Asus Rampage II GENE Review

Geekspeak411 - 2009-04-24 19:19:33 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: August 11, 2009
Price: $249.99

Introduction:

Whenever a new chipset is released there is always a rush to be the first on the market and take advantage of the high prices that invariably come with almost every new hardware release. Unfortunately this rush to the market causes premature releases meaning unstable drivers, a performance hogging BIOS and many other unfortunate shortcomings remedied by later editions. One fairly standard rule though is that if you want all the features, then you have to have all of the board. This means that if you want to play with things like SLI, Crossfire, Overclocking, and pretty much every other enthusiast feature available, then your sights are narrowed immediately to just the ATX style and the gigantic eATX style motherboards. Far from perfect for the mobile gamers out there forced to lug a huge case around simply for lack of a smaller motherboard that doesn't skimp on the features. Enter the Asus Republic of Gamers branded Rampage II GENE motherboard.

The RIIG is the first uATX style motherboard to join the ROG family, and it is as deserving of the title as every other product in the ROG line! With features like full 24GB 2000MHz RAM support, SLI/Crossfire abilities, support for 12 USB 2.0 Ports (6 built-in, 6 on-board headers), Fuzion waterblock compatibility, and integrated X-Fi sound, the RIIG is as packed on paper as it is in real life but with all of these capabilities is it just the jack of all trades or does truly perform with the big boys? Let's find out!

Closer Look:

The Rampage II GENE come packaged in style. Sporting the same design as the rest of the motherboard's current RoG brethren, the Rampage II GENE comes in a flashy red box with Rampage II GENE artistically plastered on every side in a gray to silver gradient contrasting beautifully with the bright background. One of the truly stand out features on the packaging however is the remarkably refreshing absence of some cheesy alien/cyborg/elitist object attempting to proclaim the units superiority through outright lack of any taste whatsoever. Instead, there is a simple yet modern flame motif originating from the bottom right corner of the package around none other than the Asus logo itself. Words can only go so far when describing an object so see for yourself. Asus has packaged the Rampage II GENE to blow away the big boys but it's the innards that count. Still, Asus would be foolish to present a dud in a warriors outfit so I'm interested to see what's to offer. You get a small peek at whats inside when you lift the flap on the front cover, underneath you can see some of the stand-out features that Asus wants you to know about such as the on-board X-Fi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the box you get full frontal view of the Rampage II GENE protected by a clear plastic shield. Once you remove the motherboard tray you come to the bountiful assortment of accessories, the most prominent of which is a copy of the flame motif seen on the front of the packaging in case sticker form, just what the avid LAN gamer needs to prove the superiority of his or her system. The inclusion of this was thoughtful seeing as how the small form-factor will make this board very attractive to the LAN going types.

 

 

Well we have seen the shining armor, now to see if a true knight resides within.

Closer Look:

As usual with the rest of Asus's other premium boards, the RIIG comes with a healthy complement of accessories to get even the most resource lacking techie on their feet and running straight out of the box. The Republic of Gamers branding counts for more than just a cool name as well adding even more toys to the chest. First and foremost is the consistently themed user guide that actually has some helpful information inside. Seen next to it is the ever important driver installation disk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up is the SLI adapter, one of the enthusiast touches that is sure to be appreciated. The RIIG is one of the very few boards to offer such scalability and it is awesome that it is included in this package. One of the most stand-out features included in a RoG motherboard has to be the LCD Poster. In the time that I have spent with this little screen I have fallen in love. The poster is a must have tool when overclocking, allowing you to see exactly which component is causing the computer to hang during POST and then allows you to monitor exact temperatures or voltages straight from the motherboard, ensuring their accuracy. Asus also includes what they call Q-Connectors, these little pieces allow you to plug your case headers in to them and fasten to the motherboard in one fell swoop! With current graphics cards getting larger and larger, it becomes increasingly difficult to access the ports underneath the monsters. SATA ports always seem to be placed directly underneath the card's overhang and while side facing ports help, Asus has included cables with a 90 degree bend in them to make sure that you can connect no matter what the circumstances!

 

 

 

One-upping the competition once again, Asus has gone above and beyond to protect your system. Not only have they applied a rugged and readable skin to the outer side of the shield, they have even padded the back of the shield to prevent any short circuits or any other related catastrophe for that matter.

 

 

Finally, what RoG would be complete without proper bling for your gear? The RIIG comes with a large RoG flame motif for your case as well as a "Powered by Republic of Gamers" sticker for anywhere else such as a keyboard or a monitor.

 

 

Now, onto the motherboard!

Closer Look:

When you physically see the Rampage II GENE, you begin to understand what a feat it really is to cram all kinds of enthusiast offerings into such a tiny space. This board is PACKED! This is the very first board that I have ever come across that doesn't have a single speck of open space on the PCB. Of course all of this means absolutely nothing if it doesn't perform but all in good time, for now, it is time to swoon over specs and promises!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being that this is such a small board, one wouldn't expect to have many pictures to take. Actually the opposite is true, first things first though. As you can see, the RIIG is built in a uATX form factor. Even so, the RIIG has 2 PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, a PCI-E x4 slot, and even a legacy PCI slot to ensure compatibility with anything you might throw at it. On top of that, Asus worked out a deal with Creative to integrate full X-Fi support into the motherboard itself. By doing this, Asus saves you a PCI-E port and simply integrates the plugs into the boards I/O panel, including six 3.5mm analog ports and even an optical audio port. Just like the big boys, the RIIG has a full armament of ports including 6 USB 2.0 ports, a legacy PS/2 keyboard port, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an eSATA port, and even a Fire-wire port, built in!

 

 

 

Underneath this lies the chip making integrated X-Fi sound a reality. The RIIG comes with full X-Fi hardware and software support allowing you to play with features such as EAX 4.0 without a separate, slot hogging card.

 

As seen here, the RIIG hosts 7 standard SATA Ports, 6 DDR3 RAM slots capable of controlling up to 24GB of RAM, the limit for the X58 chipset. Asus has even gone so far as to mount the backup battery vertically just to save precious space! Still refusing to slouch on features despite the extreme lack of space, you find an IDE port for the thousands of IDE optical drives still being sold and operated today, myself being one of those users. The most surprising feature I found on this board has to be that every fan header is a full four pin connector. For those of you who don't know, don't freak out, four pin headers are completely backwards compatible with three pin fans, it just allows for more advanced features to be included in every fan just as CPU fans come with today. Of course, what overclocking motherboard would be complete without on-board MemOK, Power, and Reset buttons?

 

 

 

The Rampage II GENE is based around the X58 chipset meaning an LGA1366 socket to be filled with one of Intel's Core i7 processors. i7 processors are beastly, even the "entry level" i7 920 blows the QX9770 out of the water! There is plenty of open space above the socket to allow for pretty much every cooler on the market right now. The chipset heatsink and the voltage heatsink are linked together by a heat-pipe to maximize cooling potential even while looking good, the PWM heatsink has a RoG inspired "G" carved in the top.

 

 

 

A very important consideration to make when purchasing a motherboard from an enthusiast standpoint is cooling potential. When pushing hardware to it's limits, whether at stock clocks or not, your biggest enemy is heat. The lower your temperatures are, the longer your parts will last, and the higher your parts can clock. Some manufacturers will pop a cheap cooler on there and call it good, properly attached or not. It looks like Asus really spent some time on the heatsink which looks very slick in the eternal color combination of black and red. From above, the heatsink is black with a polished red stripe going down the center. From the side, the black blades turn into ripples jumping out of a red "G" obviously another symbol of the boards RoG heritage. The southbridge heatsink is independent which is unfortunate but inevitable considering the form-factor. It feels well made so hopefully it won't hinder performance. The most interesting feature of the RoG series's heat-sinks has to be the waterblock OPTION that comes built-in. Asus designs their RoG heat-sinks to a certain standard which allows the user to mount any standard chipset waterblock directly onto the heatsink mount, allowing the water to manage the heat from all of the heat-pipe connected components. The air sink is easily removed via two screws and underneath I am pleased to find zero crappy, caked, zealously applied and still useless thermal paste anywhere. Instead I find a nice moist thermal paste applied in what I would say is about the perfect amount as you can see below. Once cleaned off, the heatsink mount is perfectly flat, begging for a picture.

 

 

 

Just like every other ATX style board out there, the RIIG hosts a 24pin ATX port, and an 8pin CPU port.

 

 

Okay, let's see what Asus put on the disk!

Closer Look:

Let's see what all Asus was able to squeeze onto the RIIG's bundled disk. Right after you pop in the disk a blue window pops up that has all of your installation options. The interface is divided into six different tabs every one containing something that I used. For the actual installation Asus has a slick feature called InstALL which brings up a window that detects current hardware and software, and from that give you the option to have it automatically install every program that either does not exist, or is not as current. InstALL intelligently determines how many restarts will be necessary, all you have to click is OK, from there it is all taken care of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have Asus Direct Link and Asus Update. Direct Link is an application claiming to facilitate much faster networked PC file transfers, if you transfer a lot of files between PC's on your home network, then this app will be a great addition to your arsenal. Now there is Asus Update. As the title suggests, this will let you know when updates are available and let you pick what to do from there. If you have ever used a PC since XP came out with windows update, then you know whats here.

 

 

One of the coolest programs I have seen from Asus has to be MyLogo. MyLogo lets you completely customize your boot screen to show your own image, play your own sound, whatever you want to show off your system. MyLogo adds that awesome touch when your showing off your rig. PCProbe is a hardware monitor that shows all of the information that your board has to offer. Even though PCProbe has a lot of monitor points, it feels very limited and stripped down, I prefer programs like CPU-Z and SpeedFan to this but hey, it's included!

 

 

TurboV is the proprietary program from Asus that allows you to make certain BIOS changes from within Windows. Although I personally prefer the RIIG's excellent BIOS, this app is a definite boon to people just beginning to scratch the surface of overclocking. Once you get that record setting OC, you will want to post pictures of you rig etc. and to do so you need a good program to edit your pictures and apply your user name making the picture truly yours.

 

 

Flowing further from the necessities we come to the audio converter. It will take just about any audio file and will turn it into a large choice of different formats. Wave studio takes an approach to editing that audio that feels very intuitive.

 

 

After you have converted and edited your audio files and think you're ready to listen to them, you have the Media Source Player to help you out. Covering all of the bases, you of course have to a good tool to burn it or any other audio/video/whatever file to disk, yep, there's an all-inclusive disc burner as well.

 

 

Almost everyone has heard of WinZip. If you haven't, then just know that it takes big files and makes them smaller. The app here is the same as the version online. This is the only trial program on the disk but I suppose this little bit of "crap ware" is fine if it pays for the other stuff. 

 

 

Possibly the centerpiece of the whole bundle is the X-Fi Console from Creative. Gamers will know X-Fi from it's awesome EAX experience. Audiophiles will know X-Fi for it's excellent audio quality and manipulation. Most of the features can be found in programs like Windows Media Player so I will let the pictures tell themselves, but you have to hear the performance to really understand what the hype is all about.

 

 

 

 

 

As if all of the other goodies aren't enough, you finally have the karaoke app which effectively removes the lead voice from just about any track you put through it. The program will allow you to set up a playlist and adjust microphone volume directly. This program would be an excellent addition to a HTPC hooked up to a nice stereo system and TV. The uATX form-factor is perfect for such a position as well!

 

I can happily say that Asus has lived up to its own reputation in providing a very generous accessory bundle! Now let's see how the BIOS measures up.

Closer Look:

Okay, let's see how we can manipulate the inner workings of the Asus Rampage II GENE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you power on the system, you are greeted by the latest RoG logo which can be customized with the MyLogo utility you saw earlier.

 

Extreme Tweaker showing its enthusiast roots, the tweaking tab is the first one to open! This page contains an amazing level of depth in the settings you can change. I will go into this further on the next page.

 

 

Main contains the basic system options such as the time. From here you can configure your storage options.

 

 

 

Advanced has all of the general settings like Plug-and-Play, LCD Poster settings, and recovery options.

 

 

 

 

 

Power is self-explanatory. Here you find sleep settings, voltage and temperature monitors, as well as Q-Fan control.

 

 

 

 

Boot is also self-explanatory, it has device priority settings, password settings, and various POST settings.

 

 

 

Tools has all of the utilities that you might need access to from within the BIOS; EZ Flash for flashing the BIOS, OC Profile for your custom settings, TweakIt batch access, and AI NET access.

 

 

 

Exit...Save Discard Etc.

Closer Look:

Let's take a closer look at the tweaking options!

 

Here you see an overview of the tweaking tab and it is huge! The Asus Rampage II GENE has all kinds of tweaking options to the point that you would have to be crazy to customize every one - it is amazing! The first three shots show default values, the fourth show what opens up once you take it into manual control. I absolutely love this BIOS, especially for overclocking. The RIIG's BIOS is the very first one to cover all of the logical bases, I don't know how something slips in every other BIOS on the market but they do. With the Asus Rampage II GENE's BIOS settings I am finally satisfied. My favorite feature has to be the "always-on" voltage monitors that display exactly what voltage is going to the chip at any given moment, regardless of the setting, even on auto it will tell you what the board is pumping. Bravo to Asus on using a BIOS that is worth bothering with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The CPU tab allows you to set which features available on your chip are enabled.

 

 

Where the Rampage II GENE really surprised however is in the DRAM controls. There is over a page of latency options beyond the simple 9-9-9-20 1N settings! Of course the individual chip voltage skews are still available for tweaking.

 

 

Overclocking should be fun on this board, onward we go!

Specifications:

Here is what Asus wants you to know about the RIIE!

 

 

CPU

Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor
Supports Intel® Dynamic Speed Technology
* Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list

Chipset

Intel® X58 /ICH10R

System Bus

Up to 6400 MT/s with QuickPath Interconnection

 

 

Memory

6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Triple channel memory architecture
* Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
**Due to Intel spec definition, DIMMs of DDR3-1333 or above are out of spec. Please refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL(Qualified Vendors List).

Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 support at dual x16 speed
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
1 x PCI 2.2
Multi-GPU Support
Support NVIDIA SLI™ / ATI CrossFireX™ Technology
Storage
Intel ICH10R controller
6 xSATA 3 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
1 xUltraDMA 133/100/66/33 for up to 2 PATA devices
1 xInternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port
1 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
LAN
Realtek® 8111C PCIe Gigabit LAN controller featuring AI NET2
Audio
SupremeFX X-Fi built-in 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
EAX® Advanced™ HD 4.0
X-Fi CMSS®-3D
X-Fi Crystalizer™
Creative ALchemy
Supports Optical S/PDIF out ports on rear
IEEE 1394
2 x 1394a ports (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)
USB
12 xUSB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
ASUS Unique Features

Power Design
- 8-phase CPU power
- 2-phase QPI/DRAM power
- 2-phase NB power
- 2-phase Memory power
CPU Level Up
Keyboard-TweakIt
Memory Level Up
iROG
Extreme Tweaker
Loadline Calibration
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
- O.C. Profile
Overclocking Protection:
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
MemOK!
External LCD Poster
Q-Fan Plus
ASUS EPU-6 Engine
ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
ASUS MyLogo3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x External SATA
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
1 x S/PDIF (Optical)
1 x Clr CMOS switch
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x IDE connector for two devices
7 x SATA connectors
5 x Fan connectors: 1 x CPU / 2 x Chassis / 2 x Optional
2 x thermal sensor connectors
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x LCD Poster connector
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS header
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x CD audio in
System panel connector
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM
AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WOL by PME,WOR by PME,Chasis Intrusion,PXE
Accessories
1 x SLI Cable
1 x External LCD Poster
1 x 2-in-1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
2 x SATA cables
1 x I/O Shield
1 x Cable Ties
1 x ROG theme label
1 x User's manual
Support Disc
Support DVD:
- Drivers and applications
Sound Blaster X-Fi Utility
Futuremark® 3DMark®06 Advanced Edition
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
ASUS TurboV utility
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
Form Factor
uATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )

 


 

Features:

CPU Features:

CPU & Chipset Features:

Multi-GPU Technology:

Memory Feature:

ROG Exclusive Features:

Sound with Clarity:

ROG EZ DIY Features:

Rich Software Bundled:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al specifications and features courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=179&l3=815&l4=0&model=2853&modelmenu=1

 

Testing:

To see just what kind of performance the Asus Rampage II GENE is capable of I will take it through the OverclockersClub benchmarking suite. It includes synthetic and gaming benchmarks to show how it performs. I will compare the performance of the Rampage II GENE against previously tested motherboards based on the same chipset. All of the stock testing is run with the factory default settings in the BIOS, save for manually setting the memory clock speeds, voltage and processor voltage. Turbo mode has been disabled on the X58 boards to eliminate any variables due to changing clock speeds during single and multi threaded benchmarks. SMT was enabled during testing as well. To overclock the Asus Rampage II GENE I will push the limits and try to show results that should be easily duplicated based on the capabilities of your CPU and system memory.

 

Testing Setup i7:

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

Overclocking was very easy on the RIIG, as such, there is hardly anything to write about. I already knew the clock limit of my processor so all I did was boot into the BIOS, set the speeds and timings, set the DRAM voltage to 1.65v and leave everything else on auto. I wasn't expecting anything to come of it since no other board was able to reach the 3.8GHz ceiling without more voltage tweaking but lo and behold the RIIG booted and was even P95 stable. Unfortunately I couldn't go higher even with tweaking but that is my chips fault, not the boards. Overall the BIOS was very facilitating to every one of my decisions made on a whim, I would recommend this motherboard to anyone who is interested in overclocking!

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. SpecviewPerf 10
  4. PCMark Vantage Professional
  5. Sandra XII
  6. ScienceMark 2.02
  7. Cinebench 10
  8. HD Tune 2.55
  1. Far Cry 2
  2. Crysis Warhead
  3. BioShock
  4. Call of Duty World At War
  5. Dead Space
  6. Fallout 3
  7. Left 4 Dead
  8. 3DMark 06 Professional
  9. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 10MB, 100MB and 500MB files and test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

 

 

RAR:

 

 

Performance in Apophysis was the same as the competition, while the Rampage II GENE fell behind in the compression tests.

 

Testing:

Specview 10 is a benchmark designed to test OpenGL performance. I will be using the multi-threaded tests to measure the performance when run in this mode. The tests used for comparison are listed below. The default multi-threaded tests were chosen to be able to compare across platforms. In these tests, higher scores equate to better performance. Since the E8400 is a Dual core CPU results will only be shown in the 2 thread test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better

 

Higher is Better

 

 

Higher is Better

 

PcMark Vantage is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual board to see which board, if any, rises above the others.

 

We have another mixed bag when it comes to SPECview, the Maya and Catia tests were alright but the RIIG falls behind in Proe. From that standpoint the RIIG doesn't seem to fare very well but it more than redeems itself in the PCMark test scoring higher than every other board including the full ATX style P6T OC edition!

Testing:

Sisoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key areas of the motherboards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

Memory Latency

 

Cache and Memory

 

Physical Disks

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

Hmm, the RIIG is falling into an interesting trend. Some tests come out well some not. The Rampage seems to fare pretty well overall though.

Testing:

Sciencemark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

Cinebench is useful for testing your system, CPU and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

Higher is Better

 

Lower is Better

 

In the Cinebench tests the RIIG is noticeably lower than the rest of the systems. In the HD Tune benchmarks the GENE performed right around the other board averages.

 

 

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

"Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built specially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation first person shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km2 of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance vs. visual quality."

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1280x1024, all of the systems are deadlocked but as the resolution increases the RIIG pulls away from the competition unlike the synthetic benchmarks.

 

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the Island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and Aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the Cryengine 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance across all of the boards is very similar.

Testing:

BioShock is one of the creepier games you can play. The building of a perfect Utopian society undersea gone horribly wrong. Its inhabitants driven mad with the introduction of tonics and genetic modifications. Now Rapture is just a shadow of its former glory with little girls looting the dead of what little they have left while being shadowed by guardians known as "Big Daddys". It is a demanding game that will make your hardware scream for mercy. This First Person Shooter allows for an infinite number of weapons and modifications to provide a unique experience each time it is played. The environment as well as the story line will wrap you up for hours on end.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

<

 

 

 

 

Once again we have very little deviation from the mean.

 

Testing:

Activision's Call Of Duty World at War goes right back to the bread and butter of the franchise - WWII FPS action. In this rendition, you start off in the South Pacific and move through a series of missions that flip back and forth between the Russian front and the island hopping advance toward the Imperial Japanese homeland. Included is a mission on Peliliu Island, arguably one of the more difficult and costly battles in the Pacific theater. The gameplay in the single player mode is rather short, but the game makes up for this shortcoming in online gameplay. If you thought COD4 looked nice, this game is amazing with the graphics maxed out playing at a large resolution. This game just may be my reason to move to a 30 inch monitor. I will use Fraps to measure a section of gameplay in the Semper Fi map on Makin Island to compare performance of these video cards.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well I am very pleased to see this uATX board keeping up with the big boys, there is very little difference.

Testing:

In Dead Space, as part of the crew of the USG Kellion you are headed on a repair mission to repair a ship in distress. Things go from bad to worse as starting with the crash landing and seemingly silent and "Dead" ship, the USG Ishimuru. Offering a non-traditional over the shoulder viewing angle, the game gets right into the action as soon as the ventilation systems are activated. From there things get worse with the appearance of the Necromorphs. Survival now becomes a primary concern for the primary character Isaac Clarke. Survive and you may find the loved one that was aboard the Ishimuru.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we reach 1920x1200 we see a graphics related drop in performance.

Testing:

Fallout 3 takes place after the nuclear holocaust that nearly wipes out civilization and leaves the world an irradiated mess. The vault, or fallout shelter, you are born in is Vault 101, situated in the Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia area. The premise of the game is that the Vault has been sealed for 200 years and now your father has opened the vault and escaped without a trace. The Overseer believes you are involved, so you must escape as well into the wasteland that was once our nation's capital. I find myself looking for landmarks since I am familiar with the streets of Washington DC.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fallout 3 is another game that really shines on the RIIG, blowing away the other boards by almost 10fps.

Testing:

Left 4 Dead is a new release from Valve that leaves you as part of a group of survivors in a world where an infection has rapidly turned the populace into a zombie horde. You goal is to make it to a rescue point, all the while fighting what seems like overwhelming odds. Along the way there are safe houses where you can replenish your weapons and health. The movie 'I Am Legend' comes to mind to set the stage for this game. But unlike the movie, there are four characters and not just a lone gun and his faithful companion. The horde is not at all like the typical slow walking, foot shuffling zombie. These zombies are quick and work with the pack mentality. Your job: survival! Below are several screenshots to show some in-game action.

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The performance variations is almost as eerie as the game.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest is started. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the lower resolutions the RIIG can't keep up but by 1920x1600 this board is on top - a complete reversal!

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We see the same pattern here in Vantage as we do here. At the Entry preset, the RIIG is a way behind competitors but by 1920x1200 the Rampage II GENE has pulled into the lead!

Conclusion:

Wow! Asus has entered the fledgling uATX gaming industry with a bang. At $250 it isn't cheap compared to older chipsets that can be gotten for as low as $70, but you get what you pay for. The pricing is right in line with the other X58 boards, but that doesn't mean it's a bargain. Coming with a stunning accessory bundle and software to boot, the Asus Rampage II GENE is very deserving of it's RoG status among its peers. The BIOS blew me away and Overclocking was almost boring only having to set up the RAM and punch in a clock speed, as the board did the rest. It is very easy to see if your OC is effective or not as well due to the inclusion of an advanced key for 3DMark 06. The cooling is well thought out and temperature remained very reasonable throughout testing, if you ever go to the point where it isn't enough just pop an a water block! The performance scaled strangely yet linearly as the resolution went up.

Even above the excellent quality and thoughtful inclusions however is the sheer fact that all of these features fit onto such a tiny board. Integrated X-Fi is extremely nice, and being able to run SLI or Crossfire on such a small board is a huge boon to gamers on the go. I am extremely impressed with the Asus Rampage II GENE and recommend it without reservation to anyone looking for a uATX board. I also recommend it to people just looking to get into overclocking, because with the temp monitors you can OC on auto, see what the board sets, and then work from there! Asus has out-done themselves with the Rampage II GENE, which holds to its Republic of Gamers branding to the roots.

Pros:

 

 

  • Full featured board in uATX style
  • Integrated X-Fi
  • SLI and Crossfire options
  • Excellent BIOS and overclocking
  • Top of the line performance at higher resolutions
  • Thoughtful accessory bundle
  • Excellent I/O connectivity

     

     

    Cons: 

  • Price