Nvidia’s small GPU initiative will keep graphics cards large — but I’m glad it exists

Nvidia just gave the PC gaming industry a reason to shrink its biggest graphics cards and produce smallish cases. It’s not what I expected, but I think it might actually help. Read before you judge, friends — I was definitely ready to call out some Nvidia BS, but I’ve mostly come around.

When leakers revealed last month that Nvidia would help steer its graphics card partners toward smaller gaming PCs, I began to daydream. Might we finally see a genuinely small Nvidia powerhouse like AMD’s old R9 Nano? Could Nvidia at least convince partners to produce two-slot GPUs like many of its own Founders Edition cards?

Unfortunately, no. Nvidia’s just-announced “SFF-Ready Enthusiast GeForce Cards” aren’t actually that small — even a 2.5 slot thick, 304mm long, and 151mm wide RTX 4070 can qualify. That means supposedly “SFF” GPUs will not fit into my SFF case, and I have a hard time calling these “SFF” at all.

Nvidia’s optional guidelines specify these maximum dimensions.
Image: Nvidia

This still looks like a pretty large case to me.

But if you, like me, want to help smaller gaming PCs get a larger foothold, this could help — because it’s not just about the cards; it’s about knowing you can fit a certain amount of graphics horsepower in a given case because both the case and the card identify themselves as compatible with one another.

“I’m giving them a guideline to say, hey, leave this much space, and then you’ll be able to fit an enthusiast graphics card in there like a 4080, a 4070. That’s the purpose of this program,” Nvidia senior desktop products director Justin Walker tells me.

Indeed, the list of cards that Nvidia is sharing today only includes RTX 4070 or higher: it’s not promoting a fat 4060, for example.

Here’s a list of validated cards and cases so far. It’s not exhaustive, but these partners are on board.
Images: Nvidia

Today, figuring out if a given card will fit is often a matter of painstakingly trolling manufacturer websites for length, width, and height twice: once for the card and once for the case. Now, you might just be able to look for “SFF-Ready” and move on with your day. You may still have to hit up those manufacturer websites, though, as Walker says there’s not necessarily going to be a Newegg sort filter for “SFF Ready” or a badge on the actual product yet.

He tells me these guidelines should reduce uncertainty for case manufacturers, too: “I’m making a small case, and I want it to fit a high end graphics card… right now I have no idea, there’s so many sizes and shapes. Right now I don’t know how to make a case that fits everything.” Now, there’s a target.

While I personally still wish Nvidia had tried harder to shrink the sizes of partner cards themselves — again, their own Founders Edition cards are generally just two slots thick! — there is some hope for more such GPUs. Walker says it’s no mistake that there’s only a single RTX 4080 on the SFF-Ready list, and he hopes more partners will rise to the challenge.

“It takes a lot of work and a very intentional design to put a 4080 in this form factor,” he says. “I get that it’s not a tiny Mini-ITX thing, but I want to let someone be able to put a 4080 into that case.”

Speaking of which: just a few days ago, hardware leaker kopite7kimi attested that Nvidia’s RTX 5090 Founders Edition card will have a dual-slot cooler.

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