Republic Of Gamers as a Brand

The first stage in cementing yourself as a motherboard manufacturer is getting the brand name out into the wild with positive feedback.  Next is to drive up volume.  When you are in a strong position, you can experiment.  ASUS has been in the market as long as most people remember, and their website states that over 420 million motherboards have sold since 1989, so they are in a prime position to experiment.

Since 2005, the Republic of Gamers brand has been one such experiment.  Starting with motherboards, and growing into other areas such as graphic cards, notebooks, audio equipment, desktops, and soon to be external storage, ASUS tell me they have now topped out the one million mark in terms of ROG products sold.  That is a lot of PCB.

If we take that one million value for a minute, and assume that they are all mid range ROG motherboards sold around the $350 mark.  Technically, that is $350 million - or more likely, around $200 million if you consider how many hands it passed through and import taxes, and profit is probably <15% of that, or at maximum $30 million.  I hear that ASUS are breaking even with the Republic of Gamers branding, meaning that $30 million for personnel, research and development, and everything else makes it a pretty good deal, especially if ASUS do get any feedback through the Halo effect.

The ROG Motherboard team is a dedicated team of around 10 people, including designers, overclockers and managers.  Similarly, there is a Sabertooth team, a Workstation board team and the Channel (Pro, Deluxe, Premium) team.  The teams together are managed by a primary R&D head, who coordinates all the major segments (chipset, power delivery) between the separate teams.

For overall improvements, the ROG team takes ideas from overclockers or trusted forwards from users, and then on a component-by-component basis.  We see this with the audio, which has improved from SupremeFX to SupremeFX III over the lifespan of ROG.  The researchers and designers take ideas to the manager of the team, who will then weigh up the cost of designing a feature versus the implementation and consumer need.

As a result, we have gaming products in the Gene and Formula, and the top product in the Extreme.  The Extreme is seen internally as the realization of many of the enthusiast ideas that have been given the go ahead.  The team is given a lot of flexibility in this regard, almost a carte blanche (blank check) in order to improve performance, compatibility, or just a new feature.

The big win from a user's point of view is the dedication of ASUS to pursue such an endeavor, as it probably was not always breaking even.  To take on this at a loss for several years is a decision that is not taken lightly, and may not pay off in any way.  Any user has access to the ROG forums to preview the products before they buy, and talk to users to understand the exact feeling of the products.  Help is on hand from the community moderators and people in the employ of ASUS in order to improve the user experience.  This is also alongside providing videos and previews of currently on-market products performing in world-class environments, or articles and guides showing how to make the most out of their purchase.

For any other manufacturer to come close to the ROG is going to take a long time and effort, as well as understanding the market as to whether it can hold two big players in this regard.  ASUS' major competitors could have trouble building a brand, even if they already have forums like the ROG Forums to help users.  The ROG Forums are more prevalent, more well known, and are not spoken in hushed tones. 

As a movement towards improving and innovating the motherboard landscape, I give the ASUS ROG Brand an AnandTech Editors' Choice Gold Award.  Users who participate in the Republic of Gamers are well catered for, and get the best ASUS has to offer in terms of help, information, previews, experience.  Even if the ROG brand has cost ASUS money since its inception, ASUS seem happy to do so if it keeps customers happy and their products at the top of the chain.  That can only be good for the rest of us.

ASUS Republic Of Gamers Brand
Gold Award

Conclusions - Rampage IV Extreme: Silver Award
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  • Jambe - Friday, August 03, 2012 - link

    "Here on the Gene, ASUS are using two SATA 3 Gbps from the chipset (black), two SATA 6 Gbps from chipset (red) and two more SATA 6 Gbps from a controller (black, ASMedia)."

    The ASMedia 6 Gbps ports are red, not black. It might also be worth pointing out that the outside cluster is the ASMedia set and the middle one is the Intel set.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Many thanks for pointing this out. In my reviews I do go down the right hand side in order, especially in that paragraph. 24000 words and the odd one sometimes goes astray!

    Ian
    Reply
  • HisDivineOrder - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Doesn't the OC Key have a Single DVI limitation? You say in your article, "As long as you've got DVI, you're fine," or something along those lines, but the reality is that most of the high end users now use dual DVI (or Displayport) for 2560x1600/1440. After all, what's the point of pimping out your drag racing ride with the highest of the high end and then shrug and say, "1920x1200/1080 for yous!"

    Soooo... the high end are not using the OC Key because the OC Key doesn't support what the high end users are doing.

    http://rog.asus.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-1128...

    Honestly, I think the OC Key is just one big wasted opportunity because of this. Anyone willing to fork over $450 on a motherboard, $500+ on a CPU, have 8 sticks of memory, have four GPU's...

    You think they need just a single-DVI OC Key? It's really rather absurd. It might be true, but people who spend that scratch will probably need the superior bandwidth sooner rather than later.
    Reply
  • IanCutress - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    OC Key is not designed for gamers. It is designed for extreme overclockers who are competing for scores, most likely also using sub-zero cooling (Dry Ice, Phase or LN2). I have used it on occasion for competitive overclocking, and also have seen it used in overclocking competitions.

    That is its usage scenario.

    Ian
    Reply
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  • Laststop311 - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    I have an m18x desktop replacement. Has a 4.1 Ghz on all 4 cores OC without using turbo, the i7-2960xm, 4x4GB 1866MHz RAM, Crossfire Radeon 6990m's with both with a healthy overclock.

    It chews through almost every game on my 27" dell ultrasharp external monitor at 2560x1440 at at least 45 fps soe more some less but almost ALWAYS at very min above 25-30. Once I get the money to change out the 6990m's with 7970m's in crossfire I'll be playing every game at 45+ fps at 2560x1440 and full yltra settings.

    So don't sit there and tell me laptops suck for LAN partys. Because actually I can carry my m18x in a little carrier like it's a backpack and set up at the lan and be ready to go in a hurry.

    And the funny part is the laptop pulls higher fps then a lot of my friends pc's and that's not even with the 6990's upgraded to 7970m's.

    ALSO the r2 version of the m18x came with a new specially designed beefier heatsink set up for the XM processor that is triple the surface area but fits right in place. So I'll also be getting that much larger cpu heatsink to crank my OC from 4.1Ghz to 4.3-4.4 or so, basically a crazy killer speed demon laptop cpu
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  • Laststop311 - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    Claro Halo has a very very nice clean headphone amp (Headphone output with TPA6120 AMP IC) that can drive up to 600 ohms like a champ.

    It has incredibly high quality stereo RCA outputs for a low line level signal to a high quality stereo receiver (hardly any cards have gold plated RCA outputs which is crucial for a high quality connection to a high end receiver.) As well as a 5.1 optical output. If you require 7.1 output you can get the add on XT card that plugs in a connector on the sound card for additional gold plated 7.1 analog outputs.

    It also has 120dB s/n which is +2 better. It also has swappable OP-AMPS to customize the character of the sound exactly how you like it. You can also switch it to 32 ohm output mode from 300/600 ohm mode on the headphone amp output to adjust between huge full size cans and in ear monitors that are much more sensitive.

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    Every input and output is gold plated.

    Claro Halo is the best sound card hands down.
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  • macforth - Saturday, August 04, 2012 - link

    A very interesting read.......Thanks for that Ian.

    I have just bought an ROG, but it's the Maximus V Extreme..I am about to build a WC setup and run 690's in SLI.

    The reason I chose the 1155 as against the 2011, is the cost of the top MB and top CPU (given the gaming world's belief that there's little gain), PCIe 3, and I don't need the abilities that the 2011 shines in. I more play games. And to be quite honest, to me ROG spells GAMER!

    It's a while since I have seen any comparison of an ROG 2011 v 1155 just for games......and certainly not since the last proliferation of 1155's game to town.

    Ahhhh it would be very very interesting!
    Reply
  • DaViper - Sunday, August 05, 2012 - link

    Very Good Article Ian Cutress, BUT wheres the rest of the ROG Brand like the Crosshair Boards. there really is nothing in the Article about anything AMD/ATI side of ROG. We that do have the AMD side do like to see reviews about them as well but most of the time we get left out and considering here shortly there will be a New Addition to that line although it's named for Gamers but instead it's aimed Squarely at OverClockers and has all the Gamers Perks Removed. Reply

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