The Rampage 2 Gene is part of the Republic of Gamers family of products and the box reflects this as well as featuring a large amount of information on the specifications and features. Inside we find a large number of bundled extras including flexible SLI Bridge, LCD poster (display for information and diagnostics), Q-Connectors and a well written manual.
As mentioned earlier in the article all of the boards being tested today are micro-ATX models and the Rampage 2 Gene has dimensions of 9.6 x 9.6 inches. Despite this small footprint Asus have packed an incredible amount of components on to the PCB starting with the Intel X58 chipset which is cooled, as is the power circuitry, by a passive heatsink. Surrounding the CPU socket are eight holes rather than the standard four. These allow us to install socket 775 heatsinks on our processor as well as the newer 1366 based models. In terms of CPU support this board is compatible with all of the currently available Core-i7 range as well as the soon to be released D0 revision models.
At the bottom left of the PCB we find the add-in card slots, there are two PCI-Express 16x connectors which allow us to take advantage of CrossFire and SLI and sandwiched between these is a 4x slot. Completing our card installation locations is the single PCI slot and beneath this we can see the onboard power and reset buttons as well as Mem-OK switch. Mem-OK when pressed prompts the board to scan the installed memory for issues which may cause problems and set failsafe values before booting.
Over to the right of the board we find the drive connectors and on this particular product we see that there are six standard SATA 2 ports which run through the ICH10R Southbridge (Raid 0, 1, 5 and 10) as well as a single SATA connector which uses the JMB363 controller.
Moving to the top right of the board we see that there are six DDR3 memory slots which officially support speeds up to 2000MHz however a quick look in the BIOS shows us that 2133MHz is also available. We can have a total of 24GB installed and as with all X58 motherboards the sticks are split on to three channels. It is also worth noting that the bottom edge of the slots do not feature the standard clips to hold memory in place, this allows us to add or remove modules even when there is a card in PCI-Express slot 1.
External connectivity on the Rampage 2 Gene is just as impressive as the rest of the board and on the back panel we find PS/2, 6x USB 2.0, Clear CMOS, Firewire, e-SATA (JMB363) and GB LAN (Realtek). These sit alongside the optical and analogue audio connectors which are powered by the SupremeFX X-Fi chip. This chip supports, amongst other things, 7.1 Audio and EAX 4.0 although the Creative features are handled by software rather than hardware.
Last month Intel launched their Z97 chipset, essentially an evolution of Z87, which in many cases brought new features such as SATA Express and M.2 compatibility to the mainstream desktop market. There was of course no new CPU at that time with the existing socket 1150 processors working without issue in the new boards. Since then though Intel launched (along with some lower spec models) the Core i7-4790K, a model which sits at the top of their mainstream platform. Today we see how it compares to various other models when installed on Gigabytes Z97X Gaming 5 and paired with PowerColors new dual core 290X Devil 13.
Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK vs. MSI Z97 Gaming 5 vs Asus Maximus VII Hero
It is probably fair to say that Intel don't stealth launch their products... sure they have NDAs but by the time those expire we know pretty much everything about a new product. Part of this is of their own...