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Why NVIDIA Just Discontinued This Expensive Graphics Card?

Why NVIDIA Just Discontinued This Expensive Graphics Card?
Issue Time:2018-11-17

Back in August, graphics specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) announced its latest graphics architecture, Turing, as well as several gaming-oriented graphics processors based on that architecture: RTX 2070, RTX 2080, and RTX 2080 Ti. 

NVIDIA's previous graphics architecture, known as Pascal, first made its debut in May 2016 with the launch of the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 processors. NVIDIA later introduced an even higher-end Pascal-based product, the GTX 1080 Ti, in March 2017 to complement the lineup. 

Image source: NVIDIA.

Third-party reviews show that the RTX 2080 Ti is clearly the fastest gaming-oriented graphics processor out there -- and NVIDIA charges a pretty penny for that luxury. The RTX 2080, although carrying a moniker that suggests that it's a direct replacement for the GTX 1080, carries an MSRP of $699 -- identical to that of the GTX 1080 Ti. NVIDIA's own branded RTX 2080 Founders Edition sells for $799 and runs at slightly higher speeds than what a vanilla RTX 2080 should run at.

According to Tom's Hardware, the NVIDIA RTX 2080 Founders Edition was, on average, 7.3% faster than the GTX 1080 in 4K gaming. However, the publication criticized the card for its pricing, saying that it's "higher than many existing GeForce GTX 1080 Ti cards, which perform competitively." 

Per a report from GamersNexus (via Forbes), NVIDIA has stopped producing the GTX 1080 Ti and, in the words of Forbes' Jason Evangelho, "supply is running low."

Here's why this makes perfect business sense.

Why keep producing older stuff?

Shortly after the launch of the RTX 2080, the initial cards based on that processor were priced above the $699 MSRP -- NVIDIA's own version sells for $799 and NVIDIA's board partners were initially only fielding higher-end cards that were sometimes even pricier than NVIDIA's. 

At the same time, with the new GPUs announced, it's likely that retailers wanted to rid themselves of old GTX 1080 Ti stock as quickly as they could, which led to a fairly wide gap in street pricing between some GTX 1080 Ti and those early RTX 2080 models. 

Now that channel inventory seems to have been mostly depleted (a quick check of Newegg.com, a popular online computer part reseller, shows that only one GTX 1080 Ti is available and it's being offered for $779.99), gamers interested in RTX 2080/GTX 1080 Ti-class performance may really only have one option -- RTX 2080. 

On top of that, graphics-card makers have rolled out cheaper RTX 2080 boards to complement the pricier models that they initially launched. On Newegg.com, for example, there's an RTX 2080 selling new for $699.99. I wouldn't be surprised if additional lower-cost RTX 2080 models were to pop up in the coming months.

Put simply, given that the RTX 2080 is generally faster than the GTX 1080 Ti and it supports many new features, such as hardware-accelerated ray-tracing capability, that the GTX 1080 Ti simply doesn't have, and the RTX 2080 can be had for MSRP -- an MSRP that's identical to the GTX 1080 Ti's -- it simply doesn't make sense for NVIDIA to keep the GTX 1080 Ti around. 

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