ASUS Rampage III Extreme ReviewGeekspeak411 - August 3, 2010
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Since there is a vast assortment of items included, I will start with the basics. The ASUS Rampage III Extreme comes bundled with a 3-way SLI adapter, a standard flexible 2-way SLI cable, as well as a flexible Crossfire bridge. Six SATA 3.0 Gbps cables are included, three with 90 degree heads and three with straight heads. There are also two SATA 6.0 Gbps cables included; one with a 90 degree head, one without.
ASUS has a few exclusive inclusions for their motherboards that, once you have, you will always take for granted. One of these features is seen on the IO Shield. The front is fairly standard with a good quality print applied over the bare metal, but flip the shield over and you see where all the bases are covered. The back of the IO Shield is covered with an anti-static foam cushioning to prevent static and interference from interfering with the motherboard. Another one of these exclusive features are the ASUS Q-Connectors. What these little saviors do is two-fold. Not only do they make breaking out the manual when trying to connect those stupid front panel connectors obsolete, they do so while allowing you to connect them outside of the case! Once you have the connections attached, you just have to line the adapter up with the motherboard headers and push them all on in one fell swoop! The configuration is standard across all ASUS motherboards, so switching motherboards is that much easier. I was originally skeptical of the usefulness to be found here, but after a couple months of use, I am a firm believer in these little accessories. A motherboard's ease of installation is at a huge loss without them.
To max out the motherboard's IO capabilities, ASUS includes this adapter that fits into one of a standard case's PCI ports. It has dual USB 2.0 ports and an e-SATA port with cords on the inside to attach to the motherboard internal expansion headers.
This right point right here, is where the standard-grade accessories end, and the Republic of Gamers Accessories begin! To start off with, ASUS includes a temperature probe that can plug in to any of the motherboard multiple temperature headers and spit readings directly into the BIOS for incredible usefulness. Next to it is a small dongle that plugs into any of the board's voltage headers, allowing much easier implementation of multi meter setups.
The Rampage III Extreme comes bundled with a USB to USB cable. Why? Because you can plug one end into the dedicated ROG Connect port, and the other end into a laptop and get real-time BIOS readings directly on the laptop in any state. The motherboard can be booted into windows while real-time changes are being applied to voltages, and clocks via the laptop. The program can also graph out volts, amps and degrees. Pretty much anything the BIOS measures, can be graphed out and saved on the PC running the application. The ROG Connect application also offers a software power, reset, and Clear CMOS button for easy access, as well as an LCD poster window to display the system status.
If the last feature seemed pretty cool, then this will seem completely amazing. The Rampage III Extreme comes bundled with a Bluetooth 2.1 adapter, which not only allows Bluetooth capability from within Windows, it, with a push of a button, allows the same core functionality of the USB based ROG Connect application via a supported Bluetooth enabled phone. Yep, Android is on that support list, which means this motherboard can be overclocked via cell phone. Awesome!
Finally, the Rampage III Extreme addresses one of the major complaints coming from enthusiasts across the board, which is better chipset cooling! Sure you can pick up a Fuzion water block and water cool the motherboard, but for those on air systems, ASUS bundled a much larger heatsink with a mounted fan to overclock with. This will provide a lot more surface area than the stock heat sink, but may have issues with some larger air coolers. I had to do a minor fan modification on my CoolerMaster V8 heat sink, but nothing major.
As usual, the Rampage III Extreme (RIIIE) comes with a nice manual with a few spelling errors (but nothing you can't Google), a driver disc (but you will probably want to look online for more up-to-the-minute downloads), a pretty awesome red flame motif sticker and cable labels for keeping cords straight.
I am absolutely floored by the ASUS Rampage III Extreme's accessory bundle, but I want to take a close look at the motherboard itself, before passing any judgment.