|ASUS Rampage IV Formula X79 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Hank Tolman|
|Thursday, 15 March 2012|
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Rampage IV Formula Detailed Features
Now that we've had an overview of what the Rampage IV Formula has to offer compared to other X79 alternatives, let's look deeper into the more detailed features of this ROG motherboard.
To start off, the ASUS Rampage IV series moves one step ahead of even the other ASUS X79 motherboards by implementing their Extreme Engine DIGI+ II. DIGI+ II digitalizes the control of the voltages on the motherboard. DIGI+ II adds even more features than its predecessor, allowing for even better voltage regulation for extreme overclocking. The DIGI+ II on the Rampage IV Formula includes an 8-phase CPU power design, a little lower than the 16-phase on the P9X79 Deluxe, and the same 2 +2-phase design for DRAM power. It also provides a 3-phase VCCSA power design. The ability to tweak the VCCSA through the Extreme Engine DIGI+ II is very nice, considering a major part of overclocking the X79 chipset is through boosting the bclk. The Rampage IV Formula lacks the TPU we have become accustomed to on newer ASUS motherboards, but the purpose of the Rampage IV Formula , overclocking and extreme gaming, really precludes the necessity anyway. It does keep the EPU, however, for enhanced energy efficiency. In addition to DIGI+ II, the ASUS Rampage IV Formula protects overclockers from frying their machine through the use of COP EX component overheat protection, an LED called a Voltiminder that lets you know when things are a little off, and ASUS C.P.R., or CPU Parameter Recall.
In the image above you can see the two DIGI+ chips found on the Rampage IV Formula, as well as one of the two ASMedia controllers (one for USB 3.0 ports and the other for the extra four SATA 6Gb/s ports). The Nuvoton chip is an I/O chip made for monitoring voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. This chip allows you to use software such as the AI Suite II to monitor your components in Windows. The ICS chip is the internal clock generator and the SupremeFX III is actually just a cover for the audio CODEC, which we will explore more in just a bit.
Speaking of hardware monitoring, the ASUS Rampage IV Formula has the fancy LEDs up by the CPU fan connector that correspond with a whole list of diagnostics you can find the user's manual. Not too far from those LEDs are a bunch of tiny probe points. You can connect a probe to these points to see the exact voltage levels as they are coursing through your motherboard. The above picture is actually of the Rampage IV Gene; the one I took of the Formula from that viewpoint didn't come out. On the Rampage IV Formula, these probes are right beside the onboard power and reset buttons. That set of switches next to the power and reset buttons? That's the switch for the PCIe lanes, in case you want to switch things up a little. There's another little switch up there too. It's small and black, and is the LN2 switch for the extreme overclockers out there who use liquid nitrogen as their cooling preference.
Now back to the SupremeFX III Audio CODEC. ASUS has forgone the usual Realtek 7.1 channel audio CODEC for a full 8-Channel Audio CODEC with a 1500 uF Audio Power Capacitor. The SupremeFX III carries support for X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity, EAX Advanced HD 5.0, THX TruStudio Pro, Creative Alchemy, and Blu-ray audio layer content protect. Probably my favorite feature of the SupremeFX III, however, is the new shielding technology. One of the biggest problems with audio CODECs is the interference from other components. As you can see in the image, ASUS has completely isolated the audio CODEC on the Rampage IV Formula. This should help to diminish, if not eliminate entirely, the interference with other components.
To finish off, let's take a look at the ROG specific features of the Rampage IV Formula because these are what really set this motherboard apart from other X79 motherboards. To start, the Rampage IV Formula has ROG Connect. When you start it up by pushing the button on the I/O panel, the white USB port turns into the ROG Connect USB port. By connecting a laptop, you can monitor POST code and status readouts and make adjustments to your overclock in real-time. Another ROG feature is GameFirst. This program allows you to manage your internet bandwidth usage and prioritize it to meet your gaming needs. If you are gaming online, downloading files, streaming musing, chatting, and doing anything else at the same time and your internet speeds begin to slow, GameFirst will divert the flow from these less important functions to make sure your ping stays low. Pwn on! The final ROG feature I want to talk about is the X-Socket. The X79 ROG motherboards come with some additional hardware that will allow you to keep your X58 CPU cooler and drive on with your Extreme Edition CPU Usage. Since the prime suspects for Sandy Bridge Extreme usage are probably X58 Extreme Edition owners, this is a pretty good deal.
Finally, the Rampage IV Formula comes with some nice, bundled software. First up is an Anti-Virus, Kapersky specifically. With Microsoft Security Essentials out now, this isn't too much of a necessity anymore, but it's a nice feature. ROG CPU-Z is included too. CPU-Z is free, but this one looks like ROG. Way cooler. DAEMON Tools Pro Standard is also included, for "backing-up" CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays. It will also let you write your discs to your hard drive and run them off the optical drive emulator. Mem TweakIt and GPU TweakIt are also included, allowing you real-time manageability for your Memory and GPU similar to what you have for your CPU.