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ASUS Rampage V Extreme X99 Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
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Location
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The holiday season has arrived, and it looks like Santa brought us an early gift.

This is a motherboard that we have been waiting a while for since ASUS haven't really released a new flagship Republic of Gamers (RoG) model since the exquisite Rampage IV Black Edition. Although the company produced a handful of excellent Republic of RoG models based on the mainstream Z97 chipset - like the compact Maximus VII GENE - there was never any talk of a Extreme variant...and now we know why. The Extreme team were busy working on a model for a different platform, and the end result of this is the flagship in ASUS' entire X99 motherboard lineup, the Rampage V Extreme (RVE).

As you would expect. the high-end Rampage V Extreme is rather costly at $475USD/$520CAD. However, it almost looks like a good deal next to the utterly insane ASRock X99 Extreme11, which retails for $650 in the US and mind-boggling $850 in Canada. What do you get for your money? Well prepare for some verbiage: five physical PCI-E x16 slots, 4-way CrossFire and 4-way SLI capabilities, one PCI-E x1 slot, one M.2 x4 connector, two SATA Express ports, eight SATA 6Gb/s port (plus the four more on the SATAe ports) and one Intel-powered Gigabit LAN port. There's also a Thunderbolt 2.0 header, ten USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, as well as a number of USB 2.0/3.0 headers allowing for further expansion.

Rounding out the connectivity is onboard dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi capable of transfer speeds up to 1300Mbps, Bluetooth v4.0 capabilities, and a powerful external 3T3R antenna. Onboard audio is handled by the ROG SupremeFX 2014 solution, which is designed around a Realtek ALC1150 10-channel HD audio CODEC protected by an EMI cover, ENLA audio capacitors, and PCB-level analog and digital signal separation. It supports a slew of features like Sonic SenseAmp, Sonic Studio, Sonic SoundStage, Sonic Rader II, and DTS Connect features.

As always, overclockers will absolutely love this model. It features a Q-Code debug LED display, LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures), Slow Mode switch (drops the CPU multiplier to temporarily enhance system stability), Safe Boot button (powers off system, loads previous Safe Mode BIOS settings), ReTry button (hardware-level reboot similar to turning off your PSU), power-on Start button, Reset button, MemOk! button (initiates memory compatibility tuning process), thermal probe header, and even a ProbeIt area with an assortment of voltage read points. ASUS have even developed a proprietary OC Socket that supposedly improves Haswell-E overclocking via better voltage regulation, and there is an excellent automatic overclocking option to choose from as well.

One of the other unique aspects of the RVE is the included OC Panel, an external monitoring and tweaking peripheral which by itself retails for about $100. 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.

When we reviewed the ASUS X99-Deluxe we concluded that it was a motherboard with no compromises and essentially no flaws either. We have reviewed three other X99 motherboards since then and none have really come close to matching the Deluxe, so clearly it set a very high bar. So the ham-fisted question is, can ASUS surpass ASUS?

 
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MAC

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Specifications & Features

Specifications & Features



Before we get up-close and personal in the upcoming pages with the incomparable Rampage V Extreme through pictures and tests, here is quick and dirty rundown of this motherboard's specifications as per ASUS's website just for reference purposes.



As mentioned in the introduction - and as you can see above - this motherboard has quite a few really noteworthy features, more than we care to individually breakdown ourselves, but we will be examining some of the more 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 and Rampage IV Black Edition.
 

MAC

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The X99 Platform; Enthusiasts Rejoice

The X99 Platform; Enthusiasts Rejoice


One of the main critiques leveled at Intel’s X79 was its similarity to the old-as-the-hills X58. As a matter of fact, from a specifications standpoint, that’s exactly what it was: an X58 chipset with a new coat of paint in the form of PCI-E 3.0 support. Since it didn’t feature current technologies like native USB 3.0 and only had two SATA 6Gbps ports, motherboards required third party controllers to attain those functions, and support wasn’t the greatest especially for key features like RAID and high speed USB throughput. That caused a serious problem for a so-called enthusiast platform when Intel’s own Z87 incorporated those elements into boards that often cost hundreds less than their X79 cousins.

X99 changes this equation in a big way towards compatibility that many thought should have been incorporated into X79 in the first place. Nonetheless, we are now (finally!) going to see native support for USB 3.0, SATA Express, and Thunderbolt 2 on Intel’s enthusiast motherboards.


Starting with the most obvious thing first: X99 chipsets will still use the LGA2011 socket but it has been updated for Haswell-E compatibility. This not only means new microcode but also support for the processors’ fine grain power distribution needs and higher current capability. In short, older LGA2011 boards will not be forwards compatible with these new processors, nor will this so-called LGA2011-v3 socket be backwards compatible with Ivy Bridge-E CPUs.

The X99 platform is of course headlined by the Haswell-E CPU which provides up to 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes (the i7-5820K will only come with 28 lanes enabled) which can be distributed via up to three integrated slots. This means a x16 / x16 / x8 setup is possible as is a 5x8 setup via third party controllers should motherboard vendors decide to go that route. The processor also houses the quad channel DDR4 memory controller.

As with all Intel platforms, the PCH is where all the I/O fun happens and it is connected to the processor via a x4 DMI interface providing up to 4GB/s of aggregate upstream / downstream bandwidth. In this case the X99 supports up to 14 USB ports spread across six USB 3.0 and 8 USB 2.0 along with ten native SATA 6Gbps ports. Through the use of Intel’s refreshed architecture these can be paired with additional PCIe 2.0 lanes for SATA Express or 4x M.2 compatibility without needing to resort to a so-called “FlexIO” interface. Naturally, those lanes can also be used for additional controllers as well which typically provide Bluetooth, secondary LAN and WiFi features.

Past the obvious continuity of an integrated Intel LAN, all of the SATA 6Gbps ports are backstopped by Intel’s RST 13.1 infrastructure should a motherboard vendor choose to include it (most will be). Extreme Tuning Utility compatibility is also a requirement here whereas on Z97 it’s considered an optional feature.


Since this is considered Intel’s high end platform, motherboard manufacturers are pulling out all the stops when it comes to board design. Take the ASUS Rampage V Extreme for example; it features a laundry list of must-have features for enthusiasts. It has 4-way SLI / Crossfire, two SATA Express ports, a PCI-E x4 M.2 storage slot, a high-end sound solution, integrated WiFi/Bluetooth wireless support, a ton of onboard buttons and switches, and the list goes on.
 

MAC

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the Rampage V Extreme's features and specifications, it is time to examine the new packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the numerous bundled accessories. Let's check it out:


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Similar to previous RoG releases, this model features a predominantly red colour scheme with the RoG logo featured prominently on every side. As ASUS tend to do on pricier motherboards, there is a side flap and a window revealing the motherboard and the OC Panel accessory 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. The back of the box also reveals a few of this models' more notable features like the aforementioned OC Panel, the O.C Socket, the M.2 & SATA Express connectivity, as well as onboard 1300Mbps WiFi. It also contains a basic specs list and shows the I/O panel in impressive detail.


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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.


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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.


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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, there's even a fancy door hanger to redirect would be interlopers from distracting your gaming sessions.


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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. An impressively comprehensive assortment, which is what you should expect from this class of product.


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Here we have the shiny chrome-like I/O shield, the proprietary cable for the OC Panel accessory, and the WiFi antenna. This antenna works in conjunction with the ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module that supports dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with transfer speeds of up 1300Mbps. This is a 3T3R antenna which means that it has 3 transmitter (T) and 3 receiver (R) antennas, and thus should have excellent wireless signal sensitivity and transmission range. There is also a smaller replacement CPU back plate, known as the X-Socket II - that frees up the motherboard holes and allows users bolt water blocks or LN2 pots directly to the motherboard. Pretty thoughtful for the hardcore overclockers out there!


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Last but not least, are the ten SATA 6Gb/s cables, two Q-connectors, three thermal probes, and the 5.25-inch drive bay where you can choose install the OC Panel. More on this on the next page.
 
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MAC

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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 and Rampage IV Black Edition motherboards. 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.



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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.


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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.



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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


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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 mode, 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 this RoG Extreme model stand out from the rest of the LGA2011-3 motherboard field.
 

MAC

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Messages
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Location
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A Closer Look at the Rampage V Extreme

A Closer Look at the Rampage V Extreme




One of the constant features of the Republic of Gamers motherboards is the black and red colour scheme combined with gritty looking and feeling heatsinks. ASUS might not be the only kid on the block doing red & black designs anymore - everyone's doing it - but it is hard to beat the original. One of the other standout aesthetic touches is the EXTREME logo on the I/O panel cover, so there is no questioning as to what model your system in based on.

If you have a keen eye, you might have noticed the RVE has a larger than usual PCB. At 305mm x 272mm it is a little bit wider than the standard ATX dimensions (305mm × 244mm) and is thus classified as an Extended ATX (EATX) motherboard. It should fit in any E-ATX cases compatible cases, and maybe even some of the larger ATX cases but caveat emptor definitely applies. Thanks to this expansive area, ASUS have managed to fit a huge assortment of expansions slots and headers, while maintaining a clean and user-friendly layout. We are pleased that the ATX power connector, the 8-pin and 4-pin CPU power connectors, ten SATA ports, USB headers, and wide variety of buttons are all conveniently placed at the edge of the motherboard. The CPU socket area does look a little busier than we would like, but we will address below and in the Installation Section.


One of the more interesting features that ASUS introduced with their X99 motherboards is the OC Socket. It s is a custom LGA2011-3 socket designed and implemented exclusively by ASUS. It features 6 additional pins that supposedly help bypass the FIVR (Fully Integrated Voltage Regulation) that is built into Haswell-E processors and should allow for better voltage delivery and thus superior CPU and memory overclocking. Do these claims pan out? You will have to check our Overclocking Results section.

Since it is caught between the memory slots and the various heatsinks, the CPU socket area definitely looks a little cramped, but after having installed our large tower heatsink and seeing others install huge LN2 pots, it's really a non-issue. Feel free to check out our Installation section for more information.

The Rampage V Extreme was designed with a high-performance 8+2+2 phase CPU power design featuring a proprietary ASUS DIGI+ EPU PWM controller and eight of the PowIRstage IR3555 newest all-in-one driver/MOSFETs. This is also the first implementation of the low-profile MicroFine Alloy Chokes, which feature structural improvements that allow them to handle a large amount of current, while staying cooler, and improvement efficiency. To round things out, there are high-end 10K Black Metallic polymer capacitors.


Here is a sidelook of the new MicroFine Alloy Chokes that are covered, but not cooled by the MOSFET heatsink. Speaking of which, behind said heatsink you will find the 8-pin CPU power connector and supplementary 4-pin CPU power connector. This is a welcome addition since very highly overclocked Haswell-E processors can draw a ton of current through the 8-pin CPU power connector, enough to trip up certain power supplies with wonky over-current protection (OCP).


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There is a pretty beefy heatpipe connecting the MOSFET heatsink to the pseudo I/O cover/heatsink on the left of the board. The the heatpipe doesn't extend all the way through the heatsink though, which is fine since it's not really cooling anything anyways.


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Due to the quad-channel memory architecture of this flagship platform, this motherboard features eight DDR4 memory slots. The slots are powered by a 2-phase power design for each bank, and ASUS have validated the RVE for memory frequencies up to DDR4-3300 and up to 64GB of total system memory. ASUS have also implemented enhanced DRAM overcurrent protection (OCP) and short circuit damage prevention, so you will be able to push those pricey new DDR4 modules as hard as you want without worrying that the memory slots will let you down. Like on all ASUS motherboards, this model features the handy Q-DIMM memory slots, which prevent any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card.

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 enhance system stability), Safe Boot button (powers off system, loads previous Safe Mode BIOS settings), ReTry button (hardware-level reboot similar to turning off your PSU) 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 ten ProbeIt voltage read points, which are obviously indispensable for any overclocker.


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


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One of the main benefits of this motherboard is that it supports the high-speed M.2 interface in all of its PCI-E 3.0 x4 glory - since it's getting that bandwidth straight from the processor instead of the X99 chipset - which means a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gbps (4GB/s). We definitely approve of this spot for an M.2 SSD since it will get less heat radiated on it from the graphics cards than most other implementations that are shoehorned between the PCI-E slots. By the way, this is the first motherboard that we have reviewed that supports full-size 22110 (22mm x 110mm) M.2 form factor. It is a welcome feature, but realistically the majority of M.2 devices will be based on the shorter 2280 (22mm x 80mm) length.

Here we have one of the two USB 3.0 headers, which are supplied directly by the X99 chipset itself and thus should provide optimal transfer speeds.


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While this motherboard features an impressive grand total of twelve SATA 6Gb/s ports, "only" eight of which are supplied by the X99 PCH. There are four AHCI ports, while the remaining four support RAID 0/1/5/10 plus Intel Rapid Storage Technology. When it comes to the two SATA Express ports - both capable of 10Gb/s data transfer rates - the top one is running off of an ASMedia ASM106SE controller while the bottom one is powered by the Intel chipset. The ASMedia SATAe port shares bandwidth with the black PCI-E x16 slot (which is really an x4), so if you plan on using that slot, so you cannot use both simultaneously. ASUS have included a little diagram on the motherboard itself explaining the SATA Express port breakdown.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Messages
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Location
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A Closer Look at the Rampage V Extreme pt.2

A Closer Look at the Rampage V Extreme pt.2



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Next to the SATA Express ports is the Keybot button, which is linked to the KeyBot microprocessor is obviously dedicated towards the new KeyBot feature, which ASUS refers to as a free and instant keyboard upgrade (more on this in the software section).

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 front panel header is not colour-coded, but ASUS includes two user-friendly Q-Panel connectors. The ROG_EXT pins are were you plug in one of the cables that runs to the OC Panel accessory.

Along the bottom edge of the motherboard, there is also a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) connector, two socketed BIOS chips, a USB 3.0 header, 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. The Sonic SoundStage button gives users a means of switching between four hardware-level audio-profiles in real-time based on the game genre being played.


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The Rampage V Extreme features five mechanical PCI-E x16 slots, but only the four red ones are dedicated to graphics use. When you combine the 40 PCI-E lanes of the Core i7-5960X or i7-5930K with some clever ASMedia PCI-E switches, the expansion possibilities are obviously impressive.

In a simple dual graphics card configuration, you will get full speed x16/x16 PCI-E 3.0 transfer rates. When three graphics cards are installed, the first and second card will run at x16 2.0, while the thirds operates at x8 2.0 (x16/x16/x8). If you're planning on making full use of the 4-Way SLI and 4-Way CrossFireX capabilities the PCI-E slots will be running at x16/x8/x8/x8 in PCI-E 2.0 mode.

Regrettably, those with a 28 lane CPU like the i7-5820K have to make due with x16/x8 in a 2-way configuration which is disappointing since it basically eliminates any graphical advantage this platform has over a mainstream i7-4790K/Z97 combo. A three-way installation predictably turns into a x8/x8/x8 breakdown, while four-way just isn't supported.



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The RVE's onboard audio is based on the new SupremeFX 2014 implementation. It features a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel HD audio CODEC, ENLA audio capacitors, a custom headphone amplifier, and it supports the various RoG-only features such as Sonic SenseAmp, Sonic Studio, Sonic SoundStage, and Sonic Radar II.

SenseAmp is particularly interesting since is detects headphone impedance and adjusts the built-in amp automatically. This ensures that headphones are properly driven/powered given their specific Ohm rating, which is something that your average user probably had no knowledge of. There is also an electromagnetic interference (EMI) shield covering the Realtek CODEC, and the red-line PCB isolation line surrounds the audio section of the PCB and isolates it from the rest of the system. All of this serves to help to preserve the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and thus ensure the highest possible sound quality.



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This Extreme model has excellent connectivity on its rear I/O panel. Starting from left to right, we have the Clear CMOS button and ROG Connect button, the combo keyboard/mouse PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, ten USB 3.0 ports powered by ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.0 hub controllers, an Intel I218V-powered Gigabit LAN port with LANGuard,the gold-plated WiFI antenna ports, and the six audio jacks which include an S/PDIF output.



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The reference CPU socket backplate can be removed and replaced with the included X-Socket II backplate for those that need to free up the motherboard mounting holes in order to bolt a water block or LN2 pot directly to the motherboard. A useful feature for the truly dedicated overclockers.

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. Like on the front with the SATA Express diagram, ASUS have also included a convenient table explaining the PCI-E lane distribution based on what type of processor you have.


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Lastly, on the rear of the motherboard we also get a good look at some of the LEDs that are placed all along the PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio sub-system.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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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.


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When installed in the East-West or North-South orientation, our Prolimatech Mega Shadow had no issues physically clearing the "northbridge" or MOSFET heatsinks. Despite the fact that the CPU socket area is a little cramped, we don't foresee any obstacles with even the largest of coolers, but those who need to insulate the motherboard for LN2 use might have some work cut out for them.


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In the traditional North-South orientation, we surprisingly did not have any show stopping clearance issues when it came to the memory modules. Our cooler's fan clips did make contact with the nearest memory module, but it did not prevent installation or removal of the RAM. Those using a heatsink that is wider than 122mm or memory modules that are taller than 40mm will want to be careful, assuming a similar fan clip setup.


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Although there isn't a huge gap between the back of the graphics card and the memory slots, it really doesn't matter with the clip-less Q-DIMM memory slots that ASUS uses on most of their models. 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.

The horizontal M.2 slot really doesn't interfere with any other part of the installation process. It might seem like an unusual location, but it protects the M.2 SSD from the significant heat that radiates from the graphics cards. This might seem like a non-issue, but high temperatures can cause a controller to overheat and start throttling.


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This board will hold two, three or even four dual-slot graphics cards without issue. Length-wise the cards don't extend past the motherboard, but that last card will overhang the motherboard as well as all the headers on the bottom edge. When your primary graphics card is installed the release clip is very difficult to reach because it is caught between the back of the graphics card and the heatsink. You will need something long and non-metallic - like a pen or pencil - to push on the clip in order to release the graphics card.


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The eight right-angle SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed, as are the two SATA Express port (and their four SATA ports).


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Nothing too complicated here, you just need to push and screw the antenna leads into their respective Wi-Fi ports.


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Like on all LGA2011 motherboards past and present, this model comes with its own CPU backplate - two in fact if you count the aforementioned X-Socket II - so there is really nothing to worry about back there when it comes to installation issues.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


As you would expect, a new generation of motherboards brings forth a new UEFI BIOS. Although fundamentally similar to past versions, this new BIOS has been aesthetically revamped, reorganized, and bolstered with a bunch of new user-friendly features. Furthermore, and perhaps most impressively, this is a very smooth and responsive UEFI BIOS, noticeably better than anything we've experienced in the past. It's not necessarily lightning fast, since there are some deliberate/intentional transition delays when switching between the various sections, but none of the lag and stuttering that we've put up with in most other UEFI BIOS.

The UEFI BIOS is divided across two distinct modes. The EZ Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode has all the settings, options, and features that you could ever want. From within the EZ Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F7, and vice-versa to get back to the EZ Mode.



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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.

The Q-Fan Tuning feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but fundamentally it gives you full manual or preset-based control over the systems fans. The EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level. Basically, the wizard asks you how you generally use your system, what kind of CPU cooler you have installed, and based on your answer it comes up with an appropriate tuning level for your respective system. It worked perfect during our short time toying with it, and the fact that it never actually mentions "overclocking" should help alleviate some of the fears less knowledgeable users might associate with the word.


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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.


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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.


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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 CPU Level up feature allows novice users to automatically overclock their systems without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. The are three profiles in this feature, either 4.0Ghz, 4.2Ghz, or 4.4Ghz. You can read more about this automatic overclocking feature in our Overclocking Results section.


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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.


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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 diminishes/eliminates droopage on the CPU Input line, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.


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The Tweakers Paradise sub-menus has a ton of fairly obscure settings that should come in handy in the hands of experts top-level overclockers.


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The Internal CPU Power Management 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. ASUS have really bolstered this section with an overwhelming array of CPU power tuning settings.


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Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Extreme Tweaker are the prodigious voltage options. As you would expect, all the key system voltages are present and accounted for, as far as bunch of other voltage options that we have frankly never even seen before. For some of the key voltages like the CPU Core voltage and the CPU Cache voltage, ASUS have allowed four separate entry modes.

The Auto and Manual modes are self-evident, the Offset Mode allows you to specify how much higher (or lower) the voltage should be in reference to stock level, so something like +0.10V or +0.15V. The Adaptive Mode allows you to set both a base voltage and higher Turbo Mode voltage that is enabled under heavy system loads. This helps minimize the amount of voltage running through an overclocked processor when it's not under load.

To finish up this excellent section, ASUS have included real-time voltage readouts next to all the key system voltages, which is a fantastic time-saving addition and a great helper for overclockers.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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Location
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BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2




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The Advanced tab is where you will find an extensive amount of information about the processor you have installed. Both its frequencies and cache sizes, as well as the plethora of unique features that it supports. It is also where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, Enhanced SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, etc.




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The Advanced Tab is also where you can enable, disable, or just select a bunch of options regarding the System Agent, the PCH, and all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the audio, LAN, USB 3.0, SATA, Audio, Bluetooth (but not Wi-Fi!), etc.


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The Monitor section is dedicated to the monitoring of 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 named Q-Fan Tuning.



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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.




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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 X99 Deluxe owners.


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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 thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is very handy for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
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