA chose to not support the feature to save money. I user who gets downgraded sure as heck can blame eVGA for wussing out. This is an ‘over the top’ premium part that the user payed a ton extra for and eVGA isn’t willing to back it up?

    • kcarlile
    • 7 years ago

    I think I installed a couple of those about a month back that came before the EVBot port was removed.

    • Sahrin
    • 7 years ago

    No bottomless pit is complete without the Freeman climbing out of it.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 7 years ago

    If eVGA and MSI want to sell their cards at obscene prices, but expect nVidia to foot the bill when they do something crazy with voltages, then I think it’s on them when they are given a choice and go with warranty versus the defining features of the cards they’ve manufactured and then sold at obscenely high mark-ups.

    Those high mark-up’s should include the fact they’ll be paying the warranty service on their own. It would seem they expect to get the high mark up and let nVidia foot the bill on warranty-based repairs. And that hardly seems logical to me.

      • siberx
      • 7 years ago

      That’s what I’m wondering; these aren’t run-of-the-mill products, these are top-tier flagships. The resellers don’t have the balls to deal with the warranty overhead themselves, but they’re still more than willing to charge their handy markup on the cards?

      Your product really doesn’t sound so “premium” if the thought of footing the bill for some warrantied cards scares you off so easily…

      • vargis14
      • 7 years ago

      Never killed a card overclocking, and i have overclocked a bunch way back to the 9700 pros and ti4800 i thinks.

      For me all the cards that died happened after sitting for a very long time 3-5 plus years and died under stock clocks. I even have a dell e1705 with a t5600C2D and a 7900gs 256mb that ran at i think 300 core and i forget the mem 500 maybe. I flashed it to a 7900gtx bios from day 1 with clocks of 600core and 800mem and its still working fine. Amazing considering i think those are the laptop cards that had the civil suit case because so many of them croaked.
      It is being used every day by a friend of mine i sold the laptop and a original HP mini nettop with the original atom cpu for 350$ for the pair a couple of months back. Considering it was way faster then his desktop. At least he can now play 720p youtube videos.

      • BestJinjo
      • 7 years ago

      – AMD supports voltage control on reference cards.
      – AMD supports RMA warranty for AIBs who have voltage control on non-reference cards.
      – AMD even released free clock speed and voltage bump BIOSes for 7950/7970 cards and didn’t charge a penny for them for current owners. Free performance.
      – NV supported voltage control on Fermi cards.

      You can blame AIBs all you want but it misses the bigger picture this generation – – NV red-lined GK104 where the majority of chips must not be safe to operate above stock voltage for long periods of time or NV is cutting down RMA costs at the expense of removing enthusiast feature. The cheaply made reference 600 cards this round scream of cost-cutting.

      No one said anything about crazy voltages either since NV blocks any voltage control on GK104, not even 1%. Fermi overvolted to 1.087V safely and no one seems to have complained. Maybe if NV didn’t go into cost-cutting mode on GTX570 and GTX670/680 VRM, they wouldn’t have this situation. This is a strategic move on NV to maximize profits by producing barely adequate reference cards from an engineering standpoint and removing liability from failed overvolted GK104 chips since it smells like that chip was red-lined being the mid-range Kepler chip that was intended to be GTX660Ti.

      I can understand why NV did it but in general they are moving 100% backwards from everyone else. In an era of Black Series AMD CPUs, K series Intel CPUs and dual-bios and voltage control of AMD cards, NV seems to have forgot why enthusiasts loved their products. If Intel disabled K series multiplier, there would be many upset enthusiasts.

      What I find amusing, when NV removes voltage control on Kepler, its customer base doesn’t mind and actually justifies this move. It’s perfectly fine to be a fan of NV for drivers, PhysX, CUDA, AO, etc. but there is no question NV is putting $ ahead of enthusiasts here. That’s not what one would call good PR. Not to mention, they are removing the ability of AIBs to differentiate products among each other with high-quality components since without voltage control they are all but worthless.

        • derFunkenstein
        • 7 years ago

        nVidia didn’t disable anything; they just said you’re doing it at your own risk. At some point, Intel’s warranty on the K series CPUs does the same thing – if you send one back that you blew up due to feeding it 2.6v or whatever else might be insanely high, there’s no reason to expect them to warranty that.

          • Deanjo
          • 7 years ago

          Yup, heck AMD even stiipulates use of a cooler other then what came with the cpu renders their warranty void.

          [url<]http://support.amd.com/us/warranty/Pages/Processorinabox3YearLimited.aspx[/url<] [quote<]This Limited Warranty shall be null and void if the AMD microprocessor which is the subject of this Limited Warranty is used with any heatsink/fan other than the one provided herewith.[/quote<]

      • Diplomacy42
      • 7 years ago

      by “obscenely high markups” you mean +/- 10%?

    • Walkintarget
    • 7 years ago

    As much as I want to complain and say this is bad for the hardcore guys, at some point you have to not allow extreme voltage mods to the product to offer a proper warranty.

    Just last year, I had an old G80 eVGA 8800GTS KO ACS3 card that eVGA replaced with an eVGA 450 series card. Did I expect them to offer a replacement on a 5+ year old card ? Nope, and I said as much in the initial contact request to eVGA. But they took care of me anyhow.

    I overclock EVERY CPU I buy, mostly mild OC’s with no change from default voltage, but I NEVER OC a video card, preferring to buy a factory OC card instead and leave it at that.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 7 years ago

      I’ve killed a couple of video cards for overclocking, but I never contacted support about it. One was an ASUS-branded GeForce DDR. The other was a Radeon 8500. Both of those were my fault. There was also a Radeon 9800 that the fan died on and I didn’t ntoice, so it croaked. ATi took care of me on that one.

    • Arclight
    • 7 years ago

    This is nothing new, the only noteworthy thing is that for the first time we learn that AIB partners went overboard with their custom versions, so much so that they had to tone down their top of the line offerings in order to comply again with the manufacturer’s guidelines. In other words, meh.

      • Deanjo
      • 7 years ago

      Ya, it is pretty much non news. If an end user were to exceed the AIB vendors specifications, the AIB would render the warranty void for the end user. Same criteria should apply to the AIB and the parts supplier.

      • Action.de.Parsnip
      • 7 years ago

      Oh I dunno, this does seem like shenanigans to me and makes AIB super-dooper products quite obsolete. This does undermine a whole strata of products (the very high end custom designs) and these days doesn’t it go without saying that with software voltage control in the likes of Afterburner et al, …. don’t people see it as a given that you can alter factory voltages?? (More than just a fraction)

      I’m sure people will have bought Kepler cards thinking they could overvolt them, then found out after the fact that they couldn’t.

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