Credit: NvidiaNvidia released a new driver today with improved support for Mortal Kombat 11, GTX 16-series laptops, and more G-Sync Compatible displays. The company also released the new GTX 1650, which was built on the new Turing architecture but starts at just $149. Yet reviewers--including Tom's Hardware--are stuck waiting for the company to release a public driver for its GTX 1650 so it can be properly tested and their reviews can go live.
The review process for Nvidia hardware is fairly well established: the company sends hardware to reviewers ahead of its public release and provides reviewers with the drivers necessary for accurate testing. In exchange, it gets to decide the earliest time reviews can be published. This give-and-take is supposed to make it easier for reviewers to judge a product before it ships without futzing up the company's marketing plans.
Yet the process was changed a bit for the GTX 1650. Reviewers already have the GPU in their possession, the review embargo has passed, and Nvidia officially started taking orders for graphics cards featuring the GPU earlier today. But you'll notice that neither Tom's Hardware nor other publications have reviewed the GTX 1650, and that's because Nvidia decided not to provide the appropriate driver ahead of the product's launch.
That decision has already prompted speculation from some reviewers and social media users. Many seem to have decided that Nvidia withheld the driver because it's worried that GTX 1650 reviews will be unfavorable, with the hope being that it could sell as many units as possible before reviews came out. (This is common with game reviews, for example, where publishers accept pre-orders but decline to offer reviewers access to the title.)
Thinking about the other ways Nvidia could've delayed GTX 1650 reviews, though, makes that explanation harder to accept. Why not just set the embargo for well after the GTX 1650's retail debut? Or open a preorder window before reviews? The company might have been worried about leaks if it took that approach, but it also could've withheld review units entirely. Neither option would've raised too many eyebrows--or at least not as many as withholding the driver has.
An alternative explanation could be found via a more diplomatic version of Hanlon's razor, which says "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Nvidia isn't stupid, and we suspect the vast majority of its employees aren't, either. But things do fall through the cracks--it's entirely possible that the GTX 1650 driver was supposed to be sent to reviewers a while ago but wasn't because of technical difficulties.
Either way, a public release driver for the GTX 1650 should arrive this week. Our review for the GTX 1650 will be published as soon as possible.