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Nvidia settles class action with angry PC gamers over missing GTX 970 RAM

When you buy a video card with 4GB of RAM, you would naturally expect it to actually have 4GB of usable RAM. That was not the case with the Nvidia GTX 970. This card, which was released almost two years ago, used an unusual new memory management system that gave it access to only 3.5GB of the 4GB physically present on the card. Consumers were not amused, and a class action lawsuit was filed. Nvidia has resolved the case today and will be paying all GTX 970 buyers $30 for the trouble.

With the GTX 970 and other Maxwell architecture cards, the company adopted a new way of disabling bad L2 cache blocks, and the division of memory is a logical extension of this. The total L2 cache was lower than originally reported by Nvidia, too (1.75MB vs. 2MB). There are eight memory controllers in the 970, but the GPU has access to just seven of them at a time. Nvidia’s solution to this was to tell the GPU to only use 3.5GB of memory and reserve that last half a gigabyte.

With less effective memory, the GTX 970 would clear data from its video RAM more aggressively than the GTX 980. That card was significantly more expensive, though. Nvidia says the whole unpleasant situation was just a miscommunication between engineering and marketing. Thus, it wasn’t the company’s intention to mislead consumers.

The total amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but it’s believed to be someplace in the neighborhood of $1.3 million total. Individual consumers who purchased the GTX 970 will be contacted in the coming weeks with instructions on how to file a claim. The card launched at $329 in 2014, so this brings the effective price down below $300. I guess that’s what half a gig of RAM is worth.

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