ASUS Rampage III Extreme Review

Geekspeak411 - 2010-05-19 13:27:21 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: Geekspeak411   
Reviewed on: August 3, 2010
Price: $359

Introduction:

Well the cat is out of the bag. Intel's Gulftown processors are out, and they are beastly. Not only in the power sense, but in the monetary sense as well. Clocking in at around $1000, these chips are at the typical entry price for the Extreme series processors. If you have the cash to drop on one of these chips, then the chances are you have the cash to invest in some worthy parts to accompany it. When you spend that much money on something, you want to get every ounce of value out of that item, and in the case of the i7 980X, ASUS wants people to know that buying their newest addition to their Republic of Gamers series, the Rampage III Extreme, is the first step to doing just that. Whether or not the board holds up to that hope, I can't yet say. But with ASUS's excellent history with their ROG line of components, and features like RC Bluetooth, and ROG Connect, they might very well have an excellent contender here.

Closer Look:

The box that the Rampage III Extreme comes in is well prepared for world domination. I have always been a fan of the sleek style that ASUS adorns components with, usually opting for more quality enclosures when a cheaper substitute would have sufficed. The outer box has a dark red theme with a red and silver flame motif exploding out from the bottom-right corner. Rampage III Extreme is proudly proclaimed near the top in a pretty awesome pearlescent print. Underneath the title, Designed For Overclocking and Windows 7 Ready logo can be seen. A ton of different specification logos are plastered along the bottom leading up to the ASUS logo on the right. On the back of the retail box another huge list of specs can be seen proclaiming all of the different features to be found on this board. The list is quite large. Opening the front flap of the box reveals the motherboard through a thick plastic covering. On the top of the flap, another huge assortment of features are displayed. Overall, I am quite excited to see how this board performs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening the retail box and pulling out the contents reveals two typical ASUS-esqe black packing boxes found in almost every other quality ASUS product around. The boxes are of acceptable quality and do an excellent job compartmentalizing the package and keeping everything separate and protected. The top box holds the motherboard while the second box opens up with all the accessories and add-ons the board includes. There are a ton of included goodies to be had with the Rampage III Extreme, so I don't think anyone will need to pick up any additional adapters or cables to be up and running with this motherboard.

 

 

Okay, there is way too much to cover in one page, let's move on and take a closer look at everything that's included!

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

Like its older brethren, the Rampage II Extreme, the Rampage III Extreme pushes the limits of its form factor. Sitting one inch wider than standard ATX motherboards, fitting the RIIIE in a mid-tower case isn't unheard of, but internal case dimensions must be double-checked before committing. The space doesn't go to waste though, as all of those extra inches allow the iROG chips to live onboard. I think it is a good trade-off. Taking a look at the board itself, the RIIIE comes packaged in a standard black holding box that keeps the board stable during shipping. Once that is removed, the motherboard can be seen in all its glory, and the intense red and black color scheme really has a chance to shine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rampage III Extreme has a very clean area around the CPU. Everything is kept low and out of the way, so there should be no issues with any kind of CPU coolers, unless the previously mentioned extended chipset cooler is mounted. The LGA 1366 socket is made by Lotes, which should sidestep any possible incidents that the Foxconn sockets experienced with the LGA 1156 versions. The IHS on the back of the motherboard is pretty standard grade for the X58 boards. It is worth mentioning that ASUS completely re-arranged this motherboard to enable four dual-slot PCI-E 2.0 cards inserted at once. To allow all that space, the entire chipset and CPU socket was moved up. That move, however, required the components that are usually found above the CPU to be moved over to the left of it. As such, the left heat sink was made a little beefier to handle the increased load.

 

 

Moving over to the IO panel, there is, as expected, a plethora of connectivity options. ASUS threw all kinds of ports in the mix to include 6+1 USB 2.0 ports (the +1 is the dual-purpose ROG Connect Port), 2 USB 3.0 ports, a single PS/2 port for a legacy keyboard, a single gigabit Ethernet port, Firewire, e-SATA, optical audio and 7.1 channel audio. Additionally, a handy Clear CMOS button is up top, and the ROG Connect toggle button is positioned right above the dedicated USB port. The Bluetooth dongle attaches right here. The module fits right onto the headers, positioning the Bluetooth button right next to the ROG Connect button. The USB 3.0 ports are supported by the current standard-grade NEC chip.

 

 

Moving down along the motherboard, all of the expansion slots come in to play. Hosting four PCI-E 2.1 ports, a PCI-E x4 port, and a PCI port, the assortment is pretty impressive. Less impressive, though, is the fact that when all four slots are filled, you are limited to a 4x8 lane arrangement instead of pushing 16 lanes to each. A disappointing limitation of the X58 chipset, although not by any means a deal breaker.

 

Rounding the bottom corner, the standard assortment of headers can be found here, plus one. ASUS has mounted a standard four-pin Molex connector here, claiming to offer additional power to PCI-E support to increase performance under load and overclocking. I suppose this could be a boon to extreme graphics overclockers, but I doubt it would have any day-to-day benefits worth writing home about. There are two four-pin fan headers and a temperature header here as well. The two BIOS chips that allow the BIOS flashback feature are found along this bottom stretch, as well as the front panel header connection that is compatible with the ASUS Q-Connector heads. At the very right extremity, ASUS has kindly placed a BIOS Switch button, allowing me to switch between the two BIOS chips without having to boot into the BIOS software and switch it manually, which is handy.

 

 

 

The RIIE features seven SATA 3.0Gbps ports, as well as two SATA 6.0Gbps ports, which are supported by a Marvell chip right above them. Before I start going over the right-side of the board, I want to draw attention to the iROG chips that inhabit this corner, enabling all of the extra features found on the ASUS Rampage III Extreme. There are three major chips to be seen, which enable Q-LED's in order to pinpoint failures during boot, which is just plain invaluable when overclocking, the Voltage LED's that give instant feedback on the voltage range of multiple critical components onboard, Q-Reset which helps LN2 overclockers get out of their cold-boot states, and of course, the ROG Connect features I described above.

 

 

 

 

Up above the SATA ports, there is the noticeable exception of an IDE port, that, while its exclusion is understandable, would have still been a nice inclusion for all of the legacy devices out there and that are still being sold. Seeing as how there really isn't room for it though, it was a worthy loss. Mid-board, the 24-pin ATX power connector sits snugly between the Q-LED's and DRAM Voltage LED's. Another four-pin fan connector sits directly above it.

 

At the top of the board, the majority of the iROG controls sit much more conveniently than they have in previous generations. This area houses a "Go Button" which, when pressed, will execute a custom BIOS batch file. The extremely convenient voltage headers are also found here and there are eight in total. The regular ROG Start and Reset buttons are here as well as a new feature in the form of four small 'on/off' switches. These switches are billed to individually disable their respective PCI-E 2.1 ports making it incredibly easy to narrow down which GPU in your setup is at blame for a failed boot. I can only begin to think of the usefulness to be found here, especially with how big of a pain it is to be switching out four cards trying to root out a faulty one. This has huge potential and really boosts the motherboard's ease of use factor! Don't miss the LN2 Mode header right next to the Start button either.

 

 

The Rampage III Extreme understandably tries to push the limit with specifications. As such, ASUS has officially added support for DDR3 2200MHz which, with the right set of RAM, could go undoubtedly higher. As per the processors restriction, the board is limited to 24GB of RAM, or a 4GB stick in each slot.

 

Now, with all of these features, it is nigh-on impossible to consider the RIIIE underwhelming. To fully exploit this board, however, you need a lot of power. This board has more auxiliary power connections than any other I have seen, so make sure your power supply is up to the task. If it isn't, the system will still run, but that ever elusive prime overclock might remain out of reach. To start out with, the board needs a standard 24-pin ATX power connection. Additionally, it requires at least one 8-pin CPU connection, but two of them for extreme overclocking performance. Finally, the board has two optional four-pin Molex connections to support the insane power requirements of a four-Way SLI setup or a CrossfireX configuration. That is a lot of power, but that is a lot of performance to boot. Sounds good to me!

 

 

Closer Look:

At the heart of every great motherboard, there is a great BIOS keeping everything running smoothly. This holds true today more than ever. With standardized chipsets available only from Intel, it has become more and more difficult for manufacturers to differentiate themselves from one another. With only a few options on the hardware front, companies like ASUS have turned and waged war on the software front. This has brought out some really cool and useful features such as one-touch overclocking, front panel voltage monitoring, you name it. Has ASUS brought it to another level with the Rampage III Extreme? If anything, they are off to a good start with their awesome, yet incredibly useful ROG Connect feature, but I want to see if the BIOS really has what it takes to make all of the extras worth it!

As with the Rampage II Extreme, I have really come to appreciate the dedication that ASUS has shown to enthusiasts and overclockers. The company has been good about creating a fairly potent mix of frills and functionality. They create almost an expert balance between the two, and the BIOS is about as perfect of an example as you're going to get! To call the BIOS on the Rampage III Extreme 'Feature Laden' I believe, would be an understatement. Almost every function of the board is customizable in one form or another. The layout is top-notch with links leading to pertinent pages on different tabs. This move really eases the initial customization process and speeds up the configuration stage greatly. As much as I might like to think I could explain the BIOS better than pictures could show, I know better than to believe it any other way, so the rest of this page is filled to the brim with a complete walkthrough of all the various pages and options available. I have omitted the Extreme Tweaker section from this compilation, as there are simply too many things to cover on one page, so I dedicated the whole next page to that section. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced

This tab contains the standard grade chipset and ROG setting pages. Here are settings to control IO ports when going for those extreme overclocks, as well as controls to specify which component's voltage is represented by each of the various voltage LEDs around the board. Pretty much all of the non-specifics can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power

This tab, as expected, has most of the motherboard power settings. There aren't too many controls beyond the standard set to be found here, just suspend modes, wake settings, and a few other options. At the bottom of the tab is a link to a simple in-BIOS hardware monitor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boot

If you want to customize any of the motherboard boot settings, this is the place to go. Customizations for which drive to attempt a boot from first, which hard drive is used for boots, and some boot settings and security options to make sure your system is secure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tools

On the Tools tab, ASUS has its EZ Flash 2 utility ready and waiting to let you flash the BIOS quite easily. Once the application loads, the BIOS can be flashed with a new file from any disk recognized on the system. I have never had failed flashes with this utility, and find that it is very reliable. You can also access the OC Profile, Go Button, Flashback, and Drive Xpert settings here. OC Profile is a great tool for overclockers - it is a must for anyone going anywhere beyond mere dabbling. The feature provides space to save eight entire BIOS profiles that can be pulled from and applied at any time. It makes for an excellent way to step back after a failed overclock reset and keep going right where the system left off. Excellent!

 

 

 

 

Exit

Not surprisingly, used for exiting.

Closer Look:

 

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.

 

 

Specifications:

CPU
Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor
Support Intel® Turbo Boost Technology
Refer to www.asus.com for Intel CPU support list
Chipset
Intel® X58 / ICH10R
System Bus
Up to 6400 MT/s with QuickPath Interconnection
Memory
6 x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 
Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory Triple channel memory architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
*Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
*Refer to www.asus.com or this user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Expansion Slots
4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 , support x16; x16/x16; x16/x8/x8 and x8/x8/x8/x8 configurations 
1 x PCIe x4
1 x PCI 2.2
Multi-GPU Support
Support NVIDIA 3-Way SLI™ / ATI CrossFireX™ Technology
4 PCIe x16 slots ready for 4 single PCB graphic cards
Storage
Intel ICH10R controller
6 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s ports Intel Matrix Storage Technology
Support RAID 0,1,5,10 JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller 
1 xExternal SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
1 xSATA 3.0 Gb/s port Marvell® 9128 PCIe SATA 6Gb/s controller
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
LAN
Gigabit Intel LAN
Audio
8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Supports 1 Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
IEEE 1394
2 x 1394a port(s) (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)
USB
NEC® USB 3.0 controller
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (at back panel) Intel® ICH10R Southbridge
- 9 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (2 ports at midboard; 6 ports at back panel, 1 reserved for ROG Connect)
Overclocking Features
ROG Connect
RC Bluetooth
ROG Extreme Engine Digi+
- 8-phase CPU power
- 3-phase QPI/DRAM power
- 3-phase NB power
- 3-phase Memory power
- ML Caps on CPU, Memory and QPI respectively
ProbeIt
iROG Extreme Tweaker
BIOS Flashback with onboard switch button
USB BIOS Flashback
Loadline Calibration
ROG Extreme OC kit
LN2 Mode
PCIe x16 Lane Switch
Q_Reset
Double Power Supply with dual 8-pin (CPU) and dual 4-pin (VGA) molex power connectors
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
- O.C Profile Overclocking Protection:
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
CPU Level Up
MemOK!
Onboard Switches: Power / Reset / Clr CMOS (at rear)
ASUS MyLogo3
ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
Q-Fan Plus
ROG BIOS Wallpaper
ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
ASUS Q-Slot
ASUS Q-DIMM
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port (purple)
1 x Clr CMOS switch
1 x Optical S/PDIF out port
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x External SATA port
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
1 x ROG Connect On/Off switch
1 x RC Bluetooth switch
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (Blue)
7 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (1 port also for ROG Connect)
8-channel Audio I/O
Internal I/O Connectors
1 x USB 2.0 connector supports additional 2 USB 2.0 ports
9 x SATA connectors:
2 x SATA 6G connectors (Red);
7 x standard SATA connectors (6 in Grey, 1 in Black)
1 x QPI Loadline calibration switch jumper (QPI_LL_SW)
8 x Fan connectors: 1 x CPU / 1 x PWR / 3 x Chassis / 3 x Optional 
1 x Connector for optional fan-thermal module
8 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
3 x Thermal sensor connectors
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x SPDIF_Out Connector
1 x 24-pin ATX Power connector
2 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connectors
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS header
1 x LN2 Mode Header
1 x START (Power On) button
1 x RESET button
2 x EZ Plug connectors (4-pin Molex Power connectors)
1 x OC Station header
1 x RC Bluetooth header
1 x Go Button
1 x BIOS Switch button
1 x ROG light connector
1 x CD Audio in
1 x Audio front panel
1 x System panel connector
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
Accessories
1 x ROG Connect cable
1 x ProbeIt cable set
1 x 3-Way SLI Bridge
1 x SLI Cable
1 x CrossFire Cable
1 x 2 in 1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
3 x 2-in-1 SATA signal cables
1 x 2-in-1 SATA 6G cables
1 x 2-port USB2.0 + ESATA module
1 x I/O Shield
1 x Thermal Sensor Cable Pack
1 x Cable Ties Pack
1 x ROG theme label
1 x 12-in-1 ROG Cable Label
1 x Optional Fan-Thermal Module
1 x RC Bluetooth card Bluetooth Module Accessory Card Bluetooth V2.0/V2.1+EDR RC Bluetooth On/Off Switch
Support Disc
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS AI Suite
ASUS Update
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
Futuremark® 3DMark® Vantage Advanced Edition
ASUS TurboV EVO Utility
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor 12 inch x 10.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 26.9 cm )

 

Features:

CPU, Chipset and Graphics features

Future Transfer Technology

Memory Feature

ASUS Exclusive Overclocking Feature

ASUS Exclusive Features

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution


ASUS Crystal Sound

ASUS EZ DIY

S/PDIF-out on Back I/O Port

RohS

 


All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=wurRaDZ8lo4Ckukj&templete=2

Testing:

To properly test the ASUS Rampage III Extreme, I will run the board through the OverclockersClub.com standard benchmark suite. This consists of a mix of synthetic and real life scenario tests run at OCC's standard 150x20 clock speeds and then again at the highest possible clock speeds achievable with the board. Once the data is collected, I put in the data from all of the other similar boards OCC has tested to get a good idea on how this board performs compared to the others. All tests are run with control panel settings at default. Is the RIIIE really up to the job? I certainly want to find out!

 

Testing Setup:

 

 

Comparison Motherboards:

 

 

 

 

Overclocking:

 

Overclocked Settings:

 

Overclocking the Rampage III Extreme was an exciting affair. With the stellar BIOS that ASUS bundled with the board, the process was familiar to every other X58 board on the market, but easier after all of little tweaks and improvements are factored in. I had no difficulty getting my i7-930 chip to 205x20 for a 4.1GHz OC, but had some trouble getting it to a 210 bclock. I then upped the multiplier and lowered the bclock slightly to keep moving up. After a bit of easy voltage tweaking and memory adjustments, I was running 4.2GHz stable on air. From there, I hit a pretty solid wall. With some larger tweaks, I have no doubt that this board has the potential to push even further - this thing is a beast at suicides. I only had one instance where the board wouldn't boot, and even then I didn't need to reset the CMOS, as a restart was all that was necessary. Very Impressive.

 

 

 

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

 

Each CPU has been tested for its maximum stable clock speeds using Prime95. To gauge the maximum stability level, each processor had to be able to perform at least a one hour torture test without any errors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmarks:

 

 

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench
  4. Office 2007
  5. POV Ray 3.7
  6. PCMark Vantage Professional
  7. Sandra XII
  8. ScienceMark 2.02
  9. Cinebench 10
  10. Cinebench 11.5
  11. HD Tune 3.50

  

  1. Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2
  2. Batman Arkham Asylum
  3. 3DMark 06 Professional
  4. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds. Additionally, I will use the built-in benchmark as a comparison.

 

ZIP:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

RAR:

 

 

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

 

 

The boards are all pretty even in this round of results and minor differences can be accounted to minor system differences.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lower Is Better

 

POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing), enabling the work-load to be spread across the cores for a quicker completion.

 

Higher Is Better

 

PCMark Vantage x64 is used to measure complete system performance. We will be running a series of tests to gauge performance of each individual CPU to see which CPU, if any, rises above the others.

 

 

There are no out of the ordinary abnormalities to be found here.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPU.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

 

 

Multi-Core Efficiency

 

 

 

Memory Bandwidth

 

 

 

Memory Latency

 

 

Cache and Memory

 

 

 

Physical Disks

 

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

 

 

Scores are fairly similar across all of the boards - they are similarly equipped and run at the same clock speed, putting results in the same envelope.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Higher is Better!

 

 

 

CineBench is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

Higher is Better

Cinebench 11.5

 

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

 

Higher is Better

 

 

 

 

Lower is Better

 

The Rampage III Extreme performs right where it should in this these tests. Again, the same hardware gives similar results.

Testing:

Far Cry 2:

Featuring a new game engine named Dunia, this game looks to be another one to stress your video card. Built especially for Far Cry 2, this engine allows for real time effects and damage. This next generation First Person Shooter comes to us from Ubisoft surprisingly - not from Crytek. The game is set in a war-torn region of Africa where there is a non-existent central government and the chaos that surrounds this type of social environment. If you have seen the movie Blood Diamond, you know the setting. Ubisoft puts the main storyline of the game into focus with these statements: "Caught between two rival factions in war-torn Africa, you are sent to take out "The Jackal," a mysterious character who has rekindled the conflict between the warlords, jeopardizing thousands of lives. In order to fulfill your mission you will have to play the factions against each other, identify and exploit their weaknesses, and neutralize their superior numbers and firepower with surprise, subversion, cunning and, of course, brute force." In this version of the game, you don't have the beautiful water, but instead the beauty and harshness of the African continent to contend with. Most games give you a set area that can be played through, while Ubisoft has given the gamer the equivalent of 50km squared of the vast African continent to explore while in pursuit of your goals. The settings used are just a few steps below the maximum in-game settings and offer a good blend of performance versus visual quality.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The issues seen in synthetic testing are not found here and all the results are within a tiny percentage difference.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest iteration of the venerable first-person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Result are nearly identical across the boards and the issues seen in synthetic tests have no effect on real-life performance.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a game that brings together two bitter foes, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to ply your trade.

 

Video Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This game has very little reliance on the CPU. The GPU is a major player here, so results are almost identical across the board again.

Testing:

3DMark06 is one of the benchmarks that always comes up when a bragging contest starts. 3DMark06 presents a severe test for many of today's hardware components. Let's see how this setup fares. The settings we will use are listed below.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HDD comes back to haunt us here. Trends are linear, however, so an acceptable performance from the Rampage III Extreme.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. 'Entry' is 1024x768 progressing to 'Extreme' at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The same story applies here, that applies for 3D Mark 06 too - the HDD holds back what would be identical scores. The difference is minor though, so everything checks out!

Conclusion:

So at this point I've looked at the packaging, checked out the accessories, ogled the unique features, and pushed this board to the limit. Now I am expected to sum up my thoughts in a few, somewhat coherent paragraphs. Easier said than done because simply put, this board has left me speechless. I have always been impressed with ASUS and its execution of their Republic of Gamers line, and this motherboard doesn't disappoint. The company has been surprisingly reliable in their selection of ROG products as they have resisted the urge to dilute the line, selling dull and overpriced crap. Right now, the ROG line offers nothing but unique, high-performance, quality products. That fact alone is laudable because the temptation to cash in on that kind of potential must be huge. For instance, at the time of writing, the Rampage III Extreme is $390 after all is said and done. Instead of purchasing it, you could opt for a board that is closer to mid-range at around $200 and still have a pretty kicking system, so how in the world could this board be worth a 100% price hike? By having just half of the features that this board has. That's how.

Seriously, the Rampage II Extreme reinvented my expectations when it came out, and now the RIIIE is doing it again. ASUS is setting a new standard with the Rampage III Extreme. This board added so many features that were even new to me that I was almost interested in reading the manual over again! ROG Connect is awesome. The setup that ROG Connect allows reminds me of tuning a NASCAR car, being able to plug a laptop in to the board and monitor, edit, and dominate the BIOS from virtually any power state. It was really nice to have the power and reset buttons right on the laptop screen so that I could just stay comfortable in my chair. God forbid I had to reach around and press the Clear CMOS button on the back of the motherboard.

Even if a reset was required, it would be a non-issue here. Not only did the board make it through every stage of testing without having to clear the CMOS, but it made it so that if the issue ever arose, the solution was just a click away! Now, say you either, a) don't want to haul out your laptop for this, or b) don't have a laptop to take advantage of this. Have no fear - the ROG Android application is here! Yes, you can use your Android phone to connect the same way, but via Bluetooth! ASUS really pulled out all the stops here. I really like having an integrated Bluetooth dongle on the motherboard that is accessible from Windows. This board has a "GO" button, which, when pressed, will load up any batch file you like instantly! Save your OC settings and use this button as a toggle between them, live. Using that, you could have one side of the toggle OC for performance, and the other side switch to stock speeds for chip longevity, and power savings. The motherboard has two physical BIOS chips. All it takes to switch between the two is the push of a button - much sleeker than the RIIE's jumper, or BIOS switch solution. Now what good would dual BIOS be if you couldn't use them to get extreme performance? The motherboard has dual eight-pin CPU power sockets to handle the additional load when partaking in extreme overclocking. Judging from the amperages I was reading from ROG Connect, I could see how using two would probably be a good idea.

Oh yeah, overclocking. ASUS rocked that too. The Rampage III Extreme was able to clock my chip all over the map, handling some ridiculous suicide shots. It is definitely worth noting that the RIIIE never missed a boot through all of my testing. The worst I saw was blue-screening into Windows, so needless to say, this is a very overclock-friendly board. The BIOS is awesome - period. There are so many little tweaks that ASUS layers on top of the normal core functionality that it almost feels like punishment to go back to any other board. I love the design and organization of each tab, as it just makes sense. Bravo, ASUS. The excellent power system had some crazy scalable Load-Line Calibration settings, tons of options, and a very reliable logic system for auto-managing voltages that you didn't want to deal with. Actually, I was able to hit 4GHz with all voltages, but with the DRAM on auto. That's pretty impressive.

So really, you have some awesome features, a stellar BIOS, excellent quality hardware, a quality paint job and good cooling. What more could you want? Oh right, USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps, of course! This board has that too. I think ASUS hit a home-run with the Rampage III Extreme, because this board deserves to be on everybody's wish list. I thought the Rampage II Extreme was ground breaking, and here I am. I have been blown away all over again, and I love it. Keep it up, ASUS.

 

Pros:

Cons: