Nvidia's GT430 budget cards weren't the only things to appear at Best Buy stores across the US this week, with the company risking the ire of its hardware partners with the launch of self-manufactured graphics cards.

The cards, Nvidia GeForce GTS450 and GTX460s, are heavily branded with Nvidia logos - and are manufactured by Nvidia specifically for Best Buy, and are examples of the company's 'reference boards' - so don't be expecting to see factory overclocks and innovative cooling systems.

Asked about the sudden shift into retail, Nvidia's PR manager Bryan Del Rizzo stated that his company has joined forces with Best Buy " to offer PC customers the opportunity to experience firsthand the latest in PC technologies right inside Best Buy stores," and that the deal would include "NVIDIA [...] supplying to Best Buy specific GeForce models built and supported by NVIDIA."

Although the deal is exclusive to Best Buy at the moment, it's not hard to predict a future where Nvidia, hoping for a bigger chunk of the pie, directly competes with its hardware partners at a retail level.

While Nvidia launches its own hardware, at least one hardware partner has received even worse news from Big Green: HardOCP reports that the European arm of hardware manufacturer XFX has received its marching orders, and is no longer an approved Nvidia hardware partner. The reasons why aren't yet public, but if true means that XFX won't be receiving marketing help or preferential allocation of chips from Nvidia - and could spell the end of the company's UK operations, or even a shift to concentrate on AMD's products instead.

Do you believe that own-brand, 'reference' Nvidia designs will take precious revenue away from the company's hardware partners, or will the freedom third party manufacturers have to add overclocks and better cooling mean that Nvidia's partners have nothing to worry about? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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