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Asus Rampage Formula X48 Motherboard Review

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3oh6

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<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/asus_logo-1.jpg" alt="ASUS Logo">


<b>ASUS Rampage Formula X48 Motherboard Review</b></center>



<b>Price:</b> $313+ CND <a href="http://hardwarecanucks.pricecanada.com/detail.php?product_id=532463&sku=RAMPAGEFORMULA">Click Here to Compare Prices</a>
<b>Manufacturer Product Page:</b> <a href="http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=640&l4=0&model=2070&modelmenu=1/">ASUS Rampage Formula</a>
<b>Manufacturer's Part Number:</b> RAMPAGEFORMULA
<b>Warranty:</b> Limited 3 Year Warranty
<b>Availability:</b> Now



<p style="text-align: justify;">The chipset game moves faster than a jet fighter at takeoff. Every second week it seems we can find news reports of new chipsets and motherboards on the horizon or ready for release. Perhaps this is a bit of an exaggeration but the reality is that chipsets and motherboards are coming to market faster than ever before and one of the motherboard manufacturing leaders is there every step of the way with an early and full lineup of offerings for each iteration. ASUS has always been synonymous with enthusiasts and mainstream users alike. Offering a combination of stable value motherboards and bleeding edge performance motherboards, ASUS has managed to keep both segments of the market continually happy over the years. Being a tier one partner for Intel, they are also always one of the first to market with Intel chipsets being released and the Rampage Formula is just another example of this early release ability.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/index-1.jpg"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The Rampage Formula is based on the latest Intel X48/ICH9R chipset combination. The Intel X48 chipset offers dual 16X PCI-E 2.0 lanes offering full power ATI CrossFire graphics support and it also features support for the complete 45nm Intel processor lineup as well as yet to be released 1600FSB processors due out later this year. This means that the Rampage Formula is not only ready for any processor available right now, but also the next generation of processors eliminating the obsolete upgrade path that is so common these days.

The Rampage Formula doesn't just cater to enthusiasts with all of the high-end technical specifications and exhaustive overclocking features. It also has something for everyone including a new Pin-Fin Thermal Module heat sink design offering silent operation, CPU Level Up provides an instant one click performance boost, and an above average onboard soundcard in the Supreme FX II. So despite being considered part of the ASUS Republic of Gamers line featuring the best of the best ASUS has to offer, the Rampage Formula is a very attractive complete package for users of all needs.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/index-2.jpg"></center>
 
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3oh6

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Specifications

Specifications


<p style="text-align: justify;">Intel’s X48 has long been considered the older sibling to X38 and is continually referred to as a higher 'binned' X38 chipset offering nothing new that we haven't seen before. This is partially true, however, X38 appears to have been conceived with at least one different set of genes. Despite the similarity, there are noticeable differences that set the X48 chipset apart as a refined performance monster.

The Rampage name carries a rather short but exciting heritage. If we recall the Maximus Formula motherboard released in the 4th quarter of last year, part of this name has been carried over. The "Formula" portion represented the fact that the motherboard utilizes DDR2 memory and this holds true in the Rampage Formula. The name Rampage replaces Maximus representing the change to the Intel X48 chipset.

We apologize in advance for the 32 foot long specifications page but it saves you a trip to the incredibly un-reliable Asus web site and Asus is certainly not scared of providing every specification possible, which is never a bad thing. Don't worry, we will discuss some of the features in more detail in just a moment.

<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/specs-1.png" alt="Asus Rampage Formula Specifications"></center></p>
 
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3oh6

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Features

Features


<p style="text-align: justify;">A major part of a motherboard's success these days is what it can offer in the way of additional features and perks that a standard motherboard with the same chipset may not offer. This is where the Rampage line of Asus motherboards really stands out. The list of user friendly or performance orientated features is literally endless but we have plucked a few of the more interesting ones and will discuss them here in basic detail. We start with the Republic of Gamers designation and what exactly that means.</p><table align="center" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="90%"><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>At the Top of Game Board</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-1.png" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0";" />Simply put, the Republic of Gamers motherboards offered by Asus are the best of the best that they put out. Every ROG board is chalk full of features, accessories, and innovation that makes it stand out from the crowd. Things like on-board power and reset buttons or the external LCD poster that we are going talk about later are only found on Asus ROG boards.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Pin-Fin Thermal Module</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-2.png" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0";" />What Asus has done here is gone with a pin style heatsink for the chipset and PWM cooling. Asus describes it as "the new generation pin-fin thermal design", but really, it is no different than many cooling solutions of past. It is however a very nice looking setup with plenty of surface area for cooling the chipset. We well have plenty of discussion and images of the entire motherboard cooling solution in the Closer Look section.</td></tr>
<tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>CPU Level Up</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-3.png" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px";" />Not all of us are great overclockers or even really know much about it, but Asus doesn't think that we should be limited to running at stock because of this. The CPU Level Up is a unique feature that provides users with a single one stop option for increasing the system speed. There is even an option to select the next higher processor to essentially give us a free upgrade.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Extreme Tweaker</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-4.png" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px";" />Of course, Asus also understands that experienced overclockers are looking for a complete set of BIOS options to push their hardware to the limit. The Extreme Tweaker designation means that everything an overclocker could want is available in the BIOS. We'll definitely have to judge for ourselves in the BIOS and overclocking sections.</td></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Loadline Calibration</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-5.png" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0";" />For some readers, this feature is going to be a mystery but to overclockers or enthusiasts in the know, Loadline Calibration is going to be nothing new. Perhaps the term vDROOP is a more familiar term. Intel processors are designed to accept a drop in voltage when going from an idle state to a load state. Motherboard manufacturers have implemented this feature but enthusiasts tend to not appreciate its existence. The reason being is that the voltage drops under load can cause instability to an overclock and forces the user to increase voltage to the CPU to make up for the drop. Loadline Calibration provides us with the ability to eliminate this voltage drop.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>SupremeFX II</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-6.png" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0";" />The "onboard" soundcard is officially no longer on the board. Asus has been implementing the Supreme FX sound card for a while now and we are now seeing the second generation in the Supreme FX II soundcard that comes bundled with this ROG board. The Supreme FX II is designed to enhance the gaming experience with features tailor to improve on-line and off line gaming audio.</td></tr></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>External LCD Poster</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-7.png" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px";" />All the rage for motherboard manufacturers as of late is the inclusion of onboard LCD debuggers. Asus has taken it a step, or should we say, walk around the block further. The included External LCD poster doesn't display a random code that the user needs to look up, instead, it displays common lingo that we all should understand about what is causing the system not to boot. We will definitely be taking the LCD Poster for a test drive to see just how useful it is.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>ASUS Q-Connector</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-8.png" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px";" />Building a system is fun, rewarding, enjoyable, and worth the effort...until you get to the part when hooking up the front panel connectors. It isn't really that bad, but Asus has ensured it to be a painless last step by coming up with their Q-Connector system. It is very simple and very straight forward, but quite a handy little feature that no other manufacturer has adopted yet.</td></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-9.png" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0";" />This feature has really caught our attention after our recent work with the EVGA 790i motherboard. Whenever an overclock failed, a simple reset would get us back into the BIOS with safe settings. We are curious to see if Asus has improved on their system recovery after a failed overclock and come up with as simple a method as NVIDIA has with their 790i motherboards.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>EZ Flash 2</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/features-10.png" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0";" />Asus EZ Flash 2 is nothing new to Asus users and not a ROG only feature but it certainly is worth mentioning. EZ Flash 2 takes all of the guesswork and frustration out of flashing a BIOS. We simply download the BIOS file to a thumb drive and in the BIOS, a couple clicks has us up and running on the updated BIOS. We have been utilizing this utility on every Asus motherboard for a number of years now and it is good to see Asus continuing this preferred method of BIOS updating.</td></tr></table><p style="text-align: justify;">Truth be told, the features we have gone over are just skimming the surface of what Asus has packed into this motherboard package. We could take pages upon pages to explain each and every feature and function of the Asus Rampage Formula, but we know that there is only so much one reader can take so we will stop here and move on to a quick look at the package and accessories before we head into the fly over of the motherboard itself.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Package & Accessories

Package & Accessories


<p style="text-align: justify;">So far we have seen a large amount of features and specifications about this motherboard, but no sign of the board itself. That will be soon enough but first, let's take a look at how ASUS presents the Rampage Formula to the world and what accessories come with this top DDR2 motherboard offering.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-1.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-2.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Like its predecessors, the Rampage Formula is the top of the line ASUS offering so it gets its own special box design. This design has been used in the past with the Maximus line of motherboards and other ROG boards so it isn't unique to the Rampage Formula. Still though, the package is a far departure from the plain jane package of other ASUS motherboards and signifies that there is something special inside. ASUS feels the board is so special that they have a cut-out of the rear I/O panel that we can see from the outside. This was originally for the boards that had the LCD poster screen located here but our Rampage Formula has an external LCD poster but the cut-out is still in-tact.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-3.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-3.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-4.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-4.jpg" alt="" border="0" style="padding: 60px 0 60px 0;"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The rear of the package is quite informative providing all of the essential information about the motherboard including almost everything we just looked at on the Specifications page. ASUS also presents a few of the features with inset images such as the Pin-Fin Thermal design and the fact that a full version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is included with the motherboard. Another item worth noting is that the rear of the package provides the information that there is a 3-Year Warranty. This information is nowhere to be found on the ASUS web site. You would think that ASUS would want to make that more common knowledge since it is very nice knowing that the motherboard is under warranty for a full three years.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-5.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-5.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-6.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-6.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">In addition to the front and rear panels, the Rampage Formula package has a flap on the front that opens up to reveal even more information about the motherboard inside and a couple more cutouts to show some of the features directly on the board. The underside of the flap is not wasted since it lists even more features about the motherboard and most of these we just finished going over in the Features section. Overall, the design of the package is very nice, makes the motherboard stand out as the special ROG version that it is, and provides a wealth of information for those that still do their comparison shopping in-store as opposed to on-line.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-7.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-7.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/package-8.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/package-8.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Moving to the interior of the package we find an accessory box and the motherboard in a plastic clam shell. The plastic clam shell is used almost exclusively with memory modules and has started to find its way into more and more motherboard boxes as of late. Perhaps motherboard manufacturers think it helps add to the prestige of the motherboard if it isn't simply plucked from an anti-static bag.

The close up image is simply to show how the motherboard is secured in the plastic shell. This method of security is quite a bit better than at the bottom of the package in an anti-static bag and we would like to see this trend take off to more motherboards for the extra protection during transport.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/contents-1.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/contents-1.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/contents-2.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/contents-2.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The accessories package, aside from the included 3DMark 06 license and S.T.A.L.K.E.R., is quite average. ASUS has, however, added a couple neat additions to the mix. Here is a complete run-down of what is included:
  • 1 x Floppy Cable
  • 1 x IDE Cable
  • 3 x 90 Degree SATA Cables
  • 3 x SATA Cables
  • 1 x 4-pin Molex > Dual 5-pin SATA power cable
  • 1 x Optional PWM Fan
  • Dual USB & Single Firewire PCI Expansion Bracket
  • LCD Poster
  • ASUS Q-Connector
  • Rear I/O Panel
<p style="text-align: justify;">We won't get into the LCD Poster now but will discuss some of its benefits later on in the Long Term Impressions section.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/contents-3.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/contents-3.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/contents-4.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/contents-4.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The other unique item we wanted to show was the new design of the rear I/O panel that ASUS has begun using with their ROG boards. It may be available with other higher end models from the ASUS camp as well. There is really nothing too innovative with the rear I/O panel included with the Rampage Formula but as we can see on the rear of the panel, there are no tabs anymore. Instead, ASUS has designed a cushion pad to ensure a tight fit without having to use those annoying tabs that usually cause a bit of frustration during installation. This is just a minor detail but one that shows how ASUS is constantly trying to improve the end-user experience. It seems crazy that this type of rear I/O panel hasn't been used for much longer but it is good to see those tabs removed and a solution implemented.</p>
 
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3oh6

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A Closer Look at the ASUS Rampage Formula

A Closer Look at the ASUS Rampage Formula


<center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-1.jpg" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We have presented the major landscape markers of this motherboard and at first glance, everything seems to be well placed, spaced, and thoughtfully laid out. The one immediate identifying aspect of this motherboard is that all of the connectors are on the outside edge of the motherboard. The way high-end cases are designed these days for cable management, this type of layout is a must and facilitates ultra clean looking installs. The other thing of note but is not labeled on the map are the fan headers. The Rampage Formula has a whopping seven fan headers including the CPU fan header. Try and spot them all during the fly over.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-2.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-2.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-3.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-3.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The CPU socket on this motherboard is obviously surrounded by the Pin-Fin heat sink design. The heat sink wraps around three sides of the CPU socket, but despite this close proximity, there is plenty of room for large CPU coolers. Our 8-pin EPS connector for CPU power is located in the typical position right behind the rear I/O panel. The memory modules appear to have decent spacing from the CPU socket and are directly beside the mass of pins sitting on top of the northbridge. This will make it possible to place a single fan over the memory on an angle and get that air to blow over the massive heat sink as well. The floppy and 24-pin ATX connectors are also located in this area, nice and tight to the edge of the motherboard for easy cable management.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-4.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-4.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-5.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-5.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Travelling south on the Rampage Turnpike we reach the bottom edge of the motherboard and the southbridge area of the board. This area has a ton of input and output connections including our six SATA connectors placed on a 90 degree angle to the board. This makes for neat cable management if the case you are using has a cut-out here for cables to come from behind the motherboard tray, but it can also cause issues with really short cases where hard drives can back into this area. However, the included 90 degree SATA cables should help alleviate this potential issue. Along with the front panel connector, IDE connector, USB headers, and Firewire headers; the onboard power and reset buttons are located along the bottom edge. Like every other connector on this motherboard, they are nice and tight to the edge and stay out of the way of any expansion slots above them. There are also a couple of fan headers located down here which should allow most fans to reach from the front of the case.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-6.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-6.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-7.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-7.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As we saw from the overhead shot earlier, the PCI/PCI-E expansion area is nicely laid out. The PCI-E x16 slots are about as far away as they could be ensuring any combination of video card and cooler can fit in pairs for CrossFire. The PCI slots are also perfectly placed with one right near the top of the pile for those that prefer to use their own audio card.

The Winbond W83627DHG-A provides the I/O control of PS/2 keyboard, mouse, floppy drive, and serial devices amongst other things. It also provides Smart Fan control which is a very nice feature for a motherboard as control of fans from the BIOS with no CPU overhead or software which is always welcome. The VIA VT6308P is simply the IEEE 1394 Firewire controller and appears to only offer 100 / 200 / 400 Mbit connection speeds, so no Firewire 800 to be had with the onboard controller.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-8.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-8.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-9.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-9.jpg" alt="" border="0" style="padding: 60px 0 60px 0;"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Right up beside the rear I/O panel we find our two Marvell 88E8056 gigabit network controllers. Usually ASUS goes with a Marvell and Realtek network controller but the Rampage Formula has two of the better and very common Marvell network controllers.

The rear I/O panel isn't overly populated but sure looks full thanks to the large heat sink and fins sticking out here. The other oddity is the inclusion of a small button under the heat sink fins. This is actually a Clear CMOS button so that we will have access to clearing the CMOS from outside of the case. In certain situations, this could be very handy but at the same time, with this button enabled, it wouldn't take much to accidentally reset your BIOS. Luckily, the button can be disabled with a jumper on the motherboard to protect against this.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-10.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-10.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-11.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-11.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We are now going to take a quick journey over this impressive Pin-Fin heat sink and heat pipe assembly that ASUS has put on this motherboard. It starts down here at the bottom of the board with the south bridge heat sink and is small, un-assuming, and covered by an ROG label. The reason for a low profile heatsink is to allow large video cards unimpeded access to the space above. The southbridge heatsink is connected to the largest mass on the motherboard via a heat pipe. This mass is where the Pin-Fin designation comes from. It is simply a massive finned heat sink that while being large and covering a lot of real estate on the board, doesn't really interfere with anything.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-12.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-12.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-13.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-13.jpg" alt="" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The large Pin-Fin heatsink sitting on the northbridge then gives way to a finnedheat sink that is connected via another heatpipe. These are the fins that are visible from the rear I/O panel and are not only connected to the northbridge heatsink, but also the lower profile heatsink sitting on the PWM MOSFETs. This MOSFET heat sink then reaches out to another MOSFET heat sink along the top edge of the board via another heatpipe. Despite being a standard formation, ASUS has gone to great lengths to provide adequate cooling for this motherboard without the addition of any fan noise.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/layout-14.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/layout-14.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The backside of the Rampage has nothing unusual to report on but it is very nice to see a back plate for the northbridge heat sink. As we saw in the previous images, the northbridge is secured with screws which is another welcome addition but the rest of the heatsinks are mounted with push pins. We would really like to see every heat sink mounted with screws to ensure good mounting pressure. Push pins are the norm but so many motherboards benefit from changing those out with screws and nuts that the push pins really should be ditched industry wide on enthusiast motherboards.</p>
 
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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


<p style="text-align: justify;">We will now take a swim through the ocean blue, also known as the BIOS. ASUS has been building motherboards for a long time and they always setup an intuitive BIOS with all of the appropriate options categorized correctly. We fully expect to find the same with this Rampage Formula BIOS, let's find out.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-1.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-1.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The initial welcome screen provides us with all the usual information including hard drive configuration, date, time, and language selection. There are actually six languages offered in the BIOS; English, French, German, Japanese, and two dialects of Chinese. The System information section at the bottom of the page provides us with information regarding the BIOS version, processor, and memory installed.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-2.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-2.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-3.jpg" target="_blank" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-3.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-4.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-4.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-5.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-5.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-6.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-6.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">Alright, ASUS doesn't mess around with the meat and potatoes of the BIOS with the overclocking section being second in line. It is also very nice to see that every single overclocking setting is located in this central location. The first image is of the entire section at the BIOS defaults. We can see memory timings are hidden, there are no voltage adjustments, and the overall options are minimal. Changing the AI Overclock Tuner setting to manual opens the barn doors wide open though. The second image shows the un-inhibiting list of voltage adjustments once we are in manual mode. Each voltage range is selectable through itemized lists as seen in the third image above using the vDIMM as an example. Below is a table of available voltage options and their increments for the Rampage Formula. But speaking of memory, once we go manual, the un-equaled amount of memory options become available for our manipulation as seen by the fourth image above. For memory clockers and tweakers alike, this amount of memory timing options has only been available previously on DFI boards...this is a welcome site for us here at Hardware Canucks. ASUS has completely blown our socks off.

The last image above shows the newest addition to the X48 BIOS options that was not available on the ASUS X38 boards. Transaction Booster has always been an option, but not to this degree. We now have a Common Performance Level as well as individual Pull-In channels. This, in essence, gives us a finer control over tRD or more commonly known as Performance Level. tRD is the single most influential setting on chipset performance and we finally have a straight forward and complete control over its manipulation. Two big fat thumbs up go out to ASUS for taking this step. Adjusting tRD has been a bit messy in previous chipsets but that is a thing of the past with this straight forward approach. Here is that chart of voltage ranges:</p><center><table border="0" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="735px"><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="100px"> </td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="100px"><b>Minimum</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="100px"><b>Maximum</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="100px"><b>Increment</b></td><td align="center" bgcolor="#cc9999" width="335px"><b>Notes</b></td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">vCORE</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.10000v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">2.40000v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.00625v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">@1.9000v increment becomes 0.02500v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">CPU PLL</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.50v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">3.00v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.02v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">Standard 1.50v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">vNB</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.25v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.85v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.02v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">Standard 1.25v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">vDIMM</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.80v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">3.40v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.02v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">Standard 1.80v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">vFSB</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.20v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">2.00v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.02v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">Standard 1.20v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">vSB I</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.050v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.225v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.025v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">Standard 1.050v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">vSB II</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">1.50v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">2.05v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.05v</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">Standard 1.50v</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">CPU GTL</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.62x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.67x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">4 Steps</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">0.62x / 0.63x / 0.65x / 0.67x</td></tr><tr><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">NB GTL</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.49x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">0.67x</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="100px">8 Steps</td><td align="center" bgcolor="#ececec" width="335px">0.49x / 0.51x / 0.53x / 0.56x / 0.57x / 0.60x / 0.63x / 0.67x</td></tr></table></center></p><p style="text-align: justify;">It is clear that some of these voltages options are down right crazy, even if your running your CPU under liquid nitrogen. Allowing a selection of 2.40v for vCORE could almost be considered irresponsible as there is absolutely no need for it. Perhaps selecting 2.40v will result in much lower a voltage being supplied but still, making the option so easy for someone is going to kill a CPU or two. vDIMM is another one of those voltage ranges that far exceeds what anyone should be using for memory. 3.40v volts is highly not recommended for DDR2, heck, north of 2.50v is highly recommended to stay below...and even then, just for benching. The rest of the voltages are more realistic like 1.85v maximum for vNB. With our X38 testing, this is the point where diminishing returns begins for extreme overclocking of the FSB/tRD/RAM, so it is nice to see at least this much available in the BIOS. There are, however, going to be some users that will want to go up to 2.00v. With the crazy amount of vCORE and vDIMM available, one would have assumed 2.00v for the NB wouldn't be too much to ask.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-7.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-7.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-8.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-8.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-9.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-9.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The advanced section of the BIOS holds a long list of the common options found on today's motherboards. The CPU Configuration page is where we find the ability to enable/disable the various features the C2D and other Intel CPUs including the SpeedStep functions among others. The rest of the sections are pretty much self explanatory so we won't examine them all that closely. We have shown the Onboard Device Configuration section though as it is where we find the options for the LCD Poster attachment. We can change what is displayed on the LCD Poster as well as whether or not the backlight should be on at the two different states of the system. Being able to have somewhat control over these extra features is nice and will come in handy for some of those that want to use the features but not be put off by not being able to control exactly how they are utilized.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-10.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-10.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-11.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-11.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-12.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-12.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As one might expect, the Power section has very little in the way of menu options but as we see in the second photo, there is plenty of information listed in the Hardware Monitor. Like the overclocking section, the Hardware Monitor reporting on the various voltages and temperatures is chalk full to the gills with data. This is extremely nice to see because it will mean full reporting of all of these voltages and temperatures in Windows via the ASUS software PC Probe II.

We also find BIOS control over fan speeds in this section. The ability to adjust all of the five fan headers on the board from the BIOS means there should be no need for software within Windows to do this job. With the Optional Fans, we have the ability to choose a straight percentage (70%, 80%, 90% or 100%) or we can set a target temperature that we believe is for the corresponding optional temperature probe. We were unable to fully test this feature as there were no temperature probes included with our sample. This ability to adjust fan speed based on an external temperature probe may be quite useful if the probes are placed in strategic locations. It would also be nice to receive the three potential temperature probes with the package.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-13.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-13.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-14.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-14.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">There really is nothing to report on here in the Boot section of the BIOS. Nothing special has been added here by ASUS but nothing has been left out with all the regular options for boot settings being available.</p><center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-15.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-15.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a> <a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/bios-16.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/bios-16.jpg" alt=""border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">As we wind down the look at the BIOS, we come across these ASUS only features in the last section, the Tools area. The ASUS EX Flash 2 is a BIOS option built into the board to allow for very simple BIOS updates. Simply extract the downloaded BIOS to a thumb drive, plug it in and head here. Browse to the new BIOS file from EZ Flash and you are set. The ASUS O.C. Profile tool gives us the ability to save two complete BIOS profiles and then re-load them at a different time. This feature is nice for when you get a nice stable overclock but want to play around some more. You can save the stable profile and then come back to the exact same settings later after trying other things without having to remember all of your settings.

The O.C. Profile feature at the bottom of this second screen takes us to a screen similar to the EZ Flash screen where it appears we can actually back up our OC Profiles to a thumb drive. Of course the only thumb drive available to us at this time decided it didn't want to have data written to it anymore so we weren't able to test this feature but it does look like kind of a handy option for possibly sharing BIOS settings amongst other Rampage users. To be honest, we couldn't remember if this ability has been available in previous ASUS motherboards or if it is new, but suspicions that this option has been around for a while and heavily underutilized seems to be the consensus here.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Edmonton, AB
Test Setup & Software

Test Setup & Software


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/setup-1.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 5px 20px" alt=""><b>Test Platform:</b>
  • <b>Motherboard:</b> ASUS Rampage Formula
  • <b>Processor:</b> Intel C2D E8400
  • <b>Processor Cooling:</b> Thermalright Ultra-120
  • <b>Memory:</b> Buffalo FireStix PC2-9600 5-6-6
  • <b>Power Supply:</b> Thermaltake Toughpower 750W
  • <b>Video Card:</b> HIS HD3870X2 512MB
  • <b>Additional Fans:</b> 120mm AD1212MS-A73GL 2050RPM/80.5CFM
  • <b>Hard Drive:</b> 1 x Seagate 7200.9 80GB SATAII 8MB cache
  • <b>OS:</b> Windows XP SP2 (with all updates) / Windows Vista SP1 (with all updates)
<p style="text-align: justify;">Testing will occur on the open bench setup and not in a case. This will allow for full control over cooling, or lack thereof, in a section later on. For all of the overclocking and benchmarking, the setup is going to be as in the image to the right. The 120mm fan over top of the memory will also be aiding in cooling the large Pin-Fin chipset heatsink. During the installation of the components on the bench, there were no surprises. The Thermalright Ultra-120 stands above the chipset and MOSFET heat sinks and could be orientated in either direction. The large HD3870X2 and its dual slot cooler posed no problems hanging off the end of the board leaving plenty of room in front and behind it for the memory and other expansion slots. As We can see from the overhead, a dual card setup would actually have a nice gap between the two cards because the PCI-E 16X slots are spaced out so nicely.

With the hardware all setup It is time to install the software to get this motherboard fully operational. As expected, ASUS provides everything you need for drivers in the form of a single DVD. The included game S.T.A.L.K.E.R. is on another DVD. Let's take a look at a couple screenshots of the software provided by ASUS and briefly go over some of their features.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/software-1.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The software DVD provided by ASUS is very straight forward and easy to work from. Upon inserting the disk into our DVD drive, the menu auto runs and presents us with a few options along the top including drivers and utilities. There is a one stop solution for installing all drivers at the top of the list or we can manually install them one at a time. Everything is included that we would need for the motherboard including chipset, audio, and ethernet drivers. The option at the bottom labeled "ASUS EPU Driver + AI GEAR 3" is a unique feature for ASUS motherboards so let's start with AI Gear and go forward from there.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/software-2.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We won't get too in depth about AI Gear as this software is not new and has been around virtually un-changed in years going back as far as we can remember. We are provided with a few temperature, voltage, and fan speed readings along the top portion. The bottom right shows us the frequency the CPU and FSB are running at along with the CPU usage. The bottom right contains three options, AI Booster, Q Fan, and AI Gear 3. Q Fan is obviously used for controlling fan speeds, AI Booster allows the changing of system performance profiles, and AI Gear 3 is used for setting up the system profiles and initiating the EPU features of the motherboard.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/software-3.png" alt=""></center>There are five different modes for AI Gear 3:
  • Auto Mode
  • Turbo Mode
  • High Performance Mode
  • Med Power Saving
  • Max Power Saving
<p style="text-align: justify;">We wanted to get more in depth into the AI Gear 3 software and benefits of running with lower power setups but anytime we adjusted the mode we were in, it was luck of the draw whether or not the system would freeze up. We have to admit that we didn't mess around with the software too much though as we were more concerned with other aspects of the motherboard. The last bit of software we wanted to show was ASUS PC Probe II. Again, PC Probe has been around for a while but for those un-familiar with it, here is a screenshot.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/software-4.png" alt=""></center><p style="text-align: justify;">With the Rampage Formula, there seems to be an endless amount of readings picked up by PC Probe II, including an incredible ten voltage readings and temperature readings for the CPU, MB, NB, and SB. Arranging the data that PC Probe II provides is easy and intuitive with simple locks on each individual window. Personally, I prefer to use a customizable piece of software for reporting temperatures, voltages, and the like; but PC Probe II is one of the better manufacturer provided solutions out there.</p>
 

3oh6

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Overclocking Methodology

Overclocking Methodology


<p style="text-align: justify;">Overclocking a motherboard these days doesn't simply involve increasing the multiplier on the CPU, increasing voltage, lowering temps, and the good old days of soldering irons as the primary overclocking tool are long gone. We now have motherboards with BIOS's so rich in overclocking abilities, it is sometimes harder now than it was back then to overclock their system for someone who isn't up on their overclocking knowledge. We don't want to turn this review into an overclocking guide but we will keep track of just how complicated it is to overclock this motherboard as we go through the overclocking.</p><center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/setup-2.jpg" alt="" border="0"></center><p style="text-align: justify;">We will primarily be looking at three areas of the motherboard and how well they overclock. We will focus on the maximum frequency we can stabilize for the Front Side Bus and the memory. Then, we will combine these for an overall system overclock focused on performance and temperatures for a good 24/7 overclock rather than simply the highest FSB or clocks.

In addition to deciding on what to overclock, we also have to conclude on what exactly is a stable overclock. Everyone has their own ideas of stability, from Prime95 for one hour on the Blend test to three days of running [email protected] For our overclocking here, we will be stability testing the system in a wide range of programs. It is imperative to test stability of the complete system and not just a single component. For this reason, we will be utilizing the following stability test suite on each of the overclocks before we list them in this section:</p>
  • Dual 32M runs of SuperPi Mod 1.5 (ran at the same time)
  • 2 hours of dual Prime95 using Prime95 v25.5 Stress Testing Blend
  • 2 hours of OCCT Custom 2H Mix OCCT v2.0.0a - Except for Memory Overclocking
  • 2 hours of dual HCI MemTest Pro in Windows using all available memory
  • Multiple loops of 3DMark 01 / 06 (30 minutes of looping the full tests each)
  • 1 hour of game play in COD4 & Crysis @ 1680x1050
<p style="text-align: justify;">We have all of the stability testing favorites here and we threw in a couple gaming sessions for good measure. The above suite should provide enough testing for a completely stable 24/7 system but there are always exceptions to the rule. It is also important to keep in mind that overclocking is never the same between two pieces of hardware, especially when it comes to motherboards. Every single component we use will influence the overall system differently and one can't expect the same results with a completely different list of hardware.
 

3oh6

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Messages
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Location
Edmonton, AB
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


<p style="text-align: justify;">With the exhaustive network of BIOS options for this Rampage Formula, it would be easy to get discouraged when it came to overclocking. The good news is that you can get into the overclocking without having to know what every option does. For instance, the plethora of memory options, can all be left to AUTO as the system makes rather intelligent selections. Leaving the Performance Level to AUTO also lets the system choose an appropriate level for the FSB/Strap/Memory Ratio that is chosen, albeit a little high that can usually be tightened up manually once you find what is working.

The other good news is that users familiar with previous ASUS X38, P35, or even P965 motherboards; should have a relatively easy time familiarizing themselves with the Rampage Formula BIOS. We have had extensive experience with all recent Intel chipset based ASUS motherboards and were able to dive right in and get things cooling in a hurry. That obviously won't be the case for everyone but for many it should. So without further adieu, let's get started with some of the results we were able to pull off. Since memory frequency is going to play a role in the other overclocks, we'll start there.</p>

Maximum Memory Stability Overclocking

Click for full size...
<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/ocing-1.png" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/ocing-1.png" alt="Maximum RAM stable Overclock" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">There are going to be many people who think this is absolutely amazing and they are partially correct, 636MHz or DDR2-1272 being 24/7 stable at 2.30v is very impressive. For this kit though, this was achieved on a lowly ASUS P5B-Dlx almost a year ago now. We were fully expecting the Rampage Formula to increase the maximum capable of this old but great kit, but it didn't. This obviously means that this memory is just limited to this frequency at this voltage, not fault of the Rampage Formula. It is clear, obviously, that the Rampage Formula is a formidable memory clocker. Based on our voltage measurements, which can be found near the end of this review in another section, the vDIMM being supplied to the memory is only 2.29v measured by a digital multi-meter (DMM). Everest reports vDIMM a little bit high for this motherboard.

The most amazing aspect of this overclock though isn't the memory, believe it or not. It is the fact that this motherboard is running this type of memory clock at 424MHz FSB with a tRD (Performance Level) of 5 with only 1.42v going to the north bridge. This is not something we have seen previously capable on any P35 or P965 motherboard. To put it mildly, this is an absolutely incredible overclock. Let's now see if the FSB clocking of this motherboard is going to impress us as much as what we just saw.</p>

Maximum FSB Stability Overclocking

Click for full size...<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/ocing-2.png" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/ocing-2.png" alt="Maximum FSB stable Overclock" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">It appears that this motherboard just doesn't want to stop impressing us. Sure, in order to stabilize this ridiculous FSB we are running a tRD of 10, but the lofty FSB more than makes up for this based on the inflated Everest bandwidth numbers that we see. The caveat to showing a screenshot like this is that the motherboard isn't the real winner here, the CPU is. In the enthusiast circles, it is common knowledge that the motherboard rarely holds back FSB clocking and the CPU is usually the culprit.

Bearing that in mind, the Rampage Formula certainly seems to have a better tuned BIOS to let the CPU stretch its legs if it can. Our experience with the Maximus Extreme, based on the X38 chipset, was not a favorable one with the FSB limit of most 45nm CPUs reaching only 530MHz. Seeing 580MHz 100% stable with only air cooling is yet another impressive feat for this Rampage Formula. In order to run this high of a FSB, we were running the 333 Strap so that the 1:1 memory ratio was available and despite the high vNB, temps on the NB were well within useable range with just the 120mm fan blowing over the memory and heat sink.</p>

Maximum Overall Stability Overclocking

Click for full size...<center><a href="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/ocing-3.png" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/small/ocing-3.png" alt="Maximum FSB stable Overclock" border="0"></a></center><p style="text-align: justify;">The last piece of overclocking we are going to look at is the overall system overclock. This is basically what we would end up running with this hardware if it was going to be our 24/7 system. In fact, this setup just might replace the aging workstation that this review is being written on and if it does, these are the settings it will be run at. We decided on this overclock because it was very fast, very low voltage, and very cool running. It has absolutely no problem running without any fans on the memory or the chipset heat sink so in a case with very little airflow, this setup should have no problem crunching all day long.

We could have run it at tRD 6 (Performance Level 6) but chose to go with tRD 7 as it allowed us to lower the NB voltage about 0.05v. Pretty much every sample of the Rampage Formula that comes out of the ASUS factories should have no problem running these motherboard clocks as they are quite conservative in comparison to the clocks that this board was able to achieve in the previous screenshots. Our overall impression of the overclocking was very positive as the board responded as it should every step of the way. Again, our familiarity with the X38 chipset and ASUS motherboards of the past definitely helped but this motherboard didn't seem to come up with any new tricks we needed to learn in order to make it dance.</p>
 
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3oh6

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Messages
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Edmonton, AB
Benchmark Methodology

Benchmark Methodology


<p style="text-align: justify;">The benchmarking will only be done on the ASUS Rampage Formula for this review. The prospect of comparing motherboards at the same clocks and declaring one a winner based on a 1% performance advantage seems a little fruitless to us.<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/3oh6/asus/rampageformula/method-1.png" alt="Just a sample graph outlining where the results will be coming from in the up-coming benchmarks" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0px 4px 7px"> For this reason, we will simply be benchmarking the Rampage Formula at its stock clocks with the E8400 and at the overall system overclock that we just finished looking at in the overclocking section.

We have outlined the two setups in the sample graph to the right. The <b>blue</b> results will indicate the performance at the BIOS defaults. The only changes that will be made are to the memory in order to get it running at its rated frequency and timings. Every other setting will be at the default that the BIOS sets. The <b>red</b> results are going to display the overall best overclock we found for this particular setup.

These overclock results are again, the best overall overclock we could manage with this motherboard and the hardware used in the review. As was mentioned in the overclocking section, we used Everest bandwidth benchmarks and a few other performance tests to determine which settings were ultimately faster, not just higher. For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

a/ Windows is installed using a full format.
b/ Intel Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed followed by a defragment and a reboot.
c/ Programs and games are then installed followed by another defragment.
d/ Windows updates are then completed installing all available updates followed by a defragment.
e/ Benchmarks are each ran three times after a clean reboot for every iteration of the benchmark unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

We have listed the benchmark versions on each graph as results can vary between updates. That should about cover everything so let's see what kind of numbers this motherboard puts up in the suite of benchmarks we have chosen.</p>
 
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