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Maximum PC Staff Apr 06, 2009

Asus Rampage II Extreme

At A Glance

Corvette

If you like adjusting BIOS settings such as CPU Differential Amplitude, the Extreme is for you.

Chevette

Turbo mode doesnt work correctly, and the toggle switch is difficult to use.

To run Asus’s $400 Rampage II Extreme board you’d have to be either extreme or the world’s biggest poseur. How extreme would you have to be? You’d have to be the type of person who boils liquid helium atop his CPU to keep it cool. And because you can’t waste time overclocking from within the OS, you’d want to reach your hands into the guts of your case and use the board’s PCB-mounted controls that let you check and change voltage, fan speeds, and temps on a tiny one-line LCD external display.

In fact, you’d be so damn hardcore, you wouldn’t even fully trust those voltage readings from the board. Instead, you’d want to hook your Fluke meter directly to the available ports on the board to check the voltage of the CPU, the PCI Express lanes, and the north bridge directly. That’s how badass you’d be.

OK, but what if you’re just a poseur? Don’t worry, you’re set, too. Just fire up the OS applet, set your 3.2GHz Core i7-965 to “i7-crazy-4.0,” and you’re good to go. Now people will think you’re an extreme overclocker when all you did was let the board do the work for you.

Whether you’re a poseur or an extremist, the Rampage II Extreme has everything you need, including six DIMM slots, tri-SLI, and CrossFireX support, as well as licensed Creative audio support that gives you up to EAX4. There are some problems, however. Our biggest issue is that Asus still can’t seem to get Turbo mode to work correctly. You should be able to set Turbo mode based on the thread load on the CPU, but Asus only lets you overclock all cores simultaneously. We also felt overwhelmed by the applets on the board. Between the controls for AI Suite, TurboV, TweakIt, and EPU-6, we couldn’t keep straight what each tool did, and ultimately ignored them all.

As we’ve noted in previous reviews, differences in how motherboard vendors treat their BIOSes and Core i7 overclocking options make it difficult for us to run an exact apples-to-apples comparison among boards. For what it’s worth, though, the Rampage II Extreme fell right into the middle of the pack in our benchmarks. With BIOS updates for i7 boards arriving on a monthly schedule, it’s clear that third-party boardmakers are still trying to get a handle on the brave new world of Core i7.
So, say you’re not that extreme nor do you want to appear to be, well then, we think you’re probably better off with a different, less expensive board.

Benchmarks

Asus Rampage II Extreme Intel DX58SO / 403
PC Mark Vantage x64
7,117
7,082
ProShow (min:sec)
9:36
9:12
MainConcept (min:sec) 17:25 18:00
3DMark Vantage CPU 48, 329
45,424
HD Tach (MB/s) 220
185
Valve Particle Test (fps)
168
155
Quake 4 (fps)
246
224
Everest Ultimate Copy RAM (MB/s) 20,232
19, 182
Everest Ultimate Latency TAM (ns)
32.5
31.9
Sisoft Sandra Bandwidth (GB/s) 27.03
26.3

Best scores are bolded. Our test bed consists of a Core i7-965 Extreme Edition CPU, 6GB of Corsair DDR3/1600, an EVGA GeForce 280 GTX videocard, a PC Power and Cooling TurboCool 1200 power supply, a WD Raptor 150GB drive, and Vista Home Premium 64-bit. HD Tach scores were achieved using an Intel X25-M SSD.

THE VERDICT

Asus Rampage II Extreme

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