ASUS Rampage III Formula Reviewccokeman - December 23, 2010
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ASUS always includes a comprehensive set of utilities with the products they send out into the market to allow the user to enable additional functionality. The utilities are all up under the AI Suite II banner on this ROG Series Rampage III Formula. AI Suite has been where all of the ASUS utilities have been and it now gets an upgraded GUI to really fit in with the ROG series motherboards. All of the tools are accessible through the toolbar. There are a total of five tabs to work through: Tool; Monitor; Update; System Information and Settings. Under each tab is a submenu that allows you access to the programs under the tab. For instance, the first tab gives you access to TurboV, Fan Expert, Probe II, Sensor recorder and AI Direct Link.
Let's start under the Tool tab with AI Direct Link. This is a utility that allows you to set up a directly connected network for fast file transfers.
Sensor Recorder is just what the name implies. This utility records the vital statistics of your system to provide you with a real time look at how the temperatures, voltages and fan speeds have been reacting to the loads placed on the system. For voltage monitoring you get the CPU, PLL, IOH, IOH PCIe, ICH and QPI/DRAM. For temperatures, you get (of course) the CPU followed up by sensors on the motherboard, ICH, IOH and a pair of optional sensors should you purchase these for use in your system. Each of the fan headers on the PCB is monitored from the CPU fan to the Optional fan. Lastly, you can record the data for up to 24 hours in intervals as low as every five seconds.
Probe II is an update to the ASUS Probe app that is incorporated into this GUI and allows you to view the current statistics with the sensor monitor to the right side of the window while having the ability to setup alert thresholds for each parameter. You can do this for the voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. Under the preference tab you can set the unit of measure for the temperatures between Celsius and Fahrenheit and how often a popup window will appear when an error or anomaly is detected. Finally, there is an alert log to tell you the time and date and what the error was.
Fan Expert allows you to tailor the cooling performance and noise generated by the fans installed in your system and attached to the Rampage III Formula. You can setup a specific fan profile or choose from the available presets.
TurboV Evo is the section where most people will spend time with this utility. You can use this section of the AI Suite to perform all of your overclocking instead of moving out to the BIOS. The settings made are in fact set in the BIOS so you can test and tune through this utility to see what works and what doesn't. There are two sections that can be used, TurboV and CPU Level Up. TurboV allows the manipulation of some of the most used voltages that are available in the expansive Extreme Tweaker section of the Rampage III Formula's BIOS. You can adjust the bclock, CPU voltage, QPI voltage, DRAM voltage, PCIe frequency and more. CPU Level Up gives you some preset performance levels based on the increased clock speeds of higher rated processors such as the Core i7 950.
ASUS Update is used to update the BIOS in several different ways. You can download the file from the ASUS FTP site, load from a file, save a file or download from the internet. Updating the BIOS via this method would have been unheard of a few years back but after using this method to update the BIOS, it went off without a hitch. If it goes bad, you do have the BIOS Backup feature. System Information allows you to look at information much the same way you would with CPUz. There is the motherboard section, CPU section and the SPD tab that provides the memory information stored on the SPD chip of the installed memory DIMMs.
In the 'Settings' tab you can configure the AI Suite GUI so that you can change the view, add or subtract components and even change the color. All in all, this application looks better and seems to bring added functionality to the table.
As part of the ROG series, the Rampage III Formula is equipped with ASUS's own ROG Connect feature that lets you use another computer to not only monitor the vital statistics of your ROG baby but to overclock it remotely using the RC Tweakit software installed on a netbook, notebook or smartphone. You can increase the bclock and PCIe clock speeds for added performance and to make sure the changes are stable, you can modify voltages much like in the aforementioned TurboV Evo section of the AI Suite software. There is a post code monitor to tell you where you are in the post process to help with diagnostics of a failed boot process. In this way, you can find out if the settings you applied will do the trick for that next level of performance.
The last application I will look at is ROG GameFirst. This little utility can be configured to give your game data priority over other applications that interact with the internet. With this application, you can decide what data has the highest priority to maximize your gaming experience.
Now that we have seen the board and the supplied applications that make the ROG series what they are, it's time to see what ASUS has done for us in the BIOS.