This week, Asus announced two new motherboards. One is called the ASUS ROG ZENITH EXTREME ALPHA and the other is the ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI EXTREME OMEGA. Both are aimed at the highest-spec AMD and Intel processors — AMD is the Alpha, Intel is the Omega — and both signal that fact with an overabundance of overheated superlatives.
I love motherboards and I live for the hype surrounding tech. But I also value language, and this latest volley from Asus seems to have surpassed my threshold of tolerance for extreme self-praise. You might say it’s the zenith of hyperbole, but who really knows where the omega of all this alpha-male verbiage is to be found?
Is a Zenith more Extreme than a Rampage, and should I prefer to be the Alpha or the Omega?
There’s a serious point to be made here, which is that none of this language is particularly helpful to a person trying to make a purchase decision. The Asus brand is valuable, yes — I think this company makes the most reliable motherboards in the world, and I’ve felt that way for over a decade. But what does Republic of Gamers (the “ROG” in the above names) promise you as a consumer? What’s the qualitative difference between Zenith and Rampage, and, more to the point, how does either tag differentiate these top-of-the-line models from those below them? The Extreme part of the names I can give some credit to, because it indicates a certain level of torture-tested endurance engineering with both motherboards. But the Alpha and Omega stuff at the end is pure fluff. It’s linguistic go-faster stripes.
Outside of Asus, Gigabyte will sell you AORUS ULTRA, AORUS MASTER, AORUS XTREME, and AORUS PRO motherboards, while MSI’s models include GAMING PRO CARBON, GAMING PLUS, XPOWER GAMING AC, TOMAHAWK, and RAIDER. Without investigating their specs, do you have any inkling which model is the best or even a hint about the processors they support? This is obviously not a new phenomenon, but Asus pushed it to a new high by doubling the word count per name without improving the void of meaning.
These overcooked product names are the empty calories of the consumer electronics industry
I single out gaming components because they’re close to my heart, but the plague of overcooked positivity in branding names is pervasive across the tech industry. Especially this week, as I attend CES and digest a deluge of “our stuff is the best” press releases, I long for a company that can state the advantages of its products simply, concisely, and directly. One of the keynotes I watched here in Las Vegas — I think it was Toyota’s — announced three tiers of a service, which were titled Performance, Premium, and Paramount. Everyone’s a winner, I guess.
My issue is that when companies turn every product into a super duper extreme happy best ultimate godlike extraordinary life-changer, they’re hurting rather than helping themselves. The consumer is left stranded in a sea of meaninglessness, paralyzed by the arcane metaphysics of the branding, and wishing for a simpler time when words meant something.