HP and NVIDIA Sued for Laptops With Slow GPU

A consumer filed a class-action complaint in the District of Delaware last week against HP Inc. and NVIDIA Corporation for a punitive class of consumers that purchased the HP Envy 13 laptop, which contains “the slowed variant of the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics processor unit.” The filing claimed that the defendants misled consumers about the specific processor and its capabilities.

According to the complaint, “the HP Envy 13 is an ‘ultrabook’ laptop, so-called due to its small size and allegedly high performance.” Additionally, “the NVIDIA GeForce MX150 is a graphics card. The most important part of the graphics card, i.e., the ‘brain’ of the card, is the graphics processing unit (GPU).” The complaint stated that “an underpowered GPU can negatively impact the user experience by reducing render speed, display quality, and operating stability.”

The plaintiff stated that in 2017, HP “released a version of the Envy 13 incorporating the MX150″ and that “NVIDIA marketed the MX150 as a single hardware component with uniform performance specifications, when in fact, there were two variants of the MX150: one that performed at the advertised specifications (the ‘standard MX150’), and another that performed substantially worse (the ‘Slowed MX150’).” Allegedly, the Slowed MX150 performs about the same as the predecessor GPU, despite NVIDIA’s claims that the MX150 would perform about 33% better than its predecessor. 

Reportedly, in June 2017 HP allowed consumers buying Envy laptops the option to upgrade the laptop’s base GPU by adding the MX150. “Customers who purchased the larger models of the Envy received the Standard MX150, while customers who purchased the smaller Envy 13 received the Slowed MX150,” the complaint explained. According to the plaintiff, “HP and NVIDIA knew that the Slowed MX150 was materially inferior to the Standard MX150, but neither company differentiated between the two variants in marketing materials.” 

Additionally, the plaintiff claimed that NVIDIA also misrepresented “the speed and performance boost offered by the MX150.” Moreover, the plaintiff proffered that HP failed to disclose to consumers purchasing the specified Envy 13 laptops “that they contained a GPU that was materially inferior to the larger Envy models.” Instead, HP allegedly “fully adopted NVIDIA’s misleading uniform branding of the MX150” and “marketed the Class Laptops as being ‘exceptionally powerful,’ with ‘(i)ncredible speed.’”

The defendants, according to the plaintiff, “engaged in a deceptive and misleading campaign to sell computer hardware and laptop computers containing such hardware by advertising such hardware as a single brand with uniform specifications when in fact, the product line consists of two distinct models, with a substantial performance disparity between them.” As a result, the plaintiff alleged that consumers purchased laptops with inferior hardware that performed slower than advertised.

The plaintiff contended that based on HP and NVIDIA’s representations, the plaintiff and putative class purchased the Class Laptops at high prices for computers that purportedly perform significantly worse than advertised and that are not usable for consumers that need a more powerful GPU.

The plaintiff claimed that the defendants violated Delaware and Maryland common law and statutes prohibiting misleading and unfair sales practices because of their alleged misleading marketing.

HP and NVIDIA were accused of false advertising and violating the deceptive and unfair prongs of deceptive trade practice statutes; equitable injunctive and declaratory relief; violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act; deceit and fraudulent concealment; and unjust enrichment.

The plaintiff seeks class certification for those who purchased the item since its launch and for a Maryland subclass; for the plaintiff and his counsel to represent the class; an award for damages, costs, and fees; injunctive and declaratory relief; and interest

The plaintiff is represented by Deleeuw Law LLC and Migliaccio & Rathod LLP.