You've probably heard the news by now: Nvidia announced the GeForce GTS 250
this morning at CeBIT and yes, the rumours are true - it's a rebranded GeForce 9800 GTX+.
But that's not the real story.
Normally, you'd expect us to have a review of the card on launch day, but that is sadly something we haven't been allowed to do. Nvidia had remained uncharacteristically quiet - both on and off the record - about the GeForce GTS 250 for one reason or another and we didn't find out about the card until Tuesday last week.
On Thursday, we had a conference call and were essentially told in no uncertain terms that we wouldn't get a sample before launch. But why?
This is where things get a bit trickier because Nvidia palmed us off to the partners - it said that it wasn't sending out reference cards and they'd instead be coming from partners. What we found strange about this was that, typically, in the run up to a graphics card launch we receive anywhere between five and ten calls from add-in board partners, asking us to look at their new products.
We didn't receive a single call this time around.
Instead, we had to resort to making those calls ourselves and, to our surprise, the general consensus from partners was that they were prohibited from sending samples to bit-tech
and Custom PC
One partner, who wished to remain nameless said "[we are] absolutely strictly forbidden to send samples out until the launch date.... it’s rubbish!"
Another said it was instructed by Nvidia to send samples to specific websites which, the partner admitted, it had never even heard of.
We spoke to six partners before the launch and not one said it was allowed to sample us before the launch. Several said they were able to help us out "after CeBIT"
, but by that time it's old news and, frankly, I'm not sure it's worth the effort.
I spoke to Nvidia last night and the company actively denied its involvement in the sampling process and, upon further probing, the company's representatives said that sample allocations came down to "relationships with Nvidia and its partners"
. When I asked if something in bit-tech
's relationship with Nvidia had changed since the GeForce GTX 295 and 285 launches, Bryan Del Rizzo, a Senior PR Manager at Nvidia, said that nothing had changed. "We have a great relationship with bit-tech,"
We asked the same question when speaking to partners all week and they said exactly the same thing, which means that someone, somewhere, is
getting in the way of the sampling process. The question is: why would the partners lie to us? They have no reason to because our relationship has always been tight and they've been up front when they have sample allocation issues.
Nvidia said it is cutting back on samples (as are the partners) and that allocation is tight. However, since we've managed to get a card same day couriered to us today, you have to wonder if the situation would have been different had the card been something to shout about.
While we wait for our card to arrive, we're going to be playing with our GeForce GTS 250 TipeXXX Edition... It's wicked fast.