Asus Rampage II Extreme ReviewGeekspeak411 - January 26, 2010
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The RIIE comes with one disc that holds everything required to get started and then some. From simple drivers and updates to fully fledged software bundles to get you burning disks, editing audio and everything else.
Putting in the disc brings up an autorun dialog, and selecting to execute brings up an Asus Rampage II Extreme motherboard support window automatically selected by operating system. There are six different tabs to choose from; Drivers, Utilities, Make Disk, Manual, Video, and Contact. There are also four blue buttons in the top right of each tab allowing you see additional information, as well as allowing you to explore the disk manually. With this disk, we can create RAID disks as well as reference a digital manual if we lose the print edition, watch some entertaining videos of some overclocking sessions, or view contact info if you should ever find yourself with some questions.
The Drivers tab has two options; Asus InstAll, and Asus TweakIt. The first option is a simple program that intelligently installs the software that you don't currently have, which makes installation a lot easier. When clicked, a window pops up displaying all the possible software to install, as well as the version on your computer, along with check boxes to select which ones to install. It even calculates how many restarts will be required. Otherwise you can install stuff one by one by clicking the links below. TweakIt enables live BIOS tweaking on a PS/2 keyboard.
The Utilities tab has a ton of different programs that Asus has decided to include. Asus Update is pretty self-explanatory in that it keeps all your Asus stuff up to date with the support website. PC Probe II is a mildly useful and very unwieldy program that displays the readout of just about every sensor on the board. Viewing is the limit though; you can't change any settings from here. AI Suite is simply a utility used to keep track of all the other utilities. AI Direct Link is a program designed to expedite inter-network file transfers; it is pretty plain and streamlined. Adobe Reader 8 is included, which ensures you can open all the support files without having to have an active internet connection. The 'Anti-Virus Utility' is actually quite a nice surprise. Asus bundled a full version of Kaspersky's Anti-Virus, which is very effective and is known for its speed; a good choice for an enthusiast board. 3DMark Vantage is the one program that always comes up in a performance battle. Retailing for $20, the inclusion is amiably noted. Another heavy-hitter inclusion is that of Corel's MediaOne Starter. This bundle is very useful and useable. While it is no Adobe suite, it is an excellent alternative for the casual user. Next on the list is TurboV. This application is Asus' version of within-Windows overclocking. Personally, I don’t use these apps for fear of going too far and destroying my Windows files in the process. For the casual user wanting to get used to low to mid overclocking though, this is an excellent way to start; very simple and straight-forward. Lastly is WinZip. Almost everyone has used WinZip, but Windows now has a satisfactory zipper built in, so this is pretty extraneous, especially since it’s a trial. Come on Asus, you're above that.
Possibly the centerpiece of the whole bundle is the X-Fi Console from Creative. Gamers will know X-Fi from its awesome EAX experience. Audiophiles will know X-Fi for its excellent audio quality and manipulation. Most of the features can be found in programs like Windows Media Player, so I will let the pictures speak for themselves, but you have to hear the performance to really understand what the hype is all about.
As if all the other goodies aren't enough, you finally have the karaoke app, which effectively removes the lead voice from just about any track you put through it. The program will allow you to set up a playlist and adjust microphone volume directly. This program would be an excellent addition to a HTPC hooked up to a nice stereo system and TV. The uATX form-factor is perfect for such a position as well! We can burn to discs as well in almost any format with the included burner.
Way to go Asus! Only one or two iffy inclusions makes for an awesome software bundle! On to the BIOS.