back to article Bought a GTX 970? Congrats, Nvidia owes you thirty bucks

Graphics goliath Nvidia has agreed to a settlement that will see it pay $30 to American gamers who purchased its GTX 970 graphics cards and can file a valid claim. The pay-out deal [PDF] settles a class-action claim accusing the company of misleading consumers on the specs of the gaming card's memory and processor capabilities …

  1. Keef

    Fucking lawyers:

    "Nvidia will not have to admit to any wrongdoing in the case and the company can still deny the accusations"

    Bastards.

    1. Vector

      Re: Fucking lawyers:

      Yeah, I hate these!

      "We didn't do anything wrong, but have 30 bucks..."

      I know, I know, no merit and too expensive to defend an' all, but it's become the standard corporate CYA. No big company seems to do anything wrong these days.

  2. Sebastian A

    So what was their excuse? 4 billion bytes is kinda close-ish to 3.5GB (well, not really, 3.72-ish) but it's not like you can claim that 64 render outputs is just a slightly rounded up version of 56. :/

    1. agatum
      Coat

      So what was their excuse? 4 billion bytes is kinda close-ish to 3.5GB

      Maybe they defined it as low precision

      uniform lowp float RAM_GIGABYTES = 4.0;

      and they encountered rounding errors...

  3. Innocent-Bystander*

    Can You File a Valid Claim?

    Please proceed to fill out this 35 page claim form in the next 5 minutes, submit it to our claims department along with the original receipts (which will inexplicably disappear never to be seen again). If something goes wrong, our complaints department will be available from 3AM to 3:04AM local time with a 5 minute wait time for your convenience.

    1. Magani
      Pint

      Re: Can You File a Valid Claim?

      You forgot the locked door and 'Beware of the Leopard' sign.

  4. Tom 64

    Typical Nvidia

    Lying fuckers, and they can walk away pretending they did nothing wrong.

    1. Sil

      Re: Typical Nvidia

      That's unfortunately the norm in the US, where justice values quick agreements over long battles, and let corporations get away with no recognition of guilt.

      See all settlements with GM, banks, and so forth.

  5. EveryTime Silver badge

    The GTX-970 does actually have 4GB. A full 4GB. Due to internal limitations, 0.5GB isn't fully accessible for some graphic operations.

    That's rarely an issue because the run-time system tries to keep data there that doesn't require direct access by the functional units. Data in that 0.5GB can be accessed at least an order of magnitude faster than over the PCI bus, without interfering with other operations.

    Once you know about the structure it's possible to construct artificial situations that show a slow-down, but they are really atypical.

  6. 9Rune5

    Does anybody really look at the specs sheet?

    In the 80s and 90s, it was all about the Megahertz. At least within the same family of processors.

    People gradually learned that the MHz rating was a deceptive one as caching, instruction pipeline and lots of interesting tricks started making their rounds. Of course, grafting a fpu onto the cpu did not make buying decisions easier (if all you looked at was the clock rate).

    I thought that was why technical sites would run a bunch of benchmarks on any given product...

    RAM has rarely been an accurate figure. In the 80s you could have 1MB memory but only be able to use 640KB as external BIOSes as well as video memory was mapped into that area. Eventually DOS let people squeeze out the available blocks in between and so we did. That recouped a few bytes here and there, enough to keep things barely afloat until we all could go 32-bit in spectacular fashion.

    The number of cores is more troubling though. But again not without precedent. AMD felt that a core without fpu is good enough to count. For some old timers like me, that is not unreasonable. For others the thought of a fpu-less CPU-core is unthinkable (and there was a lawsuit - whatever happened to that one?).

    By all means, the contents should match the label, but it is silly to buy a product without checking out a few benchmarks first: The competitor may have a more accurate label, but perhaps not be able to perform as well (despite the label accuracy).

  7. Chz

    A bit puzzling

    To my, admittedly incomplete, knowledge, NVidia never made any claims about render outputs and other internal architecture details. Yes, their engineering department erroneously (so they say) gave some details out to the review sites but I don't see that as being the same thing at all. In terms of what was advertised and on the box, it was all completely correct. Sure, you couldn't use all the VRAM, but it was all *there*. Not so different to a 1MB 80286 with no feasible way to use anything above 640k.

    Though I suppose that's why they get to claim no wrongdoing. But I thought they'd fight harder.

    1. regadpellagru

      Re: A bit puzzling

      "To my, admittedly incomplete, knowledge, NVidia never made any claims about render outputs and other internal architecture details."

      They lied by omission, stating speeds, 4 GB VRAM etc ...

      And forgetting to state: "Oh by the way, any VRAM usage, past 3.5 GB is gonna see a performance hit of approx X20", therefore reducing the effective use of the car's VRAM to 3.5 GB vs. 4 GB.

      Sure, not a big deal, but a lie anyway.

  8. lglethal Silver badge

    And for us non-Americans?

    So what do us non-americans get?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And for us non-Americans?

      You won't get a class action payout, that's for sure. People knock the american system for being unfriendly to consumers (which it generally is) but the class action system does stand as a fairly large stick to keep corporations from indulging in large scale abuse of consumers. In the UK all claimants would have to pursue court cases individually, which for relatively small items like this just isn't cost effective (even small claims court costs are ~£100, IIRC). In this particular case the UK situation serves to allow large corps to get away with bad behaviour scot free (or with a slap on the wrist fine, which sometimes happens for particularly egregious cases of customer abuse).

      Short of court action, you could try and get a refund under the sale of goods act, but only if you could show that the product you bought wasn't as described. I doubt quoting spec details found on the internet would be good enough for that though - you'd have to find something printed on the box or in the documentation that came with the card.

      1. Frogmelon

        Re: And for us non-Americans?

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34402483

        UK consumers have been able to file class action suits for a while. :)

  9. GoFasterStripes

    I have SLI 970's. The performance drop-off over 3.5GB is huge.

  10. MrT

    Nvidia have been there before...

    About 9 years ago they fobbed a load of suspect GPUs off onto the likes of Dell and HP, which variously failed over time. The poor manufacturing process meant that it was highly likely that the parts would fail, and that Nvidia knew that this was the case when they sold them. This went to a class action in the US and instead of having to hide behind megacorps' warranty systems Nvidia had to replace them or refund anyone who had bought a replacement (IIRC on that last point).

    My own UK Dell E1705/Inspiron 9400 had one fitted (GeForce Go 9700GS GPU) that went pop after about 4.5 years of use in exactly the same way as shown in the class action cases. Dell agreed, sent a tech around to my house to replace it FoC, fitting a slightly upgraded part, so even outside of the US the fact it's gone to CA can be used. The laptop is still in daily use today.

    1. BenR

      Re: Nvidia have been there before...

      I had a HP laptop that did the same thing, but as I recall, the issue wasn't the GPU going pop, but being so far outside the thermal limits that it started to unsolder itself from the board. It was never 100% clear - to me at least - whether it was dodgy chips from nVidia, or piss-poor thermal management design by the vendors.

      There were rumours that stripping the board out and putting it in a hot oven for an hour or so might help it, but i never tried it. My HP 9800 lasted a good number of years before crapping out totally, at which point i decided it was old enough to simply warrant buying a new one.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Nvidia have been there before...

        I had a HP laptop that did the same thing, but as I recall, the issue wasn't the GPU going pop, but being so far outside the thermal limits that it started to unsolder itself from the board. It was never 100% clear - to me at least - whether it was dodgy chips from nVidia, or piss-poor thermal management design by the vendors.

        I had couple HP Pavilion DV laptops that did that. Of course my chassis wasn't on HPs list of ones where they admitted to the problem (despite same nVidia GPU and exactly same issue) and they never did resolve it. Bastards.

        1. petef

          Baked Apple

          The Nvidia GeForce 8600m GT graphics processor on my MacBook Pro failed in that way. However i did manage to fix it myself following the instructions in this link. Basically take the circuit board out of the laptop and bake in the oven for 7½ minutes. Scary stuff but that was over a year ago and the repair has held up fine.

          http://computers.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-cook-your-mac--mac-45148

    2. Jim-234

      Re: Nvidia have been there before...

      More specifically this was actually not just an Nvidia problem, Nvidia was just one of the biggest names.

      The political powers that be forced everybody to go to lead-free solder when all the bugs were not quite worked out of the materials & processes.

      The new lead free stuff quickly became brittle under repeated heat / cool cycles which lead to the solder bumps cracking and the item no longer working, laptops that got moved a lot with high heat output video cards were hardest hit.

      Baking it often worked because it got the solder just hot enough to stick back together if you were lucky.

      Eventually everything got figured out for later generations. But for most of those laptop replacements, it was replacing with the same card model and hoping eventually it went out of warranty, or the customer broke it or upgraded.

  11. raving angry loony

    Too little

    Companies that lie and cheat like this should really be fined at least 150% (preferably much more) of the profit from that entire product line. Instead, they get what aren't even slaps on the wrist, and don't even have to admit they're scumbags.

    Shooting (not necessarily lethally, just very painfully) every senior exec of every such company is really the only solution at this point. Oh, and their boards of directors. And their majority shareholders. You know, the ones who keep electing boards that select senior execs that keep ripping people off.

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