Author: Bob Buskirk
- The BIOS
- Included Software & ASUS Features
- System Overview & Testing Procedures
- Testing – CPU & Memory
- Testing – System
- Testing – Video
- Testing – Gaming
- Final Thoughts
Rampage IV Formula Overview
Taking a first look at the Rampage IV Formula you can see that ASUS has gone with their typical Republic of Gamers styling with a black PCB with red, black and white accents. The board just looks awesome and it will match ASUS’s graphics cards quite well. The board is an ATX board measuring 12 inch x 9.6 inch (30.5 cm x 24.4 cm). There are two large heatsinks on your power delivery components, they are connected by a small heatpipe. There is also a heatsink on the PCH or southbridge.
Starting at the very top of the board above the top heatsink you will find the 8pin CPU power connector. There is a small 4pin fan connector and BIOS reset switch near the rear I/O ports. At the center of the board you have Intel’s 2011 socket. On each side you have two memory slots. This board supports quad channel memory up to 2400 MHz (O.C.). Normally we would see 4 slots on each side of the CPU socket, but this board is more of the value board. The Rampage IV Extreme has 8 total memory slots. Although for most people having 16GB (4x 4GB) of memory is more than enough.
This board features ASUS’s Extreme Engine Digi+ II intelligent digital power delivery system. This system is made up of NexFET power block MOSFET’s that provide the same power and better efficiency at only half the size. You have black metallic chokes, which support a higher rated current up to 50A (+20A than ordinary design) so you will have better permeability and less loss. All of this together will provide better voltage regulation which will allow you to achieve a very nice overclock.
Moving over to the right side of the board starting at the top there is a 4pin CPU fan connector and debug LED. The debug LED is great as it will display codes as the boot up process happens. If you system hangs or does not boot you can lookup the code and see what is holding the system up. Moving over to the side of the board you have another 4pin fan connector for your optional CPU fan, LN2 jumper and there is a switch for slow mode. The slow mode switch is only workable when the LN2 jumper has been set to enable. There are large power and reset buttons, these are great to have especially if you are working with this board outside of a case. Moving down there is a set of 4 dip switches. These allow you to enable or disable certain PCI lanes. To the left of those switches is the GO button. It actually serves two purposes. During boot up if you press it, it acts as the MemOK! button making sure your system boots even if you have the wrong memory settings. If you are already in your OS you can press the button to instantly overclock your system (the overclocking settings are set in your BIOS). On the far right of the board you will notice a bunch of contact points. This is ASUS’s ProbeIt. Using a multimeter you can monitor voltages for DRAM, VCORE, etc from these points. Of course you have your 24pin ATX power connector and behind it you will find two more 4pin fan connectors. Finally you have an USB 3.0 header.
As far as connectivity goes you have a total of 8 SATA ports. The 4 black ports are SATA 6GB/s and controlled by the X79 chipset. The 4 red ports are SATA 6GB/s. 2 of them are controlled by the X79 chipset and the other 2 are controlled by ASMedia ASM1061 controller. Moving down to the bottom of the board you will find many different headers and connections. Moving from right to left you have your front panel case headers, 3 USB 2.0 headers, a 4pin fan header, the BIOS_SWITCH button that will allow you to switch between different BIOS’s, 2 more 4pin fan headers and your front panel audio.
When it comes to expansion slots you have two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots and four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. The four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots are spread out so you will be able to install 4 dual-slot cards. Now if you have 1 card installed (slot 1) it will always run at x16 speed. If you have 2 cards installed (slot 1 & 3) they will both run at x16 speed. If you have 3 cards installed (slots 1,2,3) slots 1 & 3 will run at x16 and slot 2 will run at x8 speed. If you have all 4 slots occupied only slot 1 will run at x16 speed and the rest will run at x8 speed. Above the PCIe slots is a molex power connection to give more power to your PCIe slots if needed.
On the far left of the board you will see a SupremeFX III chip. This is something gamers are really going to enjoy because of course audio is very important in gaming. The SupremeFX III features support for X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity, THX TruStudio PRO, EAX Advanced HD 5.0 and Creative ALchemy. One big problem with having built-in audio on motherboards has been vulnerable sound quality because of electromagnetic interference. ASUS solves this problem by actually cutting the PCB into two parts to completely isolate the audio parts from the rest of the board. The open section of the board actually lights up red, which actually looks pretty cool. You are able to turn the lights off if you choose in the BIOS.
Taking a look at the I/O connections on the board going from left to right you have a PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, BIOS flashback button, optical S/PDIF, ROG connect button, 4 more USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 2 eSATA ports, Gigabit ethernet and audio ports. USB BIOS Flashback allows you to easily flash your BIOS. Just load your BIOS file on a USB flash drive, connect only a power supply (no CPU, GPU, memory etc) to the board and power the system on and hit the USB BIOS flashback button and your BIOS will instantly be updated. The USB BIOS flashback port is labeled white, which is also the same port to use for ROG connect. ASUS is using Intel’s 82579V chip for Gigabit ethernet. This solution will lower your CPU usage, which of course is better for gaming.