Intel X48 Motherboard Round-up: ASUS, ECS, & Intel
ASUS' Rampage Formula is backed by a dark black PCB with brown elements, making this the first of three darker hued boards - indeed, black is the new "green". As with all of ASUS' Republic of Gamers motherboards, great attention has been paid to not only the aesthetics, but to improved cooling as well. Hence, the Rampage Formula benefits from massive copper coolers over the Northbridge and around the CPU socket, and a series of heatpipes that connect them.
The Rampage Formula's bundle consists of 6 SATA cables, three of which are angled, one SATA power cable, an extra USB and Firewire port bracket, black IDE and floppy cables, ties, and the SupremeFX II audio riser card. A drivers and applications DVD provides the necessary software, although as its a DVD you've got to make sure the correct drive type is installed (although the likelihood of anyone buying a new board like this and not using a newer DVD drive is quite unlikely). We also found an ASUS case badge, full version of S.T.A.L.K.E.R., and a multi-language user guide.
Special inclusions are an optional cooling fan for the heatsink, the LCD Poster that we've regularly seen with ASUS' RoG series of motherboards, ASUS' Q-Connector used to facilitate the installation process, and a Republic of Gamers branded back plate with a padded inner lining and all ports labeled. Besides the ports, there are additional openings for ventilation and a welcomed space for the LCD Poster's cable.
Intel Socket 775 Core™2 Quad/Core™2 Extreme/Core™2 Duo/Pentium® Extreme/Pentium® D/Pentium® 4 processors
Compatible with Intel® 05B/05A/06 processors
Support Intel® 45nm CPU
Intel Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR2 1200*/1066/800/667 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
*DDR1200 is overclocked speed
Supported by ICH9/R:
6 x SATA 3 Gb/s ports
Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1, 5, 10
Supported by JMicron JMB368 PATA Controller:
1 x Ultra DMA 133/100/66/33 for up to 2 PATA devices
3 x USB connectors support additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector
6 x SATA connectors
1 x IEEE 1394a connector
1 x CPU Fan connector
3 x Chassis Fan connectors
1 x Power Fan connector
3 x Optional Fan connectors
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
24 -pin ATX Power connector
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS connector
3 x thermal sensor connectors
Chassis Intrusion connector
System Panel Connector
16 Mb Flash ROM, DMI 2.0, AMI BIOS
PnP, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 2.0a
2-Phase DDR 2
Intelligent overclocking tools
- CPU Level Up
- AI Gear 3
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
- ASUS O.C. Profile: overclocking configuration-sharing tool
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
12 inch (L) x 9.6 inch(W) ATX Form Factor
9 mounting holes
Mostly blue and white connectors are spread out nicely around the board. leaving a mostly clean layout. Two blue PCI-E x16 slots with ample space between them populate the upper area, interspersed with 2 white PCI and 2 white PCI Express x1 slots. The SupremeFX II audio riser card is parked in its own black colored PCI Express x1 slot with a fan header close by, nestled in tightly inside a bend in the heatpipes. LEDs are placed strategically around the board, and are used to display the voltage status for CPU, Northbridge, Southbridge and memory in an intuitive color-coded fashion (read: green = good, red = bad).
Front Panel pins are placed in the closest corner to the front of the unit, followed by 2 sets of USB 2.0 headers, the on-board power and reset buttons that we've come to know and love, and then a Firewire header. Forward angled SATA ports provide the ability to attach six SATA drives, and another forward angled IDE port controlled by the JMicron controller can be used for installing two more IDE devices. Floppy drives can still call the Rampage Formula home as a port lies near the 20-pin power plug. The board's color coded DIMM slots have power regulation circuitry right next to them and there's just enough room between the clips on the DIMM slots and the graphics card so that they won't come into contact.
The smaller Southbridge heatsink is branded as a member of the RoG, and has a heatpipes extending from it and leading to the large copper heatsink over the Northbridge. This, in turn, leads to another heatpipe whisking away heat to an aluminum radiator and out the back of the board. Two additional copper heatsinks line the outer edge of the voltage regulation circuitry surrounding the CPU are also connected by heatpipes and then out towards the rear. An 8-pin power connection is found in the upper corner nearby the LED poster header with the cable going through an opening in the I/O shield, allowing the little display to be placed on the desk or another exterior location. For anyone with a dream of running a plethora of fans, ASUS has placed 7 fan headers about teh board - six 3-pin types and a 4-pin for the CPU cooler.
The heatsinks use what ASUS refers to as a "pin-fin" thermal design, resulting in better thermal performance by breaking the "boundary-layer" phenomenon for effective airflow. The copper pins rise directly up and away from the board, but the density of all of these heatsinks placed so near to the CPU socket area could lead to some concerns when installing larger CPU coolers. Creating room on the backplane for the radiator resulted in sacrificing a port or two, leaving us with six USB 2.0 ports, a single PS/2 port for a keyboard or mouse, optical and coaxial audio, a "Clear CMOS" button, a Firewire port and 2 LAN jacks.