Asus Republic of Gamers Interview - Design Decisions
BT: When designing an ROG product, what are the most important factors when making design decisions? Do you start with a set of features and then try to fit them all in, or is it a more creative, natural process that develops over time?
Andre: we always develop and design features for different segmentations and series, like overclocking features will be added to Extreme models mainly since they’re designed for performance and overclocking-conscious users. Gaming-focused features such as SupremeFX IV audio and GameFirst network optimisation will be featured on Formula models because they cater to the needs of gamers. As for GENE, we create those models for people who want to build a compact gaming PC with only one or two graphics cards, but still want outstanding performance.
Our internal innovation team holds weekly meetings and brainstorming sessions, with R&D and product managers sharing ideas. I have to say, some of these ideas are really crazy, but if developed they usually create a similarly crazy reaction among PC enthusiasts (big smile).
Shamino: we suggest features, for example A,B,C,D, E, F. We discuss, and the project leader has final say on which features go on the board. We then do a sample run and tests. We sometimes find that feature D simply doesn’t work, feature A needs to improve and evolve into feature G, and so on. We may find during tests that an unexpected or unplanned feature is actually quite useful. We then do another sample run with the new features, and continue this process until we are satisfied with the new product’s performance.
BT: Describe, if you can, the Q&A process for new motherboard design and EFI. Is it all in-house, or do you involve outside professional overclockers and high-level users? How many different hardware configurations are tested? Are boards tested to destruction
Shamino: 95% in-house, 5% high-level user feedback regarding problems and troubleshooting. For the three of us, hardware configurations tested means popular configurations (DRAM, graphics, etc.) among enthusiasts. Hardware configurations tested at the Quality Testing Team means a much wider range of configs.
Are boards tested to destruction? All the time, since experimenting takes up most of our schedule. We can afford to blow up boards often, so we dare to try anything and from that sometimes really interesting stuff can be discovered.
Andre: Involve ideas from external professional overclocker? Maybe, but typically not so much. We usually consult and work with internal engineers, but we do seed some samples for worldwide top overclockers after the product launches, and we improve products and adopt their input and feedback when developing next gen models. As we are all extreme overclockers, we always think about what kind of features can benefit our users, whether for gaming or benchmarking.
BT: What was behind the decision to reverse the Maximus V Formula and GENE releases for Z77? Have you been surprised at the popularity of high-end mATX motherboards?
Shamino: High-end mATX has the draw of a lower price compared to a fully-fledged ATX board, but at the same time is also disadvantaged by rather clichéd views of mATX being the “weaker brother”. So yes, we were pleasantly surprised, though we often wonder which sequence would have been better.
BT: One of the best feelings for an enthusiast is achieving a high and stable overclock. What’s the best feeling you personally have when it comes to designing a motherboard?
Shamino: To hear overclockers say something like “it’s the best board I’ve ever used’. That they love it is a wonderful thing.
Andre: We only produce and design the best products – that’s our motto and also our pride and joy.