Computer games have evolved from 2D to 3D, and the list of high-level games is growing rapidly. Likewise, visually-intensive jobs such as those in the film industry and graphic design have been growing in big numbers over the years. Gamers and creative professionals are always on the lookout for the best graphics cards to suit their needs. Choosing the best graphics cards is often not an easy ordeal for most consumers and getting the right card is often a mentally tedious task. Different brands usually develop their own unique offerings, stunning rendering features, and GPU architecture upgrades now and again. On top of that, GPU companies have been releasing reference card editions, adding more difficulty to the consumers’ decision-making.
Nvidia is well-known for its impressive GPU architecture. Being in the business for decades, Nvidia is one of the trusted names for GPU design. In 2016, with the introduction of their Pascal architecture, the famed GPU designer also offered their Founders Edition of graphics cards. The Founders Edition is released in limited numbers and is typically more expensive than their retailed counterparts. Although Nvidia has been releasing the Founders Edition with every new generation of GPU, many are still puzzled about their difference with third-party designs.
What Exactly is The Founders Edition?
Aside from sophisticated GPU architectures, Nvidia is gaining further recognition with their Founders Edition of graphics cards, starting with the RTX 10 series. Founders Edition is Nvidia’s fancy term for the reference cards they release with every new chip they design.
For those who are still not aware, Nvidia has partnered with other companies, known as add-in board (AIB) partners, to do the actual manufacture of the graphics cards containing the GPUs they design. Nvidia developers would design the GPUs, memory architecture, cooling solution, and other basic elements of the graphics cards and hand over the overall design to AIBs. The AIBs can then modify the design’s PCB layout, electronic components, and cooler designs to make an even better board than the original. However, the modified boards must still stick to the minimum hardware specifications set by Nvidia. The revised board is known as the aftermarket version or custom card. In other words, the Founders Edition is Nvidia’s version of graphics cards with their original, raw design.
Founders Editions vs. Customer Cards
Nvidia’s original version of graphics cards is set to compete with the versions of their partner companies such as EVGA, MSI, and Zotac. Once Nvidia passes on the design to its partners, they’re already giving them the power to create an even better board. The aftermarket versions thus have more advantage over the Founders Edition.
The AIB partners benefit from boosting the original design’s performance and usually push the GPU’s overclocking ability further for optimum performance. They also have the benefit of improving the cooling system design of the reference card. Higher factory overclocks can be achieved by a more efficient cooling system, and AIBs would normally opt for larger and quieter fans for better airflow. Add an enhanced power delivery system to all of these, and you get a graphics card with superior quality. The AIB partners also have an edge when it comes to pricing. The Founders Editions have premium price tags, while the AIB versions can be purchased at a cheaper price.
Founders Edition cards, however, still have advantages over their partner’s versions. One important advantage is availability. Nvidia has the distinct advantage of picking the most robust components for the card before the design reaches its AIB partners. Coming from the designer itself, the Founders Edition is released months before the aftermarket versions hit the market. However, this has slightly changed with the RTX 30 series Founders Edition where the Founders Edition competed with AIB’s versions on its first month of release. However, the initial release of AIB’s versions may still not have the best components and best specifications yet as they’re still trying to perfect their design, turning the advantage back to Nvidia. Their perfected versions may hit the market far later, usually just in time when Nvidia has already sold much of the Founders Edition.
Nvidia is not taking the time to slow down despite the fierce competition in the graphics card market. We can see improvements each time Nvidia releases the Founders Editions of the newer generations of Nvidia’s graphics cards. For example, the Founders Edition of the RTX 30 series boasts a boost in performance and better aesthetics. It seems that Nvidia heard the consumers’ pleas to improve the cooling design. We can see innovations in the cooling system’s architecture, with better airflow and enhancements on acoustics greatly reducing the card’s noise level. The GPU expert is also taking the competition seriously, with more competent pricing despite a huge leap in performance, more robust hardware, and a more appealing design than the Founders Editions of the RTX 20 series that came out a bit pricey at the time of its release. Nvidia’s latest generation of RTX graphics has far exceeded the gamers’ expectations, reaping positive reviews from those who have tested the graphics card.
The Founders Edition has set the bar higher for reference cards. They used to be tagged as the mediocre version when compared with the custom cards side by side. Still, Nvidia broke the line and set forth its own path to revolutionize PC gaming with the excellent craftsmanship of its very own design. The Founders Editions is more than just a reference card; it’s also a formidable opponent for the aftermarket cards, setting the challenge straight with no signs of decelerating.