Package and Contents
Pushing forward, we take a look at the box that ASUS ship us the Rampage Formula in. Being ROG based it comes in an oversized box with just about every do-dad under the sun included in the box. It carries the same colour co-ordination as the previous ROG based boards. On the front of the box there is very little given away on the features apart from the name, chipset supported and company logo.
On the back of the box is where ASUS puts all its marketing info along with a large colour photo of the board itself. This is one of the biggest pluses we can ever give a company. In the past there has been a bit of speculation on what the board looks like in terms of its layout prior to getting it out of the box. A full spec rundown is also located on the back, giving you a full list of the board's features and supported hardware, thus allowing you to make an informed choice before you buy the board.
Shipped with the board you get two CDs and a single user manual. For the detail ASUS puts into the user manual, we have yet to see anyone beat them. The ROG Rampage Formula manual gives you a full rundown of the installation of the board, hardware supported, header locations as well as BIOS and driver/software setup. On one of the included DVDs are the drivers for Windows XP and Vista OSs in both 32-bit and 64-bit flavours. There are no Linux drivers to be found, so if you're an alternate OS user, you'd better go looking before you use this board. The second DVD is a full retail copy of Stalker, so you have something extra to play once you get the system up and running.
Moving along to the included data cables that are supplied, we were a bit surprised that ASUS only includes four out of the six SATA data cables that the board supports. Further to this, only a single 2-way Molex to SATA power splitter is supplied; a bit disappointing here. As for the parallel cables, a single FDD cable with single drive support and a single IDE cable with two drive support tis included.
In a small part of the package, ASUS has included its break-away header installs. These are separate blocks that allow you to setup your case power switches and LEDs onto. Once you have the cables connected you can simply connect the whole block to the motherboard headers, and bingo, your case headers are working without having to do them while the board is inside the case. This also applies for USB and FireWire headers, making installation just that much easier.
Included is a PCI cover riser bracket that includes two USB ports and a single 6-pin FireWire port. If you plan to use a front panel FireWire port then you have to sacrifice the rear PCI cover port, but this is not a problem for most people.
Water cooling is now becoming more popular amongst overclockers as there are a number of out-of-the-box kits available. While it helps cool the CPU, not having a regular heatsink/fan arrangement sitting over the socket means that there is no air being pushed over the Mosfets/heatsink assembly. If you do still plan on going down the water cooling route however, ASUS has you covered with a small tunnel fan that you place on top of the heatpipe assembly near the rear I/O ports to keep air flow up and cool down the heated components; a very nice touch ASUS.
While some companies put a post code system somewhere on the board to give you a read-out as to your boards' health, ASUS gives you a break-out LCD post reader. Going that extra step, this unit doesn't display hexadecimal codes but gives it to you in plain English as to where it's up to during the bootup phase. If it fails at a certain point, you will know just what to look at.
Lastly on our list is the SupremeFX II audio module. While some may be thinking you are getting a dedicated sound card, sorry to disappoint you. This card is simply a break-out daughter board with a Realtek HD audio controller chip on it. It still uses the Azalia HD audio built into the ICH9R Southbridge, it's just that it's placed on a daughter board instead. ASUS claims that this helps reduce noise on the audio channel, but after playing games using SupremeFX II compared to other HD audio built onboard, there was no noticeable difference on our 7.1 speaker setup. Still, a nice touch, as if you want to use a separate audio card, you take out the SupremeFX II audio card and you can still use the audio slot as a PCI-E x1 expansion slot for a Creative X-Fi audio card or some such.