What gets you going in the morning? Coffee? That's for sissies since the real men get up in the morning, stretch, kiss their significant other goodbye, take a walk over to their single-stage phase unit and close the door behind them. For overclockers like this, there is only one motherboard that they all want to get their hands on right now: the ASUS Rampage Extreme.
ASUS has sent one of these beasts over to us with blessings to our resident world-record holding overclocker and reviewer (3oh6) to do what he wants with it.
Since this is one hell of a special board, we have something a little different planned for this review. Instead of keeping things quiet until the review is released, we are giving you the lowdown about what is going on behind the scenes with the Rampage Extreme. This is why this time we are putting up the OC report BEFORE the review...but WAIT, this will be a "LIVE" OC report which will be updated with benchmarks as they are attained!!!
Somewhere in this whole jumble of overclocks we will be posting the review live which will have first-time extreme overclocks as well as TONS of other information, so stay tuned for that.
Until then, I will leave things over to 3oh6.
ENJOY GUYS and please feel free to ask questions & participate in this thread.
Last edited by SKYMTL; September 3, 2008 at 07:27 PM.
This isn't going to be a typical OC Report like my last in that it will be much more compressed and focused solely on results. It will also be a bit of a Live OC Report as I will be posting results as I obtain them, and not just all at once after all testing is done. This may be a little un-organized but, what can you do? At this point, we are all familiar with ASUS and their motherboard line. Sure it may be confusing, but no one can say it lacks options. The recent gem of the bunch is the Rampage Extreme and ever since the first results have shown up in the forums, we have all been clammering to get one. I have managed to do just that and from what I have seen, this board definitely isn't going to let me down.
First and foremost, the sample I have was sent directly from ASUS as a review sample for HardwareCanucks.com. The entire review will be posted there in due time, but for now, consider this a sneak peek of what that will offer. Of course, this thread will also be home to all of the more exciting results with sub-zero cooling that I manage to come up with. This sample is a full retail product with serial number and all so it isn't an ES but it has been tested before heading out to me. This doesn't mean it was hand picked from my understanding, just pre-tested to ensure its functioning. Below you can find an easy to navigate directory for the various sections that will be populated with results from this board.
I don't think most viewers of this thread are really going to be interested in a long discussion about the specifications here so this will remain brief. We all know what the X48 chipset is capable of at this point so there is no need to re-hash old information. After all, it has been around for some time now and this board is a bit of a late comer to the party. Here is a little excerpt from the ASUS web site and if you want to see more specifications, visit it here. This thread will remain primarily a results thread so you'll have to wait for the full review for more details on the specifications and features.
As I said, this is a results thread so the specifications are limited to what is above. With that said, I could go on for days about the features, specifications and capabilities of this board. ASUS has absolutely thrown everything they have on this board and there is something unique for almost every user. There are a couple features that I do want to discuss here because they pertain directly to what we do, overclock.
First up is the BIOS FlashBack feature which is essentially, a dual BIOS. What this dual BIOS offers, however, is complete control over both BIOS chips. We can switch between which the system boots off of in the BIOS, and we can run two different sets of settings on each. The BIOS ICs are also a DIP package again which means they are user replaceable. So even if you manage to bork both BIOS chips, you can still just order one and be back up and running...no RMA needed. Thank-you ASUS for this very nice old school implementation of a newer feature. Trust me lads, having a dual BIOS that you have full control over is very nice.
Second is the fanciest thing on a motherboard since...well, since ever. TweakIt is a manual system adjuster that is purely hardware driven. This means that at any time, we can adjust various settings of the motherboard such as FSB and voltages. In reality, this is basically having not only variable resistors pre-soldered to the various voltage options, but also the ability to adjust the FSB on the fly. I have played with it briefly already and the interface is very intuative. The LCD Poster acts as your guide and your fingers do the walking...it is very cool. As has been discussed here already, Futuremark has a headache on their hands with this motherboard.
Let's now talk about probably the most important aspect of this motherboard right now...price, and availability. At this very moment, there is only one place I am aware of that the Rampage Extreme is available, and that is in the UK:
The scary thing is that OcUK, notorious for price gouging, might not even be too far off with this price. If anyone has any further places that the board is available, just post em up and I will add them to the list. It looks like we are going to have to pay through the nose for this guy but when I consider how much my 790i, Maximus Extreme, and various other boards along the way cost...this is almost respectable for what it is. Hey...I said almost respectable. Time for some package and layout photos...as if you haven't seen enough already.
Again, this will be just a brief fly over of the package and the layout of the board. We start with a shot of the box and then the pile of stuff that comes with the board. The Rampage Extreme is a premium board and it comes with a premium package.
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The standard ROG package encases the RE (Rampage Extreme) with more logos plastered all over this box than a Nascar driver. The logos do in fact provide a lot of information about the RE. ASUS has done a lot of work putting all of these features on the board, they might as well display them. The front of the package has a top flap that lifts up revealing even more information about the board in side. We also get a bit of a sneak peak at the board through the transparent sections of the package. The accessory pack is all neatly arranged in the additional box inside the package that accomodates the motherboard. Here is a list of the contents that come with the reatail package...
6x SATA (3x 90 degree angled)
1x 4-pin molex to double SATA 5-pin power
1x dual USB & single Firewire 6-pin PCI bracket
3x optional temperature sensors
1x illuminated rear I/O panel
1x optional cooling fan
2x 1/4" > 3/8" & 2x 1/4" to 1/2" adapters and worm clamps
rubber motherboard stand offs for open air bench setup
1x optional NB air cooling attachment
1x optional PWM air cooling attachment
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The optional heat sinks allow for a little additional cooling on the PWM and NB. Their construction is pretty basic and being made of what feels like aluminum I don't expect fantastic results from the use of them, but the NB block should be a bit better for cooling than the Fusion water block if you are just going to be air cooling. Let's now do a quick jaunt around the RE's layout.
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The layout on the Rampage extreme is very good but with the large heat sinks surrounding the socket area, there are going to be some issues with CPU coolers. I have already found that the Rosewill RCX-Z775-EX will only fit in one direction, and it isn't exactly a large cooler. With the additional heat pipe attachments for the rear PWM and NB, even more issues could arrise. It appears that the Thermalright Ultra-120/Ultra-120 Extreme shouldn't have a problem as they should clear the heat sinks, but again, with the attachments it might be a different story. As for the rest of the layout, there isn't much to complain about. The PCI-E slots are nicely spaced for GPU pots or doul slot coolers and the memory slots are well away from the CPU socket. All other connectors are along the outside edges of the board in their usual spots and the 90 degree SATA ports are a welcome site. So despite the amount of 'stuff' on the board, ASUS has done quite well in making everything accessible and compatible in my opinion.
I will start off the overclocking with a little FSB action. So far, these are just initial results, right out of the box with the Fusion block still on. Eventually I will put water in the Fusion block and perhaps a little more cooling on the NB after that. Here is a photo of the initial setup:
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And of course, a complete break down of the hardware used for these results...
MB: ASUS Rampage Extreme (BIOS 0206)
CPU: Intel C2D E8600ES (Q814A526)
CPU Cooling: Rosewill RCX-Z775-EX
GPU: Biostar 8600GTS
NB Cooling: Stock w/Fushion block
SB Cooling: Stock
PWM Cooling: Stock
PSU: Silverstone Zeus 560W
HD: Seagate SATAII 80GB 8MB NCQ
OS: Windows XP Pro SP2
These next couple results are basically within minutes of first firing up the board. The goal was to get 600FSB stable and these were the first two shots on the way to that.
Stable FSB on Air w/E8600 - SPi 32M :: 600MHz PL9 @ 1.41vNB click for full size...
Stable FSB on Air w/E8600 - Dual SPi 32M :: 600MHz PL9 @ 1.48v click for full size...
In all honesty, the vNB along with other voltages could probably be lower but I was just hunting to get a gauge for where the board was going to be at. Remember, these were both within 20 minutes of first turning on the board. Needless to say, it is quite easy to get this board clocking. There will be far more to this section in the future as the cooling progresses.
I hit a bit of a roadblock at 980MHz on the 266 strap and went up to the 333 strap to get 990MHz ran. More vNB didn't help on the 266 strap as temps were getting up over 50C under load. On the 333 strap, the memory again ran out of steam at 990MHz and that is far as I will take this kit for now at CL7. Time to move on to CL8 and for that, I figured I would see if the optional heat-pipe attachment for the NB would help.
8-7-6-X 1T: Intel X48 & Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000: Click link for full size screenshot... 1030MHz :: 1.96v
Since I have hit that wall at 1030MHz and tried everything I could, I have fired off an e-mail to ASUS to see what their thoughts are. In the mean time, I have to move forward and decided to start the XMP testing. For those looking for compatible kits, this is what you want to watch. These are just the screens after dual 32M testing but full stability testing will be done for the review. BIOS defaults are loaded for each kit, and all settings are left alone.
3DMark 01 8-7-6-X 1T: Intel X48 & Crucial Ballistix PC3-16000: Click link for full size screenshot... 1110MHz :: 2.12v
I have finally replaced the thermal paste and modified the stock heat sink to provide more mounting pressure and low&behold, MCH temps dropped a solid 10~15C across the board at load and idle. This has allowed me to increase MCH voltage and do some fun things with the memory. I can get a single 32M done at 1050MHz 8-7-6 now but still no improvement on dual 32M with this D9GTS based Ballistix kit. 3DMark 01, however, was a little more fun as seen above :D
With all this talk of D9GTR doing well I figured it was time to give it a proper shot and so far so good at CL6, but that isn't the issue with D9GTS. I still get the weird boot issue once in a while with the D9GTR kit and after putting them in, I couldn't get POST without removing a single stick, loading BIOS defaults, then POSTing. Then the second stick could go in and I could get POST. I didn't have to change anything in the BIOS, just POST with a single stick first and save & exit. Also, don't mind the LN2/Dry Ice container, the fan on the stock heat sink went so I am improvising ;)
The games have begun with a pair of ATI HD4850s. Both cards have been volt modded and the setup is still all on air. Tonight was simply a shake down of the system, the cards, and my run order/LODs for 01. The cards don't appear to be that strong but 800MHz core and 1075MHz memory seem to be do-able for consistent benching with reasonable volts on air. Here is where I am at so far...
So I got AM3 sorted, with these ATI cards you have to delete the DLL file, not patch it. Man it has been too long since I benched ATI, this weekend should be fun with what I have in store for this setup :D
CPU at 6GHz+ on LN2 // Stock Air CF 2 x ATIHD4850 Intel X48 & 2x ATI HD4850 512MB DDR3 // CrossFire Cat 8.7 // Stock Cooler fan @ 100%: Click score for full size screenshot... 01 = 112959 | CPU @ 610*10 6100MHz | GPU @ 820MHz / 1075MHz | ORB 03 = 88615 | CPU @ 600*10 6000MHz | GPU @ 815MHz / 1075MHz | ORB 05 = 39111 | CPU @ 610*10 6100MHz | GPU @ 825MHz / 1075MHz | ORB AM3 = 355645 | CPU @ 615*10 6150MHz | GPU @ 815MHz / 1075MHz | HWBot.org
Oh yeah, the HD4850s tore it up with a 6GHz CPU. The board performed very well and the performance was quite good for the clocks. It really was a treat working with this setup as there were very little issues throughout the whole 9 hour session. Putting cold on the cards is next and hopefully happening this weekend.
CPU at 6.15GHz on LN2 // CF 2 x ATIHD4850 at 1000MHz core+ on LN2 Intel X48 & 2x ATI HD4850 512MB DDR3 // CrossFire Cat 8.7 // TEK-9 4.0 SLIM: Click score for full size screenshot... 01 = 114997 | CPU @ 615*10 6100MHz | GPU @ 1020MHz / 1075MHz @ 1.508v | ORB | HWBot.org 03 = 102558 | CPU @ 615*10 6150MHz | GPU @ 1050MHz / 1075MHz | ORB | HWBot.org 05 = 40110 | CPU @ 615*10 6150MHz | GPU @ 1000MHz / 1075MHz | ORB | HWBot.org
The culmination of all previous testing went down earlier this week with a 3 pot LN2 session on the HD4850s. I got my E8600 stable at 6150MHz for all benches and managed to improve a couple with some help from a pair of Tek-9 4.0 Slims on the GPUs. I did not have thermal probes on the GPU pots so it was fly-by-wire and they could have been maximized quite a bit more I believe. Either way, some CF HD4850 WRs fell and a solid chunk of HWBot points were earned from this very strong setup...cracked the top 50 :up:
Last edited by 3oh6; September 13, 2008 at 11:26 AM.
Alright, so now that the final push for the review is done, time to get back to work on this thread. I will start off with the insulation job for the LN2 session that was posted in the review. I will also be posting the benchmark results here sometime this week.
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I start off with a 1/2" thick layer of armacell closed cell insulation cut from a large sheet. This is cut to fit perfectly inside the heat pipe cocoon and then a dremel with a dry wall carving tip is used to cut out the holes for the caps and inductors. Next is a double layer of the blue shop towels, thanks to Vince for the idea here. On top of that are two more layers of the 1/2" armacell with cutouts to accomodate the pot. Then the pot with a small donut makes an appearance on the scene. At this point the setup is ready for the inner armacell pipe insulation and a wrap of whop towels around the mounting hardware followed by another larger layer of armacell pulled over top the entire assembly. At this point we are snug as a bug and ready to rock.
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There was one amendment that had to be made to the outer ring of armacell pipe insulation because of the Fusion block and it's flurry of worm clamps. When I find the thread that the stock heat sink uses I should be able to mount the MCW30 and will likely not have to have a chunk of the outer insulation missing. Benching was now in full swing and I finished a 9 hour LN2 session with the RE followed promptly by a nap. The board held up really well and the NB was great using just the Fusion block. It was suppose to be a feeling out session for the CPU as it hadn't been cold before but it turned into an all out benching romp when I easily found the CPUs limits. The RE benched at 600~615FSB on the 333Strap 5:8 ratio with a tRD of 9 the whole time. My E8600 had a crappy cold bug around -110C so 6100MHz was about the limit for all benches. Sorted a solid Pifast, 1M, and 32M for 2D which was followed by 01, 03, 05, & AM3 with CF HD4850s (volt modded but stock air) and single HD4850 01, 05, AM3. I have to go through all the results but here some photos...
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From left to right, benching SPi early on, later I went back to it with a single HD4850 but I always start with my trusty 8600GTS with no drivers installed for 32M. My withdrawl device wouldn't build pressure so getting LN2 came down to manual labour. Setting the dewar on the milk crate at an angle let me rock it rather easily while using the second crate as a sort of safety stop in case I managed to lose the balance. It worked rather well but with a couple cracked ribs and recently separated left shoulder...it was a very tough 9 hours, considering I only had a 750ml thermos cup to fill :eek:. The last photo was during tear down. There was the outer armaflex layer of insulation over what is shown here but there wasn't a drop of water in site. A good bit of frost under the shop towel but absolutely zero water anywhere...the setup could have easily gone a lot longer had more cold stuff been available. I then took a couple photos during tear down, not bad for 9 hours of being -105C at the CPU base.
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As mentioned, the insulation held up remarkably well and will be my permanent insulation solution for this setup. Having a very alrge A/C unit with de-humidifier in the bench room really helps with condensation but even still, the setup stayed perfectly dry and was begging for more. Results from this session will go up before the weekend, followed by more benching, hopefully with some extra special GPU action
Last edited by 3oh6; September 3, 2008 at 08:45 PM.