ASUS ROG Rampage III Extreme LGA1366 Motherboard Preview

Author: 3oh6
Date: March 14, 2010
Product Name: ASUS ROG Rampage III Extreme LGA1366 Motherboard
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Rampage III Extreme Overview

We will dive right in with a very brief look at the layout of this voluptuous new Rampage III Extreme. Be aware that this R3E is not standard ATX size, this becomes immediately apparent once seeing the motherboard in person, but something we wanted to mention in case the photos do not convey the width of this board.

The most obvious component of the Rampage III Extreme pictured above is the lack of heat sinks. This is simply due to the fact that the final heat sink design has just finally been decided. For a photo of the final board design, our impatient readers can scroll down. In the second photo above we have the impressive VTT and CPU PWM circuits. Now we won't go digging into the specs of components used, but as SKYMTL's Maximus III Extreme Preview explained, the CPU PWM is comprised of two main parts that combine the best features of an analog PWM - cool operation and efficiency - with the benefits of the a digital design - high switching frequency and a higher level of stability under extreme load.

The two busiest locations on the motherboard are shown above. To the left, the major information providing area which includes voltage test probe locations, on-board power and reset buttons, Q LED for identifying POST success, switches that I have no information on, and of course the Go Button that takes you back to the 1950's in a Delorean. In the above photo to the right is South Beach...err, south bridge corner. A pair of BIOS chips are the key to this section as ASUS has added some very nice BIOS recovery abilities to their latest high end boards. We also want to highlight the OC Station on-board header identifying the R3E to be compatible with ASUS's OC Station peripheral as well as three more 4-pin fan headers. We are not sure if you have been counting but there are a total of 7 fan connectors and they are all in great locations.

Another unique connector on this motherboard is a 4-pin molex connection along the bottom edge. We assume this connector is to add voltage stability to the PCI-E slots, but we haven't confirmed that with ASUS just yet. What we can say for sure, is that it is not alone.

Just to the left of the top PCI-E 16X slot is another 4-pin molex connector, again, assumed to add stability to a weighted down PCI-E slot area. Speaking of which, there are a total of four PCI-E 16X slots, a PCI-E 4X slot (with open back), and a single PCI slot. The slot layout looks great, but just what we are capable of running with this board is a bit of a mystery. There is no NF200 chipset so just how all four PCI-E 16X slots work is something we will be investigating.

The rear I/O panel offers a lot of juicy information, as well as some insight to even more impressive features of this motherboard. In addition to standard on-board audio powered by the Realtek ALC889 codec, we can clearly see a PS2 keyboard port, 9 total USB ports; two of which are USB3.0 ports controlled by a NEC 720200F1. Another one of the USB ports is actually the location for the ROG Connect cable to attach. ROG Connect is a nifty little feature that allows the R3E to be controlled and monitored from a second computer at a completely hardware level. There are a few other connections as well as a CMOS clear button.

These last two photos depict how we have outfitted our Rampage III Extreme sample with cooling. Our weapons of choice are Swiftech MC14's on the CPU PWM, which have done a fabulous job keeping this PWM cool, but between you and I...they aren't even necessary, this is one cool PWM. Then we have Enzotech MOS C1's on the VTT PWM and vDIMM PWM MOSFETs, along with Swiftech MC21's. For the X58 IOH, also known as the north bridge, is a very old but still solid Noctua NC-U6. And finally on the south bridge is another piece of Enzotech hardware, the SLF-1. We went a bit overkill with the heat sinks but their installation will not interfere in anyway with other hardware yet to be installed and you can never have too much cooling.

Like we said, the retail cooling solution appears to have been finalized hours before posting this so consider this the first look. Without actually having a sample in our hands, the heat sink design certainly captures the essence of a cutting edge board with its sharp anti-uniform angles. It will be interesting to see how it fits in with the aesthetics once we have a complete sample in front of us.


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