ASUS's Republic of Gamers series of boards are quite a rage amongst the enthusiast gamer community as a majority of its features are overkill for most users. The last time we tested an ROG board was quite a while back. Then came the barrage of the Sandy Bridge boards (the mini ITX form factor as well as ATX) followed by AMD's Brazos boards housing the AMD E350 APUs. In the midst of these entry level and mid range boards when we suddenly got a confirmation from ASUS that they would be sending us their Rampage III Black Edition board, we were delighted at the prospect of using the fastest Intel processor on the planet and running it through its paces after a long time. That the board was an enthusiasts wet dream was the icing on the proverbial cake.
Having tested ROG boards from the previous generations, we were expecting a similar packaging with the maroon coloured box housing the board. But what we got instead was a thick black box highlighting the logo and the product name. Like all the other high end boards, this box also has the gatefold design, where the front facing flap of the box opens up to reveal the motherboard behind the transparent plastic package. The features of this X58 board are highlighted all around the packaging.
The board comes a beautiful matte black finish with top of the line components such as solid state caps, sturdy heatsinks, dedicated buttons for Start and Reset, etc. The heat sinks look quite attractive thanks to the minute extrusions on them. The northbridge heatsink comes in a two tone (black / maroon) colour and houses a ROG button that glows red when the motherboard is working, adding a dash of glowing red to the proceedings.
The layout of the board is quite good, with enough space between the four PCIe slots for a 3-way SLI or CrossFireX. There are two PCIe x1 slots as well.
We will not go into explaining each component of the motherboard, as most of pretty much standard components. We will focus on some interesting features as under.
1) Dedicated Start and Reset buttons: This is a desirable feature for enthusiasts as it means no longer having to short two pins for these purposes.
2) Debug LED: This is located just above the Start and Reset buttons and helps you debug your motherboard issues based on the value it is displaying. Very handy tool as it expedites troubleshooting.
3) PCIe x16 Lane switches: Just beside the Reset button you will come across four switches, which are mapped to each PCIe x16 slot. So you can switch a PCIe x16 slot On or Off. This is particularly useful to troubleshoot faulty graphics card in a multi-GPU setup. You can only keep one PCIe slot on to see if the card is working or not based on whether, you can see the monitor working
4) Bluetooth v3.0 and WiFi adapter: The board has an in-built WiFi adapter and a Bluetooth v3.0 support. This is found on the back IO plate and the board comes with two extendable antennas. You can use the onboard Bluetooth to overclock the board via the iROG connect feature.
5) ROG Connect: The back IO plate has an ROG connect button which can be used alongwith the ROG connect utility on your laptop to monitor and tweak your system remotely.
6) SATA 3 and USB 3.0 support: This X58 board comes with full support for SATA 6 Gbps with the help of the Marvell 9182 controller and USB 3.0 support thanks to the NEC
BIOS: Extreme Tweaker
Being an X58 board, the ASUS R3B has stuck with the normal text based BIOS. It was a good to see the familiar BIOS after going through a horde of motherboards having the UEFI BIOS. The BIOS follows the all black colour in its user interface. It is neatly divided into Extreme Tweaker, Main, Advanced, Power, Boot, Tools and Exit. The Extreme Tweaker tab is the most important and the most exhaustive tab amongst all as it has a variety of options to tweak your settings.
Further down there is an setting called ASUS OC Profile which allows you to set upto 8 OC presets and select whichever one you want at ease.
Read on about the ASUS Rampage III's ROG Special Features, our verdict, and more, on the next page...
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