X58 Showdown: ASUS Rampage II vs. MSI Eclipse

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ASUS has refreshed their packaging somewhat with their latest Republic of Gamers release, now shipping in a bold red rather than the more subdued battleship grey, and it also features a more sporty logo.  The top flap opens to not only reveal a full view of the board, but also covers a few of the latest technologies including the new TweakIt controls, ProbeIt onboard testing, and the Supreme FX riser card, which now features Creative's X-Fi logo on it. 

ASUS Rampage II Extreme Motherboard
Specifications & Features

Processor Support 
Intel® Socket 1366 Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition/Core™ i7 Processor
Supports Intel® Dynamic Speed Technology

Chipset
Intel® X58 / ICH10R 
   
Memory 
6x DIMM, Max. 24 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066
Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Triple channel memory architecture 
   
Expansion Slots 
3x PCIe 2.0 x16 support at x16, x8, x8, or dual x16 speed
2x PCIe 2.0 x1 ( the PCIEx1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot)
1x PCI 2.2 
   
Storage I/O 
Intel ICH10R controller
  • 6x SATA 3 Gb/s ports
  • Intel Matrix Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
  • 1x UltraDMA 133/100/66/33 for up to 2 PATA devices
  • 1x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
  • 1x SATA 3.0 Gb/s port  
Multi-GPU Support
Support NVIDIA 3-Way SLI™ / ATI CrossFireX™ Technology
   
Audio
SupremeFX X-Fi Audio Card
  • ADI® AD2000B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
  • EAX® Advanced™ HD 4.0
  • X-Fi CMSS®-3D
  • X-Fi Crystalizer™
  • Creative ALchemy
  • Supports 1x S/PDIF out header
  • Supports Coaxial/Optical S/PDIF out ports on rear 
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, both featuring AI NET2 Support Teaming Technology 

IEEE-1394

2x 1394a ports (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)
 
USB
12x USB 2.0 ports (6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)  
Back Panel I/O Ports
1x PS/2 Keyboard port (purple)
1x External SATA port
2x LAN (RJ45) ports
6x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1x IEEE1394a port
1x Clr CMOS switch
 
Internal I/O Connectors
3x USB connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1x Floppy disk drive connector
1x IDE connector
7x SATA connectors
1x IEEE 1394a connector
1x Chassis Fan connector
1x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1x 24-pin ATX Power connector
1x EL I/O Shield Connector
3x thermal sensor connectors
1x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS connector
8x Fan connectors: 1x CPU / 1x PWR / 3x Chassis / 3x Optional
8x ProbeIt connectors
1x LCD Poster connector
1x BIOS FlashBack boot up selection header
1x ROG light connector 
 
BIOS
16 Mb Flash ROM
AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS

Special Features
External LCD Poster
Onboard Switches: Power / Reset / Clr CMOS (at rear)
EL I/O
Q-Fan Plus
ROG BIOS Wallpaper
ASUS EPU-6 Engine
ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS Fan Xpert
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
ASUS MyLogo3
 
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 10.6 inch* ( 30.5 cm x 26.9 cm )
* One inch greater than standard ATX form factor
 
Overclocking Tools 
TweakIt
ProbeIt
Extreme Engine with ML Cap
CPU Level Up
iROG
Extreme Tweaker
BIOS Flashback
Loadline Calibration


  

Although the box seems slim in comparison to the MSI Eclipse, there was still plenty to be found within.  Three sets of SATA cables, each containing one straight end and another that's angled, plus a single SATA power splitter cable and flat ribbon IDE cable cover all of the standard connections.  A bracket with two USB and IEEE-1394 ports adds additional flexibility.  We also found a collection of items that ASUS has been providing for some time now, including active cooling fans for the MOSFET heatsinks, Q-Connector pins for easier front panel installation, and the LCD Poster.

     

There are also a handful of new or updated additions that we noted.  As the X58 supports not only CrossFire but SLI as well, a standard SLI cable as well as a 3-Way SLI bridge are included for those not operating on a tight budget. The ProbeIt cables as well as the smallish red and black wires pictured above, can be used along with a multitester to more accurately gauge voltages and thermal sensor cables can be attached to certain spots on the board to get a better readout of on-board temps.  Finally, an EL I/O shield lights up the back plate.  With the clearly labeled ports, this eases connection of devices, especially in dimly lit areas.  The final piece is the SupremeFX X-Fi riser card, updated with Creative's X-Fi technology.  Although X-Fi is featured prominently, it should be noted that the audio still comes from an ADI CODEC, similar to that used on past boards.  It does not use a discrete Creative chip, as does the MSI Eclipse.  As such, the SoundMax ADI Audio driver gets installed, but used along with Creative's applications.
 

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Great review. Do you guys have a high FSB with a low multiplier? No big deal, I was just wondering.

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Nice review, although it would've been nice if you had more mobos in the test like the Foxconn Bloodrage, Gigabytes X58 Extreme, and AsRocks X58 Supercomputer.

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What a great review: it was very informative and reminds me of why I enjoy visiting HotHardware! But after reading this I realize that these boards are not for me. Not only are they extremely expensive, but the build and setup was a freaking nightmare, IMO. All of the various issues of not booting, not starting, BIOS update failure, inoperable boards requiring replacement, and subsequent rebuilds just doesn't appeal to me. When I troll NewEgg for a product I look very carefully at the reviews for info just like this. These are great boards, I am sure, but I just don't need the maddening frustration right now.

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Super Dave:

What a great review: it was very informative and reminds me of why I enjoy visiting HotHardware! But after reading this I realize that these boards are not for me. Not only are they extremely expensive, but the build and setup was a freaking nightmare, IMO. All of the various issues of not booting, not starting, BIOS update failure, inoperable boards requiring replacement, and subsequent rebuilds just doesn't appeal to me. When I troll NewEgg for a product I look very carefully at the reviews for info just like this. These are great boards, I am sure, but I just don't need the maddening frustration right now.

I guess thats what you get when you jump to new platforms.

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