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ASUS Rampage V Extreme Review

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ASUS Rampage V Extreme Closer Look:

The ASUS Rampage V Extreme is the fifth rendition of the Rampage series boards and is built around the Intel X99 PCH for use with Intel Core i7 Extreme Haswell-E series socket 2011-v3 processors including the 5960X, 5930, and 5820. Due to the extensive feature set, the Rampage V Extreme is built as an extended ATX form factor board measuring 12 inch x 10.7 inch with a PCB using a proprietary fiber weave that improves signalling strength and minimize current leakage. If you look back at the Rampage IV Extreme I find that the Rampage V Extreme is the much better looking board of the two, although equipped with somewhat similar feature sets. Clearly, the nod would go to the Rampage V Extreme visually. Many of us are familiar with ASUS Direct CU II technology used on the companies non-reference design graphics cards. ASUS brings that direct contact heat pipe cooling technology to its motherboard line up to help cool the all new Extreme Engine Digi+ IV power circuits to go along with ASUS OC Socket. On the back side of the PCB, the beefy heat sinks seen on the front have additional cooling plates/heat sinks, to not only keep the front sinks in place securely with screws, but provide a means to brace the PCB and keep away any unwanted flex in the board.

 

 

I/O connectivity is far from lacking on the Rampage V Extreme. To start, there are the USB BIOS Flashback button and ROG Connect button, the PS/2 combination mouse/keyboard port, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, one of which is used for ROG Connect connectivity, ten, count em, TEN ASmedia controlled USB 3.0 ports. All of the USB ports on the board are supported by ASUS Truevolt USB, to supply a steady 5V through a pair of isolated 5V circuits. An Intel I218V Anti-surge Lan Guard protected Gigabit LAN port is used. To sweeten the deal, ASUS also includes ESD Guards to supplement the capacitors used in the Lan Guard package, to reduce the effects of a static discharge. Particularly helpful this time of year, thanks to the overabundance of cool dry air. ASUS Game First III packet management software is used to ensure you can prioritize network traffic to maximize throughput for the game of your choice. Next up is the wireless connectivity. On the Rampage V Extreme, we get the same wireless option as I saw on the X99-A Deluxe. ASUS 3T3R Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Bluetooth 4.0 solution that supports dual band frequencies of 2.4/5 GHz to deliver transfer speeds up to 1300Mbps. The last bit of connectivity on the I/O panel is the Digital Optical S/PDIF port and the gold plated Analog ports of the SupremeFX 2014 8 channel high definition sound solution.

If that's not loaded enough, the expansion capabilities are purely driven at the extreme consumer and hardcore gamer. There are a total of five 16x slots and a single 1x slot that can be used. The four red slots are PCIe 3.0 slots, the grey 16x slot is PCIe 2.0 x4 slot, while the grey 1x slot is also PCIe 2.0 compliant. How all of these slots are used and integrated, really depends on the Haswell-E processor you install. The difference is in the amount of PCIe lanes available for use, be it 40 on the 5960X and 5930K, or the 28 lanes on the 5820K. With a 40 lane CPU, you will maximize the usability before slots or SATA Express ports are disabled. Using a 40 lane CPU you get to use the 16x slots in a x16, x16/x16, x16/x8/x8 or x16/x8/x8/x8 configuration, while a 28 PCIe lane chip gets x16, x16/x8, x8/x8/x8. ASUS SupremeFX 2014 sound solution is packed with the hardware needed to deliver superior acoustics coupled with a comprehensive software package.

ASUS isolates the audio solution from the PCB to remove EMI. This isolation point is marked with a distinct red line when the board is powered on to both highlight, and identify the separation. At a hardware level, you have ELNA premium audio capacitors, a nickel cover over the audio codec, again to reduce EMI, Sonic Sense amplifier, used to detect the impedance of your headphones and make critical adjustments to amplifier output. Additionally, you get the Sonic Soundstage button that supports four hardware level audio profiles that are game type specific, be it FPS, Racing, Fighting, or sports. These profiles are visible on the Q-LED at the top right of the PCB.

 

 

Moving forward with the march around the PCB, we have parts of the SupremeFX 2014 sound solution in the Elna Audio capacitors, Front panel audio connection, 4-pin molex power connection to supply additional current to the PCIe bus when multiple video cards are installed, TPM header, one of the three thermal sensor mounting points, Soundstage button to apply one of the four hardware level sound profile presets, both of the 128mb BIOS chips, USB 3.0 header controlled by the X99 chipset, two of the six 4-pin chassis fan connectors controllable via ASUS Fan Xpert III software, a USB 2.0 header, ROG Extension header/USB 2.0 port, Front panel header, and BIOS switch to change between the dual BIOS chips. Just above the front panel connector are the Thunderbolt header and a series of unidentified headers. Along the bottom edge of the PCB, there is just a lot going on.

 

 

Next to the SATA Express ports is a small button, which is used to enable this cool feature when plugged into the appropriate port on the I/O panel. If you need a ton of storage devices in your system, the Rampage V Extreme looks poised to accommodate that need with eight SATA 6Gb/s ports that support RAID 0,1,5,10 as well as Intel's Smart Response Technology and Intel® Rapid Recovery Technology. A pair of SATA Express ports are available, the bottom one managed by the Intel X99 PCH, while the top port is managed via an ASmedia controller. Behind the wall of SATA ports and the USB 3.0 port, is the lone M.2 port that supports type 2260/2280/22110 PCIe SSD's only. Depending on how you have your system configured and the CPU you use, there will be ports that are disabled. Next to the SATA 6Gb/s ports is another front panel USB 3.0 port. Further to the right or top, as it may be, is the 24-pin ATX power supply connection and OC Zone that features a lot of the added value parts for the extreme overclocker.

In front of the 24-pin power connection are the Q-LED system LEDs, to use in diagnosing hardware issues and the ProbeIt voltage measuring points. Here you can use a multimeter and measure the exact voltage being applied instead of relying on a software interpretation of the voltage. There are nine points to measure PCH I/O, PCH, DRAM C-D, DRAM A-B, System Agent, CPU Cache, and CPU voltages with the last voltage point being the ground pin. A pretty cool feature for sure when you are working in fine voltage increments.

The rest of the OC Zone includes from the left, the Retry switch in white, the Mem OK button in black, and the safe boot button in red. The retry button is used to reboot the system again using the same setting to help POST. The Mem OK button is used to run though a series of tests adjusting the memory voltage and timings to achieve a successful post, while the Safe Boot button is used to boot with a known good configuration of settings while allowing you to retain the last settings used. Kind of like, when you see the F1 option after a failed boot but easier to use.

The Slow mode button is used manage system configurations that may be stable under a load, but crash during the switch to a light load. The PCIe switch is used to enable or disable PCIe 16x slots for diagnostic purposes to find a defective card when the slots are populated. The LN2 jumper sits right behind the reset button and is used to minimize the impact of a cold bug when booting at sub zero temperatures. The power and reset buttons do just that and are best used when running on a tech bench. One of the three thermal probe mounting points is just behind one of the three PWM managed fan headers in this area. ASUS Q-Code LED is used to monitor post codes during post and to illustrate the SoundStage pofile in use once the system boots into the OS.

 

 

 

Across the top of the PCB there really is not a lot to see when you get down to it. At the left are the 4-pin CPU and Optional CPU Fan Xpert III controlled fan headers, an auxiliary 4-pin EATX 12V connection, and the 8-pin EATX power connection. The DirectCU II cooling solution covers the Extreme Engine Digi+ IV VRM, both along the top side of the board and right behind the I/O connectivity. Each of the connection points feature ESD protection to eliminate damage to the components on the PCB.

 

 

As an ROG board, the Rampage V Extreme is going to have the heat generating components covered with an ample cooling solution. The extensive cooling around the CPU socket is to keep the Extreme Engine Digi+ IV circuitry cool when you are pushing the limits. This solution is built around ASUS' well known Direct CU II technology. What you get is a 6mm heat pipe, interconnected series of heat sinks that use direct contact with the heat generating components to maximize the thermal transfer to the large aluminum heat sinks, that in turn shed this thermal load into the airflow over the heat sinks. With a little airflow over the heat sink, you get great cooling to maximize stability when overclocked. Over the X99 PCH is an ASUS labeled passive sink that stays relatively cool with the intake airflow to the GPU on my test system.

 

 

As an extreme performance platform, the power circuitry needs to be stable for long term stability and great overclocking. For this reason, ASUS uses premium components and its own patent pending OC socket. This socket design is compatible with all Haswell-E processors and features additional pins that almost eliminate voltage droop under extreme loads and is used in much of the ASUS X99 lineup. Not only do you get improved CPU and Cache overclocking margins, but the design helps improve memory overclocking margins to boot. Around the socket you see some of the components used in the all new Extreme Engine Digi+ IV power solution. ASUS continues to use the 10K Black Metallic Capacitors seen on previous ROG boards, but are now using MicroFine Alloy Chokes that run cooler, IR3555 PoweIRstage combination all-in-one driver, and high- and low-side MOSFETs with built-in Resistance drain-to-source (RDSOn)-sensing technology.

The bottom line is, to run cooler and more efficiently to increase stability. This system uses a high frequency PWM design that scales down to 1MHz, allowing the DRAM PWM to improve stability by up to 40%. Pretty sweet when you put it all together. The Rampage V Extreme can accommodate up to eight DDR4 DIMMS of currently 64GB max, at speeds up to DDR4 3300MHz (O.C.). Thanks to ASUS T-Topolgy design and DIGI+ IV circuitry that provides all the stability you need. Running under sub zero cooling, the tendency is to drive extreme voltage levels to the CPU and DIMMS. In this case, ASUS adds over current protection in the form of a reset-able fuse. Last but not least, around the socket, ASUS has included its X-socket bracket. Seen on the X-79 RIVE as well, the bracket allows you to keep your old socket 1366 cooling solution as you make the move to X99 without having to buy a new water block or large heat sink. Just use what you already have.

 

The X99 based Rampage V Extreme just had features for days. On the hardware side, you would be hard pressed to find a package that is a well thought out from top to bottom.




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