Sunday, October 13, 2013

[Rant] Video card rebranding

AND just released their next generation graphics card. Well, not the the entire line up, but 3 cards to be exact. The high-end cards code named Hawaii are coming out in a week's time. But the ones that were released are all rebrands - rebrands of the last generation. That sucks doesn't it?

Yes, unless they did it right of course. In my opinion, they need to get two things right. Those two things are the right pricing and the uniformity of the feature set. 

First, they cannot release them at the same price point and add newer faster cards on top of it. No, no! They have to drop the pricing of the current cards, rebrand them and release the faster cards at the price the older cards were priced at. We cannot say anything about the pricing of the unreleased cards, but AMD have got the first thing spot on. 

The second one is, they need to offer a uniform feature-set across the entire family of cards. Otherwise people will get confused when choosing a graphics card. AMD has failed to do that with the new generation, at least if you consider True Audio technology. True Audio is only available with R7 260X and the yet to be released R9 290 and 290X cards. People who want to get the R9 270X or 280X won't be getting True Audio. That sucks! Those are pretty high-end GPUs. Well, I think True Audio technology needed some hardware modifications, not just in the driver. But in that case, they probably have sold off the existing cards with the current branding and made the new chips from the scratch with just the True Audio related modifications. Would that have cost more? Maybe. Who knows. I'm sure it was a economic decision. But the good thing is, True Audio might be just a gimmick that nobody makes use of. Maybe AMD knows that too. However, on the other hand, all the rebranded cards as well as the 7000 series cards support Mantle API. That's much more important that True Audio so this is not much of an issue.

So what do you think? 

I think you cannot blame AMD for doing it this time around, because they seem to have done it almost the right way. I mean, if they are still using the same process architecture and they cannot make a new GPU that performs as same as the R9 270X or R9 280X with a smaller die, there is no reason to make a completely new GPU. This way, they don't have to shed out a lot of money for R&D and they can make use of the GPUs that have been already manufactured. 

But there has been shameful and easy rebrands in the past, such as Geforce 8800GT becoming a Geforce 9800GT without a price drop. We don't want to see that again. Actually if you look at it, the GTX770 is a rebranded GTX680 with much higher clocks and much lower pricing. So NVidia did it the right way with the GTX770 as well. But the R9 280X's price is so low that what NVidia did is gone unseen. 

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