New GeForce RTX 4090 'AI' cards with blower-style coolers pop up in China

Chinese companies are taking apart fully working gaming-focused GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards, and turning them into blower-style AI accelerators.

2 minutes & 47 seconds read time

It seems there are more and more regular NVIDIA GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards being disassembled, tweaked, and put back together as an AI accelerator and sold for huge profits in China... where US sanctions have destroyed the AI market in the country, which is why companies are getting around those issues.

RTX 4090 cards in China, ready to be turned into AI GPUs (source: I_Leak_VN on X)

RTX 4090 cards in China, ready to be turned into AI GPUs (source: I_Leak_VN on X)

I was tagged on Twitter overnight by I_Leak_VN, who had some photos of more GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards being turned into AI GPUs and sold in China, where you can see more and more boxes -- and I'm sure these are just a handful of these photos -- filled with expensive, unsellable RTX 4090 cards. US sanctions by the Biden administration have all but dragged the AI GPU market to a halt in China, so companies stockpiled RTX 4090s and are now ripping them apart and making AI GPUs out of them.

This is also something thast's not new, with VideoCardz pointing out that blower-style RTX 4090s have been on the market since November 2022, so over a year now. NVIDIA could've changed its thoughts on the design of its flagship RTX 4090, lifting restrictions with AIB partners that stopped them from making blower-style coolers for the RTX 4090.

MANLI was the first of NVIDIA's official board partners to jump out and launch a blower-style RTX 4090, which was on the market in December 2022, weeks after the restrictions from NVIDIA were lifted. After that, other AIB partners joined the fray and started making blower-style coolers for their RTX 4090, where in January and February, we saw more and more blower-style RTX 4090s hitting the market.

RTX 4090 cards in China, ready to be turned into AI GPUs (source: I_Leak_VN on X)

RTX 4090 cards in China, ready to be turned into AI GPUs (source: I_Leak_VN on X)

AFOX had its blower-style RTX 4090 announced in June 2023, while MSI's new RTX 4090 AERO also had a blower-style cooler in July 2023. It has ramped up since November 2022, that's for sure, making sense as to why these companies are now buying OTHER custom RTX 4090s to tear down and turn into an AI GPU.

The biggest issue here is now Chinese companies are now taking apart working GeForce RTX 4090 graphics cards that gamers want to buy and turning them into AI GPUs. The RTX 4090 is already over $3000 to $4000+ in China and slowly disappearing from shelves and e-tailer websites... so what will this situation look like in December, or even January 2024, when NVIDIA unveils its new RTX 40 SUPER graphics cards? Interesting times ahead for super high-end RTX 4090 graphics cards, that's for sure.

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Anthony joined the TweakTown team in 2010 and has since reviewed 100s of graphics cards. Anthony is a long time PC enthusiast with a passion of hate for games built around consoles. FPS gaming since the pre-Quake days, where you were insulted if you used a mouse to aim, he has been addicted to gaming and hardware ever since. Working in IT retail for 10 years gave him great experience with custom-built PCs. His addiction to GPU tech is unwavering and has recently taken a keen interest in artificial intelligence (AI) hardware.

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