Legit Motherboard Reviews
ASUS Rampage III Extreme Intel X58 Motherboard Review
|Product:||ASUS Rampage III Extreme|
|Date:||Wed, Sep 08, 2010 - 12:00 AM|
|Written By:||Chris Morrell -|
Bloody Beautiful Board Bitmaps
I mentioned earlier that we had done a preview of the Rampage III Extreme when there were only a few engineering sample boards floating around. Below you can see the engineering sample and retail boards side by side. Besides the beautiful heatsink there weren't too many changes made to the board layout.
Zooming in a bit you can see exactly how packed the board is with components in order to fit all the desired features into an ATX height PCB. The Rampage III Extreme is just slightly wider than a normal ATX motherboard, 10.6" versus 9.6", but that's understandable and a satisfactory compromise. Many more cases on the market can fit a wider board than a taller board and this design choice was a smart move.
Just to illustrate how tight the board is you can see how narrow the gap is between a lengthy video card, a GTX 480 in this photo, and the DIMM slots. Once again ASUS was on the ball and chose DIMM slots with self-locking tabs. The user simply inserts the end of the DIMM into the slot and then pushes it into place with the latching tab on the other end of the slot.
Unlike the rest of the board there isn't too much out of the ordinary hanging out in this corner. Six SATA 3Gbps ports are provided by ICH10R while two SATA 6Gbps are provided by a Marvel 9128 SATA controller. There are no IDE/FDD ports on this board; ASUS gave them the boot and for good reason.
Notice the two socketed 8-pin BIOS chips. The little red button is used to switch between them just in case you corrupt a BIOS or want to quickly switch between profiles. Keep in mind since the chips are socketed if you horribly corrupt one you can boot with the other, get into the EZ Flash application, and then hotswap the chips. Here you can also see the lonely SATA port provided by the JMicron JMB363 controller that also provides the eSATA port located on the rear I/O panel.
Serious. Business. The Rampage III Extreme is ready to run quad CrossFire with double-width cards and it does so remarkably well. Unfortunately, due to NVIDIA being run by a bunch of money grubbing clowns crafty people an NF200 PCIe switch is required in order for quad SLI without resorting to dual-GPU cards like the GeForce GTX 295. However, if you really want to run quad SLI with GTX 480s then ASUS has the ROG Xpander to satisfy NVIDIA's demands.
Those smart guys over at ASUS thoughtfully included some 4-pin molex connectors in order to boost the amount of available current to the PCIe sub-system. Turns out a lot of EVGA Classifieds burnt up when running four VGAs due to the increased +12vdc powerdraw from the 24-pin power connector. We're not sure who is responsible, the VGA designers or EVGA, but ASUS decided to prevent that issue by including not one, but two, molex connectors. Feel free to throw whatever you want at this board, you won't be burning it up (I think).
This guy was feeling a bit lonely so here's a great shot of the other PCIe power augmentation connector. Note the NEC USB 3.0 chip that provides the USB 3.0 connectivity included on the back I/O panel. I should note that I have run triple CrossFire without any molex connectors but if you plan on going with four GPUs I'd suggest at least plugging one in. Better safe than sorry, right?
One interesting change between the engineering and retail boards was the inclusion of an Intel 1GbE NIC instead of the traditional Marvel solution. I'm not too familiar in the performance differences between these two solutions but with my experience with Intel 10GbE NICs I'll say this was likely a big improvement.
The rear IO panel naturally comes equipped with a plethora of USB ports. Just keep in mind the blue ports are the USB 3.0 ports and you'll be set. Not too much craziness here, just your normal eSATA 3Gbps port, FireWire 800 port, an optical audio output along with 6 audio jacks, a PS/2 port (lol?) and the vertical USB port for ROG Connect.
Serious Business. Part 2. This board was built with Gulftown in mind and it does a fantastic job of powering the i7 980x in even the most strenuous circumstances.
Here's a better photo of the PWM. It is of the engineering sample; however nothing has changed here, for good reason. There are supercaps for both the CPU, QPI, and DRAM capacitor banks. 8 beefy phases feed the CPU, 3 smaller phases feed the uncore, and hiding down by the DRAM modules is another set of 3 phase supplies for both the DRAM and the X58 northbridge. Plenty of power to go around here; just keep a fan over the heatsinks as they'll dump some heat when pushing a 980x past 4.5GHz.
Here's the northbridge and DRAM pwm circuits. Looks good to me, no complaints here.
Last up are the mounting holes for the CPU socket. Just like a few other great boards the Rampage III Extreme includes LGA775 mounting holes just in case you have an excellent heatsink with LGA775 mounting brackets. A nice touch that likely cost all of a few minutes of trace routing.
Next Page - Bashful BIOS
Page 1 - Rampaging Red REX Runs Rampant
Page 2 - Alluring Accessories
Page 3 - Bloody Beautiful Board Bitmaps
Page 4 - Bashful BIOS
Page 5 - Air Aerated Assembly
Page 6 - Air Aerated Aftermath
Page 7 - Cryogenically Cooled Creature
Page 8 - Cryogenically Cooled Conquest
Page 9 - Maximizing Memory
Page 10 - Supplementary Software
Page 11 - Creative R3E Conclusion