ASUS Rampage III Formula Reviewccokeman - December 23, 2010
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The BIOS can make or break a good mechanically sound motherboard. Having the ability to tweak many parameters can be a double-edged sword though if you have the tools but do not understand how to use them. Finding that balance is the key for 98% of the people using high-end motherboards. The ASUS ROG (Republic of Gamers) Rampage III Formula is a high-end motherboard and is a small step down from the Rampage III Extreme but, when you look at the BIOS you would not think that it is in any way a lower rated board. The Extreme Tweaker section contains a wealth of tools for use in setting up a good stable overclock. Let's take a look at this section and see what makes the ROG Rampage III Formula a contender.
First up you have the CPU Level Up and Sync Functions. CPU Level Up lets you choose the performance level of your CPU (in this case the i7 920) and automatically adjusts the parameters in the BIOS to get this overclock. Sync mode lets you enable or disable syncing the settings with TurboV Evo or RC Tweakit after a reboot. AI Overclock Tuner lets you optimize the parameters based on the option you choose.
CPU Ratio lets you increase or decrease the bclock multiplier to set the clock speed of your socket 1366 processor. A 200 bclock with a 21 multiplier gives you a nice 4.2Ghz clock speed. The Turbo Power limit can be enabled or disabled but if disabled you are directed to also turn off several other CPU power saving features. CPU configuration allows processor specific technologies to be enabled or disabled including EIST, C1E, virtualization, hyperthreading and C states.
Next up you have the DRAM multiplier, Uncore clock speed and QPI Link Data rate. The Uncore clock can be managed and is usually left set to double the memory clock speed. You can set it higher but that will require higher voltage to the QPI bus. The memory configuration detect option allows or disables the ability to manage the memory sub timings.
The DRAM Timing control section lets you manipulate the memory sub timings to either gain stability or tighten up the timings for increased performance per clock. This section is split into three different areas.
Differential Amplitude is used to possibly increase the stability of your overclock. By adjusting the CPU and IOH clock skew settings you can increase the bclock overclocking ability of your system when adjusted together. For the Differential Amplitude you have increases from 700 to 1000mv and with the skew settings you have Auto, Normal and the Delay offset. Trial and error are your best friends here.
Next up you have the Extreme Engine Digi+ section of the BIOS. Here is where you can start to optimize the BIOS for your needs. However, if it looks a little intimidating, the auto settings result in nice overclocks with little work needed. Digi+Power mode has two options. One for a balanced approach and one for the balls-out no holds barred approach. Load Line Calibration uses a bit more granular approach with Auto, 0%,50% and Full Calibration. CPU Voltage OCP (Over Current Protection) is either on or off. Digital PWM frequency can be adjusted as a means to try and stabilize your overclock.
Extreme OV allows the use of increased voltage options for the CPU to be used under extreme cooling conditions. Extreme OC offers two modes to try and increase the stability of your overclock. Seems to be a common theme here.
Next up are the voltage options which are pretty standard on a motherboard of this caliber. You get adjustment capabilities for the CPU, CPU PLL, QPI/DRAM core voltage, DRAM bus voltage, DRAM Reference voltage, IOH voltage, IOH PCIe voltage, ICH voltage and ICH PCIe Voltage. The adjustments are fairly granular so you can get the voltage you need without going too far overboard. The voltage limits are fairly high due to the market this board is targeted at with a 2.3v maximum for the CPU voltage.
The OC Profile section is available under the Tools section of the BIOS and is integrated into the Extreme Tweaker section as another way of keeping all of the tools you need to work the clock speeds in one section. The final options are the CPU and PCIe Spread Spectrum settings that are usually left off when overclocking.
ASUS has definitely given the enthusiast the tools to get the highest possible overclocks with the Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS.