NVIDIA Will Refund You $30 For Your GTX 970

NVIDIA’s 2014 medium-high-range graphics card the GeForce GTX 970 was and is a powerful board – I’m using one right now, and it’s perfectly capable of running games at decent settings at 3440×1440 – but there was one fly in its otherwise well-received ointment. Though billed as having 4GB of onboard memory, the reality was that its RAM was divided into one 3.5GB chunk and one slower 512MB chunk. NVIDIA refutes that this meant the board was in effect just 3.5GB, and claims performance was not meaningfully impacted. However, the firm was also accused of overstating specs regarding the 970’s render output processors and L2 cache.

Numbers, numbers, but what you really need to know is that the alleged misrepresentation led to a clutch of class-action lawsuits – which NVIDIA has now agreed to settle. By refunding every American 970 purchaser 30 bucks.

AFAIK this offer is not available to folk outside the US, as the class action lawsuits (16 of ’em!) were filed in California. Perhaps the settlement could lead to things happening elsewhere, but it’s important to note that one of the terms of the deal is that NVIDIA does not have to admit to any wrongdoing, and can continue to deny that it is guilty of false advertising, deceptive business practice and similar charges filed in the lawsuit.

Of course, this is a settlement – and an expensive one at that – in order to avoid a full trial. Whether done for expediency’s sake or a sense that the winds would blow against NVIDIA, we cannot know. What we do know is that there will be $30 available to any US GTX 970 purchaser who files a verifiable claim, and that NVIDIA will also stump up $1.3 million in legal fees. There is apparently no upper limit on how many of the $30 claims it will honour, other than the number of Americans who purchased a 970.

As for the specs in question, as well as that 3.5GB/4GB issue, the 970 was advertised as having 64 render output processors when in fact it had 56, and 2,048KB of L2 cache rather than the 1,792KB reality. The $30 figure, just south of 10% of the card’s $350 list price, is supposed to reflect the discrepancy in performance between the advertised specs and the real ones.

Though agreed upon by both sides of the argument, the settlement is provisional for now. As such, no, you can’t go make your claim just yet, but hopefully soon.

Via The Register, which also hosts a PDF of the full settlement agreement.

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  1. PseudoKnight says:

    I wasn’t aware of the other discrepancies. The 3.5+ issue was unlikely to affect performance in the vast majority of cases, but the processors and cache would always affect performance. Makes you wonder why people kept making a bigger deal of the memory. It’s mostly moot, though, considering you should base graphics card purchase decisions on game benchmarks and not out of context numbers. I feel like this is mostly about keeping Nvidia honest than actually protecting any consumers. The benchmarks don’t lie and people have been pretty happy with their 970s. So I guess this should make everyone happy… except Nvidia, so yay?

    • Blackcompany says:

      What would make me happy…is to see AMD become a real competitor in this market again. I worry about the future of GPU pricing as AMD Slowly fades away…

    • frymaster says:

      Makes you wonder why people kept making a bigger deal of the memory.

      As I understand it, the other issues were because someone accidentally entered the specs from another board when publishing them online. A silly mistake, but also easily verifiable – it can’t really be argued that NVIDIA were deliberately trying to deceive. It’s right that they pay for it (because they did mislead) but there was no deliberate ill-will.

      Even though it has much less of an effect on performance, the fast/slow memory thing has more of an odour about it, since it’s less attributable to a simply clerical error and more into withholding information. It’s possible they didn’t think people would care and so didn’t think it worth mentioning, but given their target market segment was bleeding-edge performance-chasers, I doubt it

    • Beanbee says:

      Yeah, have to say I would have paid exactly the same for it if they were the specs advertised.

      Still, always good to keep a keen eye on this kind of thing. It might be trivial here, but after that whole VW scandal… That one will probably result in the shortening of quite a few people’s lives.

  2. Carra says:

    Just got my 1060 yesterday. Let’s hope I get €30 back too next year :)

  3. BobbyDylan says:

    The case was a slam dunk after this interview with a former emplyee was leaked:

  4. lglethal says:

    What are the chances Nvidia will be generous and will offer the refund/rebate to their non-litigious customers (i.e. not Americans?).

    Did I just hear crickets chirping?

    • fish99 says:

      Yeah it won’t be great PR for them if they don’t extend this to europe/Asia.

      • ThePuzzler says:

        Bad PR, but probably not bad enough PR to stop people buying their new cards.

        • rb207 says:

          Their isnt much apparent competition for Nvidia.

        • Caiman says:

          Possibly because I didn’t buy my card based on its technical specifications, but on its actual benchmarks in games. I didn’t therefore feel ripped off when it had slightly less performance than the specs would have given it, because those specs are basically meaningless compared with its actual performance (which is what I paid for). It was however a valid legal excuse for someone to make a buck (well, 30 of them) by suing them.

          • fish99 says:

            I’m not sure it’s quite that simple. At the time of the 970 release, there were few games that would push vram usage over 3.5GB, but there’s a decent amount now. I have stuttering issues in some games which, in theory, could be down to the bandwidth issue with the last 0.5GB.

      • zenon88 says:

        I for one live in Europe bought a 970, and I have decided not to buy the 1080 to go with my 4k screen.
        Although other factors are involved in this decision, loss of confidence in Nvidia sure is one of them. Maybe a little check would ease my feeling; but as it stands they lost one customer, unless Vega is utterly useless:S

    • Premium User Badge

      liquidsoap89 says:

      Us Canadians feel that way all the time.

  5. Ghostwise says:

    Apparently, the card also had a problem with high diesel emissions outside of strict bench testing conditions.

    • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

      Try the new 970 GTi, I hear that they have fixed the problem. That being said, who wants diesel GPUs these days anyway?

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      If that happens you just need to top up the freon. The ball-bearings are overheated.

  6. pepperfez says:

    I’m convinced that within the next ten years we’ll be running all our graphics cards on electricity, anyway, even if it takes serious shifts in government policy.

  7. Circlestrafe says:

    People blew this marketing mis-information completely out of the ball park. Who doesn’t embellish when advertising? Then again, I’ll take my $30 and apply it to my next EVGA Nvidia GPU!

  8. KastaRules says:

    I just sold mine after I got myself a GTX 1070. Performance wise it is a huge leap forward when using a three screen setup, much more than I expected!