Asus Rampage IV Gene Review

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Asus Rampage IV Gene Review

MicroATX doesn’t have to mean micro performance

FINDING A GOOD motherboard is easy. Finding a good microATX motherboard, however, can be more of a chore. That’s because motherboard vendors have almost always associated microATX with budget needs. In addition to losing a couple of expansion slots and some PCB board space, you almost always lose features such as SLI, CrossFire, RAID , premium audio, and other add-ons to help push the price down.

That’s not the case with Asus’s new Rampage IV Gene. Made for premium LGA2011 chips, the Rampage IV Gene caters to builders who want performance but in a microATX form factor. As a Republic of Gamers board, it’s no surprise that the Rampage IV Gene emphasizes features and functionality. RoG boards are Asus’s cream of the crop.

That’s not to say the Rampage IV Gene has all the features of the company’s Rampage IV Extreme board. While the Extreme is truly tweaked for, well, extreme overclockers, the Rampage IV Gene seems better suited to building a compact gaming rig with the intent of normal overclocking, not setting records using liquid-helium.

An eerie red glow emanates from the Rampage IV Gene when it’s switched on.

One thing you will give up with this board, besides the extra expansion slots, is memory capacity. Asus was only able to get four DIMMs on this quad-channel-memory board. That means any RAM choice you make is going to have to tide you over for some time. If you build up with four 4GB DIMMs, you’re stuck there. Asus gives you six SATA ports at the front of the board, but the layout can be confusing. Two are on Intel’s SATA 3Gb/s controller, two are on Intel’s SATA 6Gb/s controller, and another two are on an Asmedia AS1061 controller. Basically, read the manual to see where to install your drives.

Asus’s RoG boards also put a premium on onboard audio. Good onboard audio is normally an oxymoron, like military intelligence, but the audio on the Rampage IV Gene is actually decent. The codecs are Realtek parts, but Asus has walled them off to help reduce electrical noise. The company has also licensed Creative’s EAX for the board. You have to activate the drivers to get the support, but we verified that all current EAX versions are supported. We also did some close listening tests using a set of JH Audio JH13 in-ear monitors while copying a copious amount of data across the USB and USB 3.0 ports. Asus’s partitioning of the audio circuits seems pretty effective, as we didn’t hear the data actually moving. Is it as good as an add-in board? No, but frankly, with the state of PC audio, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference. We also tested the board with two GeForce GTX 580s and all four DIMMs populated, with no issues on that front, either.

The board’s performance was quite good and helped ease our concerns over the Asus P9X79 Deluxe board that’s been our pick of the litter. We’ve run a few X79 boards, and the P9X79 board’s comparatively fast scores had us wondering if something was amiss (cough! cooked BIOS). Now seeing this Asus board perform as speedily, using a public BIOS, we’re convinced that Asus is just onto some performance trick that the other board makers aren’t privy to yet. We’re basically talking 5 to 10 percent more speed for free from the Asus boards, which ain’t nothing to sneeze at. For example, look at the benchmark chart below and see how the Asus boards dominate the Intel DX79SI. How long will this performance advantage last? We’re not sure, and perhaps the other vendors will cry foul, but for now, we’ll take the free speed.

Overall, the board is fast, it’s compact, and it’s everything you’d need to snap into your microATX chassis of choice.

Asus Rampage IV Gene

GENE HACKMAN

Fast, capable, and well outfitted for a MicroATX board.

GENE SIMMONS

Fast, capable, and well outfitted for a MicroATX board.

9

BENCHMARKS

Asus Rampage IV GeneAsus P9X79 Deluxe
Intel DX79SI
PCMark7 Overall
3,5463,6623,489
Valve Particle (fps)
295299260
SiSoft Sandra (GB/s)
39.8839.938.9
SATA 6Gb/s read (MB/s)
523.4508499.9
SATA 6Gb/s write (MB/s)233.2224252.2
USB 3.0 read (MB/s)240198202.3
USB 3.0 write (MB/s)178175168.5
SLI ComplianceYesYesYes
32GB RAM ComplianceNo*YesYes

We tested all three motherboards with a 3.3GHz Core i7-3860X, 8GB of DDR3/1600, GeForce GTX 580, Western Digital Raptor 150, and 64-bit Windows 7 Professional. SATA 6Gb/s speeds were tested with an OWC Mercury Extreme SSD. USB 3.0 testing was tested with a UASP-complaint USB cabinet and SATA 6Gb/s Patriot Wildfire SSD. *Requires eight DIMM slots to test.

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