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ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Included Software pt.2

Included Software pt.2


ROG CPU-Z

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Click on image to enlarge

ROG CPU-Z is a special edition of CPU-Z especially created to match the aesthetics of ASUS Republics of Gamers motherboards. It is kept as up-to-date as the regular version, and is available at the same place: CPUID.com


MemTweakIt

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MemTweakIt is memory tweaking tool which allows for modification of just about every primary and secondary memory timing within Windows, and without having to reboot the system. It's a joy to use and a great tool for overclockers.


GameFirst II

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GameFirst II is a utility designed to help reduce latency courtesy of cFosSpeed traffic-shapping technology. This utility provides users with a lot of control and monitoring capabilities over every application that is accessing the network. It displays CPU usage, NPU usage, ICMP and UDP average ping, and the network utilization of every system process and program. This tool also allows you give priority to certain applications, and throttle or block others to free network resources for other applications. It is your one-stop tool for monitoring and controlling all network traffic.


Boot Setting

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ASUS Boot Setting allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to repeatedly hit delete during the POST screen. It is a pretty hand tool when you are rebooting as often as overclockers tend to do.


WebStorage

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The WebStorage utility is basically the ASUS equivalent of DropBox. It is cloud computing application that gives users web storage and access to data across many devices. All ASUS motherboard owners get a free 5.5GB of storage, you can buy more or be gifted some by ASUS if you referrer your friends. The web interface is pretty standard and utilitarian. Overall, there is not much to complain about, it's a nice freebie if you choose to use it.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Test Setup & Testing Methodology

Test Setup & Testing Methodology



For this review, we have prepared eight different test setups, representing all the popular platforms at the moment, as well as most of the best-selling processors. As much as possible, the four test setups feature identical components, memory timings, drivers, etc. Aside from manually selecting memory frequencies and timings, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

Intel Core i7 LGA2011 Sandy Bridge-E Test Setup​
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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) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) All available Windows updates are then installed.

E) All programs are installed and then updated, followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.

Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.1.0
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.2
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition v2.70.2200 Beta
  • Cinebench R11.529 64-bit
  • HyperPI 0.99b
  • MaxxMEM² - PreView v1.91
  • SiSoft Sandra 2011.SP5
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • wPRIME version 2.06
  • X3: Terran Conflict Demo v1.0

That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Overclocking Results

Overclocking Results


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We are not going to over the ins and outs of overclocking on the LGA2011 platform, you can find a nice recap here, but we are going to recommend that users stay within the following voltage limits for their 24/7 overclocks: 1.45V Core, 1.25V VTT, 1.20V VCCSA, 1.65V DIMM for Sandy Bridge-E, and 1.40vCore, 1.20V VTT, 1.15V VCCSA, 1.65V DDIMM for Ivy Bridge-E. That is what we used below, and it should allow the majority of users to max out their chips on high-end air cooling. Having said that, since these can be some very hot running processors, definitely adjust the voltages as needed to stay below 90C under full load.


Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X

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Since automatic overclocking has become increasingly popular due to the increased prevalence and competence of the supplied tools, we figured that we would try out the CPU Level option in the 4-Way Optimization tab of the Ai Suite III utility. For our i7-3960X, we were given three possible auto-overclocking presets: 4.02GHz, 4.12GHz, or 4.25Ghz. Naturally, we went straight for the high performance preset since it's really not a significant overclock for any SB-E processor, so we weren't worried about it not being capable achieving that clock speed.


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Once you select the CPU Level and click on the Start button the system will ask to reboot, and when it re-enters the OS the utility will optimize and validate the TPU, EPU, fans, and DIGI+ Power Control settings and finalize the overclock. It takes about a minute and then it's done. As you can see, our chip didn't have any issues with the overclock. We are fairly impressed that the low vCore that was applied, most auto-overclocking implementations go way overkill in that area. We do wish that there was an option to select and apply a higher memory frequency though. Having said that, if you're knowledgeable enough to recognize a low-ish DRAM frequency, you should be able to just enter the BIOS and manual set your desired speeds. Most importantly of all, the system passed our basic torture tests so it was a stable overclock.


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Next up is obviously our manual overclock. This was actually a loaner CPU, so we hadn't tested it with any other motherboard and thus didn't really know what is was capable of. However, as you can see 4.65GHz at 1.46V is a pretty solid overclock. We pushed the vCore boundaries a bit, but this pre-retail C0 revision chip ran exceptionally cool so we didn't encounter any thermal issues. On the memory front, we were able to push our G.Skill modules to impressive new highs: DDR3-2423 10-12-11 at 1.65V. We aren't sure what kind of Magic Ju-Ju the engineers pulled off on the Black Edition, but it has clearly worked. Obviously, there's nothing that we are doing here that is any way stressing the capabilities of a motherboard of this caliber.


Ivy Bridge-E Core i7-4960X

At the last minute (or actually several hours/days/weeks past the last minute), we were able to snag a proper Core i7-4960X. This was exciting since the Rampage IV Black Edition was explicitly designed with Ivy Bridge-E in mind. Let's see how it did compared to the Sandy Bridge-E chip.

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As you can see with an IVB-E chip installed, the CPU Level presets have increased a fair bit, with the top level increasing from 4.25 to 4.50GHz. Now let's see it in action.


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So once again, upon reboot, it took about a minute to finalize this overclock. Compared to the Sandy Bridge-E preset, the vCore has been increased from 1.328V to 1.408V, which is a little too high for Ivy Bridge-E in our opinion. The chip won't degrade or anything serious, but it will put out a ton of heat. To be honest, this elevated vCore is to be expected for the top-end preset since it that has to account for both good and bad overclocking processors. Users can easily manually decrease that a few notches at will.


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Once the manual overclocking front, we were able to squeeze another 100MHz compared to the i7-3960X...and with 0.05V less voltage. 4.75GHz at 1.408V is very solid result for an i7-4960X. On the memory side, we were almost able to equal the SB-E result, but we were held back a tiny bit by the different CPU strap, BCLK, and memory multiplier settings.


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Click on image to enlarge or click here for the CPU-Z verification page

Just for shits and giggles we decided to see how high we could get the BCLK, and using the 180MHz OC Profile in the BIOS we were able to hit a benchmark stable 189MHz. If we submitted the result, it would put us in a tie for third place on hwbot.org. Clearly ASUS knew what they were doing when they optimized this model for Ivy Bridge-E.

Obviously, nothing we did above - except maybe the BCLK test - comes within a mile of reaching this motherboard's potential. Only with liquid nitrogen, expert knowledge, and binned parts can you really make full use of the Black Edition's capabilities.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System Benchmarks and Gaming Benchmarks sections, we will show a number benchmark comparisons utilizing the Core i7-3960X and ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition at default clocks, with the CPU Level 4250Mhz automatic overclock preset applied, and using own our manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by overclocking the i7-3960XK using this motherboard. For full comparisons of i7-3960X versus a number of different CPUs have a look at the Intel Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X CPU Review.


SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP


When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP. This is therefore a single-thread workload.

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wPRIME 2.10


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.

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Cinebench R11.5


Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R11.5 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.

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Sandra Processor Arithmetic and Processor Multi-Media Benchmarks

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. The software suite provides most of the information (including undocumented) users like to know about hardware, software, and other devices whether hardware or software. The name “Sandra” is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means "defender", "helper of mankind".

The software version used for these tests is SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP4. In the 2012 version of Sandra, SiSoft has updated the .Net benchmarks and the GPGPU benchmarks have been upgraded to General Processing (GP) benchmarks, able to fully test the new APU (CPU+GPU) processors. The two benchmarks that we used are the Processor Multi-Media and Processor Arithmetic benchmarks. These three benchmarks were chosen as they provide a good indication of three varying types of system performance. The multi-media test shows how the processor handles multi-media instructions and data and the arithmetic test shows how the processor handles arithmetic and floating point instructions. These two tests illustrate two important areas of a computer’s speed and provide a wide scope of results.


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MaxxMem Benchmark

Created by MaxxPI², the MaxxMem benchmark tests your computer’s raw memory performance, combining copy, read, write and latency tests into one global score. This memory benchmark is a classic way to measure bandwidth of a memory subsystem.

MaxxMem uses continuous memoryblocks, sized in power of 2 from 16MB up to 512MB, starting either writing to or reading from it. To enable high-precision memory performance measurement, they both internally work with multiple passes and averages calculations per run.

Further, the main goal was to minimize (CPU) cache pollution on memory reads and to eliminate it (almost completely) on memory writes. Additionally, MaxxMem operates with an aggressive data prefetching algorithm. This all will deliver an excellent judge of bandwidth while reading and writing.


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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks




Futuremark 3DMark (2013)


3DMark v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Fire Strike Preset
Rendered Resolution: 1920x1680
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark is the brand new cross-platform benchmark from the gurus over at Futuremark. Designed to test a full range of hardware from smartphones to high-end PCs, it includes three tests for DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 hardware, and allows users to compare 3DMark scores with other Windows, Android and iOS devices. Most important to us is the new Fire Strike preset, a DirectX 11 showcase that tests tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Like every new 3DMark version, this test is extremely GPU-bound, but it does contain a heavy physics test that can show off the potential of modern multi-core processors.


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Futuremark 3DMark 11


3DMark 11 v1.0.5
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X720
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark 11 is Futuremark's very latest benchmark, designed to tests all of the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. At the moment, it is lot more GPU-bound than past versions are now, but it does contain a terrific physics test which really taxes modern multi-core processors.


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Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.1.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280X1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.


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Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Resolution: 1680x1050
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 8X
Graphic Settings: High
Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.


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X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1680x1050
Texture & Shader Quality: High
Antialiasing 4X
Anisotropic Mode: 8X
Glow Enabled

Game Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

X3: Terran Conflict (X3TC) is the culmination of the X-series of space trading and combat simulator computer games from German developer Egosoft. With its vast space worlds, intricately detailed ships, and excellent multi-threaded game engine, it remains a great test of modern CPU performance.


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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption

Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption


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Our voltage regulation testing will focus on the various voltages and the differences encountered between what is selected in the BIOS and what is measured by a digital multi-meter (DMM). Thanks to the onboard voltage measurement points we didn't have to go poking & prodding everywhere, since all the voltage read points are located in one convenient spot. Users can either take their measurements straight from the voltage read pads.

Unless otherwise indicated, these measurements were taken at stock system speeds and with C1E, C-STATE, Enhanced SpeedStep, and Turbo Boost enabled in the BIOS. LLC signifies Load-Line Calibration. Here are our findings:

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As you can see, the Black Edition has excellent regulation output. What you set in the bios is pretty much exactly what the board put outs when idling or under light loads. There is a normal amount of voltage droopage under full load, but it is well within reference specifications. Those who want no vDroop have the settings at hand to eliminate it completely via the various Load-Line Calibration (LLC) settings.

At this point, we would usually see how the vCore behaves with and without Load-Line Calibration (LLC) enabled. However, OCCT did not recognize this motherboard's vCore line, and thus couldn't monitor. We had to look for an alternative, and settled on the AIDA64 System Stability Test. This testing was done with a one-hour stability run and with our Core i7-3960X overclocked to 4.25Ghz at 1.40V (in the BIOS).

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Basically, the actual rippling of the vCore line under full load is non-existent on this motherboard. When you set LLC to Extreme mode, the most aggressive option, there are slightly more little spikes than with either the AUTO or Normal settings, but they are really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Personally, we recommend that you just keep this setting on AUTO.


Power Consumption


For this section, every energy saving feature was enabled in the BIOS and the Windows power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced. For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter. For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 V27.9 64-bit In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter. For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads for 15 minutes, while simultaneously loading the GPU with OCCT v4.4.0 GPU DX11 stress test at 1680x1050 with a 300 FPS Limit.


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The stock numbers are very much inline we what would expect from a fully featured motherboard such as this one. We aren't using any of the numerous power saving software options that ASUS offers, so there's definitely room for improvement if that's of interest to you. Once you start pumping extra voltage into Sandy Bridge-E processors the power consumption starts climbing at a significant rate, but this motherboard was purpose built to handle the additional power draw.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


If you have the money to afford it, and the skills to make use of it, this is the best X79 motherboard on the market. In fact, the bonkers ASRock X79 Extreme11 aside, there's no one else even competing in the ultra-high-end sphere that the Rampage IV Black edition occupies. So whether you are buying this motherboard for the sleek aesthetics, the top-notch capabilities, or just the premium status, you won't be disappointed since the RIVBE is almost without flaws.

Now we can't actually say that from the moment we took the motherboard out that everything just worked flawlessly, since our first sample was a little wonky. Flukes happen in this industry, so no reason to rake ASUS over the coals about it. Furthermore, the replacement proved to be rock solid throughout all our subsequent testing, and we went over it with a fine-tooth comb looking for issues.

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As you would expect, default performance was very strong throughout our benchmark gauntlet, but it's when you start overclocking that the numbers start to skyrocket. How high depends on your approach. The automatic overclocking CPU Level presets built into the Ai Suite III present novice users will some very worthwhile performance gains. Using an i7-3960X, we were able to max out at 4.25GHz, while our i7-4960X had no problems with the top-level 4.50GHz preset. We would have loved to see an intelligent auto-overclocking feature instead of static presets, but given who this motherboard is targeted at, we suspect that it will either end up in the hands of those who don't actually care about overclocking or are serious and knowledgeable enough to do everything manually.

While we sadly didn't have the means to even attempt to probe this motherboard's limits via extreme sub-zero overclocking, it had no issues maxing out our Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E processors, as well as helping out set a new high clock speed for our memory modules. While we are on the subject, it's impossible not to mention the OC Panel, the cool new monitoring and overclocking accessory that comes included with this model. This mighty not-so-little gadget will undoubtedly prove itself to be a fantastic addition to many overclockers' toolbox, and we hope that ASUS maintains support for this device well into the future.

On another <i>note</i>, while onboard audio is largely an afterthought on most motherboards, we appreciate that ASUS put a lot of care into the implementation of the SupremeFX Black. It is really is one of the best onboard audio designs available at this point in time. Sound quality is obviously intensely subjective, but most casual listeners will be very satisfied with what they will hear. There is nothing to complain about on the storage front either. With six SATA 6Gb/s ports, four SATA 3Gb/s ports, two eSATA 6Gb/s, six USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, a number of USB headers, onboard dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi/Bluetooth 4.0 with an external antenna, nothing is missing or even lacking. Some may point out the lack of a Thunderbolt port or M.2 NGFF slot, but those are two truly niche features, and they lack worthwhile consumer demand at this point.

Frankly, with the Rampage IV Black Edition you are getting distilled awesomeness. This motherboard is not just a minor refresh over the Rampage IV Extreme, it's a total redesign, optimized for Ivy Bridge-E, and packed with the features - both new and old - that gamers, benchmarkers, and overclockers will appreciate. Whatever you decide to use it for, this motherboard will absolutely not be the weak point that holds you back...it's also just really cool looking!



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