If you are looking for the fastest video card to fit in a PC-Q07, you most likely end up with PowerColor and AMD chips. When it comes to Q11, you get bigger names like MSI and most noticeably, EVGA.
Being an American company, EVGA has not been popular in China. After some research, however, I like this company a lot because this is a company for DIYers and by DIYers.
Look how it floods the market with products. Take GTX 660 for example. As of 1/15/2013, Asus has two GTX 660 cards. MSI has three. EVGA? Seven. For GTX 680 it’s even more ridiculous. EVGA sells 15 different GTX 680 variants. MSI is the second on the list with only five. Being NVIDIA exclusive explains only part of the story. The same theory obviously doesn’t apply to Sapphire or HIS.
Across EVGA’s lineup, some cards are apparently for a very small market segment that most manufacturers don’t (want to) care. For example, EVGA is the only company that makes 3GB GTX 660’s, and it makes three different versions of it. I’m no economics expert but I’m certain that being the only player in a niche market doesn’t mean you make all the profits, if any at all. There are tradeoffs, development cost for example, associated with filling a niche but your revenue does not necessarily make up for them because of the small quantity. GTX 660 has been out for four months, but on Newegg these EVGA 3GB cards have only 5 user reviews, whereas the most popular GTX 660 has got 121. Why all the trouble? For a manager, this will not make sense. It only makes sense if the company is run by DIYers. After all, five is different from nothing. As longs as there are DIYers who need this product, EVGA will produce it. This is how I interpret the company. (Data obtained on 1/15/2013 at http://www.newegg.com)
How does EVGA make so many variants out of a single chip? Combinations of different clock speeds, RAM sizes and cooler types. Usually, EVGA offers three different clock speeds: reference, mild overclock (usually denoted Superclocked(+)) and wild overclock (usually denoted FTW); two cooler types, blower (no denotation) and open air (denoted Signature 2). However, arbitrary combination of these variables creates niche products for niche markets because people’s preferences on these features are correlated. For example, if I’m going to buy a 3GB GTX 660 Ti instead of 2GB, chances are that I’m an enthusiast and I probably want the highest clock speed as well. Cards with 3GB RAM but only mildly overclocked therefore doesn’t quite make sense, but EVGA produces those cards nevertheless. And I think EVGA is right. For GTX 660Ti, 3GB cards are only 0.11% faster on average than 2GB versions at 1920 and 2560 resolutions (http://www.expreview.com/20807-15.html), but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t situations where users can benefit from that extra 1GB of RAM – in a multiple monitor setting, maybe?
It is generally accepted that open air coolers are more effective than blower type coolers at dissipating heat, but EVGA is obsessed with blowers, even on its custom designs. Since most EVGA cards use blowers, I will not attribute that obsession to my “run by DIYers” and “filling niche market” theory. I’m just thankful, because one situation where blowers may excel is when you have cases with bad air flow, like Lian Li PC-Q11.