China’s online marketplaces are flooded with NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4080 and RTX 4090 mobile graphics cards altered to function as desktop versions. Based on past trends seen with RTX 20 and 30 series, the appearance of RTX 40 series accelerators, repurposed for desktop use, is not an anomaly.
Chinese firms specialize in selling these repurposed mobile graphics cards as desktop accelerators. These companies maximize their profitability by using less expensive mobile GPUs, budget cooling systems and simpler printed circuit boards. Despite flouting official channels and not meant for general sale, these companies have managed to acquire and supply many of these cards without facing apparent consequences from NVIDIA.
For gamers, the affordability of these repurposed cards can make them viable purchasing options. However, these cost savings may come with reduced warranty periods, limited availability, mainly via the secondary market and Chinese online platforms, and potential issues with driver support.
Notably, these repurposed cards do not match the power and performance of their desktop counterparts. The mobile RTX 4090, using the AD103 GPU with 9728 CUDA cores and 16GB GDDR6 video memory, reveals a 40% decrease in cores and 8GB reduction in memory when compared to the desktop variant. The RTX 4080M features 7424 cores and 12GB of memory, representing a 24% drop in cores and 4GB less memory than its desktop counterpart.
According to vendors, the RTX 4080M’s performance straddles between the RTX 4070 and RTX 4070 Ti, despite the latter having 7680 cores and a 285W thermal design power (TDP) as compared to 175W of the mobile version. This limited power is a downside to repurposed graphics cards and is the reason they often come with dual-fan cooling systems.
From a pricing perspective, the mobile GeForce RTX 4080 for desktops is sold between $420 and $560. Some vendors may price these cards even higher than full-fledged desktop equivalents. These modified cards were first made available this month. However, consumers should remain cautious when buying full desktop cards online as there are instances where modified mobile versions are falsely presented as the original.