ORIGIN PC's CEO gives more information on ditching AMD's Radeon GPUs

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.

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21 Comments

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I'm with Origin. I've been a long time Radeon user for multiple reasons technical and non-technical. Ever since AMD took over they have become complete garbage. I know my next PC won't have a single AMD product in it if I can help it.

Specifically, I never once had a Radeon by ATI overheat within the first 6 months of purchase, but I'm on my 4th 7790 (all under warranty) for fan fails, and improper heatsink attachment leading to overheating; and that was before the initial 90 days.

Sound like a load hog wash coming from you because first of all you have to try putting the blame on right people like the manufacturer who made the card in first place which not AMD they only sale the chipset.

One of the best card i ever owned was the Radeon 5850. And this was under AMD. Bought it upon release (fall 2009 i think) and sold it to a friend last year. It's still working and it's still able to run brand new games.

SHS said,
Sound like a load hog wash coming from you because first of all you have to try putting the blame on right people like the manufacturer who made the card in first place which not AMD they only sale the chipset.

http://shop.amd.com/us/Dealer/...ic%20Card&SearchTerms=7***

This is not the card I replaced 4 times, but Amazon wasn't listing the card I purchased anymore. This is an example of the fact that AMD is a direct manufacturer that you can purchase.

I've personally owned 45 different Radeon cards from the very first card to carry the name to the current generation. I've installed them in thousands of computers with nary a complaint, until the last 3 years when my customers do nothing but complain. I do contract IT work for a few small graphic design shops, so the graphics card installed is their primary concern. I had one customer I was in his shop 15 times in June re-calibrating his system for true-to-print color. About 60 hours I can't bill to anyone on just that 1 customer. I only do this part time for supplemental income so having to do repeat un-necessary basic service calls because AMD can't put out good drivers, or because their chips are experiencing severe thermal decay much faster than they should be? It's just not worth it. My customers will typically not allow me to install NVIDIA cards because they NEVER display true-to-print even on the most sophisticated monitors.

I've owned both, and never had any serious problems with an ATI/AMD card. Drivers are frequently updated and aren't any more or less buggy than nVidia's. I like how when asked for specific issues he offered none. Why? Because none exist, this is purely a business decision influenced by a partnership that's better for them. They should come right out and say that, and stop trying to drag AMD's reputation through the mud to justify things.

Would never buy a Origin PC anyway so this is a pointless article IMO

I'm currently using a Nvidia card....But have had Radeons in the past and never had a issue with them.....but your always going to buy the BEST you can at the time of upgrading.

I still think there is something more to this decision.

Even if there isn't he should have informed AMD of their intention and given them a certain amount time to address the issues.

Here is the thing...

All OEMs have issues or get POed or find configurations of certain brands are less efficient when paired with other components they are using. This stuff happens all the time, and is a non-story beyond the person making themselves look foolish with absolutes about a product they are currently unhappy with.

Years ago, one of my side companies that was an OEM had similar issues with ATI, NVidia, MSI, ASUS, Intel, AMD, etc. All at various times and various product cycles.

Does this mean any of these companies make bad products, not so much. They just had a cycle where their product wasn't working with our other components or wasn't up to the standards we wanted or failed to provide support for an issue.

This is why this is not much of a real story that should concern or affect users. OEMs cycle between what is working best for them, and it doesn't mean AMD is horrible or AMD is awesome.

simply put. the guy is full of garbage. I've heard about ALL kinds of issues with Nvidia drivers and just yesterday was a thread about Nvidia drivers killing peoples mouse controllers.

Yeah ok... he opened his mouth to make himself look foolish. never argue with a fool , lest you become like the fool

I'm more inclined to believe someone who's had access to a very large set of data than someone who posts in a comment on a news topic about his anecdotal experience.

FYI, the Nvidia mouse issue affected a very small number (less than 1%) of users and it's a relatively simple fix. Their drivers are not bad, far from it, neither are AMDs. AMD seem to have a higher failure rate with their cards, likely because they're trying to push the bleeding edge a bit more than Nvidia. Which they have to do because they're in a bad financial position and don't have the money to push into R&D like Nvidia.

Wakers said,
I'm more inclined to believe someone who's had access to a very large set of data than someone who posts in a comment on a news topic about his anecdotal experience.

Very large ? Are we talking about the PC maker Origin here ?

Its possible, all there money are problably going into the game program, such as bf4 and all the other game that they give for free. Maybe they cut on this kind of support

I say good for them, I prefer to assemble my own workstations myself (far cheaper better quality than theirs) and I prefer them to be AMD.