Asus Rampage II Extreme ReviewGeekspeak411 - January 26, 2010
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With all the LGA1366 CPUs locked in to the X58 Chipset, it is pretty difficult for a manufacturer to differentiate its product from the next one, short of additional power phases and the like. Eventually we reach a point where the board's capabilities surpass the CPU's capabilities and any additional features would be added in vain. Asus went beyond the call of duty in providing the highest available features and then went one step further by adding a world-class ROG accessory bundle on top.
Starting with the big boys, we have the first leap away from other boards in that the RIIE comes with its own SupremeFX X-Fi enabled sound card, allowing you to turn on all the goodies without buying an additional board. This is definitely a huge step up from integrated audio. Next is the ROG LCD Poster, which allows you to see all the different temperatures and voltages going through the system at any time, but on top of that, the most useful purpose in my opinion is the live boot progress streaming, allowing you to monitor exactly where the system is hanging during boot IN PLAIN ENGLISH! This is a huge help when overclocking, allowing you to see what component is complaining. Finally we get to the illuminated back plate for the RIIE, which plugs into the motherboard directly and stays illuminated the entire time the power supply is plugged into the wall; pretty helpful for setting up in low light situations like LAN parties and is just all together pretty cool.
Next up, we have a standard grade expansion port USB 2.0/Firewire expander panel. The cords are thoughtfully wrapped for us. The RIIE comes with six SATA cables, three with standard heads and three with 90 degree heads, which make it a lot easier to install your hard drive in some situations. Asus seems to be thinking ahead of the competition, or behind rather, with the inclusion of a three-head IDE/PATA cable. Asus knows that people like ccokeman and I still love their IDE-based optical drives and other various peripherals!
Of course, what would a ROG board be without dual-card and tri-card SLI adapters?
Wrapping up this all-inclusive accessory bundle, we have some things that are unique to Asus. First we have the Q-connectors that are becoming increasingly common nowadays. Q-connectors let you plug the front panel headers onto the device outside of the case then allowing you to install all the headers on the motherboard at once. Also seen here are the three temperature probes that plug into the motherboard directly and allow you to monitor the temperatures of anything in the case and display it on the LCD Poster seen above. Finally, we have yet another tribute to the deep enthusiast roots of this board with the inclusion of ProbeIt. These two cable sets let you plug into the motherboard directly and monitor voltages going to all the main components with a multimeter. No more searching the motherboard for the proper solder points, no more shorting; just plug in the connector cable and insert the multimeter handles. If you want to skip the cords, Asus has placed easy solder points right next to the connector headers for the same purpose.
Ok, let's take a look at the RIIE in the flesh!