Dell and HP Resist the NVIDIA GPP Leash - So Far

Since we found out about NVIDIA's GeForce Partner Program, aka GPP, a couple of months ago, we have seen changes implemented by NVIDIA's partners, but what has not happened is far more important to point out at this time.

This is a quick followup to our article entitled GeForce Partner Program Impacts Consumer Choice that HardOCP published a month ago. Since then there have been a lot of developments in the industry that outline that the terms of NVIDIA GPP are exactly as we laid out in that article, specifically and most importantly that NVIDIA is requiring AIBs and OEMs to move their GPU gaming brands exclusively to NVIDIA products. Below is the exact language used by NVIDIA in documents to companies "invited" to be a GPP partner.

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As of today we believe that both Dell and HP have NOT signed the GPP contract. I say believe, because neither company or NVIDIA would confirm this on the record. I have had backchannel discussions about this with trusted sources, and this press release story pushed out by The Verge on HP introducing systems in its Pavilion Gaming line with Radeon and NVIDIA GPUs inside recently would suggest GPP is not in the cards for HP. However, its Omen Gaming boxes are now devoid of AMD GPUs at this time. We are hoping this is a supply issue rather than a GPP issue. All of the silence surrounding this certainly reminds us that the First Rule of GPP is, Don't Talk About GPP. But don't fear, NVIDIA has clearly stated, GPP is all about transparency to benefit the gamer.

We did reach out to NVIDIA to again ask what companies were signed up with its GPP, and once again failed to get an answer; again that transparency thing comes to mind. But as we reported a couple of weeks ago, NVIDIA has "moved on" from this story so we don't expect an answer.

Lenovo is the outlier in the big three OEMs, and we are getting little-to-no information about that company. We are unsure if Lenovo has gone with NVIDIA's GPP at this time. From what we are hearing, which is rumor and speculation, we think Lenovo has not signed on with GPP, but we could be wrong on that. However, Lenovo at this time still has its Legion brand gaming systems with Radeon GPUs listed on its site.

Dell and HP not coming on board with GPP is actually a very big deal. Out of all the companies that we think NVIDIA is strong arming into GPP, Dell and HP have the most leverage to push back due to the massive volumes of mid and low-end GPUs that both purchase from NVIDIA. While AMD is not able to compete on the extremely high end, it certainly is making mid-level and low-end GPUs that both Dell and HP have access to. And for what it is worth, the Vega 64 is an excellent gaming card at 1440p which fits the bill for a huge portion of the market on high end gaming systems. NVIDIA may be in a fight to seize these companies gaming brands for their own, which NVIDIA may just lose, and hopefully so.

Dell nor HP are wanting to turn over their gaming brands to NVIDIA. Off the record conversations suggest that both of these companies think that NVIDIA GPP is unethical, and likely illegal as it pertains to anti-competition laws here in the United States. The bottom line is that Dell and HP are very much upset with NVIDIA over GPP, and Dell and HP look to be digging in for a fight.

On the other side of the coin, we see ASUS, Gigabyte, and MSI have already laid their gaming brands at NVIDIA's feet. ASUS has already committed to remove all AMD GPU products that appear under its high end Republic of Gamers brand as it pertains to video cards. (AMD Motherboards will stay ROG.) All AMD cards will now carry its "AREZ" branding. It will be interesting how these cards are marketed through this new Arez brand although ASUS did have and "Ares" brand in the past. Will it be a "gaming brand?" Gigabyte has already been documented as to removing its Aorus gaming brand from AMD GPU products, and MSI has been spotted as doing the same, however neither company has openly announced a new brand specific to AMD GPUs.

It looks as the Asia-based companies have rolled over for their master, NVIDIA, and given away their gaming branding in order to make sure they stay on NVIDIA's good side. The US based companies have not yet heeled to NVIDIA's GPP leash. And NVIDIA may soon find out that there are a couple of big dogs that are left in the yard that might bite.

The other unknown in this is Intel. Big Blue is very much aware of what is going on, and GPP could very much impact the sales of its Kaby Lake-G part that contains a GPU that was built by AMD specifically for Intel. I would expect we are going to see legal action initiated on NVIDIA GPP by Intel at some point in the future.

We also now can share that NVIDIA has specified that it will not extend discounts to non-GPP partners. And what is appalling, but not surprising, is that NVIDIA is denying "priority allocation" to non-GPP partners as well. That basically means your GPU order must have gotten lost in the mail.

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"Gaming" brands outsell non-gaming brands 3 to 1 according to the research I have seen on the subject. So to suggest that AMD will not be impacted by GPP is simply not true.

To sum up NVIDIA's actions, if you do not agree to be a part of its GPP, you lose GPU allocation, you lose GPU discounts, you lose rebates, you lose marketing development funds (MDF), you lose game bundles, you lose NVIDIA PR and marketing support, you lose high effort engineering engagements, you lose launch partner status, but you do get to keep the gaming brand that your company has developed over the years.

The carrot and stick metaphor comes to mind here. NVIDIA is telling us that its GPP program is a simple carrot, albeit a carrot that it was supplying willingly before these GPP terms were pushed out. I would suggest to you that North American OEMs are seeing GPP as a stick. As for the Asia based companies, I think they see it as just another normal business day and are still glad to have the job of pulling the wagon. One thing is for certain. Dell and HP see the danger of handing their gaming brands over to NVIDIA. We hope both stand their ground.

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