At the recent International CES in Las Vegas, EVGA was gracious enough to invite Gaming Illustrated to its suite at the Bellagio. There, they unveiled their new line of high quality, performance designed Power Supply Units (PSUs) as well as showcased their existing 2012 product line. We sat down with veteran product manager for EVGA, Jacob Freeman, to discuss these new products as well as EVGA’s 2013 strategy.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Sean Gibson at CES 2013. I’m at the EVGA suite at the in the Bellagio. I got a nice little quick tour of some products. The most exciting thing here, obviously, is the new power supply units and where you’re going with … they are definitely aiming for the hardcore PC gamer and for the PC enthusiast there. Talk a little bit about the thought process of what went into the new product line.
At CES, we’re showing off that we have a, we’re going to be launching a 1200- and 1000-watt power supply that are platinum-rated. We also have a 1000-watt gold-rated power supply in the pipe as well. The platinum ones have a cool little feature, that you can basically set it to a semi-passive mode, where the fan will only turn on if necessary, so it basically it just makes it quiet for the most part, you really can’t hear it if you’re just doing normal desktop stuff.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Yes, a pretty nice design, and it looks like the quality, again, high, especially the platinum-rating, and then the added features. EVGAs quality, do you think that the market penetration’s going to be an easy sell for you with your vendors, or excuse me, your channel distributors, with this or are you looking at a bit of education at first?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Certainly we feel that we built very high-quality units and we’re going to back it up with the EVGA warranty. These particular power supplies will have a 10-year warranty, which is pretty much the best in the industry for power supplies, and that’s just saying a bit about the commitment we have on the reliability, and we’re going to back it up with all of our customer service that you know we’re very well-known for on the graphics card side. Power supplies and graphics cards, they go hand in hand. Sometimes when upgrading a graphics card, you need to upgrade your power supply as well.
We think that we, if you put that all together, I would say that I think we’ll do quite well on the power supplies, and we’ve already made a lot of traction on the power supplies that we have today. We are already shipping the 1500-watt, like I mentioned previously, and the 750 and 650, and we’re continuing to grow in this segment and we’re looking forward to launching these new units.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Also, we took a look at two small form factor computers, and typically with those, you don’t really get a good bang for your buck, in my opinion as a power hardcore PC person, but what you showed me it was just super-impressive. You’ve got your Core i7-3770K chip, you’ve got a GTX 680 video card in there, and you’ve got even a water cooling solution. Can you talk about this product line and really who you’re aiming to hit here with this niche?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Yes, so this is a new product line for EVGA. It’s basically an EVGA-designed chassis, we developed the entire case, inside and out, it’s 100% EVGA. We see a trend in the PC world of wanting to build small form factor PCs that are still good for gaming, primarily for home theater gaming, especially with Steam Big Picture mode, that really helps bring gaming to the living room. We wanted to develop a very small form factor PC, but we didn’t want to compromise on any of the features, so we integrated the water cooling into the case, which basically saves on space because we’re directly integrating it into the case.
It has a radiator pump, reservoir, all that stuff you would expect from a high-end water cooling unit, and it is a mini ITX form factor that supports a single graphics card, so you’re able to put a GTX 680 in there, which will play pretty much every game under the sun today at 1080p, and so that’s what it is, it also has a 500-watt power supply, and we’re planning to ship it with a slot-load Blu-ray drive as well.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Have you done any of the over-clocking with the water cooling unit? What, if so, what kind of expectations should gamers set with that?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Yes, so on the Z77 platform, if you have a good CPU, you could expect 4.8, 5 GHz or so.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): On an 3770k?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Yes, this is on a 3770 K.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Wow, I’ve only gotten mine to 4.48 so …
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): A lot of it, today a lot of it depends on your particular chip, some of them can scale higher than others. Cooling plays a role in that as well, but the cooling in this particular chassis is pretty top notch, it’s a dual 120 mm radiator, so it can certainly dissipate a lot of heat.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Also, looking at the new X79 motherboard, new release, I think you said it’s coming out pretty soon. Can you talk about some of the new features and what makes the X79 such an attractive model?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): The X79 platform chips that launched, I would say over a year ago, and we had three motherboards that came out with the X79 name, there was an X79 FCW classified, and those boards they were good, but they had some features that some of our customers had really been wanting. Most notably, they had four DIMS and a lot of people wanted eight DIMS, it had two SATA 6G ports, and people were looking for more. We wanted to deliver a new level of an X79 platform, if you will. We basically took all the customer feedback that we got and incorporated all of that onto the board.
This board has eight DIMS, it has six SATA 6G ports, it has four SATA 3G ports, so a total of 10 SATA ports, so it can power all of your optical and SATA drives. We also made some steps to improve the VRM circuitry, so the VRM on it and the PWM is very, very efficient. We spent a lot of time on this to basically make sure that you can maximize your over-clock.
We also optimized the PCI express lane layout, so the previous boards, they did four-way SLI, but in order to do four-way SLI, we had to increase the board size to an XLATX format, and the problem with that is that once you increase the board size to that size, it’s not compatible with a lot of cases on the market today, so on this board, we wanted to shrink it to the standard EATX format but still have four-way SLI support, and that’s what we did.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Yes, it’s an engineering marvel, really, in order to pull that off. Let’s move over to the graphics line, really nothing was announced here by NVIDIA, so all their partners really didn’t have too much, but could you talk again about the success of EVGA in 2012? We talked to you in the summer, things were going well, and maybe where the direction where things are going, and we talked about also the 690 and, really, was there a market and you said “Oh, yeah. There’s definitely a market for the 690s.”
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Yes, so the Kepler architecture is a fantastic architecture from NVIDIA. Their engineers really did a great job on the GPU. It’s very power-efficient, the performance is excellent, so that certainly helped EVGA. We did very well in 2012, especially on the performance enthusiast line of graphics cards, and we expect that to continue. On the subject of the GTX690, some people just want the best, and that’s what it is, so we’ve sold a good number of GTX690s and we expect that to continue.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): At the end of Q4, EVGA actually had some really, really cool bundles to go with some of your cards. Is that something we can be expecting next year, and can you talk a little bit about vendor participation with that, with some of the software developers?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Yes, we had a couple of game bundles at the end of 2012, like Borderlands 2 was one of them, and some of these were driven by NVIDIA, so you may have seen it on some other NVIDIA-branded products, but some of them were driven by EVGA as well. Certainly we try to best showcase games that will take advantage of the hardware.
One thing that we’ve been doing recently is working with some indie titles, which is independent game developers. We worked with one game company that developed the game called Primal Carnage, and this one just looked unique because it was basically a dinosaurs versus humans, and you could be a dinosaur, and it just looked cool, and we worked with them to help them get some cards, in exchange for some game codes and such, and it helps everyone, because it helps us deliver game codes to our customers and it also gets them cards, so they can basically develop nice graphical features into their games like [inaudible 0:10:03] or tessellation or whatever it may be. We want to continue to do that even more so in the future.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Awesome, thanks so much for joining us here, and it’s great to visit with you, we like to check in with you guys every six months or so. Any final words for what’s coming up in 2013 for the EVGA fans out there?
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Yes, 2013 should be a lot of fun, we have a lot of stuff coming out even more so than we were able to show today, so I would just stay tuned.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): OK.
Jacob Freeman (EVGA): Thanks so much.
Gaming Illustrated (SG): Thank you.