With Nvidia revealing its going to be showing off something special on September 1 (who doesn’t love an announcement of an announcement?), the hype for its upcoming next generation graphics cards is at fever pitch.
While Sony and Microsoft are readying the release of their next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles respectively, PC gamers are looking forward to some real next-generation gaming hardware thanks to Nvidia, and there have been plenty of leaks which suggest Nvidia’s new cards will be something truly exciting.
However, while there have been plenty of convincing rumors (and loads of unconvincing ones), about the new lineup of GPUs, one thing still remains a mystery – what will Nvidia call them?
Nvidia GeForce RTX 30 series?
At the moment, many people – us included – are referring to them as the Nvidia GeForce RTX 30/RTX 3000 series: Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070, RTX 3080 and RTX 3080 Ti.
However, this is more of an educated guess, and Nvidia may not call them this at all. With the current generation being the RTX 20 series (and the one before that the GTX 10 series), it’s conceivable that Nvidia would make a similar leap with the new generation – especially if these new chips represent a huge upgrade compared to the current ones.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 21 series?
Just because it’s most likely that Nvidia will call its upcoming chips the RTX 30 series, doesn’t mean that’s actually what it’ll go for.
In fact, there are people who believe that Nvidia went for the RTX 20 series name for its Turing cards, rather than the expected GTX/RTX 11 series, precisely because so many people were expecting the latter.
So, could Nvidia not go with the RTX 30 just to confound expectations and have one over on all the leakers.
So, if it’s not going with RTX 30 series – what could it be calling them?
In my opinion, the next likely name would be the RTX 21 series – so we’d see an RTX 2170, RTX 2180 and RTX 2180 Ti announced.
There are a few reasons why this would be. First, as we mentioned, it would wrongfoot a lot of leakers. It would also be a return to Nvidia’s previous numbering convention where generations on leapt by one, rather than ten – so the GTX 6 series, 7 series, 8 series (which was mobile only) and 9 series.
Another reason why I am begging to become more convinced we could see a 21 series is that Nvidia released an ‘Ultimate Countdown’ to its event that initially counted down 21 days – with the company saying “21 days. 21 years. Before we enter the future, join us to celebrate the biggest breakthroughs in PC gaming since 1999.”
The repetition of 21 makes me feel that the company could go with the 21 series after all.
What makes the 21 series name less likely is that some could see this as a minor upgrade over the 20 series – something Nvidia may not be too happy about.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 40 series?
What if Nvidia did something really weird, and skipped the RTX 30 series altogether? Could we see an RTX 4080 Ti in September?
It wouldn’t be the first time Nvidia made a big leap in its numbering convention, so it’s not completely out of the question.
However, by jumping to the RTX 40 series, Nvidia would be setting some very high expectations for the new GPUs – and that could be a double-edged sword. Sure, they want people to be hyped about the upcoming graphics cards, but if people are expecting too much, and Nvidia can’t match those expectations, then there is going to be a lot of disappointment – and anger.
Nvidia GeForce RTX 25/26 series?
Nvidia GeForce RTX 2580 Ti? Nah, not going to happen. But could we see a GTX 2560? Or GTX 2660? Maybe. While Nvidia launched its high-end RTX 20 series GPUs, it followed them up with mid-range and entry-level GPUs in the GTX 16 series: the GeForce GTX 1650, 1650 Super and 1660 Ti.
These used the same Turing architecture as the 20 series, but without features like ray tracing, which is exclusive to the 20 series.
So, could this be the name? Unlikely. Nvidia is teasing a big leap, and from the leaks we’ve seen, these new GPUs will offer a big leap in power. Calling them the RTX25/26 series may be doing them a disservice, then.
Nvidia Voodoo 6
Maybe Nvidia will do something really nuts and bring back the Voodoo brand. During the ‘90s 3dfx’s Voodoo video cards were some of the most powerful and popular in the world until the company was bought by Nvidia in 2000.
Could Nvidia try to tug on some nostalgia strings by resurrecting the Voodoo brand once more?
It’s not out of the question, and it would certainly be a curve ball, but it’s a bit too backward looking, when this launch suggests Nvidia is all about talking about the future of PC gaming.
Something else entirely
Of course, Nvidia could come up with something else entirely for the name. It’d be a shock, but it would also make a big statement about these new GPUs being revolutionary.
It’s not very likely, but we wouldn’t completely rule it out either.
No matter what Nvidia ends up calling its Ampere graphics cards (hey, it could even just call them that), we should be in for an exciting time in PC gaming – especially when AMD counters with its upcoming ‘Big Navi’ GPU. Which, come to think of it, we’re not entirely sure what that will be called either…
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.