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Saturday | October 16, 2021
Nvidia puts pressure on the hardware press

Nvidia puts pressure on the hardware press

News has shaken up the hardware world, especially on the English-speaking side. Hardware Unboxed, hardware tester on YouTube, relayed an email he received from Nvidia. In this mail, it is explained that Nvidia will no longer send him GPUs to test because according to them, Hardware Unboxed does not talk enough about Ray Tracing. But that of course, if Hardware Unboxed agrees to present things the way Nvidia wants, they could then reconsider their decision.

We waited until the end of the weekend to take a step back from the situation so as not to react in the heat of the moment. In this article, we will explain how what happened is serious and above all why it is symptomatic of the recent drifts of some brands, and in particular Nvidia.

First of all here is the email : Nvidia Email Hardware Unboxed

We are not going to “debunk” the contained propaganda and even less the thinly veiled attack. We will remain on the principle of substance, which is the most important.

Role of a hardware tester

Before talking about email, let’s get back to the basics: what is the purpose of a PC hardware tester? To inform hardware consumers about the qualities and defects of a tested product. The aim is to make readers aware of such things so that they can make purchases or give advice in an informed manner.

Without these tests, you would only have at your disposal the marketing discourse of the brands that would make you believe every time. The tests are therefore beneficial for everyone:

  • The consumer: thanks to the tests, the latter has a point of support, which he hopes will be independent and free of conflicts of interest.
  • The brand: the tests make it possible to publicize a product outside their official channels.
  • The website/channel: this provides information that will interest people and therefore make them come.
The will to control

However, this logic has been gradually eroded in recent years. Nvidia has an increasingly hegemonic position in the world of GPU gaming. We are not necessarily talking about sales, but about influence. So much so that it imposes increasingly strict conditions for its partners, but also for the testers. On the partner side, remember the Geforce Partner Program (GPP) which encouraged brands (ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte…) to sell ONLY Nvidia so as not to come after everyone else in GPU supply. It was rightly criticized at that time.

For the anecdote, remember that ASUS had bent the knee in front of Nvidia and started to create the AREZ Brand and thus chase the AMD products out of the ASUS brand. That’s how much influence Nvidia had. Fortunately, international grumbling forced Nvidia to back down, and ASUS was able to continue selling AMD products.

Well here, you can say that philosophically a kind of GPP for the testers is taking place. In this logic there are the “partners” (let’s call them that to give the metaphor) and “the excluded”. The “partners” will be full of praise for every Nvidia product test, whether the product deserves it or not, and will be the apostle of Nvidia technologies, each one more revolutionary and breathtaking than the last. The others will not have a Day-1 test to propose, and will become by force of circumstance second-rate media.

Through Hardware Unboxed, Nvidia wanted to make an example with a clear message: either you are accommodating with us and our products or you won’t be able to test anymore and your channel/site will then suffer the consequences. Their samples are a means of pressure on the specialized press, it is thanks to these samples

that a Day-1 test is possible. And they use this means of pressure shamelessly. In politically correct language, this is called “exercising control over information”.

A brand’s dream would be to have only glowing tests, which only test products to their advantage (or even take verbatim the “test guide” that the brand sends to the tester). Holding the whole of the specialist press in the palm of one’s hand so that it eventually becomes nothing more than a well-oiled chamber for amplifying their marketing discourse.

In other words, they no longer want to deal with testers, but with influencers. If possible, influencers with little knowledge of the field, who will not go scratching under the varnish. With hindsight you will see that this is already the case in some places.

In this case, Nvidia does “all-in” on Ray Tracing. So they intend to make sure that everyone says good things about this technology and that the 1% of games using it are over-mediatized. And beware if you don’t follow the movement! The message is clear.

Presumption of collusion

And this story has a very perverse side effect. By putting such shameless pressure on the testers, they also spread doubt. Let’s imagine that in a future test, they write that they appreciate the quality of a particular Nvidia feature or GPU, in all veracity. At that point a reader, who is not in our head, may legitimately start to doubt: “Are they saying this because they really mean it or because Nvidia is putting pressure on them? ».

Clearly, through this story, Nvidia is trying to put an end to the independence of the Hardware press, which has already been badly damaged, but in addition sows doubt in an indirect way on everyone.

General denunciation and backtracking :

As a result of this story, the English-speaking hardware world has become one with Hardware Unboxed. LinusTechTips was the first to denounce (even very virulently) this undermining of the independence of the press, followed by JayzTwoCents. The wide reach of these Youtubers set the fire, a fire that raged throughout the weekend on the web.

We express our sympathy to Hardware Unboxed in this story. All the more so as we have been able to get to know this situation.

During the writing of this article, we have seen that the grumbling of the testers and Hardware enthusiasts has led Nvidia to reconsider its position against Hardware Unboxed. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that if they make amends, their message has got through..

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Edited by Calliers

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