Mobo To The Max: Asus Launches Its Rampage III Extreme

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News Posted: Mon, Mar 22 2010 3:06 PM
Asus has another addition for its Rampage line of high-end motherboards. This time around it's the Rampage III Extreme, otherwise known as the Rampage III "All That + Back Of Chips." It's not as if the company's Rampage II Extreme was exactly lacking in features, but here we have the Rampage III with a few goodies the Rampage II didn't carry.


Specifically, the Rampage III carries four PCIe 2.0 slots (configurable in combinations of x16/x16 down to four x8 lanes), a total of nine SATA ports, two of which are 6G-compatible, eight fan headers, two USB 3.0 ports, and it comes with full versions of 3DMark Vantage and Kaspersky antivirus. That's one more PCIe slot, two more SATA ports, and two USB 3.0 ports more than the Rampage II. Oddly, the Rampage III has just one ethernet port while the Rampage II has two. Personally I'd trade the rear FireWire for an additional RJ-45, but that's just me.



The Rampage II has been out for awhile, but it still sells for $349. Asus probably won't pull the Rampage II right away, at least not without taking a shot at positioning the Rampage III as a $399 ultra-super-premium-mega-board. That price is a guess, but version 3.0 packs enough new features over and above 'II that it might be worth a shot.



One thing to keep in mind is that the USB 3.0 and SATA 6G slots are powered by first-gen controllers from NEC and Marvell (D720200 and the 88SE9123 respectfully). In both cases, the two ports available for each interconnect share a host controller; attempting to use a pair of USB 3.0 devices (or dual SATA 6G drives) will result in a performance hit as the controller juggles both lanes. The other issue is bandwidth. Again, both controllers connect to the motherboard via a PCIe x1 Gen 2 electrical link that limits maximum theoretical bandwidth (discounting overhead) to 400MB/s.

These limitations are common in first-generation parts, and most users probably won't notice—50 percent of USB3 theoretical performance is still 5x faster than USB2. Still, if you're the type of reader who can drop $400 on a motherboard, you're probably also the type of person who could drop serious cash for high-end storage solutions. 
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RyuGTX replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 3:56 PM

The way Asus did the heatsinks on the motherboard (north/south bridge) looks like an art piece.

I would have also liked another RJ45 port instead of Firewire.

Looks like there is a little circuit board sticking out in the rear ports next to the external USBs and stuff. I wonder what that is.

I also notice that there are 2 sets of mounting holes for the cpu. If this is like what they did for their Rampage II Gene, then one set is for 1366 and the other is for 775. That is interesting how they added that.

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Damn, that is *HOT*

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bbdl replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 4:13 PM

Can anyone explain to me what the point is in running two X8 Pci express slots when you can get 2 dual graphics cards and run them in X16 slots. It seems like either overkill or not as high of a performance ramp to me. I also don't see the point in routing all sata and all usb through the same portal that seems pointless to me seeing as you can at most use 2 of the 4 at any given time.

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la_guy_10 replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 4:46 PM

If money was no object I would definitely go Asus Republic of Gamers edition motherboard, as my first choice with Gigabyte being second. Performance is top notch on this board guaranteed as ROG boards all use high-quality Japanese capacitors and top notch cooling and the board layout is usually clutter free supporting most cooling solutions, not to mention all the overclocking software one could possible dream of. But it does come at a price premium again if money is no object this is the board you want.

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Inspector replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 4:51 PM

That bored looks so sexy! :)

And i agree ryu, thats what i thought when i first looked at it :) I just love the black and red Wink

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3vi1 replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 4:55 PM

Beautiful looking board, but that price is quite a bit beyond what I would be willing to pay for it.

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The price is not bad for an Asus seeing as though they are a great and reliable company

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Cheezit replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 5:54 PM

Hmmm so now there's another highend board to think about for a possible x58 board damn u intel and your core i7

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RyuGTX replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 5:56 PM

bbdl:

Can anyone explain to me what the point is in running two X8 Pci express slots when you can get 2 dual graphics cards and run them in X16 slots. It seems like either overkill or not as high of a performance ramp to me. I also don't see the point in routing all sata and all usb through the same portal that seems pointless to me seeing as you can at most use 2 of the 4 at any given time.

I'm a little confused about the PCI-e as well. Sounds like it is dual 16x OR 4 PCI-e running at 8x. This sounds reasonable just because the chipset (correct part?) only supplies a certain amount of lanes to all the PCI and PCI-e slots. I think to get something like full 16x on all the slots, you need to add an additional chipset which right now is the Nvidia one that you see on some of the X58 boards. For example, this Asus one that adds two Nvidia NF200 chips:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131390&cm_re=x58-_-13-131-390-_-Product

Newegg spec sheet says:

3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (@ x16 or x8)
3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (@ x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (@ x16)
*4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 or 7 x PCIe 2.0 ( 6:@x8, 1:@x16)

 

Concerning the USB and the SATA, I think that only refers to the USB3.0 and SATA 6gb/s that will suffer from a performance hit if you plug in too many at the same time as they are on a separate controller. I believe that the regular SATA and USB ports should be fine.

 

Inspector:

That bored looks so sexy! :)

And i agree ryu, thats what i thought when i first looked at it :) I just love the black and red Wink

Yes, the red and black look amazing. But for me, it isn't just the colors because the EVGA boards did the red/black color scheme as well. The direction of the heat fins on the heat sinks give it a bit of character as the lines created run in different directions. Also, the heatsink to the left of the cpu socket has a wavy design. Looks artistic to me.

 

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rpochron replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 6:18 PM

Awesome board and I'm a big fan of the ROG series. Too bad the USB3.0 and SATA6G share a controller, but I doubt the performance hit will be too noticeable until everyone and their mom are using these features.

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Joel H replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 7:48 PM

I don't see where there's any confusion in what I wrote about the PCIe lanes. I wrote that they're "configurable in combinations of x16/x16 down to four x8 lanes."

That allows for: 2x16

1x16 3x8

4x8

Any way you slice it, that's 32 lanes of PCIe connectivity hanging off the northbridge. What's confusing?

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acarzt replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 8:29 PM

This is a GREAT looking board.

I remember the day and age when board were either on a slab of green or beige PCB with boring heat sink(if there even was one) White PCI slots and a big ugly AGP slot. Or black ISA slots if you really wanna go back lol

I remember walking through Fry's and seeing all the mobo's and thinking... "Ugh, how boring, I don't even want to LOOK at these lol"

Now they are practically peices of art lol You could hang that board on the wall in your living room and people would be impressed by it lol

@ Joel

"1x16 3x8"

That adds up to 40 :-P But I get what you're trying to say

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Inspector replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 8:51 PM

LOL buy it use it then when your done hang it up :). There should be a museum for motherboards like these xD

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Zestia replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 10:03 PM

Great looking board. And thanks Joel for bringing attention to the point about the controller juggling both lanes for the interconnects. I don't think that would have occurred to me. And that my friends, is why I'm here.

On a separate note, I wish that gigabyte would take note of their competitors' color schemes. Most of them like the bold accents that scream performance and dominion yet Gigabyte seems content with the light blue white and grey sanitized look.

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RyuGTX replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 10:30 PM

Joel H:

I don't see where there's any confusion in what I wrote about the PCIe lanes. I wrote that they're "configurable in combinations of x16/x16 down to four x8 lanes."

That allows for: 2x16

1x16 3x8

4x8

Any way you slice it, that's 32 lanes of PCIe connectivity hanging off the northbridge. What's confusing?

 

32 lanes. That was the number I was looking for. Thanks!

Makes complete sense now.

 

I've never owned a board with that many PCI-e slots and I've never split lanes on them before. Is it all done in the BIOS?

 

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Devhux replied on Mon, Mar 22 2010 11:01 PM

You can thank the casemodding community and the desire for putting windows on side panels for the change in motherboard design/color. :) Much the same way as casemodders ended up shattering the belief that all PC cases need to be beige). Sure, there were some exceptions like the Acer Aspire PCs that used a charcoal-grey color, but they were hardly the norm back in the day.

I'm definitely glad this happened though.

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WOW, This thing looks like a Cylon had a baby with a Viper :P

I agree, this thing looks like a work of art. My first choice has always been Gigabyte. I have installed alot of Asus and GB Boards. As far as stability, the GB boards have never let us down. I have built systems for gamers and mostly have used ASUS. They really seem to love them.

With all the recent reviews for the ASUS boards, it seems that they have really stepped up their game. I am rather impressed that people are not only feeling more comfortable with the company. But they are more so, amazed at the performance and stability.

With these kind of specs, it seems that this will be very good across all platforms. It would rock as a HT PC, and now I am even thinking about it for an upgrade for the workstation.

Crossfiring four FirePro 8700's would be really cool overkill.

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RyuGTX replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 3:41 AM

I think between the Gigabyte and Asus, Gigabyte seems to be more reliable on average. Last I heard, Asus had pretty bad and slow customer support.

 

Other than that, I love the boards that Asus keep putting out. I like how they keep trying to innovate and add more features to cater to the enthusiast crowd. I'm not sure, but I think that they were one of the first to do the 90 degree angled SATA ports. The latest little neat thing is their cushioned IO plate. Instead of those little prongs or whatever that are on there, they completely took them off and add cushioning. Those little prongs always annoyed me. They kept getting stuck in the USB ports and such as I tried to install the motherboard and align them to the motherboard standoffs. I found this out when my roommate built a new pc with the Asus P6T.

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I remember reading about cheap 1156 ZIF sockets being used by some mobo makers having high failure rates and burning of pins. (Google "1156 socket problems" for proof).

As for the Mobos, Asus and Gigabyte use different SATA3 6G controller chips. Asus uses the Marvell 88SE9123 chip , and Gigabyte uses the Marvell 88SE9128 chip.

From what I've read the main difference being that the 88SE9128 (in Gigabyte mobo)is newer design and does RAID ,but the older 88SE9123 (in Asus mobo) does not have RAID capabilities.

The USB3 also in Gigabyte boards will supply more current/power above the standard USB3 spec. which would allow future devices requiring more current/power to be able to get it.

These are just some things I've read that make me lean more to the Gigabyte board. But this is just my personal opinion so ......Ignore at will .

So Don't judge a board by it's colors.

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realneil replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 10:01 AM

By ryuGTX: "I also notice that there are 2 sets of mounting holes for the cpu. If this is like what they did for their Rampage II Gene, then one set is for 1366 and the other is for 775. That is interesting how they added that."

My ASRock board has that too. (they're owned by ASUS) It enabled me to use an old Asetek VapoChill Micro CPU Cooler on my Core i5-750. Once I cleaned the surfaces of the chip and Heatsink and applied Artic Alumina Ceramic thermal compound between them, my temps go no higher than 37c while gaming and 32 average. The stock cooler's temps were much higher.

This ASUS board is nice looking but way out of my price range unless I win the lottery. True dual 16X slots is a good thang!

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RyuGTX replied on Tue, Mar 23 2010 4:08 PM

PrivateSquadie:

I remember reading about cheap 1156 ZIF sockets being used by some mobo makers having high failure rates and burning of pins. (Google "1156 socket problems" for proof).

As for the Mobos, Asus and Gigabyte use different SATA3 6G controller chips. Asus uses the Marvell 88SE9123 chip , and Gigabyte uses the Marvell 88SE9128 chip.

From what I've read the main difference being that the 88SE9128 (in Gigabyte mobo)is newer design and does RAID ,but the older 88SE9123 (in Asus mobo) does not have RAID capabilities.

The USB3 also in Gigabyte boards will supply more current/power above the standard USB3 spec. which would allow future devices requiring more current/power to be able to get it.

These are just some things I've read that make me lean more to the Gigabyte board. But this is just my personal opinion so ......Ignore at will .

So Don't judge a board by it's colors.

 

Not sure why you are mentioning the 1156 socket. That problem did not occur on the 1366 socket. Also, 1156 sockets ran into that problem when you overclocked your cpu very high. Boards with the Lotus socket should be fine.

 

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RyuGTX replied on Wed, Mar 24 2010 9:10 PM

So earlier I asked the question about that little circuit board sticking out in the IO port area. I found a picture showcasing the back and news post in another site said that it is for overclocking via bluetooth. Just thought I would answer my own question and share it with you guys.

 

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Joel H replied on Thu, Mar 25 2010 7:31 PM

Private,

That issue had nothing to do with "cheap" LGA1156 sockets and everything to do with the fact that people were pumping 2x standard amperage through half as many pins as were provisioned on the LGA1366 sockets.

This became disastrous at the extreme high-end of phase-change or LN2 cooling. Even a standard phase changer (my own takes a chip down to -50C) wasn't cold enough to push the chip high enough to cause the problem.

Intel is under no obligation to ensure that its chips will perform when frozen to a point equivalent to "hot outer space." :P

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RyuGTX replied on Fri, Apr 9 2010 5:23 PM

Just a little something that Asus notified me of via Facebook.

http://www.asusrog.com/rog_experience.html

Looks like they will also be releasing a P55 version.

Most interesting thing I found on that page was the specs/comparison sheet.

http://promos.asus.com/ASUSROG/Spec/MB_spec.html

Not sure if there are any typos but it looks like the Maximus III Extreme (p55) has more PCI-e lanes than the Rampage III Extreme (x58). I thought it was odd...

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Huxlay replied on Thu, Jul 29 2010 1:31 AM

Yeah ... retro stule rulezzz. You could drill 4 goles around CPU to get proper mounting for LN2 container. :rockout: There was planety of free space without curcuits. For slot cpu's you could just put GPU-like cooling. Good old times.

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slugbug replied on Thu, Jul 29 2010 1:29 PM

Nice board but I agree the price is a bit high for my liking.

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