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Partners: Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 GPUs Will Push ‘Monumental’ Refresh

‘I was watching the livestream and I was streaming myself, and I’m like, holy sh*t, this is incredible. Like the fact that they’re so aggressive with pricing like this, it blew us out of the water,’ one Nvidia system builder partner says of the major refresh opportunity the new GeForce RTX 30 graphics cards will create.

Nvidia partners said the chipmaker’s forthcoming, aggressively priced GeForce RTX 30 series graphics cards will prompt a major — “monumental” even — refresh opportunity in the desktop PC market.

Wallace Santos, CEO of Maingear, a Kenilworth, N.J.-based system builder partner, told CRN that he was already impressed by the new graphics cards’ performance gains over the first-generation RTX products based on internal testing. But he didn’t expect Nvidia to go so low with its pricing when CEO Jensen Huang revealed the products in a livestream Tuesday.

[Related: Intel Says Tiger Lake Laptop CPUs Are Faster Than AMD Ryzen 4000]

“I was watching the livestream and I was streaming myself, and I’m like, ‘holy sh*t, this is incredible,’” he said. “Like the fact that they’re so aggressive with pricing like this, it blew us out of the water.”

Prior to Tuesday’s reveal of the new GeForce RTX cards, Santos thought the powerhouse GeForce RTX 3090 card would come in at around $2,000 — and it turned out to be $500 less, at $1,499. The GeForce RTX 3080 card, he thought, would come out around $1,300 to $1,500 based on the performance numbers he was seeing — and it’s actually roughly half that, at $699.

“When we guessed that, we said, ‘that’s not good for the market,’” Santos said, recalling the discussions he had with his team before Tuesday. “We were having this argument back and forth. We were like, ‘it’s not going to be good for sales if [Huang] does that.’ I understand why he would do that, because of yield and things like that. But no, we were completely off.”

Santos said he expects the launch of the new Ampere-based graphics cards — the GeForce RTX 3080 and 3090 this month and the GeForce RTX 3070 in October — to be better than the first generation of RTX 20 products that launched in 2018 using Nvidia’s Turing architecture. And even better or on par with the Pascal-based GTX 10 graphics cards that came out in 2016.

“This is the most impactful GPU launch to date and arguably as impactful or better than the 10 series,” he said, citing the excitement he heard from VIP customers on Tuesday.

With the pricing coming in lower than expected for Nvidia’s new graphics cards, Santos said, that means some of his customers will spend more money on other components, like SSDs.

“If you didn’t reach your budget, you tend to spend it in other places as well,” he said.

While the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the world’s economy, Santos said he thinks there are plenty of people who will fork over money to get a better gaming PC, particularly because so many of them are in lockdown or doing fewer social activities outside.

What will also help, according to Santos, is the fact that Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox consoles and Sony’s PlayStation 5, both slated to come out this fall, will support ray tracing, a method for rendering realistic lighting and reflections in real time in video games that Nvidia was first to natively support with the RTX 20 graphics cards that came out in 2018. That means mean more games for PC will support ray tracing, which has gained increasingly growing support over the last two years from major titles, including Minecraft and Fortnite.

“The PC gamers are going to be in a good spot when the consoles release later this year,” he said.

With the new RTX graphics cards supporting PCIe 4.0 connectivity, there’s the question of whether that will push buyers to choose AMD’s Ryzen processors over Intel’s Core processors since only the former support that level of connectivity. But Santos said the difference in performance for the new RTX cards isn’t as big between Ryzen and Core as one would believe.

“The 3080 and 3090, pending further testing here, it’s not going to saturate a PCIe 4.0 bus. You’re not going to get a crazy performance degradation on an Intel platform,” he said.

However, Santos said, he thinks AMD will see more favor for new RTX buyers.

“Now, from a marketing standpoint, it makes total sense why you would want PCIe 4.0 for your PCIe 4.0 video card, so I think Intel is at a disadvantage there,” he said.

Dan Young, CEO of Xidax, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based system builder partner, called the pricing for the new graphics cards “pretty aggressive” and said they present a “monumental” refresh opportunity in the channel for gamers and content creators.

“It gives people a compelling reason to either upgrade or just buy a whole new PC with all the new technologies that are coming out,” he said. “It’s a great lead-in, and I think it’ll make the holiday season probably the strongest one we’ve ever experienced in 30 years.”

Young said he’s particularly excited about what the new GeForce RTX cards means for his content creation and game development customers.

“We’ve been selling more and more to content creators and game developers,” he said. “Time is money when you’re doing rendering and all kinds of things, so this is going to bring it to the next level.”

Out of the three products announced, Young said, the GeForce RTX 3070 will be the most appealing to customers because of how it packs more performance than the previous-generation, $1,199 RTX 2080 Ti at a $499 price point.

“My personal opinion is that the new 3070 is just going to blow things up as far as insane performance capability for affordable prices,” he said, which is a particularly big deal given that Microsoft’s next-generation Xbox consoles and Sony’s PlayStation 5 are due out later this year.

“This offers significantly more insane performance for just dirt cheap,” he added.

Randy Copeland, CEO of Velocity Micro, a Richmond, Va.-based system builder partner, said he believes the new RTX graphics cards will present a refresh opportunity that will be “as big as the previous gen or bigger,” offering a compelling value proposition, particularly to gamers with Pascal-based cards.

“The performance leap is significant, and while a lot of gamers were unsure about the value [of the first-generation RTX products], they can clearly see that upgrading to the new RTX 30 cards will be a big improvement in their gaming experience,” he said in an email.

Copeland said he thinks the new RTX cards will drive a lot of sales for gaming PCs for several months, especially as people continue to deal with pandemic-induced social distancing guidelines.

“I do believe this launch will be a big part of the growth we see in gaming this year and next, absolutely,” he said. “Every time there’s such a performance leap, it shakes up enough people that have been sitting on the fence to finally move and upgrade. With so many people seeking entertainment and escape at home this year, a bigger monitor and a juicy new PC is very tempting.”

The big question now is how AMD will follow Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 30 series launch when it reveals new Radeon graphics cards based on its next-generation RDNA 2 architecture later this year. While Copeland said he wouldn’t characterize Nvidia’s RTX 30 pricing as “aggressive,” “it’s as competitive as it needs to be for now” in the face of Nvidia’s rival.

“Since we don’t officially know what the competition from AMD will look like, I have to believe they are coming out tighter than they could have without ‘Big Navi’ on the horizon,” he said.

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