ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Reviewccokeman - April 28, 2014
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ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Conclusion:
When it comes down to spending your hard earned coin on a motherboard, is the Rampage IV Black Edition worth your consideration for a new build? As an upgrade? For the ROG faithful that's a resounding yes on both counts. The Republic of Gamers series of motherboards from ASUS have long had a loyal following that helps drive innovation by providing feedback on what makes the best gaming centric motherboards. If you currently have the Rampage IV Extreme and are looking for that next step, the Black Edition comes with some upgrades that make it a sensible although pricey update for you. Performance wise the RIVE and RIVBE are going to deliver within a narrow envelope and similar performance alone is not a good reason for an upgrade. If the all-black color scheme, new cooling solution, and the addition of Supreme FX Black sound solution as well as the inclusion of ASUS OC Control panel interest you then by all means take the plunge. If you are on the fence with motherboard selection, the Rampage IV Black Edition is a board that you need to consider as the base for your build. Pricey as it is, it comes with everything you might ever need to get it up and running and tuned to perfection.
Usability of a board of this caliber is paramount to having that great ROG experience. If you look at the software included, ASUS gives you a tremendous upside in software alone. AI Suite III and the included programs to fully tune the board from within the OS, including RAMDisk to improve access to programs by using integrated RAMDisk software, Sonic Radar so you can get a visual on where the sound patterns are coming from in-game, Fan Xpert 2 to tune the attached fans for the best cooling and lowest noise, GameFirst 2, and USB 3.0 Boost that improves transfer speeds to supported USB 3.0 devices. But wait, there's more, as the late night sales pitch goes.
ASUS includes a software bundle that at the top of the list includes a full copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag to fit the image of the Black Edition board, a one year subscription to Kaspersky's Anti Virus suite, and Daemon Tools. That is easily an almost $90 value at current pricing. The software package just works well. ASUS' Crash Free 3 UEFI BIOS is the standard by which all others are measured. It is easy to navigate and has definitions for what each of the settings do to help the novice as well as experienced user. Using the preset options or manually tuning both offer benefits if you take the time to tweak the board. You really can get by with minimal tune time by using the auto presets on most settings. ASUS takes the time to tune the BIOS for the majority of processors. Updating the BIOS is a snap and could not be easier thanks to the EZ Flash 2 utility in the BIOS.
As a gaming centric motherboard in the ROG lineup, the Rampage IV is equipped to hold up to four graphics cards from either NVIDIA or AMD for a 4-way solution that should allow the end user to enjoy great gaming performance at up to 4K resolutions. If you have the cards you can run the numbers. A neat tool for the extreme overclocker is ability to turn off individual PCIe slots for diagnostic purposes; just one of the little things that ASUS includes. ASUS' sound solution on the Black Edition is a step up and above what we normally see as onboard sound solutions on X79 boards. Taking a queue from the mid-range sound solutions, ASUS' Supreme FX Black delivers excellent sound whether you are just listening to tunes, playing a game, or watching a movie or YouTube clip. The sound is clean and crisp through each of those scenarios.
As far as overclocking is concerned, the Rampage IV Black Edition is going to allow your hardware to reach its maximum capabilities from mild to wild. My specific IVB-E CPU is on the low end of the overclocking range, but I had no issues getting the maximum clock out of it. Memory overclocking was a bit of a challenge initially running the XMP settings, but was easy enough to fix with some manual adjustments allowing my modules to get up and over 2400MHz. Using the available options in the BIOS is possible and offers some interesting options, but not with my 4960X. Like I said it's a dog, but it's the luck of the draw! Using the 125MHz and 166MHz bclock straps allow the user to experiment with crushing memory speed records, should you have some modules capable of such as feat.
The software side of the board is not the only place there was a ton of emphasis, with most of it geared towards the extreme enthusiast. The RIVBE is fully equipped with ASUS' Extreme Engine Digi+ III 8+3+2+2 phase power system to ensure the installed components get the current they need. Probe It check points are on board to measure critical voltages rather than relying on software interpretations of the values. ASUS put a new cooling solution on the VRM circuit that keeps the Rampage IV Black Edition rock stable even with minimal airflow over it. The feature set seems almost endless when you get down to it. Last but not least on the feature set is the OC Panel that takes many of the onboard extreme overclocking tools and functionality and puts it on a standalone tool that can also be mounted into the chassis. You just get a ton of add ons with this board that do not come with any other board.
After spending a good deal of time with this board I got to know it pretty well. It's built for a niche customer at $499, but it offers up a feature set you cannot get anywhere else. Great sound, great build quality, great cooling, and great looks; it's got it all.
- Cooling solution
- 4-way multi GPU
- ASUS feature set
- Supreme FX Black
- UEFI BIOS
- Gaming centric software package
- Wireless connectivity
- ROG connect