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ASUS Rampage III Gene (X58 Express) Motherboard - The Motherboard

After trying out the Rampage III Extreme a short while back, today we see if its little brother is worthy of the name.

| Socket LGA 1366 in Motherboards | Posted: Jul 23, 2010 6:49 am
TweakTown Rating: 87%Manufacturer: ASUS

The Board

 

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The RIIIG is a Micro ATX motherboard. As such ASUS has limited space to stuff in all the goodies they normally reserve for their larger ROG boards. This has almost certainly led to a much more complicated tracing layout under the layers (and on both surfaces) of the board. With that in mind, let's take a look around the board and see how the smaller space has affected the design choices.

 

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Thankfully you still get the six full triple channel RAM slots and even the voltage monitoring pads right by the 24-pin ATX power socket. Where we start to see space forced design changes is in the placement of the fan headers. They are really tight on the outer edge of the board. Even the CPU fan is in an unusual spot. The 90 degree mounting of the CMOS battery is also a space saving measure.

 

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Moving over just a little shows us a smaller (yet still clean) CPU area. We can see that the RIIIG has a much smaller power phase design by the number of chokes visible. We counted eight for the CPU, two for the X58 Northbridge and two for the RAM, making this an 8+2+2 phase design. One thing that is missing from the RIIIG that was present on the larger (and more power hungry) ROG boards are the FPCAPs. This would seem to indicate that the demand for higher current draw is not anticipated, or that the size of the board ruled out their use.

 

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Despite its small size, the RIIIG still has two full x16 slots for either SLI or CrossfireX. They have also thrown in a x4 PCIe slot and the legacy PCI 2.0 slot. If you have a x4 device, ASUS recommends using the x4 slot first if possible before using the secondary x16 slot. Although very washed out, you can see the cover for the VIA audio chip that has the X-Fi software bundle attached to it. You can also see the Intel LAN chip used on this board, just like its big brother.

 

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As this is still an ROG board, you do get the excellent Start and Reset buttons along with the Go Button. It is a little out of the normal placement down at the lower edge of the board, but still works very well. The RIIIG still has the usual six SATA II ports and two SATA 3.0 ports, and like the other Intel based ROG boards the two SATA 3.0 ports are covered by the Drive Expert controller for SATA 3.0 RAID. There are two jumpers visible in this shot; the lower one is the CMOS reset jumper while the top one limits QPI voltage droop. This can help dramatically during overclocking as it prevents QPI voltage from dropping so low that it cannot support the speed the CPU is running at.

 

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The ports on the back are very familiar to anyone that has looked at the latest ROG boards. You have pretty much everything with the exception of the RC Connect Bluetooth header. This feature is not present on the RIIIG, which is a shame as it would be a welcome one. We imagine that its absence is part of the reason for the relatively low cost of the Rampage III Gene.

 

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