Inside the Box - Continued
When it comes to the extreme boards, ASUS never fails to impress with the accessories. There are in total six SATA data cables, which is almost the total of SATA ports the board supports and a single IDE ribbon cable with two drive support is also included.
X58 supports not only AMD's Crossfire technology, but for the first time on an Intel platform, native SLI. Since AMD supplies its own Crossfire cables with Radeon graphics cards, there is no need for Crossfire data cables. However, SLI cables have to be supplied by the motherboard; they don't come with graphics cards. ASUS has given two SLI bridges; a 3-way and a standard single bridge. The single bridge is fine for normal SLI such as two GTX280's, or if you want to connect two GX2's to make quad SLI.
If you're like me and you want to know what is going on with your PC during the POST screen, but don't want to have to read and learn tricky post codes, the ASUS LCD poster makes a return with the Rampage II and in basic terms gives you an idea of what is going on during the BIOS POST startup. Lastly, if you're planning water cooling then you will need to have the turbo fan installed to the Mosfet heatsink in order to regulate the temps when the CPU fan is removed.
If you don't plan to use any front panel ports, ASUS gives you a PCI Expansion cover with two USB ports along with a single 4-pin FireWire port. One of the best things ASUS has done in making the installation of their boards easier is the header box. This is a small block that you connect your case LED and switches to which then plugs onto the front panel header; this lets you work in a much easier way.
Since Intel introduced its Azalia audio standard, onboard sound has progressed quite a long way and now supports HD and 7.1 speakers. But it still simply can't compete to a discrete audio solution, not only for sound quality but also for lowering the CPU usage.
To this end ASUS has decided to scrap the HD audio codec in exchange for a Creative X-Fi PCIe audio card. It looks like ASUS is following in MSI's footsteps here. One thing, however, confuses me; ASUS has its own Xonar based audio cards so why not simply pair this?