Asus mATX ROG Rampage II Gene X58 Motherboard

Packaging & Appearance

Packaging & Appearance

From the outset the Rampage II Gene sets the stage for something explosive with the vibrant packaging. Dominated by the ROG colour scheme and font, the matt red packaging is very striking in appearance with only the compatibility emblems from Intel, ATI and Nvidia breaking up the red theme. Flipping the box over, we find the specification along with some key features of the board such as CPU level up and MemOK!.

box front box rear
 
Lifting the lid of the outer sleeve, Asus go into greater details explaining that MemOK! is a memory rescue tool that will patch memory issues that result in a non-boot scenario. With MemOK Asus claim they have drastically reduced this frustrating aspect as the tool determines failsafe settings. CPU level up is exactly what it says, it will 'level up' your CPU to a more expensive model to say a i7 940 or even an i7 965! In reality it will simply load in the default speeds for those CPU's and save you from messing around with different BIOS settings yourself, a lazy mans tool if you like.

box lid box under lid
 
Opening up the box we are initially greeted with the motherboard itself which is covered with a plastic lid. The whole packaging should ensure that your kit arrives unscathed and I am, as always, impressed by Asus' attention and care in this matter. Under the motherboard is yet another compartment holding all the accessories which includes 2 SATA data cables, IDE cable, SLI bridge, I/O shield, driver CD, LCD poster, a comprehensive manual and even a few tie wraps to tidy your installation up when complete. Strangely, Asus also included two huge 'explosion' stickers but I would imagine that few  people would make use of these as they are a little tacky but then stickers normally are!

open box accessoires
 
Moving on to the board itself the first thing you notice is how small it is. Being Micro ATX, it appears that the bottom section of the motherboard has been sliced away and that, in effect, is exactly what has been done. Shrinking the full number (usually 7 or 8) PCI/e slots down to just 4 has enabled Asus to make the board much smaller than the ATX standard. At first glance it appears that the ROG features have not diminished with SLI and Crossfire compatibility at the full 16x PCIe thanks to the PCIe slots. X-FI is still here too albeit in an on-board format and with six SATA ports it appears this is board could trump some full fat ATX motherboards for features.

board front board back

Rather than spacing the Mosfets around the left and top positions of the CPU socket, Asus crammed them all under an aluminium heatsink to the left of the socket. The socket area still looks very busy thanks to the numerous solid capacitors and the ram slots being placed close to the socket. The power delivery is still 16 phase and uses the Asus EPU engine to drop the power delivery down to 8, shaving the power consumption of the board when idle. A nice touch to the ROG Gene is the Memory slots. Rather than have security clips on both ends of the memory slot, Asus have designed a nice feature that still allows the satisfying 'click' when installing the memory without the need to 'clip the memory in place. This will prevent any clearance issues with the top GPU card and is a well thought out feature of the board, something I hope to see more of in future releases.

cpu socket memory sockets

The PCI area of the board is concise as you would expect from a mATX motherboard. With just 2x PCIe 16x slots, a 4x PCIe and a standard PCI slot you will have to plan your expansion card purchases carefully. With both PCIe 16x slots filled with dual slot cards, no other expansion is available. This is not a fault of Asus though as it is unavoidable by it's very design, however it is worthy of consideration. The bottom area of the board is as feature packed as it's bigger twin, the Rampage II. Removable BIOS chip, Firewire, 3 USB expansion ports, power, reset and MemOK! buttons finishing off with Asus' ingenious Q-connector allowing you to fit the motherboard headers to a connector before attaching it to the motherboard, saving both time and frustration. 
 
PCIe Southbridge
 
Asus have thoughtfully made all the SATA ports of the ICH10R controller right angled so there should be no clearance issues blocked by a full length GPU or two. The connectors are also of snap lock design should you have compatible SATA cables (not included by Asus - just the standard ones here I'm afraid). The start and reset buttons look like something from a dragster where as the MemOK button looks like more of an afterthought. Both the power and reset button light up but the MemOK button does not.

SATA Start
 
The I/O area is trimmed back but still affords all the essentials. a PS/2 Keyboard port is still clinging on for dear life and I would have preferred to see this feature gone now with the addition of a couple of extra USB ports over the included six It is possible to expand the USB headers to a maximum of 12 with the use of the internal headers but sadly Asus did not include a bracket for such expansion.  Fire wire and eSATA are available as is a handy Clr CMOS button should you get over ambitious with the overclocking. Finally we arrive at the on-board SuperemeFX X-FI. While other ROG board feature a separate riser card for audio, the Gene does not have the spare PCI space so instead of adding a cheap Realtek substitute, Asus have incorporated the X-FI chip on-board. The Supreme FX is not the best sound solution out there but it is certainly suitable for gaming, especially with EAX 4.0 / Alchemy emulation.
 
I/O Area XFI

As you would expect from a ROG motherboard, the cooling is very well designed (aesthetically at least). The anodised red and gun metal grey scheme is a treat to behold and with the patented 'pin-fin' design of the sink it should cool well. In testing however we found the Northbridge hit 70c easily which was very alarming. It did settle down a little when I put a fan over the area but 60c is still way too hot.

NB pin fin
 
If you are not happy with the stock cooling (we weren't) you can always replace the 'pin fin' area with something more substantial like a waterblock perhaps. I do like the modular northbridges coming from manufacturers of late but I can't help feeling that people who have no intention of adding a waterblock are getting worse temps than they would with say a solid block of copper. The Southbridge block again uses the pin design of the Northbridge but is still made of aluminium.
 
NB undone SB

The Northbridge cooler is attached to the MOSFET heatsink via heatpipe which should help dissipate temperatures better. Taking the heatsink assembly off was easy enough with push-pins and spring loaded screws holding the Mosfet and Northbridge heatsinks to the motherboard respectively.
 
Mosfet Heatpipe

Strangely, Asus have used what appears to be both a thermal pad AND paste on the Northbridge heatsink. This is what might account for the high temperatures being reported. The Southbridge had the blue paste with no pad and the Mosfet had thermal tape used as a conductive barrier.

NB SB

All in all an exceptional start to the review from Asus. The packaging is fantastic, the motherboard certainly looks the business and the features are what you would expect to find on a full size motherboard. My only reservation is the cooling of the board but we will see if this has any major effect on the stability or overclocking of the Asus Rampage II Gene in our Testing area. Firstly let's take a look at the BIOS which being a ROG should have a wealth of features to compliment the ROG name...
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Most Recent Comments

06-03-2009, 11:24:46

w3bbo
"Often with a shrink is size comes a shrink in features. Asus aim to change that viewpoint with the ROG Rampage II Gene X58." - W3bbo

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...200506787s.jpg

Read the full in-depth review HERE

06-03-2009, 11:46:48

cl0ck_ed
Very, nice review. Wanted to see a higher base clock though, 220 would have been nice. Any body know how this compares to the DFI x58 jr board in terms of bclk overclocking?

Ed

06-03-2009, 11:57:12

zak4994
I like it.

06-03-2009, 15:06:59

Rastalovich
Great review.

1 thing I really like about the layout of the mobo is the consideration given to the cooling of the cpu - area. Really looks like they give u a nice amount of scope.

Amazes me how now memory areas seem more important than pci(e)(x) slots. U choose with ur preference here tho.

Still look at all the results for all the X58s and there aren't any across the board leaders. They all peak somewhere and drop elsewhere.

Be interesting to adopt a price per performance on the 3dmark Vantage stat - seeing as it's the lesser of the evils when thinking of artificial gaming/cost stats.

For the cash, the package seems poor to me. Many other manufacturers will atleast give u a full bank of sata cables - with locks, for example.

Meh, I'd stick with a Gigabyte to this point.

Awaiting the next ASUS mobo to come out in a month or so I guess.

10-03-2009, 06:58:57

niky_d
Hi!

Amazing review mate, as always.

I think I'm in love , to put so many features into that limited space is pretty awesome. The downer is the package. I've used to something else with ASUS Rampage mobo's, as I'm more than satisfied with my Rampage formula.

Maybe if I decide to build me a i7 platform PC this MB would without a doubt be my fist choice to buy.

Let's see what time brings, but for now this is the master MB for me .

Niky

10-03-2009, 07:25:25

Sleekit
I wish i could buy one! Having a compact gaming rig *dreams*

10-03-2009, 07:31:13

Toxcity
Ewww, mATX?

Well, I am impressed to see such performance in such a small space. BUT the cases this board is design for tend to not be big enough for any high-end GPUs.

So what's the point?

11-03-2009, 06:54:28

Jaster
I dont understand why you would limit yourself to a mATX board with limited PCI-E slots. Don't get me wrong the board is outstanding, but I'd like to see ASUS offer a full ATX board with this kind of performance especially at this kind of price.

11-03-2009, 12:09:06

zak4994
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
I dont understand why you would limit yourself to a mATX board with limited PCI-E slots. Don't get me wrong the board is outstanding, but I'd like to see ASUS offer a full ATX board with this kind of performance especially at this kind of price.
Well not everyone wants to buy a new case that can fit an ATX.

This was made exactly for the opposite reasons of what you are saying.

Sheesh if you want an ATX then there are plenty...

11-03-2009, 12:59:19

Jaster
so if you have a mATX case and have 230 to spend on a mobo (let alone the other components) your gonna be so tight you won't shell out for a new case???

11-03-2009, 12:59:52

monkey7
Some people want performance small PC's, this would be ace for it.

And simply because you can

11-03-2009, 13:03:52

Jaster
you'd struggle with all the other components...nice idea...but from an enthusiast point of you I think its a redundant idea....sorry its mho...if you could get high performance low profile cards and other suitable components I would say "great"...but with what your gonna want to strap to this bad boy I think we have a way to go before its viable to purchase a mATX board of this calibre....

11-03-2009, 13:06:45

zak4994
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
so if you have a mATX case and have 230 to spend on a mobo (let alone the other components) your gonna be so tight you won't shell out for a new case???
Not everyone actually will want to shell out for a new case.

Not everyone is rich like you.

11-03-2009, 13:27:00

Jaster
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='zak4994'
Not everyone actually will want to shell out for a new case.

Not everyone is rich like you.
yeah because I7 is the budget range....

11-03-2009, 13:28:36

zak4994
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jaster'
yeah because I7 is the budget range....
But in the end, buying another case just seams well a bit stupid if you have one already.

I mean with the credit crunch and all.

11-03-2009, 14:05:15

monkey7
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='zak4994'
But in the end, buying another case just seams well a bit stupid if you have one already.

I mean with the credit crunch and all.
Then you wouldn't be going for an i7. Period.

No seriously, this might be interesting for small modded cases and high performance. Imo full ATX is better in all other cases though.

12-03-2009, 05:31:31

youpla
Well I love my mATX case and will not change it for a bigger ATX case to go i7... So this Gene mobo will without a doubt be a perfect choice for upgrading my PC.

Any online shop with stock already?

12-03-2009, 17:20:33

Rastalovich
Similarly the mATX mobos are coming out in X58 form and not G53 or summit.

X58 seems it's gonna be the only chipset.

13-03-2009, 04:31:27

w3bbo
P55? P53? I would expect to see some of these soon enough along with 'G' variants.

13-03-2009, 04:37:37

JN
IMO it's the perfect board for a LAN gaming rig. Tiny little square box, handle on top, some heavy overclocking and a couple of GPU's in SLI / Crossfire.

No disrespect to Asus but some of their motherboard releases do seem a bit unenthusiastic with only a few minor component changes, so it's good to see something that's radically different for once.

28-04-2009, 18:48:26

Mullet
Nice review Webbo...

Liking that mobo ALOT. Interesting reading peoples' comments on the whole SFF power PC. It's all down to personal preference at the end of the day... I downsized from a fully w/c Lian Li g70 Sli rig to what I deem to be a decent mATX system. Housed inside a case with very good airflow (mini p180) this new offering from Asus has got my debit card twitching and is making me think it's time to move to i7!!

10-06-2009, 15:51:44

Mullet
Webbo - do you still have BIOS details which got you to the 4.2Ghz OC? Looks like this board will be coming my way this weekend

10-06-2009, 15:59:09

w3bbo
Base clock to 200,

Vcore to 1.4,

Mem divider set to 1600

8-8-8-24

1.65vDimm

QPI to 4800GT/s

VTT 1.3

Turbo enabled.

Thats about all I can remember off hand as I have reviewed a few mobo's since then.

10-06-2009, 16:01:19

Mullet
Thanks Webbo, I'm a newcomer to i7 so if you remember any further settings which I need to concern myself with when I go for a decent OC it would be very helpful if you could post em here.

Oh - would it be worth whacking some better board cooling on? I have a brand new HR05sli which could be pressed into service on the SB, what would you recommend for NB of Mofs?

Cheers

10-06-2009, 17:48:13

w3bbo
Stock cooling is more than adequate for 4ghz. I wouldn't consider adding aftermarket aircooling as I doubt very much it it would help any further overclocks, especially by cooling the SB and mosfets when if anywhere it's the NB that would help most.

11-06-2009, 17:27:56

mrapoc
Man I want a performance matx build

imagine

the power of a full sized rig

in a beasty little case

*drools*

12-06-2009, 15:44:21

rhomp2002
I don't know about anyone else but I live in a studio (1-room) apt and have a very limited amount of space. The m-ATX is a great size for me because it just fits on a small part of my table and occupies very little space. My case has a 500 watt PSU and 3 fans, a DVD/RW, 2 hard drives, a CPU fan, an ASUS EN9600TOP GPU, 4GB ram and a XEON E3110 (C2D E8400) CPU. The temp gets all the way up to 39 degrees Centigrade. Seems to me that I would be a fool to throw out this case with all it offers when I can get a Mobo like this one with the associated equipment and probably still keep it efficient, cool and able to perform well. I did some figuring last night using Newegg (I am in the US) and I could get the RAM, CPU and Mobo for around $500 if I want to keep my current PSU or about $650 if I want to replace my 500 watt PSU with an 850 watt PSU and I would end up with a system that fits my life style and space with no problems. Why would I do otherwise?

12-06-2009, 15:50:50

w3bbo
Why indeed

27-06-2009, 21:01:15

Mullet
Will Corsair Dominator/Patriot Viper DDR3 fit on this board with a TRUE120 fited?

28-06-2009, 06:13:08

w3bbo
Depends on the orientation m8. It should fit ok, even with both fans but I cannot 100% guarentee it as I didn't have a TRUE during testing. Hopefully Thermalright will send us one as it seems to be the case that if a TRUE fits then so will most coolers.

02-11-2009, 04:55:54

nickasama
can u plzz give the best set of hardware for this motherboard Asus mATX ROG Rampage II Gene X58 Motherboard

16-01-2010, 20:04:53

Hosso
@nickasama

Here is what i'm getting.

Gene II

Dominator 3x2GB 1866MHz + Fan

P180 Mini

Here is what I have (had)

i7 920 C0

TRUE 120

RaptorX 150GB 10k RPM

GTX 295

1000HX 1000W

Liteon DVDRW

For me this is the best setup, except GFX. I, maybe will buy new Fermis, but it depends, just waiting benchs.

Anyways, this is good setup, I worked hard for this.

If you can buy, you can change GFX to 5870 and HDD to SSD (some Vertex would be nice). For me it's enough

18-01-2010, 10:05:32

feferefe
Hi everyone:

I'm new to the Overclock world. I recently update my Gateway 6800-01e PC with this Mobo and a XFX 9800 GTX+. Yesterday I try to start messing around in the BIOS trying to change my Base clock to 180 at least, but it's still locked. I read somewhere that to achieve it, the AI has to be placed to manual. If someone have a guide to manually overclock this mobo, please let me know.

Thanks,

Feferefe

12-02-2010, 04:03:07

netgrazer
Can anyone tell me what type of PSU I would need for this baby? Last time I built a PC, things were still simple... Which of these types would work:

* ATX

* ATX12V

* ATX12V 2.0

* ATX12V 2.01

* ATX12V 2.03

* ATX12V 2.2

* ATX12V 2.3

* ATX12V 2.31

* BTX

* EPS12V

* EPS12V 2.8

* EPS12V 2.9

* EPS12V 2.91

* EPS12V 2.92

* flexATX

* mATX

* SFX

* SFX12V 3.01

* SSI

I'm so confused!

TIA

13-02-2010, 04:33:21

tinytomlogan
Whats your budget dude, if you are buying a new psu and buy a decent brand you will be fine. Recomendations would be a 'Be-Quiet' of a Corsair PSU.
Reply
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