Earlier this year before CES 2016, we approached ASUS with an idea: as the Republic of Gamers brand is now in its 10th year of operation, we wanted to get together and discuss the feeling and utility of ROG a decade on, record it, have a question and answer session from our readers, and publish the video. The Republic of Gamers brand from ASUS has been difficult to ignore, both from an engineering perspective when it comes to motherboards and graphics cards, but also the origin story, integration with users, and the expansion out to many different product lines. I felt it was important to hear from the source, and see what makes the mind tick of some of the integral cogs behind the ROG experience.

For long time AnandTech readers, you will know that very few people in this industry stay in one position – in recent times, Dustin has moved to Corsair, Vivek now works with Razer, and Anand works at Apple. I started as Senior Motherboard Editor back in 2011, when my predecessor Rajinder Gill took a position within ASUS’ technical team. His predecessor, Gary Key, is also with ASUS and currently sits as Director of Marketing for ASUS USA.

Vivian Lien

Chief Marketing Officer, ASUS USA

ASUS Marketing
from 2006/2007
Gary Key

Director of Marketing, ASUS USA

AnandTech Motherboard Senior Editor 2005-2008
Rajinder 'Raja' Gill

Technical PR Manager, ASUS USA

AnandTech Motherboard Senior Editor 2008-2010
Ian Cutress

10 Years of ROG Round Table Chair

Current AnandTech Motherboard Senior Editor from 2011

At the time when Gary, Raja and Kris Boughton (another former motherboard editor for AnandTech) were probing the original models, Vivian was one of their direct ASUS contacts, ensuring that direct line of communication and filling them in on the details. Then when Gary joined ASUS, Raja had Gary as his main contact, and so on, meaning that for this discussion we have the ASUS-AnandTech contact line right from the initial ROG launch.

Between the AnandTech motherboard reviewing staff, we have covered the Republic of Gamers brand from its inception, with both Gary and Raja now involved in various levels with members of the team that designs, develops, tests and pushes the ROG ecosystem, then managing the perception of it as part of the ASUS brand within North America.

If we look back at AnandTech’s content history, the deep dives from both Gary and Raja into those products are still insights into motherboard design and complexity. They are certainly worth a read several years on, along with Kris Boughton’s reviews, who worked alongside Gary in 07/08. For those interested, here’s every ROG motherboard we’ve ever tested:

07-2007: ASUS ROG at Computex – Gary Key
11-2007: Maximus Formula Review – Rajinder Gill
12-2007: Maximus Extreme Review – Rajinder Gill
01-2008: Rampage Formula Review – Kris Boughton
03-2008: Striker II Formula Review – Rajinder Gill
04-2008: Striker II Extreme Review – Kris Boughton
10-2008: Rampage II Extreme Review – Gary Key
11-2009: Maximus III Formula Review – Rajinder Gill
04-2010: Maximus III Extreme Review – Rajinder Gill
07-2010: Rampage III Extreme Review – Rajinder Gill
04-2012: Crosshair V Formula Review – Ian Cutress
08-2012: Rampage IV Gene, Formula and Extreme Review – Ian Cutress
03-2013: Maximus V Formula Review – Ian Cutress
05-2013: Maximus V Gene Review – Ian Cutress
11-2013: Maximus VI Impact Review – Ian Cutress
01-2014: Rampage IV Black Edition Review – Ian Cutress
12-2014: Maximus VII Impact Review – Ian Cutress
06-2015: Rampage V Extreme Review – Ian Cutress
12-2015: Maximus VIII Impact Review – Ian Cutress

You may remember we interviewed Dr Albert Chang, Senior Division Director of ASUS Motherboard Business Unit Research and Development back in 2014 about the general path for motherboard design, and how the ROG team is designed to be that skunkworks element of engineering. Raja assists ROG’s internal impromptu extreme overclocking events with top overclockers as well as community management, so we picked his brains on how design ideas from the forums and events assist product design.

As a result of the ASUS ROG push, we end up meeting with ASUS frequently at events (much like other companies), but a round table was a great chance to get a decade of AnandTech Senior Motherboard Editors in front of the camera with Vivien Lien, the CMO of ASUS USA who was part of the team that supplied the first set of ROG motherboards we tested to AnandTech. We also posted an open Q&A pipeline, inviting questions from readers. I took the best part of a dozen of those questions for the round table.

Audio only download: MP3

Timestamps MM:SS

00:06 – Intro
02:50 – Starting with the Rampage Extreme
04:20 – How to begin a gaming focused brand
05:55 – Several years for ROG profitability, the changing nature of Gaming
07:25 – Engineering and Overclocking
09:50 – The X79 motherboard that was never sold, but helped future platforms
13:30 – Evolution of the OC Panel
14:45 – Custom hardware development and implementation
16:15 – Republic of Gamers in 2006/07: Teething Issues
18:35 – ASUS sends an engineer to Gary’s house to fix it             
19:45 – Translating an issue, that needs an ASUS engineer to fix, into feedback for the future
22:13 – ROG Forums and ASUS’ official presence on other major forums for support/feedback
23:25 – Start of Q&A
24:00 – Q1 from zodiacfml: Make an ASUS ROG Smartphone!
25:35 – Q2 from jjj: What makes ROG worth the cost?
31:50 – Q3 from jasonelmore: Is $500 too much for a Z170 motherboard?
34:05 – Q4 from 7amood: Any future plans for waterproofing?
34:45 – Q5 from dreamer77dd: Will we see a dual socket ROG platform?
36:03 – Q6 from boeush: Will ASUS compete with MSI’s GT80?
37:35 – Q7 from boeush: Is there demand for larger laptops (18”+) or 16:10 screens?
38:55 – Q8 from iamkyle: Will we see customizable NICs/codecs?
41:45 – Q9 from Ian: Is there 10GBase-T on the brain?
43:46 – Q10 from Shadow7037932: How does ASUS evolve when an i7 920 still offers good performance?
45:40 – Outro
46:02 – FIN

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  • Shadow7037932 - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Oh, hey, my question got asked :D
  • Pissedoffyouth - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    I would personally like to see better changelogs of BIOS revisions. They can be very very vague
  • ChefJeff789 - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    ^ I'll second that. I have an ASUS board that would occasionally hang during post, until the latest BIOS revision came out last November and "improved stability and performance." That's an awfully big improvement in "stability" for me...
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Some of it will be as mundane as 'we tweaked a DRAM channel GTL auto-config routine', which then begs the question 'from what to what and why does that matter?'. Other things might be related to how some of the custom stuff works, and of course they're not going to publish that if it might aid the competition. Or they might be fixing an oversight and don't want to let on what was off. Then there's the fact that the engineers updating the BIOSes ship the firmware to the people managing the website, who might not understand the explanation and prefer to use catch-all terms so as not to confuse non-technical users. Comments here will be read by ASUS for sure, so I wonder if there's room for a 'technical explanation' option dropdown next to updates in the future. But I wouldn't expect them (or anyone else) to open the whole bag of secrets.
  • mark0409mr01 - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Sorry Ian but I don't buy that explanation, look at the release notes on the BIOS updates for Z10PE-D16 WS as just one example. Yes I know it's marketed towards a different segment but never the less to try and excuse this and say it's for the benefit of "non-technical users" is just plain wrong IMO. If there's a communication issue between R&D and the website team then ASUS need to fix it! and I think you need to give "non-technical users" a little more credit if I'm honest. I've worked in the industry long enough to know that this complaint is one that is brought up all to regularly. I love ASUS products but this is definitely an area that I would welcome improvement.
  • hans_ober - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Nice show, but mic placement could use work. Vivien is really soft.
  • SaolDan - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

  • ImSpartacus - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    I haven't watched this yet, but I'll be damned if Ian leaves for asus like his two predecessors. It ain't gon happen.
  • Ryan Smith - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    This is why we keep him chained to his desk.
  • dragosmp - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    I'd replace Timestamps HH:MM with Timestamps MM:SS

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