ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition: The New Flagship

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

ASUS recently launched their new flagship for their LGA2011 product stack, the Rampage IV Black Edition. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is the newest Intel X79 motherboard from ASUS and features, well just about everything under the sun! Since the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is an Intel X79 motherboard, it uses the LGA2011 socket and all the perks that go with it. The Rampage IV Black one of the highest price motherboards right now at Newegg and is currently retailing for $499.00 shipped. All things considered, the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition may just be worth the price for those looking for the ultimate motherboard!

It's been awhile since we've looked at an Intel X79 motherboard so lets do a little refresher and take a look at the Intel X79 block diagram.

Intel X79 Block Diagram

The Intel X79 chipset brought with it quad channel memory, at the time the X79 chipset launched back in November 2011 the X58 platform was able to support triple channel memory. The addition of quad channel memory brought our memory bandwidth up considerably, compared to the first generation Intel Hex-core processors we saw more than double the performance(which you can check out here). It was noted at the time that the hex-core processors like the Intel Core i7-970 weren't exactly vikings when it came to memory bandwidth. Another advantage to the X79 platform is the multi-GPU capabilities. The X79 platform has up to 40 PCIe lanes available for graphics. The Intel Z87 platform only has 16 PCIe Gen 3 lanes available, in order to run more than two graphics cards motherboard manufacturers needed to implement a solution, that came in the form of a PLX chip which added additional PCIe lanes, though there was a small hit to performance in a single card configuration.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

Taking a look at the layout of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition it's easy to see that there isn't much, if anything that is missing from this beast of a board. The Rampage IV Black Edition has several significant features that are worth mentioning here, many of them are upgraded from the original Rampage IV Extreme the we looked at here! For starters, the original R4E had the Extreme Engine Digi+ II while the Black Edition has the latest Extreme Engine Digi+ III. The memory support on the Rampage IV Black Edition has been improved as well, the original had support only up to 2400MHz while the latest & greatest Black Edition features support to 2800MHz+.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

The Rampage IV Black Edition comes with an OC Panel that is capable of controlling almost every aspect of the board with regards to overclocking.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

The OC panel can be used two different ways. It can be used outside of the case in the normal mode or extreme mode, or it can be installed into the included 5.25" bay adapter and be used in the 'Normal' mode.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

When the OC Panel is mounted in your case, you can use it to monitor your system vitals. The vitals include the CPU temps, ratios, BCLKs, and fan speeds. If you're in need of a speed boost, you can utilize the CPU Level up, 2 different levels of the CPU level up are available. The OC Panel also allows you to toggle your fan speeds between Turbo, Standard, and Silent.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

Using the extreme mode of the OC Panel gets a bit more complex and involved. You can see above that the OC Panel includes features that are typically used by those cooling with Liquid Nitrogen and/or doing some serious overclocking sessions. The OC Panel has the ability to run two K-type sensors to monitor temperatures, VGA SMB, VGA Hotwire, remote power and reset buttons, four 4pin fan headers, and you can engage the slow mode and pause switches.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

ASUS has put a lot of work into the audio solution on the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition. ASUS has implemented features such as the TPA6120A2 Hi-Fi Headphone AMP, Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC (Digital to Analog Converter), WIMA Film Capacitors, ELNA Premium Audio Capacitors and of course shielding to protect the audio components from the EMI from the rest of the board.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

The Sonic Radar helps you hear where your enemies are before you even see them.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

The Sonic Radar is completely customizable to your needs, or it comes with presets that are optimized for certain games. I'll admit that it does take a little getting used to, but after some time with it you may not even realize that you're using it and loving it until it's gone.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

SSD performance can degrade over time, the best way to get that performance back is to overwrite all of the data via a secure erase. Whenever I'm running the SATA and USB tests I perform a secure erase with a third party application so the performance is the same across the board. ASUS has included a ROG Secure erase app within the UEFI BIOS to accomplish this now, no extra applications are needed with the Rampage IV Black Edition.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

System RAM is incredibly fast, if you can harness unused ram and use it as a virtual drive, it'll be a screamin' fast drive. ASUS has included a RAMDisk application that allows us to do just that!

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Review

Allowing the system to use the RAM as a virtual drive and letting it Cache files can speed the system up, a RAMDisk can be as much as 20 times faster than a single SSD. The ASUS application creates junction points that can sync the cached data with the original directory for the fastest possible access!

Retail Packaging

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

ASUS has always done well with their retail packaging, the Rampage IV Black Edition is no exception. The front of the package is subtle and doesn't feature the flashy colors of some, but catches the eye well. Aside from the Rampage IV name, we can see some of the technologies integrated into the board. Did I forget to mention a full copy of Assassins Creed IV Black Flag is included as well.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

Not unlike many of the high end ASUS boards that we have come across, the front of the Rampage IV Black Edition packaging opens up to reveal the board and the OC Panel.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

The inside of the front panel goes into detail about several features on the board. The panel goes into details about the OC  Panel, SupremeFX Black, Extreme Engine Digi+, and the Wi-Fi Go!

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

Much of the marketing text was left on the inside of the front panel, the back of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition has a few photos of the features mentioned in the front panel, but most of the back is dedicated to the specifications of the Rampage IV Black Edition.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

As we start pulling apart the packaging for the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition X79 motherboard, it is divided into two separate boxes within the outer shell. This helps protect the PCB from moving around to much as well as keeping the bundle away from it and potentially damaging it.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

The ASUS OC Panel is kept right out in the open, this makes sure that it's seen as soon as you pick up the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition packaging and open it up!

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Packaging

Given our first unobscured look at the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition, it's clear that ASUS took the Black to the extreme. Just about everything that can be blacked out is, and if it's not black it's at least shaded.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Bundle

The box containing the retail bundle certainly isn't exciting, but it keeps everything inside of it nice and secure.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Bundle

Opening up the box for the bundle it's nice to see that everything with the exception of the Assassins Creed Black Flag card is in place right where it was to begin with.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Retail Bundle

This is one of the perks to high end motherboards, plenty of accessories come with it. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition comes with 10 SATA cables (six SATA III & four SATA II), I/O Shield, CrossFire Bridge, 2-Way, 3-Way, and 4-Way SLI Bridges, adapter plate to use with LGA1366 CPU coolers, ROG Connect Cable, Wi-Fi Go! antenna, Case Badge, manuals, a key for a full copy of Assassins Creed Black Flag, and an 5.25" bay adapter for the OC Panel.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition OC Panel

The ASUS OC Panel has a couple of different modes that you can use. The simplest is the 'Normal Mode' . The Normal mode is used when the OC Panel is mounted in the 5.25" bay adapter above and uses the buttons next to the display. From there while in normal mode you can monitor temperatures, ratios, base clock, fan speeds and adjust the fan speeds between Turbo, standard and silent modes. The normal mode also allows us to use the CPU Level Up feature for two stage overclocking. The second is for the more extreme, hence why they call it Extreme Mode.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition OC Panel

The Expert Mode truly is for the guys looking for some extreme overclocking. From the OC Panel you can do nearly everything that you can from the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard for extreme overclocking. The OC Panel features four 4pin fan headers, Subzero Sense, VGA SMB, VGA Hotwire, power and reset buttons, as well as a slow mode and pause switch. When it comes to adjustments, there's almost no reason to head into the BIOS, we can tweak the voltages, frequencies, and ratios right from  the OC Panel!

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition OC Panel

Flipping the OC Panel over we can see the screw holes for mounting it inside the 5.25" bay adapter we saw above.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition OC Panel

The back of the OC Panel will pop out and work as a stand if you're looking to set it up on a table or workbench while overclocking.

Layout

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is one of the better looking boards that I've seen. Personally I don't put a whole lot of weight on the looks of the board, as long as it isn't fugly, I can deal with it as long as it has the features I'm looking for. In the case of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition X79 motherboard, it certainly has all the features I'll ever need and likely a few features that I'll never take full advantage of.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard is based on the Intel X79 chipset, and with that comes the ability to run quad channel memory. In order to maximize the potential of the Intel X79 chipset, the Rampage IV Black Edition features eight DIMM slots capable of running up to 64GB of DDR3 memory, with memory speeds ranging from 1066 MHz to 2800MHz(O.C.). Outside of the memory DIMMs, this is probably one of the busiest corners that I've come across in a long while. To start, there are four 4pin fan headers on this corner alone. On the very corner of the board is the debug LED, slow mode switch, LN2 Mode jumper, power and reset switches, MemOK! button, 24pin motherboard power, internal SuperSpeed USB 3.0 header, PCIe x16 switch as well as the voltage measuring points.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

 The ASUS Rampge IV Black Edition has no shortage of SATA connectivity. On the left there are six SATA III 6Gbps ports, four of them are from an ASMedia ASM1061 SATA III controller, while the remaining two are native to the Intel X79 chipset. The four black SATA ports on the right are SATA II 3Gbps ports native to the Intel X79 chipset. To the left of the SATA ports we can find the two BIOS chips, it's nice that they are able to be replaced if needed. Working our way up the edge of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition we come across the front panel header, ROG connector, BIOS switch, DirectKey, a pair of 4pin fan headers, and a pair of internal USB 2.0 ports.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

Picking up along the edge of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition where we left off above, we have the T.P.M.(Trusted Platform Module), EZ Plug 4pin molex connector, front panel audio and SPDIF out. With the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition powered down, it's a little tough to make out the line that separates the audio components from the rest of the motherboard. ASUS was the first to do this on their high end motherboards, many have followed since then. What is it they say? - imitation is the best form of flattery.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

The I/O panel is covered in a pretty slick looking shroud, while it may not appear to do much as far functionality, it does. In addition to adding a certain level of flare to the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition, it is also part of the heatsink on the PWMs and is connected via a heatpipe to the portion on the edge of the PCB.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

Underneath the shroud we have a rather full featured I/O panel with no shortage of USB connectivity. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition features ten USB ports, six SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and four HiSpeed USB 2.o. The USB 3.0 ports are not native to the Intel X79 chipset, rather added in with an ASMedia USB 3.0 controller. Between the two sets of USB 2.0 ports there is a Clear CMOS button (top) and the ROG Connect button (bottom). Below the center set of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports is a pair of SATA III eSATA ports and above the right set of SS USB 3.0 ports is the RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet jack powered by an Intel 82579V Gigabit LAN controller. A top tier ASUS motherboard like the Rampage IV Black Edition wouldn't be complete without their Bluetooth 4.0 and Wi-Fi Go!

ASUS UEFI 'Black' BIOS

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition UEFI Black BIOS

ASUS brought in a bit of an UEFI BIOS update for the Rampage IV Black Edition, like the board, BIOS are blacked out. I'll admit that I like the overall look and feel of the UEFI BIOS on the RIVBE, though I've liked the ASUS UEFI BIOS since they launched them with the original UEFI on the Intel Sandy Bridge platform and P67 chipset. The above page is a recent addition to the ASUS UEFI, it's a 'My Favorites' page and it loads up first. This page lets us add various settings to this page. If you're overclocking you can add the CPU multiplier, vCore, XMP Profiles, or anything else you may need. I did play with it while overclocking and it was really convenient not having to go to the various pages to get the settings I was looking for.

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[gallery ids="130915,130916,130917,130918,130919,130920,130921,130922,130923,130924"]

The two galleries above feature the Extreme Tweaker pages from the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition. The Rampage IV Black Edition has just about every option under the sun when it comes to system settings, and anything to do with overclocking, DRAM, System timings, Voltages, Digi+ III or any number of other system settings can be found on these pages.

[gallery ids="130925,130926,130927,130928,130929,130930,130931,130932,130933,130934,130935"]

The first picture in the above gallery is the 'Main' Page of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition UEFI BIOS. This page gives us the basic info about the system and hardware that we are using. The remaining images in the gallery are from the advanced tab of the UEFI BIOS. These pages include the CPU Configuration, SATA configuration, USB configuration, as well as several others including the ROG Effects that control the onboard LED's.

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This gallery features the Monitor, Boot, Tools, and the Exit pages of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition UEFI BIOS. From the monitor pages you can tweak and monitor your fan speeds and monitor your system voltages. The tools page allows you to update the UEFI BIOS, see the memory SPD's, utilize the ROG SSD Secure Erase, access your overclocking Profiles and configure the ROG OC Panel H-Key.

The Legit Reviews Test System

Before we look at the numbers, let's take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 8 Enterprise 64-bit and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. We completely overhauled our test setup for the Intel Core i7-4960X processor launch, so we are starting over from scratch when it comes to testing everything. For this review will be comparing Intel Z77, Intel Z87 and AMD FM2 platforms. These platforms are aimed at mainstream users and all feature integrated graphics, so it will be interesting to see how the systems compare. We understand that there is a significant price difference between some of the processors we will be testing, but the platforms are targeted to the same consumer group.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Test System

Here is a quick look at the CPU-Z information for our main test system that we'll be doing the testing on.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition System Settings

The Intel Core i7-4960X LGA1150 processor was running on the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition and was running the latest BIOS version 0403. The Corsair Dominator Platnium 16GB 2133MHz memory kit was set to XMP 1.3 memory profile settings, which is 1.5v and 9-11-10-27 2T memory timings at 2133MHz. The Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD uses 19nm NAND and was using M310 firmware.

Intel LGA1150 Test Platform

Component

Brand/Model

Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i7-4960X

Motherboard

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Click Here

Memory

16GB Donimator 2133MHz Click Here

Video Card

ASUS GeForce GTX670 DirectCU II Click Here

Hard Drive

Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB SSD

Click Here

Cooling

Corsair H100i

Click Here

Keyboard

Corsair K90

Click Here

Mouse

Corsair M95

Click Here

Power Supply

Corsair AX860i

Click Here

Operating System

Windows 8 64-Bit

Click Here

Futuremark 3DMark

3Dmark Fire Strike Benchmark Results - For high performance gaming PCs

Use Fire Strike to test the performance of dedicated gaming PCs, or use the Fire Strike Extreme preset for high-end systems with multiple GPUs. Fire Strike uses a multi-threaded DirectX 11 engine to test DirectX 11 hardware.

3DMark Fire Strike

 

Fire Strike Benchmark Results:

Futuremark 3DMark Firestrike Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS  Rampage IV Black Edition and the MSI Big Bang XPower II were within 1 point of each other on the overall score. The Rampage IV Black scored 6137 points while the XPower II hit 6138.

SiSoftware Sandra 2013

Sisoftware Sandra 2011 SP5

The Sisoftware Sandra 2012 SP3 benchmark utility just came out a few weeks ago and we have started to include it in our benchmarking. Sandra 2012 comes with support for Virtualisation (Virtual PC/Server, Hyper-V, VMware) and GPGPU (OpenCL, DirectX 11 DirectCompute), but today we will be using the program to look at memory and CPU performance!

SiSoftware Sandra Memory Bandwidth Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was able to hit an impressive 52.8GB/s aggregate memory bandwidth performance, which is more than 1.5GB/s faster than the MSI Big Bang XPower II and nearly 88% faster than the fastest of the Intel Z87 Chipset motherboards we have.

Bioshock Infinite

BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games. BioShock Infinite is the third installment in the BioShock series, and though it is not part of the storyline of previous BioShock games, it does feature similar gameplay concepts and themes. BioShock Infinite uses a Modified Unreal Engine 3 game engine and was released worldwide on March 26, 2013.

Bioshock Infinite

We tested BioShock Infinite with the Ultra game settings.

BIOSHOCK Infinite Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition and the MSI Big Bang XPower II were pretty much spot on with each other, there was a .11 frame per second difference at 1920x1080. The advantage went to the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition which averaged 128.64 FPS at 1280x1024 and 88.33 FPS at 1920x1080, though they were both edged out by the $119.99 ECS Z87H3-A3X Drone.

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution is an action-adventure stealth DirecX 11 video game developed by IO Interactive and published by Square Enix. It is the fifth entry in the Hitman game series, and runs on IO Interactive's proprietary Glacier 2 game engine. This game title uses the Glacier 2 game engine and was released on November 20th, 2012.

hitmanabsolution_550.

We benchmarked Hitman: Absolution with Ultra Settings.

Hitman Absolution Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was able to average 42.63 frames per second at 1280x1024 and 31.33 frames per second at 1920x1080. This is a hair behind the MSI Big Bang XPower II which averaged 31.5 frames per second at 1920x1080 at 43.33 frames per second at 1280x1024.

Metro Last Light

Metro: Last Light is a first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay with a combination of survival horror elements. It uses the 4A Game engine and was released in May 2013.

Metro: Last Light

Metro Last Light was benchmarked with Ultra settings

Metro Last Light Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 mobo and the MSI Big Bang XPower II took the bottom spots in Metro Last Light (aside from the Alienware X51 R2 which isn't quite on the same level as our other systems). The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition averaged 60.76 frames per second at 1280x1024 while the MSI edged it out with 60.8 FPS, at 1920x1080 the ASUS averaged 46.06 frames per second, .04 fps faster than the MSI counterpart.

Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

On March 5th, 2013 Square Enix released Tomb Raider, billed as a reboot of the franchise. In Tomb Raider, the player is confronted with a much younger Lara Croft who is shipwrecked and finds herself stranded on a mysterious island rife with danger, both natural and human. In contrast to the earlier games Croft is portrayed as vulnerable, acting out of necessity, desperation and sheer survival rather than for a greater cause or personal gain.

Tomb Raider Settings

The game has been built on Crystal Dynamics's game engine called the "Crystal Engine" and the graphics look fantastic. AMD and Crystal Dyanmic's worked on a new technology called TressFX Hair, which AMD describes as “the world’s first in-game implementation of a real-time, per-strand hair physics system” for this game title. We set the image quality to ultimate for benchmarking, but we disabled TressFX Hair under the advanced tab to be fair to NVIDIA graphics cards that don't support the feature.

Tomb Raider Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition and the MSI Big Bang XPower II were once again trading blows. The ASUS was able to take the lead at 1280x1024 with an average of 113.83 fps while the MSI averaged 113.7 fps. Running the benchmark at 1920x1080 the MSI took the win with an average of 83.37 frames per second while the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition average 83.13 frames per second. I think it's fair to say that our Intel X79 boards are pretty well matched with each other in the games so far.

Sleeping Dogs

Sleeping Dogs PC game
Sleeping Dogs is a 2012 open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix. The game was released on August 14, 2012, for Microsoft Windows. The game uses the Havok physics engine.

Sleeping Dogs Benchmark Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was able to average 67.1 frames per second at 1280x1024 and 44.4 frames per second at 1920x1080 in Sleeping Dogs.

X264 HD Video Encoding Benchmark

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

Simply put, the x264 HD Benchmark is a reproducible measure of how fast your machine can encode a short HD-quality video clip into a high quality x264 video file. It's nice because everyone running it will use the same video clip and software. The video encoder (x264.exe) reports a fairly accurate internal benchmark (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encode and it also uses multi-core processors very efficiently. All these factors make this an ideal benchmark to compare different processors and systems to each other. We are using x264 HD v5.0.1 for this test.

x264 HD Encoding Benchmark

This application did fairly well when run on 12 threads, as you can see from the screen shot above. The first pass was not using all of the processing power available on the cores, but on the second pass all 12 threads were at ~95% load.

 
x264 HD Video Encoding Benchmark

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition averaged 114.94 frames per second on the first pass of the x264 HD Video encoding benchmark while the MSI Big Bang XPower II was 2 frames per second slower with an average of 112.89 frames per second. The second pass which is a quite a bit more processor intensive gave the X79 platforms a bit more of a challenge and brought the average rendering speed down to 23.24 frames per second on the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition, a hair faster than the Big Bang XPower II which averaged 23.13 frames per second.

Intel Z87 SATA III 6Gbps Performance Testing

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

The SATA III 6Gbps performance testing was completed using a Corsair Force GT 240Gb SATA III 6Gbps SSD.

CrystalDiskMark SuperSpeed SATA III 6Gbps Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was able to outperform the MSI Big Bang XPower II in CrystalDiskMark with a sequential read of 515.5MB/s compared to the MSI's 499.7MB/s. Neither of the X79 platforms were quite up the task of taking on our Intel Z87 motherboards though.

HD Tune Pro 4.01 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Intel Z87 HD Tune Pro 5.50 Write Benchmark Results

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

Intel Z87 HD Tune Pro 5.50 Read Benchmark Results

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Motherboard SATA III Performance

HD Tune SuperSpeed SATA III 6Gbps Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition bested the MSI Big Bang XPower II on the Average read with an average of 396.4MB/s to the MSI's 386.1MB/s. The MSI was able to edge out the ASUS RIVBE on the average write with an average of 328.2MB/s compared to 324.5MB/s.

Intel Z87 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance Testing

Thermaltake BlackX 5G SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Dock

There are a number of different Super Speed USB 3.0 host controllers out there. In order to know which ones perform the best we run a series of tests that will put the controller through the ringer and see how it comes out on the other side. Each of our motherboards uses a different Super Speed USB 3.0 controller and you can find the below.

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Testing of the USB3 was done using the "Thermaltake BlacX 5G Hard Drive Docking Station . The drive used was an Corsair Force GT 240Gb SSD.

CrystalDiskMark SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Results

Benchmark Results: The Intel X79 platforms rely on third party USB 3.0 controllers while the Z87 platforms utilize a controller on the Intel Z87 chipset. The Z87 chipset is considerably faster than either of the X79 controllers. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was able to hit a sequential read of 295.9MB/s and sequential write of 291.7MB/s. The MSI was ~3.5MB/s faster during the sequential read and nearly 100MB/s slower on the sequential write.

HD Tune Pro 5.00 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.

Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 HD Tune 5.50 Read Benchmark Results

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Intel Z77 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 HD Tune 5.50 Write Benchmark Results

MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming Series Motherboard SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Performance

Testing of the USB3 was done using the "Thermaltake BlacX 5G Hard Drive Docking Station . The drive used was an Corsair Force GT 240Gb SSD.

HD Tune SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Results

Benchmark Results: The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was able to average 187MB/s read and 179.8MB/s write in HD Tune. Not quite up to the same level as the Z87 boards, but faster than the MSI Big Bang XPower II.

System Power Consumption

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition System Power Consumption

The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is one of the more power hungry motherboards to come across the bench in recent days. The peak power draw happened during the 3DMark Firestrike runs, during 3DMark the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was pulling 296 Watts at the wall, the MSI X79 motherboard was pulling a hair less at 291 Watts at the wall. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition isn't meant for those going green, it is meant for performance and as we have seen today it has plenty of that.

Overclocking

Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocking

The Intel Core I7 4960X features a Bclk of 100MHz and uses a x36 multiplier to achieve the final processor speed of 3.6GHz. In the above CPUz 1.67.1 screen shot it also has a Turbo Mode. With all of the cores loaded it will increase the multiplier all the way up to x40 depending on the system load. The Intel Core i7 4960X is the latest in a long line of Extreme Edition processors. Being an Extreme Edition processor means that the i7 4960X has an unlocked multiplier. Unlike the previous LGA1155 Sandy Bridge processors, LGA2011 processors can also be overclocked by increasing the Bclk. Though we will be sticking to overclocking by increasing the multiplier of the Intel Core i7 4960X Extreme Edition Processor.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocking

Our first go around with the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition and overclocking we wanted to try the autotune option from within the UEFI BIOS. Once we enabled this in the UEFI the system rebooted and after just a short time we were right back into Windows and everything was solid. Once we opened up CPUz 1.67.1 we found that the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition had brought the Intel Core i7-4960X to 4.5GHz.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocking

After I ran the autotune above, I promptly reset the BIOS and gave Overclocking a go from a fresh start. I knew the system would handle 4.5GHz without an issue, so I used that as a starting point. It didn't take much to get into Windows at 4.6GHz. Sadly, 4.6GHz wasn't stable for benchmarking. I was able to run some applications and general usage was fine, but once I loaded up the CPU the system would crash. I increased the CPU vCore to as much as 1.45 Volts and didn't have any more luck.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocking

Since 4.6GHz wasn't stable for me, I backed the vCore down as well as the multiplier back to x45. I toyed with the Bclk and brought it to 101 which was the highest stable frequency I could achieve today. Overall I am happy with an overclock of 4544MHzd that was rock solid!

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocking

What overclocking session would be complete without a couple of benchmarks? First up is the new Cinebench R15, at stock speeds the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition has a single core performance of 145 points and a SMP (Symmetric Multiprocessing , all cores) score of 1080 points. Running the Intel Core i7 4960X at 4.544GHz the single core score increased to 164 points, a gain of 13.1% while the SMP score increased to 1225 points, a gain of 13.4%. Considering we achieved an overclock of 13.6%, it's pretty consistent scaling.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocking

Futuremark 3DMark Firestrike saw a gain of only 36 points in the overall score running at 4.544GHz, as nice of a card as the ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DCU II is we are a bit GPU limited in 3DMark so we didn't expect a huge jump in the overall. The Physics score which relies on the CPU jumped from 15148 points to 17077 points, if you took an educated guess that we will see a gain of ~13% grab yourself a cookie! The Physics score went up 12.7%, pretty close to the 13.6% overclock.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocked Settings

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Overclocked Settings

The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition UEFI BIOS shows us everything that we changed in the BIOS as we exit. Above you can see all of the settings that were changed to hit 4.544GHz. If you have this board and processor feel free to give these settings a try and be sure to let us know how it works out for you.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 Motherboard Layout

There isn't anything about the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition that I can complain about. When it comes down to it, the ASUS RIVBE is probably one of the most feature rich, and refined board to come across my test bench. There are two things that made me expect nothing less from the Rampage IV Black Edition, first, it's an ASUS motherboard. When it comes to motherboards they are one of my go to companies when I need a board, though I have plenty others in computers around the house (the wife says I have an issue). Second is the price, ASUS has put a premium price tag on the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition, currently I can find the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Intel X79 motherboard for $499.00 shipped.

The Intel X79 chipset is the only chipset for the LGA2011 processors, and it is getting a bit long in the tooth. The chipset itself is lacking some of the features of the current mainstream Z87 chipset, like native USB 3.0 and more than two SATA III ports. With that being said, it's still a solid chipset. ASUS had to rely on third party chips to get the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 and additional SATA III ports, and the ASMedia chips they used are among the best out there. Unfortunately they don't quite compare to the Intel Z87 ports. That's no fault of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition though, rather a shortcoming of the X79 platform. All that ASUS could do is choose the best option out there, and they certainly did.

CPU performance is a relative non-issue for the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition. Taking advantage of one of the fastest processors out there the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition chewed threw everything we threw at it without hesitation. The Intel Core i7-4960X hex-core processor was able to destroy the Intel Z87 chipset systems in anything that relied heavily on the processor. Benchmarks like the x264 HD Video Encoding bench the Rampage IV Black Edition was 34% faster than the Intel Z87 systems. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition was also able to edge out our other Intel X79 MSI Big Bang XPower II by a small margin.

Gaming performance on the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition wasn't quite what I was hoping for, now I'm not saying that it was lacking or that it performed poorly. In fact the Rampage IV Black and the MSI Big Bang XPower II were pretty much a dead heat in the games. Unfortunately they were both being beat out by the Intel Z87 platform when I had hoped that the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition would come out on top. Once again though, that's no fault of the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition. The latest Intel Z87 chipset and Haswell processors are a generation ahead of the Intel Ivy Bridge E and X79 chipset that the Rampage IV Black Edition as using. Despite being a generation behind, the Rampage IV Black Edition was certainly able to hold its own in our gaming benchmarks.

The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition has no shortage of features. We touched on most of the features throughout the article, so I won't ramble on about them much more. There have been times that I wanted more features out of a board, or thought that board x could use feature y, that's not the case today. The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition has the features you need, the features you want, and even the features you don't know you want yet.

I've been fortunate enough that I've never had to send any of my ASUS products back due to issues. I know they happen, but hopefully you will have the same luck I have. If however, you do happen to have an issue with the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition ASUS has you covered by a three year warranty.

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Editors Choice Award

Legit Bottom Line: If you're looking for the best of the best Intel X79 motherboards for your Intel Extreme processor you're going to be hard pressed to find anything better than the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard. ASUS left no stone unturned when looking at the features people want and included everything but the kitchen sink!