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Asus Rampage V Extreme Review (X99)

Asus Rampage V Extreme Review (X99)

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Rampage V Extreme Review – Packaging and Bundle

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Shown above we start off with the basics, a drive bay caddy and backplate which ensures LN2 users can use the board from day 1 (X-Socket II)… then we get a little more interesting with the dual band wireless-ac antenna which connects to the onboard wi-fi card (1.3Gbps). Then we have something familiar, but great. The OC Panel device. This can sit outstretched on our desk (Extreme Mode) or fold to fit in the previously mentioned 5.25″ drive bay (Normal mode) allowing us to see/use the front panel 2.6″ display. Why is the naming that way round? Well in Extreme Mode we can take advantage of the on console buttons for like tweaking… Or open up the front to reveal further cables and connectors such as fan headers, VGA hotwire pins and digital thermometers.

Rampage V Extreme Review – The Board

rampage-v-extreme-review-board

Shown above is the Rampage V Extreme, a board which sticks to the standard ROG red and black colour scheme on an E-ATX PCB. What makes it stand out from the X99 crowd? That starts with PowIRstage which includes an all in one driver and high/low side MOSFETs with built in resistance drain to source sensing technology. Micro fine alloy chokes (small granules, small air gaps) are also present which have high permeability, reduced inductance roll off and large current capacity/efficiency. (Efficiency is boosted by reduction of hysteresis loss when the core is magnetised in opposite directions during PWM on/off and through reduced Eddy current loss which happens when a varying electric/magnetic field generates tiny currents which move within individual granules). These combine with the DIGI+ PWM controller and 10K black metallic cap to enhance the power delivery to the CPU.

ASUS have also integrated a PWM design that allows the memory VRM to run at 1000kHz, allowing hte DC ripple to be reduced by up to 40% and they have even tweaked the CPU socket. On the Rampage V Extreme ASUS have tweaked the pins to open up all features of the Haswell-E CPU such as VCore and VCCSA which are not available on stock configuiration sockets and while doing so they also allow a maximum Vcore which exceeds the recommended Intel spec.

Anything else? We will look at more features as we look round the board but also worthy of note before we do are the presence of DRAM over current protection, stainless steel IO area, backplates for enhanced cooling, protection and reinforcement. ESD on all key ports, a copper heatpipe between our two passive heatsinks and some bundled RAMDisk software.

rampage-v-extreme-review-pcie rampage-v-extreme-review-sata

Looking down to the bottom left of the board we have the PCIe slots which start with a 16x PCIe 3.0 and then run through three more 16x slots (in an 8x, 4x, 16x config), a 1x slot and a final 8x slot. These allow us to use up to four GPUs at one time and in those sort of configurations we should use the molex power socket on the bottom edge of the board. Sitting to the left of the PCIe slots, at the other side of some LED track lighting which helps separate the audio portions of the board from electromagnetic interference, we find the steel covered SupremeFX 7.1 audio and its associated high quality ELNA Japan made capacitors. This is SupremeFX 2014 and it includes auto sensing technology to configure our amp for the correct headphone impedance and a SoundStage button for quick changes between game audio profiles for key genres. Interestingly the audio here also includes a software app that provides an overlay on screen to show a radar like view of where sounds are originating from in our game.

Moving along the base of the board we see the dual BIOS chips and then we find the drive connectors…all 14 of them. FOURTEEN. Two are SATA-Express and twelve are SATA 6GB/s ports. RAID 0,1, 5, 10 etc are all supported.

rampage-v-extreme-review-mem rampage-v-extreme-review-socket

There was a USB 3.0 connector on the bottom edge of the board and we find another on the right edge, next to the 24pin power connector. There are two futher power sockets on the top edge (8pin and 4pin) to maximise overclocking potential and ASUS also pack in a number of buttons in this area. We get MemOK which helps us boot with problem modules, a retry buttom to assist with tweaking/boot issues and power/reset. Next to that is a Safe Boot button which allows us to boot into the BIOS to tweak, even if an OC has failed, without clearing every setting we have changed. ASUS also provide us with status LEDs here as well as a debug LED and multi-meter read points. And still there is more…

LN2 mode is a jumper rather than a switch which increases the overclocking margin and slow mode allows us to quickly dial back the CPU speed quickly to manage temps and continue overclocking without crashing. Then there is that row of white switches on a red block. Quite simply that disables PCIe slots so that we can turn off graphics cards without needing to physically remove them.

So that brings us to the memory slots of which there are eight spread across four channels. These are all DDR4 slots and capable of running at speeds in excess of 3300MHz with a maximum capacity of 64GB. ASUS of course use the 2011-3 socket on this board and all new i7-5000 series CPUs are supported. And then, just next to the memory slots is our m.2 connector which is compatible with 2260, 2280 and 22110 SSDs. Worthy of note is that it also uses PCIe 3.0 x4 bandwidth which is in excess of all consumer m.2 SSDs which are currently available.

rampage-v-extreme-review-io

Turning round to the back panel our connectors start with PS/2 and 2x USB 2.0 and then we have ten USB 3.0 ports along with a GB LAN (Intel I218-V with surge, ESD protection, software management and improved latency) and the Wi-Fi connectors. Also present are gold plated 3.5mm audio ports and the optical connector. Finally at this area there is a BIOS reset button and the ROG Connect button too.

Rampage V Extreme Review – BIOS and Software

rampage-v-extreme-bios (10) rampage-v-extreme-bios (9) rampage-v-extreme-bios (8) rampage-v-extreme-bios (7) rampage-v-extreme-bios (6)

rampage-v-extreme-bios (5) rampage-v-extreme-bios (4) rampage-v-extreme-bios (3) rampage-v-extreme-bios (2) rampage-v-extreme-bios (1)

ASUS go with a familiar look for their Rampage V Extreme BIOS. It uses the same GUI as the other recent boards we have seen from them which means all of the key features are found in a quick screen. For those who want a little more we can delve a little deeper to tweak fan profiles, overclock (including auto), configure our m.2. slot, run Secure Erase and perform tasks such as updating our BIOS from USB.

asussoft asussoft2

For those who want to manage their board in Windows we have AI suite which contains a monitoring and tweaking app. Installation of the suite also allows us to enable/configure aspects such as fast charging of USB devices (PSU permitting all ports are guaranteed to be stable 5V) and there is additional software for cloud storage and audio configuration (including virtual  7.1 sound) along with keyboard software for MACRO use.

Rampage V Extreme Review – Test System and Performance

Intel Core i7-5960X
Intel Core i7-4790K

ASUS Rampage V Extreme

Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5
Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 5

NVIDIA GTX 980

16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800
16GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-2666
Samsung 840 Evo 1TB
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB (SATA Testing)
OCZ RevoDrive 350 (PCIe testing)
Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD
Corsair AX1500i
Antec Kuhler 1250

Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench

Intel Wireless AC 7260
Razer DeathAdder
Razer BlackWidow Ultimate
ASUS 120Hz/3D Display

Windows 8.1 64-bit
NVIDIA Drivers: 344.07

Battlefield 4
SiSoft Sandra
dBpoweramp
Cinebench R15
ATTO
Adobe Creative Cloud
3DMark

The test system was built from scratch, a format of the hard drive was performed (NTFS) and then Windows 8.1 was installed. Following the completion of the installation, the video drivers were installed. All windows updates were then installed as were the latest builds of the benchmarking tools. Finally, the hard drives were de-fragmented (where appropriate). For each test, the video drivers were set to default quality/optimizations (unless otherwise stated).

Good Benchmarking Practice

Where possible, each benchmark was performed three times and the median result for each resolution/setting is shown in the tables that will follow. All applications had their latest patches applied and all hardware features the latest BIOS/Firmware.

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Memory Bandwidth DDR3/4 2666
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Rampage V Extreme Review – Conclusion

Where to start… how about: The ASUS Rampage V Extreme is just awesome. Money aspect aside, if we had to buy an X99 board today, for any use, we would go with this model.

It offers enhanced overclocking features for the extreme end of the enthusiast market… while also offering auto configuration for the novices out there. It gives us premium quality components from the ones many may not care so much about (MOSFETs) to the more obvious areas such as audio and LAN parts. The BIOS is easy to use and feature packed, the software available simple to work with and packed with nice little extras which will appeal to gamers. The list of features and enhanced quality just goes on and on really and in terms of things we would change, its just silly nitpicking which we have left. For example we wish ASUS would go with an alternate power port to the molex on the bottom edge…saves us having to use a molex cable on a modular PSU (though some do have SATA/Molex mixes so we could choose that wisely) and being suuuuper picky, the keyboard MACRO software is a bit pointless. Anyone buying this board likely already has a decent keyboard anyway.

Looking to the performance at stock speeds the Rampage V Extreme competes well with other X99 boards, often edging ahead in results. There are of course areas where it is very strong, in USB 3.0 performance for example it managed to squeeze some extra performance out of our drive when compared to the competition and ASUS m.2 implementation did the same to our SSD. Overclocking was also impressive and even with fairly decent liquid cooling rather than LN2 we were able to hit the highest overclock we have seen on our i7-5960X so far (4.5GHz).

In terms of pricing, the Rampage V Extreme is at the top end of the X99 market but that is no surprise given its build quality, features and performance. Without doubt the best X99 board we have used and easily one of the best boards for any platform, ever.

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Available from Newegg here. Or OCUK here.

About Author

Stuart Davidson