Intel X48 Motherboard Round-up: ASUS, ECS, & Intel - HotHardware

Intel X48 Motherboard Round-up: ASUS, ECS, & Intel

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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.

ASUS Rampage Formula Motherboard
Specifications and Features

CPU
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
      
Chipset
Intel X48
Intel ICH9/R
Intel Fast Memory Access Technology

Front Side Bus
1600/1333/1066/800 MHz           

Main Memory  
  
4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR2 1200*/1066/800/667 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
*DDR1200 is overclocked speed

Storage
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

Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 2.0 x16 , support at full x16, x16 speed 
3 x PCIe x1 ( the PCIEx1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot)
2 x PCI 2.2

ATI CrossFire
Supports ATI CrossFire graphics cards

Audio
SupremeFX II Audio Card
ADI 1988B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O
ASUS Noise Filter

LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN, both featuring AI NET2
Support Teaming Technology

USB
12 x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
      
IEEE1394
2 x 1394a ports (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)

Special Features
External LCD Poster
Onboard switches: power / reset/ clear CMOS (at rear)
ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit)
ASUS Q-Connector, Q-Fan 2, EZ Flash 2, CrashFree BIOS 3, MyLogo 3

Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard
1 x IEEE 1394a
2 x LAN (RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 x Clr CMOS switch
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output

 
On-Board Peripherals
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   
  
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM, DMI 2.0, AMI BIOS
PnP, WfM 2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI 2.0a
Multi-language BIOS

Overclocking Features
Extreme Tweaker
Loadline Calibration
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

Overclocking Protection
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Dimensions
12 inch (L) x 9.6 inch(W) ATX Form Factor
      
Mounting
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.

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No matter how you look at it Asus is the king! That Rampage is one great looking board.$300.00 is a lot of cash to put out but if I had it I drfinatly would pony it up.My computer is my hobby and having the fastest I can get with stability is my goal no matter how limited my finances are!

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Nice roundup. Loving the asus board

Edit: Just put two and to together. That's my new intel board!Big Smile You guys seem to agree with other reviews in that overclocking the board is a exercise in fustration. Guess I'll hold off on throwing my water setup in there untill some new bios come out.

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In this artical the following statement is not entirerly correct, regarding the ASUS Rampage Formula

 "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"

I have this mobo and while i was adding a water cooled notrth bridge block (Zalman ZM-NWB1) to the notrthbridge i obviously had to remove the stock north and southbridge heat sink and to my suprise found that the heat sink assembaly was way to light to be copper, it has a copper heat pipe that runs all the way through it and a copper plate right where the north bridge sits, but what looks to be a farily big copper heat sink is acttually a alloy heat sink anodised to look copper, very missleading and down right dishonest in my opinion.

ASUS have not made claim in any of their documentation that the heatsink is copper but the reviewer of this artical made the same asumption i did when i purchased this mobo, that the north bridge heat sink looks like a large all copper heat sink which is incorrect.

All you really need to do to confirm this is run a screwdriver edge along a part of the heat sink (scraching the surface) and you will see the silver alloy below

I feel this is very deseptive and while the heat sink probably needs anodising it could have been just about any colour but ASUS choose a very close to copper colour, in my opinion to fool consumers.

I think this mobo is a great board very easy to OC, and reliable, but i hate being cheated and thats how i feel about this heatsink.

The huge X48 northbridge on this mobo runs very hot and even hotter when overclocked, so for someone using aircooling only an all copper heat sink would have most likely allowed them to push the CPU harder with less heat but the mostly alloy copper look alike heat sink is not so great  even with the little fan ASUS provide with the mobo.

ASUS have had a few black marks against there name for varrious things like EPU issue, so this is just another.

The old saying "Let the buyer beware!" stands very true here!

Anyway ive had my biarch.

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