Acer Weighs New Expansion into Video Cards with an AMD Radeon GPU

PC manufacturer Acer is reportedly considering expanding more into discrete video cards with an AMD Radeon GPU later this year. The company first dipped its toes into GPUs with Intel Arc last year. What would this potential development mean for the graphics card market?

Testing the Waters 
Acer officially debuted its first video card in fall 2022 under its Predator gaming line with the $399 Predator BiFrost Intel Arc A770. Prior to this, Acer had only made limited quantities of graphics cards for some of its prebuilt desktops.

  • The BiFrost is slightly overclocked and $50 more than the reference Intel Arc A770 16GB.
  • The company also created an entry-level version of Intel Arc’s A380 without the BiFrost branding (or its bells and whistles) that isn’t available currently.
At the time, an expansion into graphics cards made sense given Acer’s existing gaming products and brand recognition. Acer could theoretically save money by making its own video cards for prebuilt desktops – which only a few PC brands do, like MSI and Asus. More importantly, the industry landscape partly shielded Acer’s entry into a new market.
  • A Friend in Need: Intel’s acceptance that Arc would be a loss leader would have benefited Acer during negotiations.
  • Limited Competition: Intel’s lack of board partners meant Acer A770 didn’t have to compete with established players, like Gigabyte.
    • On Newegg, Acer's A770 currently only competes with cards from Intel and Gunnir.
AMD Versus Nvidia
Should Acer opt for a Radeon GPU, its potential customer base would be limited. AMD video cards make up only 15% of the market compared to Nvidia’s 76%. It’s no secret, however, that Nvidia hasn't always kept the interests of its board partners top of mind; longtime Nvidia-exclusive partner EVGA abruptly quit the entire video card market over purportedly shabby treatment. Using an AMD Radeon GPU could mean less cutthroat pricing and more design freedom for Acer – and ultimately healthier margins on notoriously low-margin products. 
Zero Sum Game
With the cooling gaming market, nobody would blame Acer if it doesn’t launch an a Radeon GPU from AMD later this year. The graphics cards market is one with a limited influx of new customers, and new brands have to take market share from more established ones. Factors that may ultimately tip Acer’s decision:

  • Reference Cards: If AMD doesn’t opt for a reference card during its upcoming launches (the Radeon RX 7800, for example), manufacturing a third-party video card becomes more appealing.
    • Reference cards set a de facto price ceiling for board partners and constrain profit margins.
    • Nvidia skipped a reference card for the recent RTX 4070 Ti in an apparent concession to frustrated board partners. 
  • Ex-EVGA Talent: EVGA’s exit from the GPU business left a lot of talented expertise in video cards looking for a new home.
    • EVGA was Nvidia’s largest board partner in North America.

Image courtesy of Acer Predator