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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  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Heh, good point. :)
  • gregounech - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    The downfall of Anandtech continues.
  • BrokenCrayons - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Having read AT for over ten years, I think it's safe to say that you're acting a bit silly.
  • gregounech - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    I read Anandtech for 7 years (so not over 10 sorry) but I keep noticing more and more hidden advertisement pieces on the site and I don't like it. The fact that the video is on Asus' youtube channel is a proof that this has nothing to do on anandtech.com and having watched the first half of the video I definitely see less actual concerns that things like Intel Q&As which could contain with Anand / Brian Klug a few years back. Of course, my message was dramatic but I find Anandtech's quality of content going down ever since Anand and Bryan left. (Maybe I should watch the last part of the video instead, but the whole first 25 minutes is just advertisement on how great ROG is when it's actually overpriced crap.)
  • Ian Cutress - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    Just to clarify your misconceptions here.

    1) We proposed the idea to ASUS for a round table with Q&A at CES. We dictated the content. They offered their video recording and editing team.

    2) You're confusing Intel sponsored mobile shows (our video variants of our podcast, with which I did one with Anand and Brian did two IIRC), with Intel's Q&A sessions with Anand.

    a) The sponsored mobile shows/podcasts were similar to other youtube channels with their content - a short plug at the beginning in exchange for some compensation, in this case hosting the location and video editing, but just a podcast in terms of content hosted on the AT channel.

    b) Anand's videos with Aicha at Intel, discussing the finer points of Intel's modem strategy, were done on a similar footing to what we did here. Our proposal, our content, our direction, but Intel's video production, and they're on the Intel YT channel. In both cases, we still have had the final say on the final edit.

    The content structure is still AnandTech, as it always has been. If you think something's changed just because it's me up there and not Anand or Brian, then I think that's more a personal issue you have with my presence, rather than the content itself.
  • gregounech - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    I wasn't confusing the different Intel Q&As and panels that happened, just generalizing about them in general (and not talking about video podcasts at all). Another great example was the ARM (about Big.Little and other things right around A15s came into market) Hangouts that happened at some point which was great and in depth, but other things I also disagreed with at the time (the NVMe roundtable video on intel's channel with anand).

    I guess that talking for an hour about motherboards is not that interesting compared to CPUs and wouldn't really understand why you'd come forward to ROG to do a celebratory piece on their 10 year anniversary.

    I still read anandtech daily and every in depth review but I find them to be more scarce lately and see more sponsored content. Didn't want to offend you personally, I got no problem with anyone, I'd just like Anandtech to keep its integrity as much as it can.
  • just4U - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    I've been reading Anandtech just as long and really... to be fair... there's always been a little bit of sponsored content... which is to be expected. But I am always curious about what's going on with the ROG line.. as it's driven Gigabyte and MSI down similar paths and brought a lot of selection into the enthusiast market that simply wasn't there before..

    With a slow down in the performance curve of hardware these days there isn't a whole helluva lot to get excited about.. minor bumps and jumps so branding becomes even more key. Although... lol..

    When I read the title and the fact that Ian was doing it I was half ways expecting some new product with a ton of info to get my greedy little hands on. In that sense I was disappointed. But I don't have a problem with articles like this at all. It's adding content on a relatively slow week so why not?
  • just4U - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    I also think you missed the mark a little here.. Having former Anandtech staff working for a recognized brand and doing a round table with them offers up a chance at a interesting perspective.. (as they all know what drives readership.. what the site wants.. and Raj/Gary might be willing to drop a little more info than they otherwise would or be a little more candid.
  • dhotay - Thursday, March 10, 2016 - link

    What misconceptions? Your own predecessor is now a literal PR man at this firm! Anandtech has become a freelance marketing arm for tech firms. Your own list of former AT employees demonstrates clearly that the prize of working for AT is obtaining a position at one of the firms that you are covering.

    Misconceptions, lol.
  • Vatharian - Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - link

    ASUS made a competition with prizes in Europe. In Western countries prizes range from GF980 Ti Strix, through Z170 board to GF960. In Poland, they offer two mice and budget smartphone. Thank you, I'm staying away from ASUS just because of this.

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