MSI is rolling out a new Mech 2 line of Radeon RX graphics cards with AMD's Polaris GPUs underneath the hood, as part of its newly formed Mech series. Normally a new gaming brand wouldn't warranty much attention, but it's notable here because of all the drama surrounding NVIDIA's recently retired GeForce Partner Program (GPP), and the events that have unfolded since the controversial affiliate program was first announced.
To quickly recap, NVIDIA created an affiliate program in which it would provide additional marketing support and other perks to its hardware partners in exchange for carrying a gaming brand exclusive for GeForce products. The program drew anti-competitive concerns, including from some anonymous OEMs that reportedly feared NVIDIA would punish non-participants by holding back allocation of GPUs. NVIDIA denies that was the case, but rather than expend energy defending its program, it decided the best approach was simply to pull the plug on GPP.
Before that happened, some of NVIDiA's hardware partners had started rolling out new graphics card brands for AMD cards, presumably because their primary gaming brands were going to align with GeForce. ASUS, for example, unveiled a new Arez brand, and the assumption was that its Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand would only be used for GeForce cards.
It's not entirely clear where things are headed—at the time of this writing, ASUS lists AMD-based cards under both its ROG Strix and Arez brands on its website—but it certainly makes MSI's announcement all the more interesting.
"Equipped with the new thermal design, the Radeon RX Mech series doesn’t just allow for higher core and memory speeds but also provide increased performance in games. The outstanding shapes of the eye-catching Mech series cooler are intensified by a fiery red glow piercing through the cover, while the MSI dragon RGB LED on the top can be set to any of 16.7 million colors to match your mood or build," MSI says.
These cards also feature a custom PCB design using MSI's Military Class 4 components. MSI says new Radeon RX 570 and Radeon RX 580 Mech 2 cards will launch in July, but didn't mention price or any detailed specs. However, the company did reveal that one of the SKUs is the Radeon RX 580 Mech 2 8G OC, which indicates that at least some of these new cards will come overclocked out of the box.
Interesting times we live in, folks.