Tom's Hardware AMA With Asus: The Recap

After being live for a full 24 hours, the Asus "Ask Me Anything" has officially concluded!

A big, huge thanks to Asus representatives who took the time out of their schedules to come and answer the awesome questions our community had for them. We know this was a lot of work on their end, and we're greatly appreciative of the time taken to engage with the community here at Tom's Hardware.

For answering questions, an epic thanks goes out to Raja Gill, JJ Guerrero, and Erik Joiner at Asus for helping put this together on their end and securing the time and info required to feed our ravenous fanbase all this juicy info about what Asus is up to. Check out the massive thread here!

Q. At CES you guys were talking about a new ROG Swift for 4K. When can we expect it?

A. Yes, the ROG Swift 4K edition is still under design and development. At this time we are looking at a Q3/Q4 release. Updates will be posted to where you can subscribe for more information as it comes out. Additionally, if you have feedback, feel free to post in the current post for the upcoming ROG Swift.

Q. Will there be non-reference versions of the Titan X, or is it going to run the same theme/idea, as all other Titans have been reference coolers only?

A. We will be releasing an Asus Titan X. With that noted, Nvidia requires add-in partners to adhere to the standard reference design. In this respect, we cannot produce a non-reference version of the Titan X. You can, of course, improve thermal performance and overclocking headroom by equipping it with a water block. EK has already confirmed water block support for the Titan X.

Q. In your professional opinion, how many years away are we from 4K gaming becoming completely mainstream, from PC hardware, to software to monitors? What are the obstacles?

A. This is a tough question as it really comes down to budget and games, and these vary considerably for different people.

First, games play a huge part in the experience (the engine) and its demands. So titles like Grid Autosport are okay now playing at 4K.

The problem is, games have levels of customization available to them that can affect performance and image quality. This is one of the great benefits of the PC but also adds complexity to the ease of use and the immediate experience.

With newer GPUs coming and next generation engines-based DX12, performance is only going to improve, but there will always be [various] levels of what performance is acceptable, especially as we consider technologies like G-sync and Freesync. Two years ago, no one would have said generally 40 fps was a great gaming experience, but now it can be.

As such, we are looking at a combination of these technologies: the GPUs and games.

If we look overall at pricing, panels are coming down very quickly, so next are the GPUs. Overall, both coming into aggressive price points is not realistic, as they are not mainstream technologies but truly enthusiast. I see more widespread adoption based on pricing in about two years. This will also align with more game engines leveraging DX12 for improved experiences as well as more maturity and choice in frame syncing technologies.

Q. When will the Asus Poseidon-GTX980 be restocked at retailers (Newegg, Amazon, etc.)?

A. Yes, we will restock. It is a complex thermal solution to produce, so production QTY is lower than traditional cards. We ramped up production approximately two weeks ago, and you should see availability soon. Quantity between production will be smaller than traditional Strix cards, so if you want one make sure to jump on it when you see it.

Q. I saw during JJ's video review of the GR8 that there was an internal USB header. What the heck is that for? Also, any chance we might see a model with a 970M? 

A. This is a TBD header possibly for use with Steam OS, as we are validating the GR8 for Steam OS. It can be used like a traditional USB port. though. I have a test system setup with a flash drive where I keep core drivers on it. We are looking at additional functionality down the road.

As for the 970M, the GR8 uses a special integrated GPU. Similar to a notebook, we can refresh to newer GPUs, but it must be within the target of the power envelope we have as well as the TDP of the thermal solution. We are, of course, focused on trying to provide a best balance of performance and the ultra small and slim form factor the GR8 offers. Stay tuned though as there will be updates.

Q. Recently, I've seen more and more posts on GPU upgrades on Asus branded computers. When I think of HP or Compaq, Dell or Gateway, I'm thinking work-related computers, but Asus is so big in the gaming circuit, it must be a gaming computer. That being the case, for me at any rate, why are you putting 300 W PSUs in your computers, which negate any easy possibility of an upgraded Asus mid-range GPU without resorting to buying another brand PSU as well?

A. It really depends on the line of desktop. Our higher performance desktops come equipped with high-wattage PSUs. For more traditional desktops like our Essentio series, these are targeted at general users for productivity, online connected experiences and possibly gaming. As such, the configurations on the PSU are more moderate and in line with the rest of the market place. With that noted, we have been looking at specific models, and when possible, look to extend some of the upgrade ability of the system's power supply if within reasonable cost.

Q. Does Asus have any plans for updating its internal sound cards? It's been a few years since you guys last did, and there are currently a few new solutions on the market for competitors.

What about the driver side of sound cards as well? The last update that was released was in 2011 (excluding the language update in 2013 that added new languages) and still has quite a few bugs addressed in the community-made unified xonar drivers. I've experienced the "screeching" bug myself and it's not at all pleasant.

A. The challenge was finding tangible gains over the previous generation of product. The availability of new devices, with better performance and support for new formats, is something we have to consider. Fortunately, we are now at that stage, so we do have more on the way for discrete audio. Onboard audio has improved a great deal over the past few years as well -- motherboards featuring onboard headphone amps and separate DACs can be found.

Regarding drivers, we do make updates if we can replicate the issue in-house. That's usually the challenge if a reported bug is sporadic or difficult to replicate in test environment-situ.

Q. I understand from a previous answer that you will comply with direction to not release a non-reference edition of the GTX Titan X.

What is the possibility of releasing a series of video cards with no cooling solution to allow for custom cooling solutions without the inherent risk to the hardware in removing the current cooling system?

Would that comply with Nvidia direction, as you are not releasing a non-reference cooling solution but rather not including it?

Lastly, how large do you estimate the market for water cooling solutions [to be], and will it ever drive video card manufacturers to provide more OEM water cooling solutions?

A. We have considered a "blank" card in the past but at this time have not decided to move forward in this direction. There are a number of concerns how you assure end functionality and how it may or may not be warranted. It is something we are looking at though, as water cooling enthusiasts know they are paying for a thermal solution they are not using.

To a degree, this is also in conflict with pre-built water cooling cards. Being the PCDIY industry where choice and flexibility are points of value, I do feel we would be best suited in going with "card," but this has more variables than doing a pre-built solution like our Poseidon.

Overall, we see water cooling as a growing market, but there are niches whether it be "closed loop water cooling," formal custom water cooling, and then more specialized configurations with advanced multi-radiators and hard tubing, etc.

Our goal long term is to monitor the feedback from the community and align our product development with their wants and needs; this focus is not just for the largest general users but also our hard core enthusiast segmentation.

Q. How is "ASUS" actually pronounced, phonetically? There are several ways I've heard it spoken...what is the actual, correct form?

A1. I think the easiest known way is to pronounce [it] as you would in "Pegasus."

A2. Think Dr. Seuss, but put an A in front of it.

Q. Do you guys actually build your own PCs? If so, what are the specs?

A1. Yes, we do (been building for 15+ years). Being part of the job, the specs for me are fluid, as we test current/future motherboards for guides or to help users with tuning/debugging. Currently, I have the Z97-Deluxe in my media/gaming PC and Rampage V Extreme setup for some memory and power testing. I cycle between the Matrix 980 or a couple of GTX 760 cards for testing or gaming with. The main gaming rig feeds a projector shooting a 117" diagonal screen (current fav game is Project Cars).

A2. LOL yes, of course! I am a diehard PCDIY enthusiast. If you have seen any of my videos online, you know I have a wide range of systems -- too many to list. At current count, I have seven at home to usually a varying configuration of three to six at work used for testing.

My primary system at home is a Rampage IV Black Edition, and my secondary system is a Z97 Deluxe. From there the system breakdowns to specific purposes.

Q. Any plans on adding a cable card tuner to the impact for next year? Or a 3x3 wireless solution?

A. Cable card tuners are great (I have one), but they are expensive and would take up unneeded space. We prefer to focus on integrated solutions that do not compete with already existing quality marketplace offerings like Silicon Dust or Ceton.

3x3 is really not needed. A high performance 2x2 AC with a quality router allows for outstanding throughput and range. With that noted, we were the first vendor to implement 3x3 on motherboards at considerable expense, as it is an expensive solution for still a small set of the market [because] you need a high performance 3x3 router to fully benefit from it. For future designs 3x3 may be an option on smaller form factors, but we may also continue to look at improved 2x2 options whether it be the antenna or incorporating a controller that supports MU-MIMO. For users who really want top shelf 3x3 performance, we of course will continue to develop add-in solutions via USB or PCIe.

Q. I was wondering whether you could give us a glimpse into the future of the Sabertooth line of components? Could this extend into other bits and pieces other than motherboards?

Are there any interesting changes coming such as features or functionality that will differ from the ROG line and make it more unique/niche?

Also, is a different color scheme (the mud palette doesn't always fit into a system's overall scheme) a possibility?

A. Personally, I believe there is a market for more "TUF." The design philosophy of the TUF series is to find ways of extending durability through using components with wider tolerances and tighter yields (mil-spec components fall into that category), improving structural integrity and more stringent validation checks and processes. If we were to expand the line it would be with those facets intact.

There is already a Sabertooth Mark S which features an arctic camo theme. If that proves to be popular, there is certainly scope to expand.

Q. I am deaf in one ear. As a result, your "Sonic Radar" is a strong goad to upgrade, as I might finally know where shots are coming from. Is there any plan to release a Sonic Radar driver for the SupremeFX sound on my Maximus V Gene? Will it be made available for an add-in board, or will I need a complete platform upgrade to get this feature? Any chance of bringing it to non-ROG boards, like the 990FX Sabertooth (R1.0)?

A. At this time there are no plans to back port it older boards. A lot of this just has to do with validation and debugging testing. With that noted, we are looking going forward how we try to incorporate software updates to older generations when and if possible. At times, many of our software updates are tied into UEFI, hardware IC and topology implementations.

As for it coming to other motherboards, I would currently say no (not never), just no for now. We try to really develop specialized features and functions that complement specific user segmentations, and the Sonic Radar implementation is first targeted towards our enthusiast gamers and as such on ROG products. This, of course, does not mean we do not have a lot of gamers on our TUF series. It is just the core feature set and functionality is different. With that noted, we also strive to have a set of consistent specifications and design implementations across all boards and series.

Q. Will IPS ever hit 120/144 Hz? Even at 1080p? I'd be very interested in such a monitor from Asus.

A. Our upcoming MG series monitor will offer an in place switching panel at 120 to 144 Hz. Stay tuned... Resolution will be 2560 x 1440.

Q. A long time ago, Asus had a list of cases that catered to both the office and gaming sector via the Vento series and an unconventional chassis made completely out of acrylic somewhere around [the] late 90's to early 2000. Will we be seeing a chassis designed in-house by the ROG designers?

A. At this time no, we feel our partners are doing an amazing job at designing and developing a line of chassis that compliment the wide range of aesthetics and physical wants and needs in regards to feature set and functionality.

Currently, the only ROG designed chassis will come from pre-built products that carry the ROG name like the G20 or GR8.

We also work closely with partners to provide feedback and design considerations. In this way Asus and its ROG team helps to mold products you see.

Q. What are your overall strategies for competing against MSI, EVGA, and Gigabit in the graphics card market?

A. This is a very open, broad question. Overall, we are currently the world's #1 branded graphics card manufacturer, so we feel we have been marketing leading.

Our goal long term is to continue that through quality designs that [are] innovative and provide improved experiences whether it be cooler and quieter operation, improvements in performance or improvements in reliability and durability. Additionally, designs that align with users' varying needs and configurations like our silent series or hybrid cooler series or new blower series or even the mini series. All these show our focus at looking at expansive range of options gamers and enthusiasts are looking for.

If you look back at our cards, we have had a long-standing position of offering quality products that align with the wants and needs of enthusiasts, along with offering truly impressive, innovative and unique designs. Some competitors have only recently begun this type of focus. So long term, our goal is to continue with what we are doing, ensuring we maintain, engage and connect with what our users want whether it be design considerations, aesthetics or other factors regarding the design of our cards. Additionally, our long standing position of offering an entire range of products from both Nvidia and AMD means gamers get great selection of products. Also, our alignment with motherboards and monitors puts [them] in the best position possible to provide matched experiences for PC gamers.

Q. What has been the overall industry trend when it comes to DIY PC building? Is the market expanding, staying in place or decreasing? What country has the strongest DIY culture?

A. The enthusiast market is definitely growing; those who want the best performance go with PC builds. Consumers who only want to check emails or casually browse the Web can do so on other devices. A decade ago a PC was a must to do such things; it is not any more. Our outlook has always been to stay ahead of the curve -- hence, the successful expansion into other product lines (mobile, tablet, etc.). At the same time, we are very committed to the DIY PC market and continue to grow key segments year on year. I don't see the PC going away as long as chipsets that allow people to DIY-build exist.

North America has more PC DIY enthusiasts than any other region, though we are starting to see more interest in the developing regions (China and India).

Q. How much would it take to crowd source a custom design motherboard from Asus?

A. It would be difficult to put a number as [it] really depends on the board being developed. Beyond the physical production cost, the real cost is in the time and effort that goes into the board. For some of the high-end boards you literally at the end of the design and validation stage going into production could be talking thousands to tens of thousands of man hours.

Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

Tom's Hardware Community

The Tom's Hardware forum community is a powerful source of tech support and discussion on all the topics we cover from 3D printers, single-board computers, SSDs, and GPUs to high-end gaming rigs. Articles written by the Tom's Hardware Community are either written by the forum staff or one of our moderators.

  • tom10167
    Why is your rma policy so terrible? This is the only question I wanted answered.
  • atwspoon
    Oh stoof. There are always cracks in the system, but I personally have bought ASUS products for the past 5 years with no NEED for rma. two motherboards, a monitor, a soundcard, a bluray drive, is there anything ASUS does not sell? top quality brand has no practice with rma because they don't need it eh?
  • ykki
    ""What are your overall strategies for competing against MSI, EVGA, and Gigabit in the graphics card market?"" <-- Its Gigabyte.
  • TechnoD
    Really liked this AMA, read through/been in quite a few over the last year and I feel like they Asus rep's did a good job with valuable responses; not just spewing canned lines corporate gave them.
  • norseman4
    A. Our upcoming MG series monitor will offer an in place switching panel at 120 to 144 Hz. Stay tuned... Resolution will be 2560 x 1440.
    in AdaptiveSync ... yes please. QHD + IPS + AS = Win. (Long term)
  • kenjitamura
    A. Our upcoming MG series monitor will offer an in place switching panel at 120 to 144 Hz. Stay tuned... Resolution will be 2560 x 1440.
    in AdaptiveSync ... yes please. QHD + IPS + AS = Win. (Long term)

    I'm waiting for this specific combination: IPS + AS + QD(Quantum Dots). Quantum Dots increase the number of colors achievable on an IPS monitor by 30% according to LG.
  • redgarl
    How could your quality assurance and design team be so horrible?

    G73jhA1 was the biggest lemon I ever bought!
  • tomfreak
    and NOBODY ask why Asus does not release Sabertooth reliability version of GPU... sigh...... i mean if we to have spend $500-600 a GPU a Sabertooth component would be nice to have.
  • hst101rox
    I still don't like how they dodged my socketed vs soldered CPU question regarding their gaming laptops. They didn't really say why they switched from socketed to soldered with the G75 (socketed) laptop to the G750 (soldered) and G751 (soldered). The G750 weighs more than the G75.
    I think it's pressure from Intel and they won't fight it.
  • buzznut
    Why is your rma policy so terrible? This is the only question I wanted answered.
    Actually that is a quite valid question. I have has horrible RMA experience with ASUS which has deffinitely inffluenced my buying decisions.

    The other question I would have is why there are so few monitors with Display port. Especially higher end monitiors, such as IPS. Most video cards are equipped with Displayport, in fact this is the easiest way to support mulitmonitor setups.

    I love ASUS monitors and would be willing to buy more, but the lack of Dsiplayport is cery disappointing. So if you want to sell more monitors, especially the more expensive ones, why not include it>