Nvidia is making some changes to its long-term Windows support, and a number of operating systems and GPUs are headed for the great big parts bucket in the sky. As of August 31, the GPU manufacturer will drop support for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. It will also drop support for all Kepler GPUs. These are GPUs that were (mostly) sold as the 600 and 700-series, though low-end cards in both series were sometimes based on earlier GPU architectures like Fermi.
Nvidia gives several reasons for EOLing older operating systems and GPUs. All previous versions of Windows save for 8.1 are already expired and support for Windows 8.1 ends in January 2023. This isn’t a move that’s likely to impact gamers very much. According to the Steam Hardware Survey, some 92.87 percent of gamers are already running Windows 10, with Windows 7 the next most popular version at 1.97 percent.
As for why Nvidia is sunsetting Kepler, the GPU family is now over nine years old. The company notes it will continue to provide “critical security updates” for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, as well as all Kepler-derived GPUs on all operating systems, through September of 2024.
There are very few people still using Kepler GPUs, also according to the Steam Hardware Survey. Cards like the GTX 650, 660, 760, and GTX 770 appear to account for roughly 1 percent of the market in total. Steam’s video card numbers are known not to be 100 percent accurate, but we’re still talking about a very small number of cards.
The only reason this band-aid might sting even a little is that right now, new GPUs are harder to come by than hen’s teeth. Jon Peddie Research released a chart showing how AIB prices have changed in the past few quarters, and the results are eye-popping.
Woof. GPUs that normally sell for an average of $123 (as of Q4 2019) are now $496, or 4x as expensive. Midrange cards are 3.8x more, and high-end cards are 2.33x more. Even workstation GPUs, which carry significant price premiums to start with, are 2.7x more expensive than they were a few years ago.
Given these circumstances, Nvidia’s decision to sunlight support might feel a bit premature. But given that old drivers don’t stop working just because Nvidia stops releasing updates, it’s going to be a while yet before you can’t rely on the August R470 driver to run a Kepler GPU. Long enough, we suspect, for the card’s remaining marginal utility to run out, no matter what.
Notifications like this would seem to imply that Nvidia will not be supporting Kepler and previous GPUs in Windows 11, given that we expect Microsoft to announce that operating system in the near future. If this turns out to be true, we can expect to see Maxwell and subsequent GPUs supported in Microsoft’s next operating system.
Those of you holding on for new GPUs, the best we can say is, try to hold on a bit longer.