A roller coaster ride that shows when Big Tech doesn’t get it

Editor’s opinion: In a briefly worded email, Nvidia told Hardware Unboxed (and by extension TechSpot) that it would no longer provide them with GeForce Founders Edition review units. The stated reason? Spend very little time concentrating on RTX ray tracing, as opposed to raster performance. Hardware Unboxed, apparently, “didn’t see things the same way that we (Nvidia), gamers, and the rest of the industry do.”

As most of you know, Hardware Unboxed is Steve and Tim’s YouTube channel, and both Steve and Tim have been TechSpot partners for a long time. To this day, our publications collaborate and share the same PC enthusiast DNA that we forged together for nearly two decades. At TechSpot, we are proud to host your work for written versions of your latest reviews and analysis on CPU, GPU, and opinions on the PC hardware industry as a whole.

As a corporation, it is Nvidia’s prerogative to decide which reviewers it chooses to collaborate with. However, this and related incidents raise serious questions about journalistic independence and what to expect of reviewers when submitting products to obtain an unbiased opinion. As an independent technology publication, we have spent the last 20 years providing objective and informative content. Boxless hardware technical reviews are complete. They are intended to inform consumers about all aspects of a particular product, so that you know exactly what you are getting before making a purchase decision.

In today’s dynamic graphics hardware space, with 350W flagships, hardware ray tracing, and exotic cooling solutions, there is a wide range of data points that HUB analyzes. But at the end of the day, there is only one real question that every GPU buyer wants to know: how well do games perform on a particular piece of hardware? Considering 99% of Steam games feature raster-only rendering pipelines, raster performance was, is, and will be a key point that Steve considers in GPU reviews.

Ray tracing is becoming more and more important. AMD equipped both the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S with hardware ray accelerators, and we’ve seen remarkable ray-traced visuals in games like Spiderman: Miles Morales on PlayStation 5 and the upcoming Forza Motorsport on Xbox Series X / S. While performance isn’t really where it should be (even with the help of DLSS), Cyberpunk 2077 offers a jaw-dropping glimpse of the next generation on PC, with RTX effects. marked to the end.

However, most games (including almost all RTX titles) are based on raster renderers. A hypothetical graphics card with most of its space reserved for ray tracing would work great with Quake II RTX and … not much else. Ray tracing absolutely deserves a place in modern GPU reviews. But there’s just not enough in enough games for any responsible reviewer to put it center stage, rather than raster performance. It would not do justice to consumers, who will primarily be running raster workloads. This is why Nvidia’s complaint is so puzzling.

In his email to Steve, Bryan Del Rizzo, Senior PR Manager at Nvidia, says that “Nvidia is in favor of ray tracing” and “despite all this progress, their GPU reviews and recommendations have continued to focus singularly on the performance of rasterization and you’ve discounted all the other technologies that we offer to gamers. ” Del Rizzo goes on to state that “things don’t look the same as us, the gamers, and the rest of the industry.”

This statement is particularly ironic and unpleasant. On Nvidia’s homepage for DLSS, the GPU maker literally uses a boxless hardware quote (“Extremely Impressive”) to promote its AI enhancement technology. Our initial look at DLSS in Battlefield V revealed a technology that badly needed improvement. Two years later, we reviewed DLSS 2.0 in Control and Wolfenstein Youngblood and recognized the tremendous improvement that Nvidia made to this technology. Claiming that HUB “doesn’t see things the same way” is false, to say the least. As an objective reviewer, it is Steve’s responsibility to his viewers and readers to see things as they are, which may not always match the way Nvidia sees them.

Trust and objectivity are critical to any successful reviewer. Not all graphics cards are winners. Some, like the Radeon VII and the GeForce GT 1030 DDR4, were just awful. Not all graphics technologies change the rules of the game.

Clearly, the reviewers know this is not an isolated incident, but it was very arrogant of Nvidia to write a full email explaining that it could be in line with their views, or else.

A decade ago, Nvidia’s hardware PhysX acceleration was touted as a revolution, enabling advanced destruction, fluid dynamics, and particle simulation in games like Arkham city and Metro: 2033. In 2010, we included the PhysX benchmarks in our Mafia II review. AnandTech, Tom’s Hardware, and other outlets also covered PhysX extensively. However, it was never considered to be more important than frame performance. There were raster landmarks, plus raster benchmarks with anti-aliasing enabled, and then a PhysX test. Here’s a clear and consistent thread from PhysX to RTX: HUB and TechSpot give GPU technologies the amount of coverage we think they need for consumers to make an informed choice.

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It’s even more troublesome (and out of touch, like JayZTwoCents describes it), when Del Rizzo alludes to how Hardware Unboxed and other outlets “benefit” from GPU review units, in contrast to customers. Del Rizzo states the obvious here, that customers “don’t get free GPUs, they work hard for their money.” Leaving aside the fact that detailed HUB reviews often take several days and weeks to put together, this statement misses the forest for the trees. Yes, most of the review outlets get units from the hardware vendors. But they get them with the understanding that their reviews will reach hundreds of thousands of potential customers, who are looking for reliable information.

It would be difficult to assess exactly how many people bought a GeForce RTX graphics card after seeing one of HUB’s various RTX reviews (between TechSpot and HUB combined, we estimate in the thousands), but it is certainly worth more than the cost of a single graphics card. But ultimately, that’s not what is at stake here …

Attacking press freedom is always a lose-lose scenario: reviewers, customers, and businesses are negatively affected. Shortly after Steve made the Nvidia email public, he saw overwhelming support from the tech community. Not just Hardware Unboxed fans, or viewers and readers, but also numerous tech outlets who understand that it’s not just about Steve or Hardware Unboxed, but about principles.

Clearly the reviewers know that this is not an isolated occurrence, but it was very arrogant of Nvidia to write a full email explaining that it could either aligns with their views, or. This could have happened to any other medium. In fact, it has happened to many of them already, but to a lesser extent or handled in a way that Nvidia (or any other big tech company) simply played the role of ignoring the critic without giving them any explanation.

Less than 48 hours later, Steve received the good news.

Nvidia apologized and backed off everything. It’s good news indeed, but let’s make it clear that this wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the support of the broader community and key people in the tech space who have such an enormous influence that it was too much for Nvidia to ignore. Linus from LinusTechTips (his angry spiel at the WAN Show embedded above is pure gold) and Steve from Gamers Nexus, they were two of those people.

Our own Steve Walton (HUB) was the one who lived this whole situation close to his chest during the last days and it is expected that he will soon upload a video with his account.

Things really don’t have to be that difficult. At the end of the day, reviewers, customers (and “the rest of the industry”) want the same thing. We want Nvidia, AMD, Intel (and heck, even Apple!) To produce great hardware that can do justice to the next generation of gaming and computing. There is much to look forward to in the next few years.

We will continue to adopt a broad and holistic vision so that each technology we cover has its fair place. As Nvidia said, consumers work hard for their money. We just want to make sure you know what you’re spending it on.