The Republic of Gamers motherboards from Asus have always been the performance kings of its product catalogue, and as such have always had a fairly hefty price premium slapped on top of them. They're not just great performing items, they also come with all the bells and whistly things you could want in a board.
In short, the ROG mobos are the money's-no-object parts you throw in your machine if you never have to ask how much they cost. At £330, the oversized X58- based Rampage III Extreme (R3E) definitely fits then, but it's not a board that you can just throw into a PC to instantly make it faster.
It's designed to be the overclockers' motherboard of choice. We're not just talking the sort of person who wants a couple of extra FPS in their favourite shooter, oh no. This board is designed for people with a penchant for liquid nitrogen and names like sno.lcn and Sf3d.
The R3E has a specific LN2 Mode jumper that helps sub-zero temperature overclocking when the cold-boot bug stops the CPU posting at such low temps. Generally you'd need to heat up the CPU before carrying on, but the LN2 Mode allows the serious liquid nitrogen overclockers to keep going.
There are also specific voltage points for measuring what's happening in separate bits of the system, from the CPU to PCIe and beyond.
It's got whole new features for remote overclocking, too, bringing back the ROG Connect system of linking up to a separate laptop and controlling and monitoring the rig's specifics from there.
There's also now a Bluetooth connection that allows you to boot, reset, monitor and overclock from a compatible mobile phone too. Granted, you need either a Windows Mobile 6.1/6.5 or Android 2.0 device, but it's an interesting development away from the BIOS screen.
Fast and loose
But this is an incredibly niche market, as there are very few of us who really need these sorts of extreme overclocking capabilities. This isn't a mass-market board (at over £300 it was never going to be), this is a board to put into high-end, prebuilt, pre-overclocked systems worth thousands. This is a board to win overclocking events, to post numbers higher than other manufacturers, to make people associate Asus with the fastest motherboards on the planet and hope the trickle-down effect keeps people loyal to it.
So is it going to do all that? Well, if our experience of this board is representative then it might just. It's nothing special at stock speeds, but start playing around and the board leaps away from the competition.
We paired it with a suitably pricey chip, the Core i7 980X six-core monster, and we managed a 1GHz plus overclock without breaking a sweat. The Intel Extreme board we tested the chip with last issue could barely get to 3.9GHz without falling over where the R3E hit 4.4GHz in a trice.
If you want the X58 overclockers' board, the Rampage III Extreme is where it's at. But you may have to remortgage the house and sell the kids if you want the sort of setup to do it justice…
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