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ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10 Review

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Category: Motherboards
Price: $568
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ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10 Introduction:

The Rampage series of motherboards have long been synonymous with the best of the best when it comes to Intel Extreme Edition motherboards. The past history has shown this to be true in the opinions of many, thanks to the enhancements, software package, and the rock solid hardware on board. From the Extreme Engine Digi+ VRM to the world class UEFI BIOS, the Rampage series come loaded for bear. This version, the ROG Rampage V Edition 10, is the latest board in ASUS' X99-based product stack and is no slouch when it comes to the build quality and enhancements. As RGB lighting is a strong feature set now, ASUS has equipped this board with a ton of RGB LED functionality from top to bottom and side to side.

As the 10th Anniversary of the ROG brand, this board comes packed with a ton of accessories, including a SupremeFX External DAC to provide the end user with the best possible sound solution in a single package. The $568 price point makes this board just about the most expensive X99 board on the market. Let's see if the tricks, tools, and accessories all add up to one stellar motherboard for your Broadwell-E processor. 

ASUS ROG Rampage V Edition 10 Closer Look:

The front of the packaging is a bit understated, but gets the message across that this version of the Rampage V is something special. Picking up the box reinforces that thought, as this box has some serious heft for a motherboard box. The front is all black with a simple 10th Anniversary logo located dead center of the front panel, wiith the supported processors and GPUs listed along the bottom edge.The back side shows off the front and back side views of the motherboard, with some, but not all, of the heature set listed, including AURA Lighting, SupremeFX Hi-Fi, Extreme Engine Digi +, and WiFi GO. A different take visually to be sure, but once you start digging into what ASUS brings to the table, you start counting the ways that this board is something special to justify its price point. 

 

 

Inside the box are two layers that include the board on the top level, with the accessory bundle taking up the tray underneath. As a halo ROG offering, the Rampage V Edition 10 comes with a substantial accessory bundle that takes advantage of the build out on the board. The soft parts include the user's manual, driver and software disc, data cable labels, fan hub decals, and some ROG 10th anniversary drink coasters. The hard parts include the usual suspects, including data cables using both straight and 90 degree ends, Q-Connector, a new Q-Shield frame, CPU installation tool, and a 3x3 dual-band 2.4/5GHz antenna for up to 1300 Mbit/s wireless transfer speeds.

Additionally, you get  2-Way, 3-Way, and 4-Way SLI Bridge connectors; an ROG themed flash drive that contains the whole of the software package for the board including drivers and applications; thermisters for some pointed thermal monitoring; and an external fan header that can run an additional four Fan Xpert 4 controllable fans. The SupremeFX Hi-Fi DAC is an add on that ups the sound game of the Rampage V Edition 10. Powered by a 6-pin PCie power connection, the signalling is transferred via USB to the unit that mounts in a 5.25-inch drive bay. The front of the device has a microphone input and 3.5mm and 6.3mm sound outputs.  

 

 

 

 

Instead of the usual red or silver accents seen on previous ROG boards, the ROG Rampage V Edition 10 is all black with a hint of orange. The only clue that something is a bit different are the clear clips on the Safe Slot equipped Q-Slots and the orange coloring on the PCH heat sink. As a black board, the Rampage V Edition 10 is the perfect back drop for all the AURA controlled RGB lighting features with accents on the Q-Slots, PCH heat sink, and around the right side of the PCB.

Designed for use with Intel's Broadwell-E processors, like the Core i7 6950X, and DDR4 memory, the board uses ASUS' own 2011-v3 OC socket with additional pins that help overclocking both the CPU and DRAM.  A plastic shroud covers the I/O connectivity and the SupremeFX sound solution, creating a strong visual on the board. The back side of the board is covered with a robust  bracket that holds the AURA controlled LED lighting and supports the extended section of the custom PCB.  As an EATX form factor board, the Rampage V Edition 10 is a bit wider than an ATX form factor board, but uses the same ATX form factor mounting. This brace eliminates the flex on the unsupported section of the board. 

 

 

First up, we start with the rear I/O area. What we see here is a step away from the field with a I/O plate already installed on the board to eliminate, for the most part, the I/O shield. It is still included in the accessory bundle, but is just a frame. It's an interesting take on eliminating the I/O shield. Up top are the Clear CMOS and USB BIOS Flashback buttons. This USB BIOS Flashback button is used to flash the BIOS with minimal hardware loaded into the motherboard. Rear connectivity starts with a quartet of X99 PCH-controlled USB 3.0 ports  An Intel I218V and Intel I211-controlled Gigabit LAN ports provides your hardwired network connectivity. ASUS has its own LAN Guard protection system using ESD guards to offer up a 1.9X-greater tolerance to static electricity and 2.5X-greater protection (up to 15KV) against current surges. Underneath the LAN port are four USB 3.1 ports: two Type A and two Type C connections. A PS/2 keyboard/mouse port makes an appearance above a pair of USB 2.0 ports. These two ports are used when you are using ASUS Keybot and USB BIOS Flashback tools. The top port is where you would plug in a keyboard to support the Keybot functionality, while you would use the bottom port when using the USB BIOS Flashback option to update or repair the BIOS. Last up are the analog and digital  audio outputs used with ASUS SupremeFX 8-channel audio solution.

Wireless network connectivity is handled by an 802.11ac WiFi with 3x3 dual-band 2.4/5GHz antennas for up to 1300Mbit/s transfer speeds that supports the latest MU-MIMO clients. Wrapping things up are the analog and digital sound output connections for the SupremeFX 8-channel high definition sound solution. ESD Guards have long been used on all of the inbound connection points on the PCB to prevent a current surge from static electricity from taking out any of the installed hardware.

Hidden between the top PCIe slot and the furthest left Q-DIMM slot is a 4-pin chassis fan header that can be managed by ASUS FanXpert 4 software package or set to use PWM or DC controls from the BIOS. There are a total of four 16x PCIe slots and two PCIe 1x slots to cover slotted expansion cards, like video cards and PCIe-based solid state drives. Slots 1, 2, 4, and 6 are your PCIe 3.0 slots, while slots 3 and 5 are your PCIe 2.0 slots. Up to 4-Way multi-GPU solutions are supported in the 16x PCIe 3.0 slots when using a 40 PCIe lane processor, like the Core i7 6950X or 5960X. The 4-Way solutions are supported with Dual GPU cards. The primary graphics slots are protected by part of ASUS' Gamer's Guardian package called "SafeSlot." A SafeSlot is a PCIe 16x slot used for a primary graphics card that has a metal shield that provides greater shear resistance and retention force.

In front of the PCIe slots and along the bottom left corner of the PCB is where you will find the bulk of the hardware used for ASUS' awesome SupremeFX audio solution. ASUS uses its isolated circuitry solution to ensure that you get the best possible audio solution without any interference from the electronics on the rest of the PCB, with split layers covering the left and right channels. On the ROG Rampage V Edition 10, ASUS chose to use an audio processor with "ten DAC channels, simultaneous 7.1-channel playback, independent 2.0-channel, multiple-stream stereo to front-panel outputs, and an EMI cover for purer audio quality." Once again, Japanese Nichicon audio-grade capacitors are used to deliver exceptional sound quality, coupled with a wealth of audiophile-grade components. Parts such as an ESS 9018M2M SABRE DAC, PREMIUM NICHICON & WIMA CAPACITORS, 2x LM4562 op-amps (one per channel) TPA6120 headphone amp, and SONIC SENSEAMP that automatically detects and optimizes outputs for different headphone impedance (32-600 ohms). All this high-accuracy timing technology ensures ultra-low jitter by preventing fluctuating temperatures and a DePop relay. This all combines to deliver a great audio solution. 

 

 

 

The area across the bottom of the PCB is pretty loaded on the Rampage V Edition 10. From the left are the SupremeFX sound components, the analog audio front panel audio connection, 4-pin auxilliary power for the PCIe bus, TPM header, dual BIOS chips with LED indicators. AURA controlled RGB LED lighting header, a USB 3.0 header, two of the eight PWM or DC controlled fan headers, USB 2.0 header that supports two ports, and the the ROG Extension header for use with multiple ROG accessories. The right side of this connection doubles as another USB 2.0 header to give you the potential to connect up to four ports with the USB 2.0 header next to the ROG connection. The front panel connections can be connected directly to the front panel wiring in your chassis or connected to the Q-Connector for an easier option. The Red button in the corner is the BIOS switch that lets you choose between BIOS IC's in case you end up with a bad flash or just want to work between two different BIOS to find the best options for your hardware.

The right hand corner is loaded up with options, including the Thunderbolt connection and a thermister connection for thermal monitoring. The SLI/CrossFireX switch is used to show the user the proper slots to mount your graphics cards in when using either a 2-Way or 3-Way multi-GPU configuration using AMD or NVIDIA graphics cards. When enabled, an LED will light up to identify each of the slots. 

 

 

Storage options on the right hand side of the board include the M.2 slot that supports type 2242/2260/2280/22110 devices that sits behind the mass of SATA ports. Next is an U.2 slot that supports PCIe Gen 3.0 x 4 NVMe drives. Ten SATA 6Gb/s ports are pulled from the X99 chipset and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 configurations with Intel® Rapid Storage Technology.  A second USB 3.0 port is up next and is an upright connection instead of being laid over on the side for a smoother look when wiring up the chassis. It is not in a position to interfere with a video card in the top slot, so this really comes down to a preference. It's not a deal breaker, but would look better flipped 90 degrees to connect like the rest of the storage options.  

The 24-pin ATX power connection starts the march into the OC Zone at the top right edge of the EATX PCB. In this area we see a lot of the of the usual suspects, including the Q-Code diagnostic LED and Mem OK button. That's about where similarities with other boards in the stack end. In front of the 24-pin connection are the ProbeIt voltage monitoring points to validate the actual running voltages versus the applied voltage in the BIOS. QLEDs show as each part of the system comes on line and can be used in concert with the Q-Code LED to troubleshoot boot problems. The large backlit Start and Reset buttons are easy to use and are an ROG staple with their functionality being self explanatory.  The Retry button is for use if the reset button becomes disabled during heavy overclocking and forces a reboot with the same settings. The LN2 Mode jumper is used to minimize cold boot issues when going sub-zero on the cooling. The Safe Boot button reboots the system back into the BIOS using baseline settings to allow the system to post into the BIOS. Slow Mode is used exclusively while overclocking to overcome load and temperature issues that can crash the system. The DRAM Channel Switch and PCIe x16 switch are used to help diagnose failed hardware in the DIMM or PCIe slots without having to pull the hardware out of each slot.

Pretty cool stuff if you want to use extreme cooling or even if you have a custom multi-GPU setup under water and need to find out what went south. Under the PCB in these pictures is the LED diffuser that lights up along the right side of the PCB when you have the AURA lighting enabled. This LED option throws a lot of light into the chassis and is controlled via ASUS' Aura lighting application in the OS.

 

 

 

 

The top of the PCB is pretty bare on most boards. For the most part that holds true on the Rampage V Edition 10. From the left are a pair of  fan headers that are able to be controlled via PWM or DC options in the BIOS. Additionally, they can be managed through ASUS' Fan Xpert 4 software. These two fan headers are the CPU optional fan header and the CPU fan header.  Moving right are the 4 and 8-pin EATX 12v power connections, as well as the Extreme Engine DIgi+ components under the robust angular aluminum heat sink. Between the 4-pin and 8-pin EATX power connections are several of the 10K black capacitors that are part of the Digi+VRM circuitry. A 6mm heat pipe connects the two heat sinks around the socket and Q-DIMM slots. 

 

 

Around the ASUS OC Socket are eight Q-DIMM slots that support quad channel memory packages of up to 128GB of DDR4 3333(O.C.)/3300(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory. ASUS uses its T-Topology to deliver equal length traces to each slot to reduce electronic noise and provide improved overclocking margins. ASUS OC socket differs from the standard 2011-v3 socket by including a few more pins in the socket connected to an ASUS specific circuit to improve DDR4 memory overclocking margins. Additionally, these extra pins help reduce voltage needs and allow the use of a cache bus voltage to drive overclocking margins.

ASUS makes use of an 8-phase all-digital VRM circuit managed by the Extreme Engine Digi+ controllers to provide a clean, consistent power supply to the CPU and DRAM. ASUS Extreme Engine Digi+ uses MicroFine Alloy Chokes, IR3555 PowIRstage® ICs and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. A trio of heat sinks are used to cool the Digi+ VRM and the X99 PCH. Along the top of the board is a single heat sink that connects to a heat sink behind the IO connectivity via a single heat pipe. The PCH heat sink is a flat angular design with a trace layout effect surrounding the ROG logo. The PCH heat sink is prominently lit as part of the AURA RGB lighting package, with both the ROG logo and trace layout design element lit up while in operation. ASUS AURA lighting controls are used to display one of 10 different lighting schemes to really give the inside of your chassis a living, breathing effect or just setting the lighting to match your theme.

 

 

The black on black on black theme on the Rampage V Edition 10 looks a little boring until you hit the power button, where the RGB lighting springs into action. Looking good is just part of the equation, as a board of this caliber has to deliver on the performance metrics associated with a halo level board. Let's see if that is indeed what we get.




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