ASUS Rampage III Extreme ReviewGeekspeak411 - August 3, 2010
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As usual for enthusiast-grade ASUS boards, the first tab of the BIOS is the Extreme Tweaker section. Back when I reviewed the Rampage II Extreme, I praised it for its integrated voltage monitoring right in the voltage tweaking section - a seemingly obvious feature that was missing in so many boards before it. With the Rampage III Extreme, that helpful feature is back in a slightly modified form. Instead of having a few of the voltages up above each individual tweaking sub-section, ASUS has gone ahead and put every single voltage right next to every single tweaking option. I cannot stress enough just how much easier and more intuitive this board can be in the overclocking realm. After using multiple motherboards, the BIOS that ASUS bundles with the Rampage boards is head and shoulders above the competition.
I have to butt-in here and point out the RAM section - it is incredible. I have personally never seen another brand put anywhere near the timing options that ASUS provides. There are so many settings that I doubt anyone but the true-blue enthusiast would tweak all of them. It is extremely impressive that the options are there, and the same 'preview' feature that is present in the voltage area allowing you to see the current timing as opposed to the proposed setting is found here. That addition alone makes it much less intimidating to step in to and begin dabbling.
I'm going to stop here again as well. I noticed in testing that this board has some crazy Load-Line Calibration logic. Most boards employ this technology to prevent vdroop, but this board not only cancels it out, it reverses it! CPU-Z reported a boost of around .05v to the bclock, which is huge when you get up to 1.4-1.5 volts! As can be seen, however, ASUS planned ahead and allows for incremental implementation. Therefore, I can't see this as anything but positive; if the user plans on the voltage boost under load, the base voltage could be intentionally dropped for idle running to increase component life. There are many different and creative ways this feature could be implemented.
One of my huge pet peeves in a BIOS, is when a company allows the user to specify sub-voltages on the RAM and only gives a straight-up voltage setting - no current preview, no regard to a different overall DRAM voltage, nothing. In my opinion that is just stupid. Even an advanced user could get lazy, change the DRAM voltage, forget that the sub-voltages were manually adjusted, and then waste an hour rooting out the instability issues. That is ridiculous. The way ASUS implements this process is much sleeker, and user friendly. Instead of having to key-in a direct voltage, the user simply tells the board how much to boost beyond the default voltage based on your overall DRAM voltage setting. No PEBKAC issues, no uselessly wasted time. Good job ASUS. In the picture right after the voltage setting image, I've shown the OC Profile tool that I was talking about on the last page. It truly is a life-saver.