What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
As you will see today, the old axiom that you can't improve upon perfection is just not true anymore...at least when you give ASUS two years to work on it. Although the Rampage IV Extreme was by no means starting to show its age, you had to expect that ASUS would react to the launch of Intel's flagship Ivy Bridge-E LGA2011 processors with an optimized new flagship motherboard of their own. The result is the Rampage IV Black Edition. This is only the second such Black Edition model to appear from the Taiwanese manufacturer, the previous being the Rampage III Black Edition, and it is clearly positioned as the undisputed champ of all LGA2011 motherboards on the market today.

Starting from the basics, the Rampage IV Black Edition, also referred to as the RIVBE, is based on the X79 chipset and takes full advantage of its capabilities. This model features a full complement of eight DDR3 memory slots, which allows for up to 64GB of RAM and overclocked memory speeds up to DDR3-2800. It has four mechanical PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots with support for both 4-way SLI and 4-way CrossFireX. On the storage front, there are six SATA 6Gb/s ports, four SATA 3Gb/s ports, two eSATA 6Gb/s, six USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, as well as a number of USB headers allowing for further expansion. Rounding out the connectivity is the onboard dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0 with an external antenna.


Now while these are all fairly standard specifications, this being a Republic of Gamers (ROG) series model - a class of products that are really designed to cater to gaming and benchmarking fanatics - it comes packed with quite a few notable extras. The onboard SupremeFX Black audio solution is particularly noteworthy. Whereas the onboard audio subsystem is largely an afterthought on most motherboards, ASUS have outfitted this model with a high-quality DAC, op-amps, and proper audio capacitors. As you will see, the components they selected are some of the same parts that DIY audiophiles rave about on Hi-Fi forums.

One of the other unique aspects of the RIVBE is the included OC Panel, an external monitoring and tweaking peripheral which by itself retails for about $100. Now although this accessory has a 'Normal Mode" whereby it can be installed in a case and used as a means of displaying real-time info like CPU temperature, basic system clocks, and fan speeds. It also allows for some basic auto overclocking and CPU fan speed adjustments. More interesting however is the "Extreme Mode", which reveals the OC Panel as an external overclocking console that houses a ton of overclocker-friendly functionality. We will highlight these features a little later, but suffice it to say that with this accessory on your desk, you will have fewer reasons to interact with the physical motherboard itself or even enter the UEFI BIOS.

All of this goodness obviously doesn't come cheap, and with a $500 to $530 retail price the Rampage IV Black Edition is definitely in the top one percent of the most expensive motherboards on the market right now. However, it's not an outrageous price tag for a enthusiast motherboard, especially when you consider that there's a number of $450 Z87-based motherboards for the 'mainstream' LGA1150 platform. Is it worth the money? That is what we are here to find out, so carry on and keep reading.

 
Last edited by a moderator:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
Specifications & Features

Specifications & Features



Before we get up-close and personal with Rampage IV Black Edition through pictures, testing, and analysis, let’s take a look at this motherboard's specifications.




As mentioned in the introduction, this motherboard has quite a few really noteworthy features, more than we care to individually breakdown ourselves, so here are some of the standouts as per ASUS's website.









We will be examining some of these unique features more in-depth in the coming pages, especially the neat OC Panel accessory that we have only ever seen before bundled with the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the Rampage IV Black Edition's impressive specifications and features, we can take a look at the murdered out packaging and the huge bundle of included accessories. Let's check it out:



Click on image to enlarge

While Republic of Gamers motherboards usually feature mostly red packaging, this Black Edition model's box features - you guessed it - an all-black look. The front of the box is adorned with the usual array of logos, and comes with a side flap and a window revealing the motherboard in all its glory. The back of the box is plain by comparison, listing the specifications and highlighting a few of this product's unique features.



Click on image to enlarge

When you open the packaging, you are greeted with an inner box that contains two separate sections. The top half holds the motherboard and the OC Panel accessory, both protected by a plastic shield, and the bottom half contains the numerous bundled accessories, software and documentation.


Click on image to enlarge

This is the impressive looking OC Panel device that we discussed briefly in the introduction. We take a closer look at this device's real-time tweaking and monitoring capabilities on the next page, as well as its numerous hidden features.



Click on image to enlarge

So this is the fairly sizeable accessories bundle in all its glory. ASUS have included a cool Republic of Gamers sticker that you place on your case. There is the usual User Guide and installation DVD, as well as some stickers that you can wrap around SATA cable to label individual connections. As a bonus, ASUS have also included a voucher for a free copy of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag.



Click on image to enlarge

Since this motherboard is likely to be used with more than one graphics card, ASUS have included a 4-way SLI bridge, a 3-way SLI bridge, a flexible 2-way SLI bridge, and a flexible 2-way CrossFireX bridge.



Click on image to enlarge

Here we have the I/O shield, the proprietary cable for the OC Panel accessory, the Bluetooth/WiFi antenna, and a secondary LGA2011 CPU back plate - known as the X-Socket - that introduces compatibility with LGA1366 coolers. A pretty neat little feature.



Click on image to enlarge

There are two different sets of SATA cables, four SATA 3Gb/s cables and six SATA 6Gb/s cables, the ROG Connect cable, two Q-connectors, and the 5.25-inch drive bay. So overall, a pretty impressive accessories bundle. There's really nothing missing as far as we are concerned.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
Accessories Continued: OC Panel

Accessories Continued: OC Panel



Now you might have seen the ASUS OC Panel before, since it is sold as a standalone accessory for about $100, and it was also first came bundled with the Maximus VI Extreme motherboard. It's basically the natural evolution of the ROG team's efforts to improve upon real-time overclocking and monitoring without having to fiddle with the motherboard itself. This effort started with the TweakIt Module on the Rampage II Extreme, was then followed up with the laptop-enabled ROG Connect solution, the interesting but largely unavailable OC Station, and the more recent OC Key dongle, which was included with the Rampage IV Extreme.

The essence of all these gadgets and innovations has been distilled into a purpose-built device with capabilities that surpass all the previous iterations. Depending on the user, ASUS designed the OC Panel to work in either Normal or Extreme mode. As you would expect, we will start off with the Extreme mode, in which you have the OC Panel located outside of your case.



Click on image to enlarge

The OC Panel features a 2.6-inch display sidelined by 4 buttons: Normal/Extreme mode switch, CPU Level Up, display backlight on/off, and fan speed control. Under the display is the system on/off Start button and the remote control area, from which you can select the various options and increase or decrease various settings.

While there is just a handy stand on the back, the left side features the Subzero Sense area, which allows users to plug in two K-type thermal probes. Why? Well the OC Panel actually features two onboard digital thermometers. That is a pretty awesome addition when you consider that standalone 2-port digital thermometers aren't exactly cheap, yet are basically required if you plan on doing any sub-zero overclocking.

The bottom of the device features a plug for the proprietary OC Panel cable (which then connects to the ROG_EXT plug at the very bottom of the motherboard) and a SATA power connector. As you will see below, the SATA connection is needed primarily to power the four PWM fan ports.


Click on image to enlarge

Once you slide the cover off, a number of other features are revealed, many of which were previously found onboard the Rampage IV Extreme but have now been relocated to the OC Panel. The two red connectors are for the VGA Hotwire functionality. With Hotwire compatible ASUS graphics cards you can run wires directly from the cards to the OC Panel, and gain total voltage control from the OC Panel itself, or from Windows, or even from within the UEFI BIOS. ASUS have also included two sets of voltage probe points so you can monitor the graphics cards voltages in real-time. That's pretty damn cool. ASUS have even been so kind as to include a few extra resistors and capacitors to help overclockers voltmod their graphics cards.

For the most serious of benchmarkers, the OC Panel also features a Slow Mode switch, which changes the CPU multiplier to 12X in order to help with system stability in between benchmarks or while you take any necessary screenshots, and a Pause switch that allows you to freeze the system at a hardware level, thus permitting you to adjust your cooling (or other aspect) during very heavy benchmarking loads. As mentioned previously, there are also four 4-pin PWM fan connectors, but you will need to plug in the SATA power connector.



Click on image to enlarge

In Normal mode, the OC Panel is transformed into a device that you can install in your case via the included 5.25-inch drive bay. In this model, the OC Panel can be used to display real-time info like CPU temperature, basic system clocks, and fan speeds. It also allows for some basic auto overclocking and CPU fan speed adjustments


Click on image to enlarge

We aren't going to show you every screen combination possible, but here is some of what you will see in either Normal or Extreme mode. In Normal mode, the screen is displaying the CPU temperature, CPU fan speed, BCLK and the CPU multiplier. In Extreme model, we have one thermal probe plugged in (ie: T1), the target CPU VTT voltage and the real-time CPU VTT reading. Again these are just some of the many options for both modes.

Overall then, in the right hands, this is a fantastic product. We envision that it's going to be a perfect addition to many overclockers' arsenal of tools, and it definitely makes the Black Edition stand out from the rest of the LGA2011 motherboard field.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the Rampage IV Black Edition

A Closer Look at the Rampage IV Black Edition



Murdered-out aesthetics aside, one of the biggest physical differences between the Rampage IV Black Edition and the earlier Rampage IV Extreme is the fact that the new RIVBE is actually smaller. It still based on the expansive Extended ATX form factor, as you would expect from a motherboard capable of handling four dual-slot graphics cards, but it’s not quite as wide as its predecessor. This is likely because some of the previous model’s overclocking features have been transferred off the PCB and onto the OC Panel accessory.

The overall layout of the Black Edition is excellent, all the numerous buttons, connectors, and ports are very easily accessible and free from possible obstruction.



Click on image to enlarge

There's no dozens and dozens of CPU phases on this motherboard, just a high-tech 11 phase power design which is based on the Extreme Engine DIGI+ III VRM system that was first unveiled on the Haswell-optimized Maximus VI Z87 series motherboards. As on the Extreme model, there are 8 phases for the CPU cores themselves, and 3 phases for the memory controller/system agent and CPU VTT. While the Black Edition features the same Japan-made 10k Black capacitors and high efficiency NexFET all-in-on MOSFETS as the Extreme Edition, ASUS have added their custom new 60-amp gold-tipped chokes.

Once you remove the cooling system, which is quite bulky and capable, you can get a get look at the cool looking new 60A chokes as well as the straight line of 90% efficient NexFET Power Block MOSFETs.

Surprisingly, the large heatsink nearest to the rear I/O shield doesn't really seem to cover anything crucial, so it's clearly for aesthetic purposes. On the top-end of the motherboard is the 8-pin CPU power connector, as well as a supplementary 4-pin 12V power connector.



Click on image to enlarge

While the 24-pin ATX power connector is in its usual spot, the top-right corner of the motherboard is filled with goodies. From the Q-Code debug LED display, to the LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures), Slow Mode switch (drops the CPU multiplier to 12X to enhance system stability), power-on Start button, reset button, MemOk! button (initiates memory compatibility tuning process), PCI-E x16 Lane switch (enable/disable PCI-E x16 slots), and the eleven ProbeIt voltage read points, which are obviously indispensable for any overclocker.


Click on image to enlarge

Although it lights up and looks cool, this heatsink is purely an aesthetic touch, since there is nothing actually under it.


Click on image to enlarge

Here we have one of the two USB 3.0 headers, which is running off an ASMedia ASM1042 USB 3.0 host controller and offers much better performance than the earlier chips like the Renesas D720200F1 chip.




Click on image to enlarge

The new heatsink ditches the active cooling and dedicated heatpipe that was found on the Rampage IV Extreme. It is a good sized chunk of metal and it's held down by four metal screws, so its cooling abilities were never an issue. It also nicely matches the rest of the motherboard's matte black aesthetics.

Pictured above is the Intel X79 Express chipset itself and the ASMedia ASM1061 PCI-E controller that supplies the four grey SATA 6Gb/s ports on the left, which are RAID 0/1/10 capable. The two grey ports in the middle are native SATA 6Gb/s, while the four black ports are SATA 3Gb/s. They all support RAID 0/1/5/10 courtesy of the X79 chipset.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the Rampage IV Black Edition pt.2

A Closer Look at the Rampage IV Black Edition pt.2



Click on image to enlarge

Starting to the bottom left, there is the DirectKey button, which allows you to enter the BIOS automatically without having to mess around with the keyboard during POST. The BIOS Switch button allows you to switch between the motherboard's two onboard BIOS chips, and the accompanying BIOS LEDs indicate which of the two chips is being utilized. The ROG_EXT pins are were you plug in one of the cables that runs to the OC Panel accessory. The front panel header is not colour-coded, but ASUS includes two user-friendly Q-Panel connectors.

Along the bottom edge of the motherboard, there are also two 4-pin PWM fan headers, two USB 2.0 headers, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) connector, and a molex power connector that helps ensure that the PCI-E x16 slots get all the power that they require for triple or quad graphics card configurations.


Click on image to enlarge

The Rampage IV Black Edition features four mechanical PCI-E x16 slots, thereby fully utilizing the full capabilities of the Ivy Bridge-E processor and its 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes. In a dual graphics card configuration, the first and third PCI-E x16 slots will operate at the full x16 speed (x16/x16). When three graphics cards are installed, the first and third mechanical PCI-E x16 slots will run at x16, while the middle slot operates at x8 (x16/x8/x16). In quad card configuration, the first PCI-E slot will run at x16, while the other three slots operate at x8 (x16/x8/x8/x8). Since they operate at PCI-E x8 3.0 there really isn't any performance penalty.

As you would expect, this model has been certified for fully-fledged 4-way CrossFireX and 4-way SLI operation. The two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots are utilizing the X79 chipset's free PCI-E lanes, and have an open-ended design permitting the use of expansion cards that feature longer x4, x8 or x16 PCI-E interfaces.


As we mentioned in the introduction, this motherboard's onboard audio is particularly noteworthy. At the heart of the SupremeFX Black design is Realtek's high-end ALC1150 eight-channel High Definition Audio Codec. This is a fairly widely used part, but it is rare to see it at the center of a carefully considered and properly implemented onboard audio solution. One of the biggest secrets when it comes to onboard audio is that the CODEC arguably has less of an effect on sound quality than the overall implementation. It is only as good as the sum of its parts, and thankfully ASUS have chosen some very good parts indeed.

Cirrus Logic's flagship CS4398 digital-to-analog converter has been included, which is a 192 kHz/24-bit capable DAC with excellent 120dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio). This DAC is responsible for converting the digital data into clean and continuous analog signal. The audio passes through this very important chip before heading to the amplifiers, capacitors, and then the outputs. This isn't a bargain bin DAC, but a high-end chip that you can find in Marantz CD/SACD players as well as countless cottage industry USB DACs.

Also onboard is the Texas Instruments TPA6120A2, which has widely been regarded as one of the best headphone amplifiers on the market since its release in 2004. It is responsible for amplifying the analog signal from the DAC. The TPA6120A2 is a powerful 600 ohm headphone amplifier with a signal-to-noise ratio that exceeds 120dB, so a good match for the Cirrus Logic DAC. It is the exact same part ASUS uses in their nearly $500 Xonar Essence STU. There are obviously many other parts though, like the two Texas Instruments R4580I operational amplifiers (op-amps), the German-made WIMA Film capacitors (the four little red blocks), the numerous audiophile-grade ELNA R2A capacitors, and the NEC TOKIN UC2 audio relay that basically serves as surge protector for the rest of electrical components.

Choosing good parts is really only half the battle when it comes to properly designing an onboard audio solution. Because the inside of a PC case is rife with interference, shielding and isolation is exceptionally important if you want to maximize sound quality. With this in mind, ASUS have actually created an audio noise border that essentially separates the audio components from the rest of the motherboard at the PCB level. There is actually an LED lit path that surrounds a section of the PCB that's been isolated for audio use. There is also an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield covering the Realtek CODEC. All of this serves to help to preserve the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and thus ensure the highest possible sound quality.

Having said all of that, how does it actually sound? Well...pretty good! To put it plainly, with the SupremeFX Black you are effectively getting a high fidelity audio card built-in. It is of sufficiently high quality that just about anyone should be pleased with the sound that it produces, unless you have a really niche or picky audio tastes. Purely subjectively, it has a rather warm sounding signature, whereas audio implementations on standard motherboards tend to have a more cold and harsh audio output delivery. A wider and deeper sound stage was also noticeable, and there was maybe just bit more low range bass noticeable through our headphones. Having listened to a few dozen onboard audio solutions on the years, many of which were decidedly average, we can say without a doubt that the SupremeFX Black surpasses the sound quality of run-of-the-mill onboard audio implementations, as you would expect. Is it as good as a dedicated sound card? That's hard to say, but at this level the differences wouldn't be something that most untrained ears would notice.


The Black Edition has some solid connectivity on its rear I/O panel. Starting from left to right, we have a combo keyboard/mouse PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, Clear CMOS button and ROG Connect button, two USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two additional USB 3.0 ports, two eSATA 6Gb/s ports, one Gigabit LAN port, two USB 3.0 ports,the gold-plated Bluetooth and WiFI antenna ports, and the six audio jacks.


Click on image to enlarge

The reference CPU socket backplate can be removed and replaced with the included X-Socket backplate for those who have older LGA1366 heatsinks that don't natively support LGA2011 as well. You can install your heatsink's backplate over the X-Socket backplate, thus allowing you to install an LGA1366 heatsink. A very thoughtful addition.

There are some VRM components on the motherboard's backside but they are covered by a backplate. There are also no push-pins to be found on this motherboard, metals screws are used to secure both the MOSFET and chipset heatsinks. More interestingly, there are LEDs on the rear of the motherboard, and they emit some pretty cool light.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.


Click on image to enlarge

When installed in the North-South orientation, our Prolimatech Mega Shadow had no issues clearing the MOSFET heatsinks, nor the low profile northbridge cooler. Those installing a water block, phase-change evaporator, or LN2 pot will definitely have no clearance issues, since the CPU socket area is large and uncluttered.


Click on image to enlarge

However, we did also have a clearance issue with the memory modules since the fan clips prevented the installation of taller heatspreaders in either of the two memory slots nearest to the CPU socket. The solution to this problem is either to use lower profile memory modules, to not use the fan clips, or to simply install the fan on the other side of the heatsink...thereby blowing hot air to the front of the case instead of the back. Naturally, this isn't an ideal solution.


Click on image to enlarge

Thanks to the expansion slot layout, there is an adequate gap between memory clips and the back of the graphics card, so there is no need to take out the GPU before installing/removing memory modules. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both ideally placed, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system just a tad easier.




Click on image to enlarge

As you can see in the top-left .GIF, our heatsink does come pretty close to the back of the first graphics card. An ultra-wide heatsink like the Noctua NH-D14 might have some installation issues in that respect. However, short of lengthening the actual motherboard, this is a fairly standard issue on all E-ATX motherboards that need to handle four dual-slot graphics cards. The cards don't overhang the motherboard length-wise, so the edge-mounted SATA connectors are easily accessible. If you install a dual-slot graphics card in the bottom PCI-E x16 slot, it will overhang the various headers, another common issue.


The ten 90-degree SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed or how long they are.


Click on image to enlarge

This motherboard comes with its own LGA2011 socket backplate, so you don't need a third-party one to install LGA2011 compatible coolers. As a result, there are no possible installation issues. However, if you have an older LGA1366 heatsink you can just remove this backplate and install the included X-Socket backplate. It holds the socket to the motherboard while allowing you to use whatever backplate came with your heatsink.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


As we have come to expect from UEFI BIOS implementations on all motherboards, the Rampage IV Black Edition features two distinct BIOS modes. The EZ Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode is one of the most advanced and feature-rich BIOS’ that we have ever seen. It is similar but slightly refined version of the BIOS found on the previous Extreme Edition model. One of the most obvious differences is the transition from a primarily red design to a new all-black colour scheme. From within the EZ Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F7. However, from the Advanced Mode you need to click on the Exit button in the top-right corner to gain access to the EZ Mode.


Click on image to enlarge

The EZ Mode makes pretty good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings.


Click on image to enlarge

The My Favorites tab is a fairly new addition to the bios. As you might have surmised, it allows you to have all your most useful or most used settings in one place, so you no longer have to search through the whole bios to find what you need time and time again.


Click on image to enlarge

Next up is the Extreme Tweaker section, which is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with an all-core and per-core option, BLCK frequency, CPU strap, memory frequency, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.

The two OC Profile options and CPU Level Up menu allow novice users to automatically overclock those components without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. These two features do work, but they do tend to set voltages a bit higher than what would otherwise be needed.



Click on image to enlarge

As its name suggests, the DRAM Timing Control section is where you will find all the memory-related settings. Within this section you can select and change all the memory settings, and each memory channel has its own section, from which you can alter the primary and secondary timings. It has just about every memory modifier that an enthusiast or overclocker would need to fine-tune their modules. There's really an overabundance of options and it is quite impressive.

The DIGI+ Power Control section has a whole slew of advanced power regulation settings for the CPU cores, CPU VTT and VCCSA (system agent/memory controller), and DRAM channels. This motherboard is setup well enough so that you should never actually have to tweak any of these settings though, unless you are really pushing the limits with phase-change or LN2 cooling. The exception to this is obviously Load-Line Calibration (LLC), which is a worthwhile feature that eliminates droopage on the CPU vCORE, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.

The CPU Performance Settings section is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like SpeedStep and Turbo Mode, as well as setting the Turbo limits.


Click on image to enlarge

The GPU/DIMM Post sub-menu is where you can double-check what memory slots are populated, and what frequency the modules are running at,. Likewise, you can see what PCI-E slots are in-use and and what mode they are operating at. There is also a cool feature called the PCIe Lane Simulator that allows users to simulate any PCI-E lane arrangement for testing purposes.

We like the fact that ASUS gives users an option when it comes to changing the CPU vCore. You can either type in the vCore directly (1.20V, 1.30V, 1.40V, etc) in Manual Mode or simply use an offset mode (+0.10V, +0.20V, +0.30V, etc) in Offset Mode. This is enthusiast-oriented motherboard, so naturally all the main system voltages - both primary and secondary - are present and accounted for: CPU VCORE, CPU VTT, CPU VCCSA, DRAM Channel A/B, DRAM Channel C/D, CPU PLL, PCH 1.1v, and two PLL Termination options. We are also pleased to see real-time voltage readouts for all these important voltages.


Click on image to enlarge

There are two Spread Spectrum settings and a BCLK Recovery option that may help with BCLK or PCI-E overclocking. The three Tweaker' Paradise sub-menus have a ton of fairly obscure settings that can really come in handy in the expert hands of a top-level overclocker.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2



Click on image to enlarge

The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also set the system language, and an administrator and/or individual User password.






Click on image to enlarge

The Advanced tab is where you can enable/disable all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, as well as all the onboard devices like the audio, Bluetooth, WiFi, LAN, USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s controllers, etc. You can also enable/disable the numerous LEDs placed across the motherboard or the red light embedded in the "fake" northbridge heatsink.



Click on image to enlarge

The Monitor section contains the anti-surge setting, but is mostly dedicated to monitoring the various voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. This whole section is really quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, as well as truly excellent and comprehensive fan control functionality.


Click on image to enlarge

The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.


Click on image to enlarge

ASUS EZ Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplifies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s) or USB flash drive(s). It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.

This BIOS incorporates an easy secure erase utility for solid state drives, which is a process that not only destroys all the data on the SSD but also helps to restore the drive to its original performance level.



Click on image to enlarge

ASUS EZ Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplifies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s) or USB flash drive(s). It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing. This BIOS also incorporates an easy secure erase utility for solid state drives, which is a process that not only destroys all the data on the SSD but also helps to restore the drive to its original performance level.

The ASUS Overclocking Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other MIIIE owners.


Click on image to enlarge

Before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It's a well though out idea.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
Included Software

Included Software


Ai Suite III

The foremost utility in ASUS' vast software suite is the aptly named Ai Suite III. Whereas ASUS used to have a handful of standalone apps for different functions, many were consolidated under the Ai Suite moniker back in 2011. This system management utility is the hub from which you can monitor system clock speeds, voltages, temperatures, and fan rotation but more importantly it allows users to do both automatic and manual overclocking from within Windows. The utility's third iteration was launched along with the Z87 motherboards, and it features a refreshed design and feature set when compared to the Ai Suite II version included with the Rampage IV Extreme. Let's check it out.

Click on image to enlarge

The 4-Way Optimization tab is where you will find the 4-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature. You will also see very simplified information relating to the other four tabs, such as a selection of the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) power saving or performance profiles, Fan Xpert 2 fan speed optimization status, and some display-only information regarding TurboV Processing Unit (TPU).

Click on image to enlarge

In the top-right corner of the Ai Suite utility is a downwards arrow that activates a dropdown screen when clicked. Here you will be features like Ai Charger+ and USB 3.0 Boost. When enabled, Ai Charger+ allows up to 3X faster charging of devices connected to USB ports, while enabling USB 3.0 implements the UAS Protocol (UASP) USB protocol that greatly enhances speeds while also lowering CPU utilization. The EZ Update tool allows users to update their motherboard's BIOS either directly from the internet or from a downloaded file. Ai Charger+ allows users to supercharge their USB ports, and enable up to 3 times faster charging of mobile devices.

System Information just contains a bunch of basic system information regarding your CPU, motherboard or RAM. You can also find you can find your serial number, BIOS version, etc. BIOS Flashback allows you to copy the content of BIOS1 to BIOS2, as well as force the use of BIOS1 or BIOS2.

Click on image to enlarge

At the bottom is a static strip that displays information on CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperatures measurements, as well as CPU and case fans speeds. You can also set safe thresholds for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as well as setting alerts to warn you of any serious fluctuations. It is essentially a replacement for the Probe II utility.

Click on image to enlarge

When you put your mouse cursor over the 4-Way Optimization button it will glow red, and if you actually click on it you get access to the Dual Intelligent Processors 4 sub-menu. There is a certain level of fan control functionality in this section, but what's really interesting is the CPU Level Up! automatic overclocking feature. You will have the option of 3 different overclocking levels depending on whether you have a Sandy Bridge-E or Ivy Bridge-E processor. Go check out the Overclocking Results section to see how well this auto-overclocking feature worked.

Click on image to enlarge

The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) tab is where you can manually adjust the BCLK frequency or CPU strap (100/125/166/200MHz). If you are using an Ivy Bridge-E processor, you will also be able to change the CPU multiplier, either per core or as a group. There are also an impressive twelve adjustable system voltages. You can adjust all these settings on-the-fly without having to reboot the system, except for the CPU strap since it does cause such a dramatic increase in all system frequencies.

Click on image to enlarge

The EPU (Energy Processing Unit) tab is you will be able to fine-tune the various selection of power saving or performance profiles. This is a versatile feature for those who truly care about maximizing energy savings.

Click on image to enlarge

The DIGI+ Power Control tab is where you will find the power options for the CPU, System Agent/Memory Controller, and RAM. There are adjustable settings for load-line calibration, current capability, voltage frequency, and phase control. There are different power controls for each memory channel since they are independently powered.

Click on image to enlarge

The Fan Xpert 2 tab is, as you might expect, where you can fully manage and optimize your CPU and system fans. While there are now a series of four fan presets (Silent/Standard/Turbo/Full Speed), you can also manually adjust the full fan speed curve to your preferences, or simply use the fully automated Fan Tuning feature.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest posts

Twitter

Top