Power Consumption and Conclusions
There is definitely something odd going on with ASUS’ X58 motherboard including both the new Rampage II Extreme and the P6T Deluxe as both consistently use more power at idle than the Intel DX58SO motherboard. The R2E uses just a half-dozen additional watts when compared to the P6T so that isn’t a HUGE jump at all but the trend could be worrisome. Load power consumption on the R2E is also a little bit higher coming in at 291 watts compared to the 283 watts of the P6T Deluxe and 285 watts on the Intel ‘Smackover’ motherboards.
Just as we saw with our ASUS P6T Deluxe motherboard, and what we will likely see with all X58 motherboards that cross our testing bench, the ASUS Rampage II Extreme did not perform better at stock settings than any other X58 solution. With the move of the memory controller to the CPU and the corresponding lack of performance-affecting features in the north bridge, Intel motherboards are likely to become even more “performance equal” than they were in the past.
The overclocking performance on the R2E was also impressive as I was able to hit 4.14 GHz with my Core i7-965 EE CPU without having to adjust a single voltage or timing. I simply turned up the multiplier and away it went. I do wish the board would allow the CPU to downclock even with a multiplier adjustment but so far only the Intel DX58SO motherboard has done that correctly.
Storage performance on the R2E was great and even though I am usually hesitant about JMicron controllers of late, I ran into no problems on this board and the performance was on par with the Marvell chipset used on the P6T Deluxe.
Yeah, there are lots of these. The Rampage II Extreme gets a bonus right off the bat for supporting the Intel Core i7 processor, the world’s fastest consumer product, courtesy of the Intel X58 chipset. The board’s physical layout is superb and offers three x16 PCIe slots that are full accessible for dual-slot cooled graphics cards and makes its case as the first motherboard to support both CrossFire X and NVIDIA’s 3-Way SLI technology. Without a doubt this makes it the most flexible enthusiast platform we have tested to date offering the best of all worlds (though a fourth slot would really have set us off).
Standard features like SATA and USB are well addressed on the Rampage II Extreme as the motherboard has support for 7 internal SATA connections, 1 eSATA connection and an IDE channel along with 12 USB 2.0 ports and a pair of Firewire ports. Dual Gigabit Ethernet and one of the best on-board audio options we have seen in a long time (courtesy of the X-Fi technology) really round out the features that we are used to looking for on a motherboard.
When we start looking at overclocking and tweaking features the ASUS Rampage II Extreme is quite simply unmatched. The BIOS for this board is the most impressive I have seen and includes inline voltage monitoring during voltage adjustments, profiles support, two separate BIOS chips for backup and availability, fast access to all the OC options on the first page and much more. Then we can start looking at the extra goodies ASUS has supplied including the external LCD POST display that also allows you to monitor voltages, fan speeds, etc and adjust some BIOS settings BEFORE you turn the system on. I also can’t leave out the on-board toggle buttons that allow you to control the LCD without using Windows or any kind of driver. And how can we leave out the “ProbeIt” feature that offers up access to all the pin-outs you could want for digital multimeter monitoring that is common among the most hardcore of overclockers?
Simply put: no board offers more to the enthusiast than the ASUS Rampage II Extreme.
Pricing and Availability
Unfortunately, you still have to pay for all of these features! The retail price of the Rampage II Extreme according to ASUS is $399 – this makes it the most expensive consumer motherboard we have ever tested. The board is not actually for sale anywhere yet so I can’t tell you how close to the retail price the motherboard is actually going to be selling for though Jeremy did spot it going for a pre-order price of nearly $500 this week.
High end motherboards have slowly seen a creep in price the wrong direction (for consumers at least) since the release of the nForce 7-series was released. Some 790i and X48 motherboards have been selling for nearly $400 as well so this trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. That doesn’t mean you HAVE to buy motherboards like the Rampage II Extreme, but the option is there should you have the need and the cash.
It’s hard to really come to one single conclusion about the ASUS Rampage II Extreme motherboard. It is without a doubt the most impressive consumer motherboard I have ever tested in terms of sheer performance, features and overclockability. The high quality on-board audio, detailed BIOS, CPU tweaking options and even the on-board multimeter testing areas really stand out from the entire market of motherboards, not just the current X58 options. I still find it hard to recommend a $400+ motherboard to anyone but the most extreme of enthusiast. That being said, it’s hard to NOT give this motherboard an Editor’s Choice out of sheer awesomeness.