One thing the graphics card market is not short on is drama. There was the whole fiasco surrounding NVIDIA's GeForce Partner Program, which the company recently pulled the plug on, and of course we are still staring at inflated price tags and limited supplies due in part to cryptocurrency mining. But like any soap opera, the drama never ends. The latest episode of 'As the GPU World Turns' involves AMD and an alleged sales ban of one particular brand in Europe.
If you recall, ASRock recently expanded its product offerings to now include graphics cards, and specifically AMD Radeon cards under its new Phantom Gaming brand. It's a big deal because (A) ASRock has established itself as a major player in the DIY space with feature-rich motherboards, and (B) ASRock chose to roll exclusively with AMD even though NVIDIA's Pascal architecture is generally stronger than AMD's Polaris and Vega architectures.
Where things get interesting is after Igor Wallossek at Toms Hardware in Germany posted a review of the ASRock RX 580 Phantom Gaming X graphics card. Wallossek claims he was later contacted by ASRock asking where exactly he obtained the card for review, because supposedly AMD doesn't want ASRock selling its graphics cards in the European Union (EU).
"The problem for me is that AMD has not agreed to sell [ASRock graphics cards] in EU, that is really a pity," ASRock reportedly told Wallossek.
Assuming the statement is accurate, it's not clear why AMD doesn't want ASRock selling its Radeon cards in the EU. However, we did come across an interesting theory while looking for more information on the topic.
"ASRock only manufactures Radeon, so AMD should allow them to sell their products in Europe, right? Wrong, AMD has taken this decision to allow more breathing room for it’s older board partners like Asus, Sapphire, etc[...]All these banned board partners have one thing in common, they are all from East Asia. I'm not claiming anything here, but seems like AMD wants to limit China-based board partners in Europe," TechQuila says.
We don't know the circumstances surrounding the alleged sales ban of ASRock graphics cards in the EU, but what's interesting is that it comes on the heels of AMD promoting "'Freedom on Choice" in response to NVIDIA's now-defunct GPP. Telling a hardware partner not to sell its cards in a territory where other brands are free to do so seems to go against that mission, but again, we don't have all the details here.
We'll continue to look into the situation and keep an eye on things to see what, if anything, develops.