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ASUS Rampage Extreme X48 Motherboard Review

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3oh6

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Memory Benchmarks

Memory Benchmarks



Everest Ultimate v4.50<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Everest Ultimate is the most useful tool for any and all bench markers or overclockers. With the ability to read most voltage, temperature, and fan sensors on almost every motherboard available, Everest provides the ability to customize the outputs in a number of forms for display on your desktop. In addition to this, the memory benchmarking provides a useful tool of measuring the changes to your memory sub-system when tweaking to measure the differences.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Looking at bandwidth, it is obvious that the overclocked setup is in a class on its own. 12.5K read and over 10K write bandwidth are very nice looking numbers, especially from a daily setup. At the same time, the 9K read bandwidth put up by the lowly 333FSB DDR3-1333 is not too shabby either for the frequency. That is the beauty of a tRD of 5.</p>
<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Again there really is no competition but in reality, there isn't suppose to be between these two setups. Hitting a staggeringly low 41.2 ns in Everest on a daily rig is again, quite impressive to say the least. The simple fact is that this overclock we achieved on this motherboard is substantially faster than anything we have done before. The north bridge is running a very high FSB for the low tRD=6 that it is, and doing it with very reasonable voltage.</p>

ScienceMark v2<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>ScienceMark is an almost ancient benchmark utility at this point in time and hasn't seen an update in a long time. It is, however, still a favorite for accurately calculating bandwidth on even the newest chipsets.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-3.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">ScienceMark simply confirms our Everest findings because 10K in ScienceMark is usually equivalent to what we see with our write results we achieved from Everest.</p>
 
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3oh6

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System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks



SuperPi Mod v1.5<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>When running the 32M benchmark of SPi, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. SPi 32M has been a favorite amongst benchmarks for these very reasons and is admittedly the favorite benchmark of this reviewer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">With the rather lofty CPU frequency we are running on the overclocked setup and tight memory timings, we almost cracked the 10 minute mark in SPi 32M. This is a testament to just how quick the north bridge has this system running. SPi relies heavily on the memory sub-system speed and this setup has gobs of it with plenty to spare.</p>

PCMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The latest iteration of the popular system benchmark is PCMark Vantage from the Futuremark crew. The PCMark series has always been a great way to either test specific areas of a system or to get a general over view of how your system is performing. For our results, we simply run the basic benchmark suite which involves a wide range of tests on all of the sub-systems of the computer.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-5.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Our best PCMark Vantage scores are usually hanging around the 5K mark but with the HD4850 CrossFire setup, that is easily achieved by even the stock settings with the overclocked settings getting into the 6K range. PCMark Vantage clearly can be influenced substantially by GPU power and the HD4850s are obviously a big upgrade from a single HD3870X2.</p>

Cinebench R10<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Another benchmarking community favorite, Cinebench renders an intense 2D scene relying on all the processing power it can. Cinebench R10 is another 64-bit capable application and is likely the most efficient program tested today at utilizing all cores of a processor. We will be running both the single threaded and multi-threaded benches here today.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-6.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Cinebench is all about CPU power and shows very little to no gains at all from the rest of the system speed. This is why we see such a huge difference between times of the two setups. As one would imagine, 3.33GHz simply can't compete with 4.29GHz...but that is just pointing out the obvious.</p>

DivX Converter v6.8<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Moving from some of the more 'synthetic' benchmarks, we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a VOB to DivX encoding task. We will take a VOB rip of the movie Before The Devil Knows Your Dead, and convert it into DivX using the default 720P setting of DivX converter v6. This is a real life test of a task that may be routinely seen these days.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-7.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">With the synthetics out of the way, we can now see just how much a faster system can perform everyday tasks and as one might have guessed, the overclocked system completely smashes the stock system to pieces in a DivX conversion. With our overclocked system we knocked a full 20 minutes off the encoding time of the 90+ minute job the stock system did. This is a result of not only the faster CPU frequency but also the memory and the rest of the system from the higher FSB.</p>

Lame Front End<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Un-like the DivX conversion we just looked at, Lame Front End is not multi-threaded and only utilizes a single core of a processor. This will obviously limit performance but we should still recognize significant time savings going from the stock settings to the overclocked results. We will be encoding a WAV rip of the Blackalicious album, Blazing Arrow and converting it to MP3 using the VBR 0 quality preset.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-8.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The best way to encode an MP3 continues to be the good old fashioned way with Lame and although it is single threaded, there is no substitute. Again, the overclocked system shows solid gains in the encoding time and takes the stock time to task.</p>

Photoshop CS3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>Adobe Photoshop CS3 is full x64 compliant and ready and able to use every single CPU cycle our processor has available. Since digital photography is as popular as roller skates were in the 70's, we are going to be timing how long it takes to convert 100 RAW images from a Canon 20D into half size JPG files of maximum quality.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-9.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The last of the real-world benchmarks we did in this section is the conversion of RAW images to JPG. Now here, despite the overwhelming difference in system speed, the difference is minimal. This simply goes to show that conventional hard drive performance is limiting some of our daily tasks, such as converting large images as the hard drive read and write times are easily going to be a bottleneck. The future of Solid State Drives is quite exciting and these results highlight their need in everyday computers.</p>
 

3oh6

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Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark Vantage<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We have forced ourselves to step up to 3DMark Vantage results for all reviews because the public demands it. We have had our troubles in the past with this benchmark and the HD3870X2 but recent driver and Vista updates have alleviated all issues and it is smooth sailing now. 3DMark Vantage is the newest in a long line of 3D benchmarking software from Futuremark and is the most elaborate to date. Featuring multiple presets for various system configurations, Vantage is the culmination of all 3DMarks past relying on system and GPU power for its results. We will stick to the Performance preset as it seems to be the most popular at this point in time.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-11.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">What can we say about the 3Dmark results? First off, it was a bit of a surprise to see only a 1K difference between the two setups. We haven't spent a lot of time with Vantage but we were under the impression that system performance played more of a role than that, although, it is greater than a 10% performance gain going to the overclocked system so perhaps that does sound more realistic when put in those terms. Will Crysis or UT3 show the same percentage of gains?</p>

Crysis - Sphere benchmark<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>We all know what Crysis is and how much it beats up systems but we wanted to add it to the gaming benchmarks to see how system changes can improve performance on a mid-level system. Detail levels are all set to High with the resolution at 1680x1050. We ran the benchmarks with a demo of the Sphere level in DX9 and 64-bit. The game looks great with this setup and plays just well enough to keep us happy.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-12.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The answer my friends is not blowing in the wind, but in the chart above. Crysis at first glance doesn't appear to show much of any benefit from the much faster system. That is until you focus on the lopsided Low results. The minimum Frames Per Second of the stock system is a lowly 17.50FPS making things awfully jerky at times. The overclocked system brings that up substantially to a 25.54FPS average making the game a lot more playable with detail levels set to high with these HD4850s in CrossFire at 1680x1050.</p>

UT3<p style="text-align: justify;"><i>The detail levels are all maxed and the resolution set to 1680x1050 or what would be considered the playable settings for this configuration. We use a benchmarking utility to derive results from UT3 using a simulated 12 bot match on the Shangri-La level for 3 minutes. This is run 10 times with the results averaged out. There is some variance in the results of UT3, that is why the additional runs.</i></p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/bench-13.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">UT3 is a little bit different from Crysis as it shows substantial gains across the board between the two systems. UT3 has always been a system dependant series and even with a pair of very strong GPUs, the system still dictates the kind of frame rates one gets in this game.</p>
 

3oh6

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Feature Testing: TweakIt

Feature Testing: TweakIt


<p style="text-align: justify;">One of the more impressive and innovative features of the Rampage Extreme is TweakIt. TweakIt puts full control and monitoring of the system in the users hands, without any software involved. With TweakIt we now have the opportunity to view hardware information such as voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and system frequency at any time without any software. We also gain the ability to adjust voltages and even FSB on the fly, in or out of Windows with absolutely no software in site. The whole interface is controlled with two very intuitive buttons and a toggle switch with the LCD Poster acting as the monitor.</p><center>
tweakit-1.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">One button basically advances through menus while the other backs out of the levels of menus with the toggle switch acting as the selector between menus or adjusting voltages and the FSB frequency. As mentioned, the whole process is quite intuitive and within a couple minutes, we were right at home with TweakIt firing through the menus with efficient ease. Here is a table of exactly what is available through this fascinating new tool.</p><center><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" width="697"><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="300px"><b>Main Section</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="80px"><b>Level 1</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="307px"><b>Level 2</b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="300px"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/tweakit-2.jpg" /></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="80px">1 VOLT<br />2 TEMP<br />3 FAN<br />4 FREQ</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="307px"><table border="0" bgcolor="#000000" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" width="307px"><tr><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec"><b>1 VOLT</b><br />0 All<br />1 VTTCPU<br />2 VTTDDR<br />3 NB<br />4 CPUPLL<br />5 SB 1_5V<br />6 SB 1_1V<br />7 DDR<br />8 CPU</td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec"><b>2 TEMP</b><br />0 All<br />1 CPU<br />2 NB<br />3 SB<br />4 PWR<br />5 OPT_1<br />6 OPT_2<br />7 OPT_3</td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec"><b>3 FAN</b><br />0 All<br />1 CPUFAN<br />2 PWRFAN<br />3 OPT_1<br />4 OPT_2<br />5 OPT_3<br />6 CHA_1<br />7 CHA_2<br />8 CHA_3</td><td align="left" bgcolor="#ececec"><b>4 FREQ</b><br />FSB</td></tr></table></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="300px"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/tweakit-3.jpg" /></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="80px">1 DDR<br />2 NB<br />3 VCORE<br />4 VTTCPU<br />5 CPUPLL<br />6 SB 1_5V<br />7 SB 1_1V</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="307px">Full voltage range that is available in BIOS is available for all voltage options through TweakIt</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="300px"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/tweakit-4.jpg" /></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="80px">1 FSB</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="307px">Full FSB range that is available in BIOS is available through TweakIt</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="300px"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/re/tweakit-5.jpg" /></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="80px">1 BOOT</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="307px">BIOS 1<br />BIOS 2</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The four main menus shown in the table above lead way to multiple sub-menus giving us control over which BIOS we want to boot to, adjust FSB, adjust voltages, and the most in-depth of all; monitor hardware voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and FSB frequency. The full range of voltages and component temperatures are available to us as well as the complete voltage options we would find in the BIOS for all major components such as vCORE, vDIMM, vMCH, and more. Throughout our time with the Rampage Extreme, we found TweakIt to be extremely helpful and really began to rely on it. Whether it was checking temps on the north bridge during benchmarking or adjusting voltages on the fly to speed up the overclocking process, TweakIt was always reliable and turned out to be quite the useful tool. We have to admit that the original concept as described to us sounded like a bit of a gimmick but trust us, it really is all that it is cracked up to be.</p>
 

3oh6

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Voltage Regulation

Voltage Regulation


<p style="text-align: justify;">We will now have a look at a couple things related to voltage and voltage regulation. One common question in forums we see is that of "why does my voltage show 1.90v when I set 1.95v?". A lot of people don't understand that what you set in the BIOS isn't an exact reflection of what the board is going to be supplying. We will be measuring the voltage for a couple components with a calibrated UEI DM393 and comparing those readings to what is set in the BIOS, what the software reports, and discuss any major differences. We will then take a quick look at the vDROOP of the board and ASUS's Loadline Calibration option in the BIOS. First up are the read points we used for the testing.</p><center>
voltage-1.jpg
voltage-2.jpg

voltage-3.jpg
<p style="text-align: justify;">Starting in the upper left you can use pretty much any of the leads closest to the socket for measuring voltage, either from the capacitors or the inductors as circled. The MCH voltage was a bit of a guess as there is no access to the inductors because they are surface mount and the large heat sink covers them. We found the circled ends of the capacitors in the upper right photo to provide what we figured were the accurate vMCH voltage. The third photo is of the vDIMM measure point and again is a surface mount capacitor. These capacitors can be found all up and down the DIMM slot wherever there is a voltage providing pin pretty much. These cap readings are bang on to what the actual DIMM slot pin provides, just much easier to read from on a running system. Here is the chart we came up with for volts set versus load and idle in windows using the various methods of outputs available to us.</p><center><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="697"><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>BIOS Set</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>BIOS Report</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>PC Probe II<br />Idle</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>PC Probe II<br />Load</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>DMM<br />Idle</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="99px"><b>DMM<br />Load</b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">vCORE</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.375v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.330v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.34v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.30v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.354v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.354v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">VTT</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.35191v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.343v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.34v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.35v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">vPLL</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.56406v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.561v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.56v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.56v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">x</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">vMCH</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.51097v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.488v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.49v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.48v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.508v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">1.508v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">vDIMM</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">2.05431v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">2.050v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">2.05v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">2.04v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">2.070v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="99px">2.071v</td></tr></table></center><p style="text-align: justify;">For the most part the BIOS set values are pretty accurate. On the whole, the software readings were a bit low, and the digital multi-meter readings a bit higher. vDIMM over volts the very slightest amount but is nothing to be too worried about and with Loadline Calibration enabled we get little to no vDROOP under load as we would expect. If you are concerned about vDROOP, simply enable Loadline Calibration and you should be good to go. Here are a couple charts from OCCT of our max stable overclock with Loadline Calibration enabled, and disabled.</p><table cellpadding="10px" cellspacing="0"><tr><td><b><center>vCORE vDROOP Chart from OCCT - Loadline Calibration Disabled</b>
voltage-4.png
</td></tr><tr><td><b><center>vCORE vDROOP Chart from OCCT - Loadline Calibration Enabled
</b>
voltage-5.png
</center></td></tr></table><p style="text-align: justify;">As we can see, without LLC enabled, we get a solid 0.04v droop under load and with LLC enabled we get a relatively steady line across the two hour test. There is some chatter at a couple different spots during the testing period with LLC enabled but nothing to really be concerned with. This option is becoming an almost necessity since so many users are witnessing the phenomenon known as vDROOP in their setups. In reality, vDROOP is built into the Intel specifications for processors and the debate will ensue on whether disabling it is a good, or bad thing.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Heat & Acoustical Testing

Heat & Acoustical Testing


<p style="text-align: justify;">Finally...finally we have an MCH temperature sensor and an intriguing enough setup to do some testing on. This whole section essentially stems from a lot of forum reports that the Rampage Extreme runs the MCH a little on the hot side. Okay, so there are some reports that the temps of the north bridge are downright terrible. Then there are reports of guys removing the stock setup for water blocks and getting incredibly better results. We looked at the heat sink setup and it really doesn't look that bad. There is a copper plate sandwich sitting directly on the X48 IHS with a couple heat pipes in the middle going to the other heat sinks. The waterblock or heat pipe assembly then mounts to the top of the copper plate. In theory the setup should be great, but that isn't what the numbers were saying that people were getting, so, we did some testing based on others results. Let's first look at the various options we have that we used in testing.</p><center>
heat-1.jpg
heat-2.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Pulling the Fusion block off the assembly revealed a decent thermal paste application and a solid contact patch. So the patch is not exactly centered but still pretty good coverage over the hot middle part of the X48 chipset. The Fusion block itself isn't that bad a design either. It is clearly made of copper as holding it in your hand takes effort, and again, the thermal paste was fairly well spread out. Internals being unknown, we have no reason to believe that this block is a bad design. So far everything looks good in our opinions.</p><center>
heat-3.jpg
heat-4.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Moving on to the heat pipe attachment for air cooling, we mounted the unit with our Arctic Cooling MX-2 and ended up using MX-2 for all the mounts in favor of fairness. The heat pipe attachment itself isn't nearly as impressive as the Fusion block being completely made of aluminum and having only a single heat pipe. The base plate is pretty thin as well but with that said, it still should provide ample cooling for an X48 north bridge. The second photo shows the contact patch that we had after testing and removing the heat pipe. As we can see, there is near perfect contact between the copper plate and the heat pipe base. Again, no reason to believe the mount would be the reason for the high temps.</p><center>
heat-5.jpg
heat-6.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">Getting the Fusion block up and running was a bit of a battle as the reducers needed to get our 1/2" loop down to the 1/4" or 10mm barbs on the Fusion block make for a worm clamp nightmare. At first we didn't tighten them enough and got leaks. Then we tightened them too much and the plastic tubes included to provide the male adapters something to connect to tore and leaked. Eventually we cut both tubes down and managed to get the setup working without leaks. Our one plea to ASUS is to come up with a better solution than 6 worm clamps, 2 adapters, and two 1.5" lengths of 10mm hard plastic tubing. There has to be a better solution to provide all loop sizes to mate to a block from the factory. Removable barbs with a standardized thread is the obvious choice so perhaps it is something ASUS should look into going forward.

The last photo above is our attempt to get the Swiftech MCW30 mounted directly to the X48 IHS...it failed and kept slipping off. The mounting tabs were just a hair short of reaching the wider X48 mounting holes. In the end, we had to settle with the testing the MCW30 on the stock heat pipe assembly secured with cable ties. Sorry, I won't be releasing photos of my jerry-rigged cable tie attachment but it was secure, provided an excellent contact patch, and had plenty of mounting pressure.</p><center>
heat-7.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">So we have our setups ready to go and we did our hour long testing with a ten minute idle period at the end. We then came across a forum post where the user had added washers to the mounting screws of the heat sink assembly and had impressive results. We figured, why not? So with a phillips head screwdriver in hand, we pulled the entire heat sink assembly, we saw the photo earlier of the naked X48 chipset. We then replaced the thermal material, again, with Arctic Cooling MX-2. We also added nylon washers to the base of the motherboard that are about the diameter of the original springs used by ASUS. This should have increased the mounting pressure of the entire assembly and was the idea behind the original user’s plans. Here is a close up of the additional washers we added:</p><center>
heat-8.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">This is when things got interesting and we received similar results to what the original forum poster had seen. Here is the chart of the four different setups that we tested, the results are quite obvious as to what was required for making the stock heat sink assembly shine.</p><center>
heat-9.png
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">The term "stock" in the chart refers to before we removed the heat sink/heat pipe assembly and re-mounted with the nylon washers. Like we said, it is an absolute no brainer as to what lowered temps almost a whole 10C on average under load with our overall overclocked settings of 477FSB and an increased vMCH voltage to 1.50v under load, just to add more heat to the testing. Idle temps lowered quite a bit and the drop off of the temperature from load was quite a bit steeper and far less gradual. So in the end, the stock heat pipe/heat sink assembly really isn't bad at all, heck, we would even go as far as saying it is pretty good. The only issue is that it appears that the assembly needs a little bit of help and added mounting pressure. Keep in mind, too much pressure and you will get into a warping issue with the PCB which we did encounter but we are willing to forgo that for much better MCH temperatures.</p>
 

3oh6

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Extreme Overclocking & Benching

Extreme Overclocking & Benching


<p style="text-align: justify;">Before we conclude our broadcasting day, we thought we would present a special treat and a testament to just what kind of motherboard the Rampage Extreme is. We had a 9 hour liquid nitrogen (LN2) cooled session with this board recently and it held up extremely well throughout the 2V vCORE CPU beat down. We ran single card HD4850 and CF HD4850 alongside some 2D benchmarks with the E8600 at 6GHz or higher the whole day. We stuck with the Fusion block on the stock heat sink assembly and the board performed admirably getting a number of top spots for the HD4850s in a couple benchmarks and some close second and thirds. We also managed to crack into the Global top ten on HWBot.org in SPi 32M, and AM3 for multiple cards as well as a solid top 20 Global in 3DMark 01. These are all quite impressive results considering our CPU limitation of 6150MHz and the rather 'mundane' GPUs used. Here are a couple photos of the setup during the session in various forms.</p><center>
xoc-1.jpg
xoc-2.jpg
xoc-3.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">And of course, the complete list of hardware used, which is very similar to our normal test setup.</p><b>Test Platform:</b>
  • <b>Motherboard:</b> ASUS Rampage Extreme (obviously)
  • <b>Processor:</b> Intel C2D E8600 ES
  • <b>Processor Cooling:</b> MMouse Rev 3 CU LN2/Dry Ice Pot
  • <b>North Bridge Cooling:</b> Fusion Waterblock / Thermochill PA 120.2 / DD5
  • <b>Memory:</b> G.Skill HZ 2x1GB PC3-12800 CL7
  • <b>Power Supply:</b> Silverstone ST56ZF
  • <b>Video Card:</b> 2 x ATI HD4850 512MB DDR3
  • <b>Additional Fans:</b> 120mm AD1212MS-A73GL 2050RPM/80.5CFM
  • <b>Hard Drives:</b> Seagate 7200.9 80GB SATAII 8MB cache
  • <b>OS:</b>Windows XP Pro SP3
<p style="text-align: justify;">Here is the full slate of results starting with the 3D results and ending with the 2D scores. Links to the ORB comparisons as well as the HWBot.org comparisons are below each screenshot. Just click on each screenshot for the full size. We have tried to include as much information as we could in each screenshot about the voltages and settings used...enjoy.</p><table align="center" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="10" cellspacing="1" width="90%"><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">3DMark 01 - Single HD4850
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xoc_s01-a.png

ORB - Compare
HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">3DMark 01 - CF 2 x HD4850
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xoc_cf01-a.png

ORB - Compare
HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100%" colspan="2">3DMark 03 - CF 2 x HD4850
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xoc-cf03-a.png

ORB - Compare
HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">3DMark 05 - Single HD4850
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xoc_s05-a.png

ORB - Compare
HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">3DMark 05 - CF 2 x HD4850
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xoc-cf05-a.png

ORB - Compare
HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Aquamark 3 - Single HD4850
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xoc_sam3-a.png

HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Aquamark 3 - CF 2 x HD4850
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xoc_cfam3-a.png

HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Super Pi 1M
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xoc_1m-a.png

HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Super Pi 32M
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xoc_32m-a.png

HWBot.org - Compare</td></tr><tr><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">Hexus PiFast
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xoc_pif-a.png

HWBot.org - Compare</td><td align="center" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%">CPU-Z FSB
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xoc_cpu-z-a.png

CPU-Z - Validation</td></tr></table><p style="text-align: justify;">In the end, our dewar was empty after a solid day of benching and the board was no worse for wear. We did have a bit of a BIOS issue when first bringing temps down but thanks to the second BIOS available onboard, it wasn't more than a 5 second problem. TweakIt came in invaluable and we haven't had such an easy time benching as we did with the Rampage Extreme. You will also notice that we used the kit of memory we said we had high overclocking stability issues with. This is because this memory was great for benching, just not 24/7 stability at high clocks. The Rampage Extreme may not be the friendliest motherboard for memory right now, but hopefully BIOS updates alleviate these issues soon. There is one thing for certain though, it really is the best of the best motherboards available right now, and proved it once again today.

<center>
setup-3.jpg
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3oh6

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Messages
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Location
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Conclusion

Conclusion


<p style="text-align: justify;">The high end motherboard market is becoming a very interesting battle ground. With prices of these motherboards seeming to find no limit, the features they offer has increased to epic proportions. That never ending list of features has hit a crescendo with the ASUS Rampage Extreme. Not only has ASUS presented arguably the best Intel X48 based motherboard to the market, but they may just have produced the finest motherboard the enthusiast world has seen to date. Not only is the Rampage Extreme capable of some of the most intense overclocks that any motherboard can accomplish right now, it is also home to the most unique and rich set of features we have experienced. TweakIt, two physical BIOSs onboard, included Creative X-FI based soundcard, flexible chipset cooling, and a layout that is hard to disagree with are just a short list of those impressive features. The Rampage Extreme is the complete package and ASUS has done very well not to overlook anything.</p><center>
conclusion-1.jpg
</center><p style="text-align: justify;">As we saw, the overclocking potential of this motherboard is not only huge for extreme cooling and benchmarking, but also for making an everyday system lightning quick. The ease with which it climbed front side bus frequency with our hardware was staggering. We fully expected to get great overclocks out of the Rampage Extreme, but even we were impressed with just how well it clocked, and how easily we accomplished everything we did with the board. The BIOS is a bit messy for all of the features and their subsequent options, but the Extreme Tweaker section is bang on to what we want to see for an overclocking section. The inclusion of memory drive strengths would really open the door to further memory tweaking which seems to be the one big fault of the Rampage Extreme right now.

As mentioned, we have found a lot of issues with memory clocking in both our own hardware but also in forums. These issues tend to be at the high end of the spectrum and result from specific IC's mainly pointing at incompatibilities of Micron D9 based modules. The idea of different drive strengths required for these ICs seems feasible and we would like to see drive strength adjustments in the BIOS to test this theory. Samsung ICs seem to be more geared for the default drive strengths of the Rampage Extreme and a lot of good results have been seen with that memory on this motherboard. In the end though, the memory problems we are discussing are happening at the 950MHz+ range and really won't affect the majority of users, but at the same time, some manufacturers PC3-16000 modules are using Micron D9 based memory and may disappoint on this motherboard like our sample of Crucial Ballistix.

In the end though, we can't let the potentially fixable high memory clocking issues bring this board down to earth, it still is at the top of the pile and not by a small margin. We have had our hands on a lot of high-end motherboards from ASUS as well as other manufacturers. The ASUS Rampage Extreme is the single finest sample with an Intel X48 chipset providing an un-paralleled CrossFire X platform. NVIDIA's 790i chipset is also a fan of ours here at Hardware Canucks and even forgetting about its shortcomings, pales in comparison to the experience we had with the Rampage Extreme. Our hats are off to ASUS for creating a monster bencher and equally capable, feature laded, daily platform for users of all shapes and forms.</p>

<b>Pros:</b>
  • Features, features and more features like TweakIt, twin BIOS, Fusion Block System, etc...
  • A very esthetically pleasing motherboard and divine layout
  • Typical ASUS build quality and depth of BIOS options
  • Just as fine a daily driver as it is a track car, even when extremely cold
  • All the benefits of the Intel X48 chipset with no compromises

<b>Cons:</b>
  • The high frequency memory clocking is causing issues for some users, us included
  • One of the most, if not the most, expensive consumer motherboards available
  • BIOS development seems to be slow for such a marquee piece of hardware

<center><table><tr><td valign="bottom"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/dam_good.jpg" alt="The best motherboard to date deserves the beavers thumbs up." /></td><td valign="bottom"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/dam_innovative.png" alt="True twin BIOSs, TweakIt, and a heatsink design that is actually worth the mess deserves an innovation award any day of the week." /></td></tr></table></center>

<center><b><i>Thank-you ASUS for making this review possible!</i></b>
Join us in the already running <a href="http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/cpus-motherboards/8976-pre-review-oc-report-asus-rampage-extreme.html">Live OC Report</a> in our forums for the ASUS Rampage Extreme discussion and more benchmarking results.</center>
 
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