On Friday, well known high end OEM ORIGIN PC hit the hardcore hardware community with a huge shock, declaring that from now on it would no longer use AMD's Radeon GPUs in its systems. In a statement, the company said the reasons were due to the "stability of the cards, overheating, performance, scaling, and the amount of time to receive new drivers on both desktop and mobile GPUs."
Neowin decided to get some more information from the company and its CEO Kevin Wasielewski agreed to answer our questions via email.
First, was it a long discussion internally at Origin PC before deciding to no longer offer AMD's Radeon parts in their systems?
Yes it was. We started the talks internally a while back before the AMD “Hawaii” press conference. The lack of support and communication has been an ongoing issue with many attempts on our end to request proper support. We didn’t even know AMD was announcing anything, we heard about it from a third party. We reached out to AMD and asked for details under NDA and was told we could “watch the announcement” for details. The lack of communication for someone that buys, sells, and promotes their products was not the only factor, but it was a major factor.
Then in a meeting with our entire support staff and executives the support staff asked if it was possible to drop AMD GPUs because of the number of phone calls and poor experiences they have caused. Once our technical support staff requested what we were already considering and once AMD decided to ignore us, it was time to stop buying and reselling their GPUs. So it came down to support, both sides. We didn't feel AMD was providing us with the support to support our customers. If we don't have the backing of our partners, we can't provide the type of service our customers deserve.
Can you be more specific on what sort of issues Origin PC customers have had with AMD's Radeon parts and how they compare to issues with NVIDIA cards?
We don't feel the support is there on the GPU side, or at least not at the level we want. We sell a small percentage of AMD systems compared to NVIDIA. Yet, that small percentage generates a high number of support calls. We’ve had customers that initially picked AMD ask to be switched to NVIDIA but we’ve never had an NVIDIA customer asked to be switched to AMD. We’ve had other customers have multiple failures on AMD cards and then switch to NVIDIA and have no failures.
ORIGIN PC has joined with other PC makers in NVIDIA's Battlebox program. On the surface, and speaking as a devil's advocate, some people might think that the NVIDIA deal influenced ORIGN PC's decision. Can you say that the NVIDIA Battlebox partnership was a separate deal that was not a part of ditching AMD and Radeon?
No, nothing to do with that. NVIDIA is running the Battlebox program with 4 system builders, not just ORIGIN PC. Our customers are our top priority. Our loyalty is with our customers, not a manufacturer. Whatever it takes to provide the level of performance and support our customers expect.
Has ORIGIN PC spoken to AMD executives and engineers about its decision and what was their reaction?
No, this decision was made internally.
AMD announced new Radeon graphics cards last week, along with Mantle, a low level graphics API that they claim will give game developers better access to the graphics hardware. What do you think of that announcement?
Sounds promising on paper, but it’s too early to tell.
If AMD and Radeon show they have improved their hardware in the coming months, would ORIGIN PC consider putting them in their PCs?
It’s not just about hardware. It’s about the product, communication, and support. Of course though, if AMD turns around tomorrow and commits to offering a high level of service, communication, and support to stand by their products and they provide us with stable hardware/drivers then we will offer their GPUs again. Like I said, its not about brand loyalty, but customer loyalty. Our customers keep us in business and we need to do right by them.
Finally, this is admittedly a very open, and also pointed, critique of AMD and Radeon. Do you think that ORIGIN PC might lose some customers by making this stance?
Possibly. But it comes down to providing quality systems to our customers. Look at it this way, if we ship a system that doesn't perform to our customers’ expectations and they have issues, what will happen? Chances are we will lose them and they will also have a bad experience with Origin.
We would like to thank Kevin for answering our questions. We did send out an email to AMD to see if they would respond to ORIGIN PC's decision but so far we have not received a response.