Say it with us, folks: "Boo! Hiss!" That's how we feel about BFG ending its legacy by punking its customers who supported the once enthusiast-oriented videocard maker.
A quick history lesson is in order here. BFG blazed a trail in the videocard market by introducing the concept of a true lifetime warranty for GPUs, and not one of those bogus ones that were good only for the life of the product so long as it was still being sold in the marketplace. This proved a major advantage in BFG's favor, and not long after, EVGA and XFX would follow suit, adding twists of their own (like the ability to overclock and swap out heatsinks without voiding the warranty, so long as no physical damage occurs).
BFG also built a legacy for itself by taking care of customers in other ways. In late 2008, the videocard maker began offering free PCI-E upgrades for AGP card owners -- all a user had to do was send BFG an "AGP card in good, working condition" and they'd send back a "PCI Express equivalent at no cost."
Hit the jump to find out how else BFG built up good favor, and why it's now all for naught.
Things are looking pretty bleak over at BFG. In mid-May, the enthusiast company announced it was bowing out of the graphics card business, a sector it admitted was "no longer profitable" for them, and vowed to "continue to provide our award-winning power supplies and gaming systems," as well as work on a few new products.
The situation might be more dire than BFG let on. While we haven't heard anything official, HardOCP says its been hearing that BFG went and nixed its power supply division.
"We are being told this morning by sources inside BFG Tech that its 'PSU department' has been let go," HardOCP writes. "I would suggest that if you have a BFG card that needs to be RMA'd, you need to get that done ASAFP. We do not see the company being 'in business' much longer as it is reported that all its remaining inventory has been moved."
Again we should stress that BFG hasn't released any official statements, but if true, this will rank as a dark day for power users who were/are fans of the BFG brand. Made up of enthusiasts themselves, BFG was one of the few companies which guaranteed their videocards with lifetime warranties, a backing which also applied to some of its PSUs.
It's never easy saying goodbye, and though we never play favorites, we can't help but be a little saddened by BFG's departure from the graphics card market. That's right folks, the company that pretty much kick started the concept of lifetime warranties for videocards will no longer be slapping together GPUs and PCBs.
"After eight years of providing innovative, high-quality graphics cards to the market, we regret to say that this category is no longer profitable for us, although we will continue to evaluate it going forward", said John Slevin, chairman of BFG Technologies. "We will continue to provide our award-winning power supplies and gaming systems, and are working on a few new products as well."
Instead of graphics cards, BFG will focus its attention entirely on its own-branded power supplies as well as their Deimos gaming notebooks and Phobos gaming systems. And for those of you who already own a BFG videocard, don't fret, the company was adamant that it would "continue to offer RMA, telephone, and email support for qualified BFG Tech graphics card warranty holders."
It's been an interesting past couple of years in the graphics market, to say the least. XFX was first to shake up the industry when it announced it would end its exclusivity partnership with Nvidia and also sell ATI brand videocards, and more recently, XFX said it would be skipping Fermi altogether. With BFG bowing out of the market entirely, that leaves only EVGA as the sole provider of lifetime warrantied cards in the Nvidia camp.
Most would probably agree that BFG was considered one of the 'good guys' in the graphics card market. In late 2008, BFG stepped up to the plate by offering rebate relief to customers who got burned by CPG, a rebate processing company accused of mismanaging funds. Around the same time, BFG implemented an upgrade program in which some AGP videocard owners could upgrade to PCI-E cards free of charge.
The hottest rumor on the Web right now is that BFG might go play for the red team and start producing ATI Radeon videocards. Could this possibly be true?
"The rumor we are hearing today is that BFG is going RED!," HardOCP.com founder Kyle Bennett posted on Thursday. "Totally unconfirmed, but given the history heard over the last few years...yes years...this does not sound implausible. I am waiting for a response from BFG's CEO, but none is forthcoming."
If this turns out to be true, it would be quite the score for AMD, who in late 2008 managed to pry XFX from Nvidia's exclusivity grip. Like XFX, BFG is one of just a small handful of GPU vendors who offer lifetime warranties on their parts, EVGA being the other.
While this wouldn't be the end of the world for Nvidia, it does seem as though the GPU maker can't catch a break. Everything from failed parts to losing the performance crown have been thorns in Nvidia's side, and it remains to be seen what kind of cure-all Fermi can provide.
One thing's for sure - no one can accuse BFG of jumping into the gaming notebook market half-assed. On the contrary, BFG, best known for it's lineup of GPUs, today announced the Deimos X-10 SLI gaming laptop that looks as sexy as its spec sheet.
"The Deimos X-10 SLI notebook is perfect for gamers and media enthusiasts who demand desktop performance but prefer the portability of a notebook," said John Malley, senior director of marketing for BFG Technologies. "Deimos X-10 comes fully locked and loaded to deliver the ultimate HD mobile gaming and multimedia experience."
The Deimos X-10 sports a spacious 18.4-inch full HD widescreen display, and underneath the hood, users can choose between an Intel Core 2 Duo, Quad, or Extreme processor. Up to two NVidia GTX 280M graphics cards come configurable to get your mobile SLI groove on. Other specs include an optional Blu-ray drive, full size keyboard with 8 touch sensor instant keys, up to 1.5TB of storage space (SSD or HDD), up to 8GB of DDR3 memory, 8 macro gaming keys, 2MP webcam, HDMI output, four USB ports, and more.
BFG says its new notebook will start shipping on October 30, but those who preorder before then will receive 10 percent off their order. Pricing starts at $1,860.
Adding to its EX power supply line, BFG this week launched its new EX-1000, a 1000 watt modular power supply that you will only be able to purchase at Best Buy stores or through BestBuy.com.
The modular unit boasts 80 Plus Bronze certification, which calls for PSUs to retain 85 percent power at a 50 percent load, and never drop below 82 percent at any load level. According to BFG, out of the 1,627 power supplies certified to be 80 Plus efficient, only 175, or less than 10 percent, are 1000W or greater.
Connectors consist of 12x SATA, 2x 4-pin floppy, 9x 4-pin Molex, 3x 8-pin (6+2) PCI-E, 3x 6-pin PCI-E, 1x 8-pin CPU 12V, 1x 4-pin CPU 12V, and 1x 24-pin (20+4-pin) motherboard. Other features include quad +12V rails, a "silent" 135mm intake fan, a handful of Velcro straps, and a lifetime warranty (when registered within 30 days of purchase date).
The EX-1000 is available now from Best Buy / BestBuy.com for $200.
Setting up and maintaining a liquid-cooling setup isn't for everyone, and it's this crowd BFG is targeting with a pair of maintenance-free, self-contained liquid-cooled GeForce graphics cards, the GTX 285 H2O+ and the GTX 295 H2OC.
Both new cards sport BFG's new ThermoIntelligence Advanced Cooling Solution, which when you take away the fancy title means you can enjoy the benefits of water cooling your videocard(s) without all the fuss. According to BFG, the cards are easy to install right out of the box and never need refilling or additional components. The benefit, says BFG, is up to 30C cooler temps under load when pitted against standard air cooled models.
"We're very excited to be the first company to bring this type of professional grade advanced cooling solution to PC enthusiasts," said John Malley, senior director of marketing for BFG.
BFG's GTX 295 H2OC will sport a 675MHz core clockspeed, 2214MHz memory data rate, and 1458MHz shader clockspeed. The GTX 285 H2O+ will run at 691MHz, 2592MHz, and 1566MHz core, memory, and shader clockspeeds, respectively.
The GTX 295 H2OC will be available in limited quantities starting August 5th, while the GTX 285 H2O+ will also be available in limited quantities, starting August 12th. No word on price.
For those of you not familiar with BFG's Trade Up program, registered owners of qualified videocards have 100 calendar days from the date of purchase to trade their card in for a faster, more expensive model and pay the price difference. Now you'll be able to do the same with BFG-brand power supplies, assuming you meet the criteria.
"This program only applies to BFG power supplies purchased after June 1, 2009," BFG states. "This program may not be available to all customers, and rules/restrictions may apply. The Program is currently only available in the U.S. and Canada."
For a limited time, BFG is extending the offer to include PSUs purchased as far back as January 1, 2009. The company doesn't say how long the offer will remain valid.
Earlier this month BFG announced it would become a boutique system builder, a bold move considering the market sector has seen the departure of big name boutiques like Alienware, Voodoo, and HyperSonic as standalone entities (now owned by Dell, HP, and OCZ respectively). Even bolder was the announcement of its $8,000 flagship Elite model in the new Phobos line, which comes standard with dual BFG GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Intel's Core i7 965 Extreme processor, 6GB of RAM, and other high end treats.
Now that www.bfgsystems.com has gone live and is taking orders, we have more information on the Performance and Advanced models, which start at $3,000 and $8,000 respectively. For three grand, the Performance configuration comes standard with a water-cooled Core i7 920 (2.66GHz) processor, 6GB of DDR3-1333 RAM, GeForce GTX 285 videocard, two 640GB WD hard drives, DVD burner, and a 1KW PSU. The Advanced configuration bumps the processor up to Intel's Core i7 940 (2.93GHz), adds a second GTX 285 videocard, trades the 640GB hard drives for a pair of 300GB Velociraptors instead, and forgoes onboard sound in favor of Creative's X-Fi Titanium.
All three configurations come with free in-home setup.
Staving off the upgrade bug while waiting for the inevitable next best thing that's always just around the corner can cause you to be in a perpetual state of limbo. But if you've been suffering from this phenomenon since the AGP days, now might be the perfect time to pull the trigger. Not only has Intel released it's Core i7 platform, but if your aging AGP videocard is a qualified BFG-branded unit, you might be able to score a free or low-cost ($50) PCI-E upgrade.
"Now, for a limited time, if you send us your BFG AGP card in good, working condition, we'll send you the PCI Express equivalent at no cost to you," BFG wrote on its AGP-to-PCI-E promotional page. "If you want to upgrade to an even better performing card, there is a nominal fee to do so. Offer good for U.S. customers only."
Furthermore, BFG's claim that the free PCI-E upgrade is equivalent to its AGP counterpart might be a bit modest in certain circumstances. For example, BFG will upgrade owners of GeForce 6800OC AGP videocards with just a 128MB frame buffer to a 9600GT OC PCI-E card with 512MB of memory. The same 9600GT OC is used for all but one of the free upgrades and the performance levels out as you move up the AGP food chain, but for $50, users can instead opt for a 9800GT OC.
The offer is available for a limited time, though BFG has not specified a more specific time frame. Current AGP owners will need to register their cards with BFG if they haven't already done so. But don't fret if you've lost the receipt - BFG says no proof of purchase will be required.