AMD vows 'freedom' for new Radeon brands as GeForce Partner Program controversy swirls

A little more than a month ago, HardOCP’s Kyle Bennett reported that an initiative called the GeForce Partner Program offered graphics card makers (such as Asus and MSI) various incentives to restrict the use of their top gaming brands to Nvidia hardware. While Nvidia hasn’t commented beyond a blog post light on details, a new lineup of graphics cards by Asus and commentary from AMD suggests HardOCP’s report might be true. Asus officially revealed the Radeon-exclusive “Arez” graphics card lineup on Tuesday after weeks of leaks and whispers.

They all look awfully similar to the Radeon graphics cards that Asus has offered since the RX 500 and RX Vega series launched, but with one key detail missing: While some of the models still sport Strix coolers, none of the Arez lineup carries the “Republic of Gamers” brand that Asus has spent years building. (Previously released Radeon cards still carry the ROG brand, however.) In an email sent to PCWorld, AMD said this won’t be an outlier.

[ Further reading: Best graphics cards for PC gaming ]

“Today, Asus announced its AREZ-branded AMD Radeon RX graphics cards and over the coming weeks, you can expect to see more add-in board partners launch new brands carrying the AMD Radeon name… Through AMD’s add-in-board partners that carry forward the AMD Radeon RX brand, the company is continuing to push the industry openly, transparently and without restrictions so that gamers have access to the best immersive technologies, APIs and experiences.”

AMD never mentions the GeForce Partner Program outright, but with the heavy messaging around transparency and openness, the statement seems like a direct shot at Nvidia.

Asus

This Asus Arez RX 570 still uses the Strix brand and cooler.

The message wasn’t sent to journalists alone, either. Radeon vice president and general manager Scott Herkelman published a post on Radeon.com that dragged AMD’s “Freedom of Choice” pledge into the public spotlight. Herkelman says the following are “The key values that brands sporting AMD Radeon products will offer”:

  • A dedication to open innovation
  • A commitment to true transparency through industry standards
  • Real partnerships with real consistency
  • Expanding the PC gaming ecosystem

Further reporting by HardOCP suggests that big-name PC makers like Dell and HP aren’t aligning their gaming brands with Nvidia, though we haven’t been able to confirm those details.

PCWorld’s industry sources have remained silent when asked about the GeForce Partner Program. Keep an eye on the quality of these new Radeon-exclusive cards as they’re announced. If graphics card makers design AMD hardware similarly to hardware carrying Nvidia-exclusive brands–which certainly seems to be the case with the Asus Arez lineup–then the brand name on the box shouldn’t matter in terms of performance.

Maintaining separate brands for Radeon and GeForce hardware makes things somewhat more confusing for consumers but it isn’t unheard-of either: Asus maintains exclusive Maximus and Crosshair brands for motherboards from Intel and AMD, respectively.

We interviewed HardOCP’s Kyle Bennett on our Full Nerd podcast when news of the GeForce Partner Program first surfaced.

Check it out below.

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