Author: Bob Buskirk
With all motherboards you do not see a huge performance difference between models, especially if you are running your system at stock settings. So when looking at motherboards there are a few other factors that come into play. They include features, looks and extras. ASUS has done a great job in each one of those categories and this is a motherboard I can recommend to anyone looking at a socket 2011 board.
Starting off with the looks the Rampage IV Formula just looks awesome! This is a republic of gamers board so you are going to have that awesome red and black ROG styling and logos. I even like that ASUS has made the section by the SupremeFX III chip light up red. This is going to look awesome inside of a case that has a window. Of course if you do not like these lights they can be turned off in the BIOS. Because this is an ROG board you can match your video cards as well. All of the latest ASUS DirectCU II cards features a black shroud with red accents.
Not lets talk features, where to start? I’m really not going to go over everything that the board offers here because you get many of the same features on other socket 2011 boards, but let me tell you about the things that really stood out to me. First the BIOS, there are so many features and settings in the BIOS. It is the most in-depth BIOS I’ve seen on a motherboard! If there is a setting you think is missing from this BIOS you are crazy! Another BIOS feature I’ve only seen in this BIOS is the GPU and Memory post. This allows you to see what cards / memory you have installed and what speed they are running at. This can really help with troubleshooting your system. Also the fact that ASUS has included overclocking profiles that not only increase your CPU frequency, but also change voltages is great.
ASUS always does great research when adding new features and they did just that with the SupremeFX III audio chip. Not only is this chip going to provide superior audio compared to default audio you will find on other boards ASUS has solved the electromagnetic interference issue. By cutting the PCB into two parts they completely isolate the audio parts from the rest of the board. Things like this are just the extra step that ASUS goes for their customers.
The software that ASUS includes with their motherboard is second to none. The AI Suite II is actually useful motherboard companion software and includes many different applications that allow you to do things like overclock your system or simply monitor voltages and temperatures. Another ASUS ROG exclusive is the ROG Connect software. It allows you to connect a remote system to the board and monitor all of your voltages, temperatures, fan speeds and frequencies. It also allows you to view the motherboard codes as your system boots up. This is extremely valuable if you system will not boot up or is hanging.
This is a gaming motherboard so ASUS has you covered on that end. We have already talked about the audio, but ASUS has set up this board so you can have 4 graphics cards installed. The PCIe slots are configured so you can have all of them in use at the same time. Now not everyone is going to be using a quad-GPU setup, so if you have 2 cards installed they both will run at x16 speed. Also ASUS is using Intel’s 82579V ethernet chip. This chip will cut down your network CPU usage, which will improve performance in games.
My favorite extra that comes with this motherboard is the X-Socket adapter. This makes it possible for you to install older 1366 coolers on this board. I actually ended up use it to install an Asetek 570LX CPU cooler on the system to help with overclocking. I’m not sure if I would have been able to reach 4.9GHz on air cooling. This is another way ASUS is trying to save you the customer some cash as normally you would have to buy a brand new cooler for this board.
Talking about overclocking this board sure did impress me! In the BIOS ASUS already has overclocking profiles setup for you. These not just overclocking profiles that up your CPU frequency, but also change voltages and other settings for the best overclock possible. Beyond that I was able to achieve my highest overclock ever on an Intel X79 board. Going from the i7-3930K’s stock speed of 3.2GHz I was able to go all the way up to 4.9GHz! That is a 1.7GHz or 53% overclock! The system was completely stable at this speed. This just goes to show you the quality of the components ASUS has used on this board.
There are only two real issues I did see with this motherboard. First there are only 4 memory slots. After thinking about it this does make sense. I mean this is the Formula board, not the Extreme. Also even with 4 slots you can still install 16-32GB of memory, which should be more than sufficient for most people. ASUS does include a 3-way SLI bridge, but this board supports 4 cards and there is not a 4-way bridge included. Again if you think about it most people are not going to be running 4 cards, so it is not that big of a deal.
Right now you can pick up this motherboard for $369.99 at my favorite online retailer. With all of the features of this board that price is definitely justified. Reviewing motherboards I see the same things over and over again, and it is not often that a board really surprises me, but with the Rampage IV Formula I really was impressed. I am actually sad that I will be taking it out of the motherboard test rig to move on to the next board. Overall ThinkComputers gives the ASUS Rampage IV Formula Motherboard a 10 out of 10 score and our Editor’s Choice Award!
- Designed with quality components
- The BIOS has every option available
- ROG Connect and AI Suite II
- Great overclocking potentional
- SupremeFX III and Intel Ethernet
- X-Socket adapter
- Looks great
- Only 4 memory slots
- 4-way SLI bridge not included