The ASUS Rampage Formula features the normally clean ASUS layout. The SATA ports are all placed at an angle to avoid interference with any long PCIe cards you may wish to install. Expansion slots feature subtle, but not overstated color coding to help differentiate the different ports.
Click to Enlarge
The motherboard chipset cooling takes on a unique and fairly exotic approach. The board incorporates large copper heatsinks in a “Pin-Fin Thermal Module” configuration. Basically, it increases surface area to facilitate more efficient cooling, and also allows more air to flow through the passive heatsinks. Also, in keeping with their normal quality standards, Asus includes Stack Cool 2, and Uses 100% All High-quality Conductive Polymer Capacitors, for durability, improved lifespan, and enhanced thermal capacity.
The back of the PCB is home to the Northbridge retention bracket. The Pin-Fin heatsink is quite large and heavy, and it’s nice to see ASUS taking additional steps to properly secure it in place.
The CPU area itself can become crowded depending upon the orientation and design of the CPU cooler you plan to utilize. I did not encounter any issues with the small tower cooler I used in the review, but some lower profile block style coolers could make contact with some of the heatsink fins. Overall however, the extra chipset cooling is a welcome addition.
The front panel header is placed at the bottom right corner, as is status quo for most ASUS boards. The IDE and SATA boards are angled so that they can all be utilized when you choose to install long graphic cards. USB headers are color coded blue, and located in this area as well. The Southbridge is included in the heatpipe circuit for effective cooling.
The board has four 240-pin DDR2 memory slots. They alternate in white and blue colors to insure easy reference for proper dual channel configuration. The DDR2 support is pretty good overall, considering this board supports 4 x DIMM, Max. 8 GB, DDR2 1200(O.C.)/1066/800/667 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory. The 24-pin power connection is also located on this top right corner. I find this placement works well, as it makes it easy to route the power cable away from other board components. If you still using a floppy drive, a board connection is provided for you next to the power receptacle.
The ASUS Rampage Formula uses eight phase CPU power regulation. The 8-pin CPU power connector is placed at the top the socket.
In the peripheral expansion department, the board sports 2 x PCIe 2.0 x16, at full x16, x16 speed, 3 x PCIe x1 (the PCIEx1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot) and 2 x PCI 2.2.
I/O back panel connectors include: 1 x PS/2 Keyboard, 1 x IEEE 1394a, 2 x LAN (RJ45) port, 6 x USB 2.0/1.1, 1 x Clr CMOS switch and 1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output. When you take advantage SupremeFX II Audio Card provided, you also gain ADI 1988B 8 -Channel High Definition Audio CODEC ports, Coaxial / Optical S/PDIF out ports at back I/O. I like the inclusion of the Clr CMOS switch on the backpanel. Even though ASUS includes a boot failure guard, it’s nice to have the switch handy during extreme overclocking attempts. I’m not so sure about the ADI audio solution. ADI recently announced they are stepping out of the Audio Codec business, and this makes future driver support questionable for this solution.
Also for convenience reasons, ASUS includes onboard power and reset switches on the PCB. This makes for convenient operation for uses that run boards in open testing environments.