ASUS fans who also happen to be gamers have had no shortage of targeted PC gear to choose from, thanks to the company's Republic of Gamers series. This series encompasses everything from motherboards and graphics cards to desktops and peripherals - believe it or not, there's even an RoG laptop bag. I think it's safe to say, though, that the most popular RoG products are motherboards, and it's because ASUS hasn't failed to release a handful of models each time a new CPU socket drops.
That is with the major exception of AMD's FM2+ socket, which supports the company's latest A series APUs. Hot on the heels of the latest Kaveri parts that were announced last week (check out our review of the A10-7800), ASUS decided to correct that. The result? The feature-rich Crossblade Ranger.
AMD's A series processors might not target the enthusiast, but ASUS ignores that with this board, allowing users to install three AMD graphics cards in CrossFire. Beyond that, the board supports up to 64GB of DDR3-2666 memory, and includes 8x SATA 6Gbps ports to fill up with storage. USB-wise, there are 4x USB 3.0 and 2x 2.0 ports on the I/O panel; internally, there's support for 2x more 3.0, and 6x 2.0. For fan needs, there are a total of 5x 4-pin headers scattered around the edge of the board (with two being placed just above the CPU).
Being a Republic of Gamers offering, the Crossblade Ranger includes a couple of hardware and software features gamers might care about. For audio, there's SupremeFX Formula 2014, an 8-channel card that sports a couple of neat benefits, such as Sonic SenseAmp, which detects headphone impedance and adjusts the amp gain as necessary, and Sonic Soundstage, a hardware-based solution that includes a number of profiles for different types of games. Interestingly, profiles can be chosen via an onboard switch, which will benefit those running a non-Windows OS. Those running Windows would probably be best to just use the included software.
On the networking front, ASUS has chosen to go with an Intel NIC, and includes software that allows the user to really fine-tune how the LAN is used. As you can probably guess, there will be a way for gamers to improve their online performance.
ASUS cares a lot about durability and clean power delivery, so it's no surprise to see some perks to both of these solutions. For networking, LANGuard will ensure that noise is reduced while also protecting it better from surges, while high-grade capacitors and shielding is implemented on the audio card for much of the same kind of protection and smooth performance.
One of the more intriguing features on this board is KeyBot, a feature that was also introduced with the company's Intel Z97 line-up. When a keyboard is plugged into a special port, the keyboard will take on the ability to use macros and keyboard shortcuts, all with the simple press of a key you may rarely use. A feature like this would be redundant for those who have a gaming keyboard with similar features, but for those with simpler models, this could prove to be a great solution.
ASUS' Crossblade Ranger is set to launch this month, and will retail for $159.99.