X58 Showdown: ASUS Rampage II vs. MSI Eclipse
Performance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: The MSI Eclipse and ASUS Rampage II Extreme performed at near identical levels according to our benchmark results. Throughout our testing, the boards traded victories and typically finished within a percentage point of one another. What we hope you take from of this article, however, is how well the X58 paired with Intel's Core i7 performs compared to quad-core Core 2 CPUs and other platforms. As the benchmarks show, these boards in combination with Intel's latest desktop processors are truly in a league of their own at this time.
ASUS RAMPAGE II EXTREME
At first glance, the ASUS Rampage II Extreme seems to be an interesting mix of form and function. Aesthetically speaking, ASUS' Republic of Gamers boards not only perform on a top level, but look the part as well. The color scheme, layout, and long list of features and new TweakIt / ProbeIt tools make this board an interesting choice to build a new system around.
While stability was really never an issue at default clock speeds, we were a bit frustrated with the Rampage II Extreme when it came to overclocking. The constant cycle of bumping the base clock up even a few MHz, then tweaking multiple voltages, including some that were cryptically named, wore thin on us quite quickly. True, the onboard controls including power, reset, and clear CMOS make the job a bit easier, but few novices need apply here as they will likely give up early on during the process. Of course, at a current price hovering near $400, this isn't a board that many first-timers will be shooting for any way. Overall, we're left with mixed feelings about ASUS' Rampage II Extreme. It's a good choice for hardcore tweakers, just as long as they're prepared to put the necessary time in to get the most from the board.
|• Great overclocking results
• Further refinement of an already stellar bundle
• ProbeIt/TweakIt will appeal to hardcore users
|• One of the priciest boards out there|
• Slightly finicky power regulation
• BIOS features not documented well
Like ASUS' offering, the MSI Eclipse is no slouch in the looks department, utilizing a dark PCB highlighted by blue and black components. Cooling seems to have taken a backseat, however, especially compared to the Rampage II Extreme. Relatively small heatsinks equated to some higher temperatures, but this did not appear to have any effect on the stability of the board, nor did it prevent us from getting some positive overclocking results.
Compared to our experience with the Rampage II Extreme, overclocking the Eclipse was an absolute breeze. Their Cell Menu in the BIOS has plenty of options to choose from--perhaps not as many as ASUS, but it's still quite expansive. The high point was, we really didn't need them to achieve some great results. While leaving voltages on <AUTO>, the board itself boosted the necessary voltages to ensure proper operation, such that all that's really necessary for end users is to raise is the base clock and ensure other components like the memory speed are kept in check. While it sounds simplistic, this process gave us nearly identical results with our final overclock. We also prefer having on-board X-Fi Xtreme audio as well. MSI's D-LED2 left something to be desired, however. Hopefully, MSI can take another look at this and iron out the kinks. One last point that sways us in MSI's favor this time around is the price. The MSI X58 Eclipse is currently selling for $50 less than the Rampage II Extreme.
|• SoundBlaster X-Fi Audio
• Easy overclocking
• Fully complemented bundle
|• D-LED2 installation needs further work|
• Higher temps than competition
• Slot placement runs risk of covering ports