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ASUS ROG Rampage III Formula (Intel X58 Express) Motherboard - The Motherboard

We take a look at the "mid" level ASUS ROG X58 offering in the Rampage III Formula to see if it has what it takes to keep that name.

| Socket LGA 1366 in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 3, 2010 10:18 am
TweakTown Rating: 89%Manufacturer: ASUS

The Board

 

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Looking at the Rampage III Formula, you can see the hints of its big and little brothers in its design. However, after those hints are out of the way you begin to see that this board has been worked from a different angle than either the Extreme or the Gene.

 

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As you can see from this image, the RIIIF has the same board mounted buttons that are found on others in the ROG line. These buttons are solid and reliable and are also fairly well located for use on a test bench. A little lower you can see another flat press button and a jumper. These are friendly to overclockers; the jumper is the QPI_PLL jumper and this handy little jumper helps to stabilize the QPI voltage during overclocking, while the "Q-Button" allows you to temporarily stop power to the board if your CPU has frozen under a large dose of LN2. This button is used in conjunction with the LN2 jumper which is not visible in this picture.

 

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Looking at the 1366 CPU socket from above, we can see that the FPCAPs present on the Rampage and Maximus Extreme are missing, but that ASUS has not put shoddy components here either. You are still getting some high quality solid capacitors and chokes. I was a little surprised to see the X58 chipset visible under the heatsink. This makes me concerned that we might have some cooling issues later.

 

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In the image above you can see the 8-pin aux 12 volt power connector and my usual pet peeve in ATX motherboard design. This one is not too badly placed as far as connectors go; at least it is a little more open than many. Also visible are two 4-pin fan headers.

 

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Here we see one troubling item and two that are a sign of potentially good performance. The troubling item is the four-pin Molex connector. This is just a little too close to the PCIe x1 slot. When we attempted to install an audio card here it rubbed against the Molex connector. The two items that might be a good sign are the Intel LAN and the VIA Audio.

 

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The RIIIF can support both three-way SLI and three-way Crossfire. To support this you have three x16 PCIe slots on the board. However, again, despite the fact that they are x16 mechanical, they do not always perform as fully x16. According to ASUS, if you want to run standard SLI or Crossfire you need to use slots One and Three. Both of these will then operate at x16. Once you fill that third slot, well, then the only slot that will run at x16 is slot One. The other two will drop back to x8 each.

 

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Looking at the other side of the lower half of the Rampage III Formula (say that five times fast) we see a nicely stylized heatsink along with the dual BIOS chips and the BIOS switch which lets you move between the two saved BIOSes.

 

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On the back end the I/O ports are nothing new to most boards or to the ROG line up especially. The Bluetooth module and header is missing, but you can see the vertically mounted USB port and press button for ROG connect.

 

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Overall I like the layout on the RIIIF; it shows some thought and effort put into the design and component choices. I have some concerns about the board level cooling when overclocking, but those could be simply due to the chipset packaging peeking out under the heatsink.

 

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