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Graphics Cards - the Manufacturers vs the Consumer - a White Paper for Discussion

Poll Results: Are graphics cards manufacturers doing enough to ensure both the quality of their products and the satisfaction of their customers?

 
  • 7% (5)
    Yes - completely
  • 29% (19)
    Yes - somewhat
  • 7% (5)
    Neutral - no opinion
  • 41% (27)
    No - improvements can be made
  • 13% (9)
    No - definitely not
65 Total Votes  
post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Graphics Cards - the Manufacturers vs the Consumer

A White Paper for Discussion

 

 

For their Graphics Card products, AMD and nVidia have great hardware,  but under-delevoped, under-tested, pre-release beta software.

 

This is common knowledge, but it is time to stand back and reconsider this holistically: Major multinational companies are releasing a premium-priced retail product which in associated marketing and advertising materials claims to work 100%.
 
This inferred claim is based on the fact that a consumer can reasonably expect a working product, which in turn is inherently alluded to by the hardware being entirely dependent on the manufacturer-supplied software, without which the hardware will not function, or will only function in a very limited capacity.
 
In some other industries, the sale of defective components can result in recalls, class-actions, subsidies and other methods to ensure that consumers are protected. These can result from public pressure, exposure by advocacy groups, or from legal policy and consumer-protection laws.
 
However the computer hardware and software industries have remained largely unscathed by such claims or actions, resulting in the generally low standard that consumers experience today with new games, software and some hardware products, such as the graphics cards in question.
 
To improve the consumer experience and satisfaction, many companies in other industries are embracing methods to provide an effective interface between the end user and the company, by utilizing social networks and other modern tools, and ensuring official representatives of the company frequent public bulletin boards and forums. However in the computer software and hardware industries, this is often the exception rather than the norm.
 
In very large markets such as the United States, it has been the retailer that has taken the mantle to overcome this situation. The return and warranty policies implemented by for example Amazon and Newegg for example, have become the high-water benchmarks for consumer satisfaction, and these obviously must be working well. The cost to these companies of providing such services must be outweighed by increased overall sales and profits, or they would not last for very long.
 
In other markets without access to these retailers, the return, warranty and RMD process can be often arduous and difficult, both for the local reseller and the consumer. There are enough grey areas within consumer protection laws to ensure that this situation has become entrenched. To say that manufacturers are taking advantage of this to maximize sales and profits in these markets would be a reasonable assumption.
 
It is logical that a multinational manufacturer and its distributor network have to make decisions on the breakup of available funds and budgets into marketing and advertising, versus customer support programs. Again from the overwhelming evidence over multiple generations of graphics cards, the conclusion can only be drawn that sales and profits outweigh customer satisfaction every time. The global marketplace has become large enough over the past decade to allow enough sales to persist, even when a level of undesirable negative customer satisfaction would normally provide a counter-balance in other industries.
 
This situation will continue unhindered until governments, consumer protection organizations, retailers and advocacy groups take new and tangible actions to remedy the current practices of the manufacturers.
 
Greg (aka chillgreg)
February 2010

 

 

I invite mature, non-inflammatory discussion of this topic here, in the hope that enough views and Poll results will garner the attention of the graphics card manufacturers and/or their representatives.

 

This White Paper is unedited and unaltered.

 

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post #2 of 16
Thread Starter 

You can help by linking to this thread at other forums you belong to. More votes, discussion and participation equals a better chance of a manufacturer response and/or awareness.

 

Thanks

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post #3 of 16

Might add in the poll: Is user mileage is important to have multi-GPU setup?

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post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken1649 View Post

Might add in the poll: Is user mileage is important to have multi-GPU setup?



Your comment is relevant Ken, thanks. But to keep the poll as statistically "clean" as possible, I will not do any edits.

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post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the votes - keep them coming.

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post #6 of 16
I see not a lot of conversation has been going on here, but I would like to preface my vote (which was the second from the bottom - more work needs to be done). While I would contrast the basic quality of computer products with other consumer goods which don't require such a high level of production sophistication, I feel issues like underdeveloped customer service, lackluster product improvement from iteration to iteration, lengthy and unsatisfying RMA procedures, and in the case of graphics cards specifically, driver support issues, blemish the industry.

The only one of those that I listed which is up for any sort of debate or which requires any form of clarification is product improvement, but I'll explain what I mean. While one could easily make the argument that product development of graphics cards is a rationed affair, with card designers putting out only modest tech increases from generation to generation, I am referring to something else. Improvements to sleeves, fans, and components, which become cheaper, and more accessible, from year to year, are typically not included in products, and when they are, it's usually at a massive premium. There's no way that these flagship cards, with non-reference cooling designs and custom components can maintain the same basic forms through 4-6 years of constant video card iterations, and stay at the cutting edge. The reality is simply that they're not producing to be the best. They're producing to beat the reference designs by 10-20% on sound, cooling, etc. So instead of revolutionary design changes, or product improvement, or better heat management, we get the same TFIII on 5 generations of cards. This is an argument to be made about the GPU designers themselves as well, as they continue to use outdated designs on their releases for coolers and heat dissipation, etc. But ultimately it just goes to show that the basic focus of the graphics industry is more interested in continuing momentum, rather than doing something new or better for my buck.
 
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post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

I tend to disagree, in as much as what you say is true, it is more the way that consumers are treated as beta-testing guinea pigs for a lot of the time. Other industries just can't get away with that. It's unique and endemic to the software industry.

 

All the same thanks for taking the time to reply, you make some interesting points.

 

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CM ATCS 840
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post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by chillgreg View Post

I tend to disagree, in as much as what you say is true, it is more the way that consumers are treated as beta-testing guinea pigs for a lot of the time. Other industries just can't get away with that. It's unique and endemic to the software industry.

All the same thanks for taking the time to reply, you make some interesting points.

I feel like if you're going to make such a specific definition of what you view to be up for discussion, it should be reflected in the poll. I realize that a discussion about software development and drivers was the bulk of the post you followed with, but the poll is asking something else entirely - an open-ended question about whether graphics card manufacturers (and by extension the industry) are doing enough to meet consumer demands.
Edited by pfunkmort - 2/29/12 at 7:49pm
 
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Thanks Geritol!
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post #9 of 16

It is my opinion that this poll has a different answer for the AMD/ATI cards than it does for the NVIDIA cards.

 

AMD/ATI:  "No - Improvements can be made."

 

NVIDIA: Between "Yes - Somewhat"  &  "Yes - Competely."   I would say, "Yes - Mostly."

 

I feel that NVIDIA does a rather good job of keeping NVIDIA drivers up to date for their products, supports older products for a long period of time, and has brought SLI from a cumbersome configuration that required manual fine-tuning by the end-user for each specific game title to something that is generally plug and play without hassle with most titles.

 

However, AMD/ATI cards seem to have less support for them, more problems with drivers being incompatible, buggy, or requiring specific changes to be made to the CAPs to work correctly. Furthermore, Crossfire seems to have a narrower band of compatible titles and requires more work on the part of the end-user to make it function nicely. Yes, AMD/ATI cards are the king of the hill right now with the HD 7970 and they're tearing through the benchmarks, but I am still hearing comments such as, "Look at my amazing benchmark score, and that's with beta/buggy drivers!" That's all well and good, and I'm impressed with the architecture of the card and the hardware being used in it, but I'm less than impressed with the driver support by AMD/ATI, specifically the Crossfire support.

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post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by shad0wfax View Post

It is my opinion that this poll has a different answer for the AMD/ATI cards than it does for the NVIDIA cards.

AMD/ATI:  "No - Improvements can be made."

NVIDIA: Between "Yes - Somewhat"  &  "Yes - Competely."   I would say, "Yes - Mostly."

I feel that NVIDIA does a rather good job of keeping NVIDIA drivers up to date for their products, supports older products for a long period of time, and has brought SLI from a cumbersome configuration that required manual fine-tuning by the end-user for each specific game title to something that is generally plug and play without hassle with most titles.

However, AMD/ATI cards seem to have less support for them, more problems with drivers being incompatible, buggy, or requiring specific changes to be made to the CAPs to work correctly. Furthermore, Crossfire seems to have a narrower band of compatible titles and requires more work on the part of the end-user to make it function nicely. Yes, AMD/ATI cards are the king of the hill right now with the HD 7970 and they're tearing through the benchmarks, but I am still hearing comments such as, "Look at my amazing benchmark score, and that's with beta/buggy drivers!" That's all well and good, and I'm impressed with the architecture of the card and the hardware being used in it, but I'm less than impressed with the driver support by AMD/ATI, specifically the Crossfire support.

Goes both ways. I know someone who ditched SLI'd GTX 570s for 2x7970s because the displayer driver crashing bug hadnt been fixed for 6+months. I've also had no issues with AMD drivers since the 5xxx series.
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