ASUS Rampage III Formula Reviewccokeman - December 23, 2010
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As you might have imagined, ASUS has filled the box containing the accessory bundle chock full of the standard as well as unique parts that set the ROG bundle apart from more mundane offerings. Laid out on a table, the bundle is even more impressive. To start with you get the documentation and driver disk that contains all of the software needed for installation of this motherboard into the chassis. Alongside that you have a sheet of decals that let you label your SATA cables so there is no confusion as to which cable goes to which SATA header on the board along with much more.
ASUS brings a bunch of unique features and accessories to the table when you step into the world of ASUS ownership. They have taken some of the more mundane parts and made them better. One great example would be the Q-Shield or more commonly known as the I/O shield. In the past (and currently from pretty much most other motherboard manufacturers) you get a thin metal I/O shield that usually is ill fitting and has plenty of sharp edges where the tabs are left in place that you either have to break or bend to fit the motherboard into place. These thin shields can result in some serious cuts or shorted components if you are not careful during the installation process (i.e, it those types of shields can easily slice into a cable). The Q-shield addresses these deficiencies as well as creating a way to limit electromagnetic interference to the connections made on the I/O panel. Holes for the motherboard are pre-punched and there are no tabs to bend out of the way. Not to mention that the shield just looks good and is fully labeled.
The Q connectors are just one of those parts that you wish you had on every motherboard. Now, whenever I work on a motherboard without a feature like this I keep wondering why this was not thought of before. ASUS has included these handy little connectors in their bundles for the past several years and they make connecting the front panel wiring a breeze since you no longer need to reach into the chassis and try and fit those single pins onto the motherboard pinouts. You just have to mount the wiring to the connector then push the connector onto the header and you are done. The ROG connect cable is used when you choose to use the ROG Connect feature of the ROG series. What this does is allow you to use a second computer, most likely a notebook or netbook to do some performance tuning to the motherboard without leaving the gaming environment (editor's note: this is also supported on some smartphones including the iPhone).
Since this board supports multi-GPU strategies from both AMD and NVIDIA, ASUS has included the bridge connections needed to run CrossfireX and SLI configurations up to Tri-SLI with three supported NVIDIA cards. The Tri-SLI bridge connector is specific to the motherboard and its spacing. A blower fan is included for use on the power circuit heat sink surrounding the CPU socket. Wondering in what application this would be relevant with the large heatsinks used today to cool down the Intel Core i7 processor? It's used when you are running a cooling setup where there is little airflow over the heat sinks such as when using a liquid cooling setup.
An I/O bracket is included to allow you to expand the amount of USB and eSATA connections available for use on the back of the chassis. Six SATA cables are included with the RIII Formula. You get both SATA 3.0 Gb/s and SATA 6 Gb/s cables with the latter having white boots on the ends to signify the difference between the two cable types. Each of the cable types have locking tabs and a 90 degree head for tight installations.
If you are not impressed with the size and scope of the bundle, then it's time to get a look at the Rampage III Formula and see what ASUS brings to the table with this offering.