NVIDIA’s GeForce Partner Program forces branding changes for ASUS and MSI

ASUS and MSI have this week made big changes to their premium-branded AMD Radeon gaming cards, and this may have something to do with NVIDIA’s GeForce Partner Program, which offers NVIDIA’s partners incentives on a technical and financial level. According to earlier reports by HardOCP’s Kyle Bennet, NVIDIA’s condition for allowing partners into the GPP was that they exclusively reserve their gaming brands for GeForce cards, or else they couldn’t participate. At the time, this was thought to be an unimaginable scenario, but Bennet was right on the money. The marketing changover took place this week, and we’re seeing the first effects of that online.

UPDATE: Gigabyte have clarified their position on changes to their branding for the Radeon RX 580 Gaming box in a press statement to ComputerBase.

Last week, Bennet publicly confirmed to PC World in their podcast that both ASUS and MSI had signed a deal on the day of recording, and up to seven of NVIDIA’s partners had been approached to sign the contract. We can now add Gigabyte to the list of vendors that have potentially signed up, as their products have also now switched to generic branding for Radeon GPUs.

Searching on Amazon and Newegg for Radeon GPUs under the three brands has revealed that they have been replaced with cards that feature generic branding. On ASUS’ side, ROG-branded Radeon RX 580 cards are no longer listed as in stock (and some listings have been removed), and it looks like ASUS has reverted to using the DUAL brand previously used for more budget card designs. Both MSI and Gigabyte have gaming-branded Radeon cards that appear online on Amazon, but these cards are available through resellers, and not Amazon direct. Newegg also allows resellers to use their platform, and the same applies there.

UPDATE: I was notified by a reader that ASUS has actually had the DUAL brand for Radeon RX 500 series cards for a while now. I had no idea they existed before today. I apologise for this error to NAG’s readers and to ASUS as well.

On the vendor’s websites, there are some changes there as well. MSI, for example, has completely removed any mention of MSI Gaming from Radeon cards. For the RX Vega family, they ship the cards with reference coolers and “Air Boost” or “Iron” branding, Iron being the same blower cooler design with a brushed aluminium shroud. For the RX 580 and RX Vega 64 Liquid, they revert to using AMD’s stock designs there, and the custom RX 580 designs are limited to the ARMOR series of coolers and branding.

On Gigabyte’s website, nothing has been changed in terms of branding for AMD GPUs, but none of those GPUs are new. Their latest product, the RX 580 Gaming Box, features no external AMD branding anywhere, and ships with a custom cooler with no special branding that is small enough to fit inside the unit. NVIDIA Gaming boxes feature the AORUS branding.

UPDATE: In a statement to ComputerBase, Gigabyte Europe has clarified why the RX 580 Gaming box did not carry AORUS branding as expected. A rough translation from Google Translate follows:

“ComputerBase asked Gigabyte why the model with Radeon RX 580 is the only in the series which does not come with the “Aorus” gaming branding. The manufacturer states that the product is not gamer focused. This however is inconsistent with the product page, whose headings are ‘Turn Your Ultrabook to Gaming Platform’ and ‘Upgrade the Game Experience’.”

ASUS’ website also still has the old branding for AMD GPUs in the ROG family, but has brands for AMD’s cards that aren’t as premium-focused. Taking the RX 580 as an example, they have DUAL branding for the RX 580 4GB and 8GB cards, as well as the Expedition brand for the RX 570 4GB card, which is an older dual-fan design that ASUS used previously for their Mining series of graphics cards. It’s available on GeForce cards as well, which is unexpected.

The other telling part is this particular Amazon listing, which still has the old product name in the header and URL. Scroll down, and you’ll see the product blurb from the manufacturer talks about the ROG Strix version of the card, which has a bigger and more capable cooler, better components, and RGB customisation.

Elsewhere, other changes are afoot. Gigabyte UK, which previously was the official Twitter for both AMD, Intel, and GeForce products, has now announced that their product messaging has moved to the AORUS Twitter. The handle will now be dedicated to computer enthusiasts, and not any particular brand or manufacturer. MSI’s most recent tweet about a Radeon product was the RX 560 AERO ITX. ASUS’ latest desktop tower, the ROG Strix GL12, only ships with NVIDIA GPUs.

I have reached out to at least a dozen people about these changes coming to South Africa, and hopefully will have some responses up tomorrow. However, one local distributor clarified that they could not talk to me about the GeForce Partner Program.

AMD’s exclusive partners still remain, as Sapphire, XFX, PowerColor, and various other AIBs are still supporting them exclusively. AMD has not yet released a statement on these marketing changes.

Source: Reddit, ComputerBase