Intel’s i7 (LGA 1366) platform has been around for quite some time and it has proved to be quite a performer. This is further strengthened by the longevity that the X58 platform has enjoyed. There have been many motherboards that support the X58 platform, but with technology rapidly evolving every single day, hardcore PC builders and users are on the lookout for the latest and fastest component out there.
With USB 3.0 and SATA6 slowly being adopted and used by PC users, the demand for them is slowly increasing. But with Intel stalling on USB 3.0, it’ll be some time before we see them in mainstream boards.
Asus has stepped up the ante and has brought in the Asus Rampage III Extreme, it is a high end motherboard that is packed with so many features that will make every gamer and overclocker jump for joy and I mean that literally.
The Rampage III offers nothing but pure, unadulterated performance with specs that include support for 24GB DRR3 memory, support for dual, triple and quad card configurations. The good thing is that you can run both Crossfire as well as SLI support in the PCIe 8x mode.
If you want a rundown of the important specifications and features, take a look below.
CPU: Intel LGA1366 Processors
Chipset: Intel X58
Memory: 6 x 340 pin DDR3 supports upto 24GB
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
LAN: Gigabit Intel LAN
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
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
You can have a detailed look at the specifications here
Now that we are done with the specs, let’s have a look at the motherboard itself.
Design and Features
The Rampage is an absolute stunner in terms of looks, the black and red motif gives it a rather distinct look which elevates it above the rest. One thing I noticed and which I loved, is that ASUS has kept the area around the CPU very clean, this helps a lot when you want to mount a CPU cooler or LN2 unit.
The I/O panel at the back has virtually everything you can think of. You want USB 3.0, you got it. Want to overclock your CPU or memory over Bluetooth, this has it as well.
Speaking of overclocking, Asus has included two switches on the motherboard which are very useful when overclocks are being performed. One is the “Start” button which is red in colour and has two functions. When pressed before POST, it will activate an automated memory test, while pressing it after POST will result in it loading a preset overclocking profile set by the user. The “reset” button on the left of the start button, resets the system in case you set up the computer outside a cabinet.
Another great feature I loved was the inclusion of small switches for the graphic cards. When you run multiple cards and there is an error, you no longer have to physically remove the cards. Just flip a switch and you can disable the selected PCIe slot. It’s a great design and I must commend ASUS for it.
The BIOS is what separates a great motherboard from the average ones. The Rampage III Extreme is absolutely phenomenal on that front, there are so many options for the various components that you could spend days tweaking it. But for now we will focus on a few important parameters.
The Extreme Tweaker section is where you push you components to the max, while there is an option to auto overclock, veteran overclockers would like to dive straight into the Manual option which allows the user to overclock their system with full control over all the parts of the processor i.e. memory, NB, SB, and PCIE specs and voltages. The CPU Level up option allows the user to jump to a higher clock speed just by switching to another option.
The Hardware Monitor section of the BIOS allows users see four different sections: Voltage Monitor, Temperature Monitor, Fan Speed Monitor, and Fan Speed Control. In Voltage Monitor, we not only get the CPU, Mobo, and 12V, 5V, and 3.3V readings, but also all the other voltages including NB, SB, and Memory voltages. In the Temperature Monitor, we get extra temperature readings as well, and alarms can be set to warn us when critical temperatures are reached. The Fan Speed monitor allows the user to check and disable certain fan speed readings.
Overlocking & Performance
To measure the overclocking potential of the Ramapge Extreme III, we set up a test rig.
The components are as follows:
Asus Extreme III Ramapge
Intel i7 940 (LGA1366)
6 GB Corsair Dominator GT DDR3
NVIDIA GTX 470
Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000 w
Cooler master Hyper 212 CPU cooler
The benchmarks we used for the tests are:
The Rampage III Extreme blew us away with its jaw dropping performance, scoring 9,900 in the PCmark Vantage test, while compressing custom 100MB, 500MB and 1GB files in the lowest times we have managed yet. When tested with 3DMark 06, it scored an amazing 19,500 at 1280x1024. The test rig even manages to pull off 40 FPS at 1680x1050 with “Gamer” settings on Crysis Warhead, which is itself in a amazing feat.
The Asus Rampage Extreme III is an amazing motherboard. It chewed through our tests and didn’t even breaking a sweat. It overclocked beautifully and remained stable. It has every feature and specifications a overclocker would ever need.
The only negative point I can see, is that at Rs 25,500, you need to be a very serious overclocker or have very deep pockets. But other than that it’s an amazing motherboard and ASUS have set the bar high from here on.
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