This week, ASUS introduced new “AREZ” branding for their AMD Radeon video cards. This announcement comes in conjunction with an AMD ‘freedom of choice’ initiative for consumers and gamers. Unmentioned, but inextricably intertwined, is NVIDIA’s highly controversial and recently-announced GeForce Partner Program (GPP), of which there's little first-hand information, but is widely perceived as being a consumer-unfriendly project.

NVIDIA describes GPP as a consumer transparency program with partners and OEMs that include incentives such as early access to new technologies, engineering support, and joint marketing (though the distinction between market development funds and co-operative funds was not made), types of programs that are common in the industry. However, unique to GPP and key to today's announcements is that Partners are required to place NVIDIA cards under their own brand, as opposed to the status-quo of both AMD and NVIDIA products showing up under the same brand (e.g. ASUS's Republic of Gamers).

In practice this has meant that Partners have booted AMD off of their existing brands. And with few verifiable facts about how these decisions were made, they've been subject to heavy speculation, ranging from Partners keeping their existing brands for their highest volume products - NVIDIA typically outsells AMD at around 3:1 in the GPU market - to NVIDIA secretly requiring that Partners only use their existing brands for this endeavor. (ed: officially, NVIDIA says that they don't care as long as it's a GeForce-only brand, but the general secrecy around GPP means that they have a public credibiltiy problem right now).

As for ASUS, the new “AREZ” brand supersedes the previous vendor-agnostic branding of “Republic of Gamers” and “ROG STRIX,” existing sub-brands that includes both systems and computer components such as discrete graphics cards. In practice, “ROG Strix” tier Radeon products have now been shuffled into it’s own branding without any further official details, while AMD motherboards have been untouched. Though it's interesting to note that even with this latest development, AREZ isn't strictly a new brand for ASUS. Ultra high-end dual-GPU Radeon solutions have classically fallen under the "Ares" label in the past. So the name isn't completely detached from video card history; rather it's had a Z bolted on to the end.

For ASUS’ Republic of Gamers, the brand was originally created as a halo brand oriented for enthusiast-class products, offering higher quality (and more profitable) components and specialty community support. Long time readers may recall that an ASUS Republic of Gamers motherboard received a very rare AnandTech Editors’ Choice Gold Award back in 2012, where we had said, “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.” If these changes are representative of the brand as a whole, than this experience will be only offered for GeForce owners. And likewise, consumers will only be exposed to GeForce products through ROG.

The affected products appear to have only undergone rebranding, rather than any specification changes. The cutover is not complete, as equivalent listings still appear to exist under the ROG category, and a look through the AREZ video card specifications show some products still list ROG branded accessories, such as the “ROG velcro strap.”

Meanwhile, AMD connected the “AREZ” brand to new upcoming brands, announcing that “over the coming weeks, you can expect to see our add-in board partners launch new brands that carry an AMD Radeon product.” In their blogpost titled "Radeon RX Graphics: A Gamer's Choice", the company expounded on the idea of consumer “freedom of choice,” explicitly connecting certain values with these new brands. Of these, AMD brought up FreeSync as opposed to “penalizing gamers with proprietary technology ‘taxes’ and limiting their choices in displays,” as well as “no anti-gamer / anti-competitive strings attached” in their relationships with board partners.

All-in-all, AMD is drawing a line here, focusing on consumer awareness and industry 'values' rather than dragging in AIB partners into a straight-up internal AMD/NVIDIA fight. Leveraging and expanding their traditional open ecosystem strategy, AMD is emphasizing its efforts with JEDEC HBM standards, work with the Vulkan API, and initiatives with GPUOpen. These 'values', so to speak, are already technologies that AMD pushes, and so the company is doubling-down in how they communicate these aspects to enthusiasts when they look at these new AIB brands.

In other words, the wording is clearly aimed at, but refrains from specifically mentioning, the recent controversies with NVIDIA GPP. Likewise, AMD’s description of “AREZ” does not specify whether their announcement is a reactive reframing of board partner rebranding, or a proactive creation of a particular initiative. Across the add-in board partner environment, it’s been reported that other partners have been dropping brands from Radeon products here and there, though none as prominant or wholesale as AREZ.

Given the nature of NVIDIA GPP, conclusive details will likely be impossible to retrieve. But we can say that the new AMD Radeon sub-brands in the coming weeks will greatly elucidate the exact relationship with NVIDIA GPP.

Source: AMD, ASUS

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  • JoeyJoJo123 - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    "As for ASUS, the new “AREZ” brand supersedes the previous vendor-agnostic branding of “Republic of Gamers” "
    As for anyone else, feel free to use the new Vendor-Specific branding of "Radeons of Gaming" or R.O.G.

    See that Team Green, we can all be A$$holes!

  • invinciblegod - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    That really only damages Asus though.
  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    Damages ASUS?
    How? "Radeons of Gaming" is not an ASUS Brand
  • Gunbuster - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    Name falls flat for me. No time to market test or does AREZ have some secret super appeal to the APAC markets?
  • Achaios - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    "ARES" is the ROG trademark so they had to differentiate it a bit to "AREZ".
  • CaedenV - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    AREZ... is this pronounced like a narcoleptic pirate? ARE!... ZZzzzzz
  • WatcherCK - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    Thanks for letting me start the day with a smile friend :)
    As for Are.zzzzz as long as I have a choice, having a choice drives innovation and (hopefully) keeps prices in check.
  • Dragonstongue - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    not like Ngreedia does not already do everything in its power scorched earth policy.

    minimum component selection, forced purchase for something the market has better solutions for that cost basically nothing (such as freesync etc)
    never admit to screwing up when they knew full well they were in the wrong (4gb card that only actually has 3.5gb at full speed, the use of DDR generations after competition sorted out the kinks, the last one to switch to lead free solder)
    do everything they can to screw competition who already had a design that worked but they do not want to support others and also expect no one else to play in the same sandbox (no matter who paid the bill in the first place, such as tessellation)
    at every opportunity will put a monkey wrench into the gears to make sure they always appear faster than they actually are instead of just being faster.

    Why people keep feeding this cancer they call Nvidia with $$$$$$$$$$$ is well beyond my understanding, they are last to the race and yet want a front row seat and will stomp around like a child when they do not get their way.

    big bully that wants everything handed to them but wants to give nothing in return.

    bunch of putzes that are in control of Nvidia, MSFT these days, big business does not or at least should not mean being the biggest douches to ensure $$$$$$$$$$ no matter the damage one is doing.

    no ethics, no principles for anything but lining their pockets no matter who they screw to get there.

    I have not purchased any Nvidia anything for well over a decade and do my best to argue with folks on the virtues of why they should be buying Radeon instead, at least AMD does not go out of their way to screw everyone over, they just try to do what they can, where they can and very much believe in open source (usually make little if any profit from is called giving back) vs Nvidia only believing in closed source gots to make $$$$$ of it ways.
  • 06GTOSC - Thursday, April 19, 2018 - link

    I'd be quite happy if I could find a manufacturer that still used lead based solder. It was stronger, doesn't develop tin whiskers, and held up to heat better.

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