ASUS Rampage II Gene

The Rampage II Gene is the newest release from ASUS in its Intel Core i7 motherboard line. While it may seem small in stature, this Republic of Gamers branded board looks to be able to easily compete with the big boys, and do it with a much smaller footprint!

Introduction

ASUS is among the top computer component manufacturers worldwide, touting legions of users and diehard fans alike. It is well known for delivering high quality parts, pushing the limits of stability, technology and performance in order to design its much vaunted products. ASUS continues to evolve its product lines, most recently by introducing a gaming-centric line of products, dubbed ROG (Republic of Gamers). These products combine perception with performance, with the designs looking as sleekly as they perform. The newest Intel Core i7 based ROG upholds this mantra very well.

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The ASUS Rampage II Gene motherboard offers support for the latest generation of Intel processors via the Intel X58 chipset. This Northbridge chipset supports the following technologies innately: the Intel LGA1366 Core i7 processor line, DDR3 memory operating in Triple Channel memory mode up to 1333MHz officially, and either NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFireX graphics. The Rampage II Gene board is designed to be a feature complete solution, needing only a few additional components for a working system, including an Intel LGA1366 Core i7 processor, DDR3 memory, a video card, drives, and a PSU. ASUS integrated the following ports and peripherals in to the Rampage II Gene’s layout: 6 SATA II ports (RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 capable) on the Intel ICH10R controller; 1 SATA II port, 1 e-SATA port, and 1 ATA-133 IDE port on the JMicron controller; 12 USB 2.0 capable ports (6 in rear panel, and 3 onboard headers supporting 2 ports each); 2 IEEE 1394 capable ports (1 in rear panel, and 1 onboard header supporting 1 port each); 1 Realtek GigE Ethernet port in the rear panel; ADI SoundMAX 8-channel HD audio codec with an integrated S/PDIF optical output port; integrated power, system reset, CMOS reset, and MemOK memory setting reset buttons; and a PS/2 keyboard port in the rear panel.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Mainboard Specification List:

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Packaging

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The Rampage II Gene’s box is adorned simply, with the ROG logo, board name, and supported technologies shown clearly across the front of the box. ASUS chose to include the following accessories: an ROG logo sticker; a ribbon floppy cable; SATA drive cables; the rear panel shield; a 2-way SLI connector; the Q-Connector modules; the LCD poster device; and the normal complement of manuals and drivers discs. The Q-Connector modules allow for an easy interface for connecting in to the motherboard headers. You simply plug in your front panel jumpers in to the white connector and the USB 2.0 jumpers in to the blue connector block, and then plug both blocks in to the motherboard headers. It makes for a much easier install for those typically hard to reach header areas. The LCD poster device displays easy to read messages concerning system status during startup. The unit can be configured to display monitored voltages, temperatures, or fan speeds via the BIOS during normal system operation.

Board Layout

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Even though the board is a very feature rich solution on a small form factor footprint, the Rampage II Gene has a very well implemented layout, with no real tight areas anywhere on the board. ASUS even did away with the locking clamps on the left side of the DIMM slots, in order to make seating and unseating the modules simple even with a large video card in play. The board version is silk screened on the surface just above the DIMM slot block, while the serial number is located on a green sticker just under the CPU socket. The board used in testing was a revision 2.00G. As expected with an ROG product, ASUS used the highest quality aluminum based solid-state capacitors across the board.

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The area surrounding the CPU socket may look closely packed with all sorts of heat sinks and power components, but in this case, looks are very deceiving. The components used in close proximity to the socket are of a low profile design, so as to not interfere with CPU heat sink interface. ASUS gives the user a choice for CPU coolers, in that the board has a total of 8 hold down holes, 4 LGA775 style holes and 4 LGS 1366 style holes. The X58 Northbridge chipset is cooled by a large, low profile heat sink, which is connected to a larger heat sink above the CPU socket via an interconnecting heat pipe. The OPT_FAN1 and OPT_TEMP1 headers are located just above the Northbridge cooler, while the 8-pin ATX12V power connector, CPU_FAN and LCD_CON headers are located to the upper right of the CPU socket. The LCD_CON header is the onboard connection point for the LCD poster device.

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ASUS included a total of 6 DDR3 memory slots on the Rampage II Gene, arranged in a bi-colored 3-by-2 style layout. Triple Channel memory mode activates with matched DDR3 modules placed in like colored slots, across sets. Just below the memory slots are the onboard ATA-133 IDE port, the 24-pin ATX power connector, the CMOS battery, and the CHA_FAN2 header. Notice that ASUS chose to mount the battery in a vertical fashion, in order to save space as well as make it very easy to access and replace when necessary.

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The Intel ICH10R Southbridge is covered by a low profile heat sink, located just below the secondary PCI-Express x16 slot. Notice that this sink is not connected to the board heat pipe cooling solution. The ICH10R SATA slots are the blue colored slots located just under the Southbridge chipset, while the JMicron controlled port is the black colored slot. ASUS chose to house the ICH10R SATA ports in a horizontal housing, saving space on the board and making the ports much more accessible with a larger video card in use. The front panel header as well as the CMOS button enable jumper are located in the lower left corner of the board, with the CHA_FAN1, and USB 2.0 headers just above them. The MemOK, System Reset, and System Restart buttons are just above the USB 2.0 headers. The MemOK button can be used to reset the system memory settings to default values if the system does not boot due to memory relate issues.

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The Rampage II Gene board contains a total of 4 onboard add-in card slots, 2 PCI-Express x16 slots, 1 PCI-Express x4 slot, and 1 PCI slot. The OPT_FAN2 header, OPT_TEMP2 header, chassis intrusion header, S/PDIF output header, IEEE 1394 header, CD_IN header and front panel audio header are located along the outer edge of the onboard PCI slot.

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The rear panel of the Rampage II Gene contains the following integrated ports: LCD_CON header for the LCD Poster device; 1 PS/2 keyboard port; 6 USB 2.0 ports; 1 IEEE 1394 port; 1 Realtek GigE Ethernet port; 1 e-SATA port; and 6 analogue and S/PDIF optical audio output ports.

AiSuite

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ASUS chose to include their AiSuite Windows based monitoring utility in with the board drivers. The version of AiSuite shown is 1.05.15. The AiSuite utility supports a variety of monitoring and configuration settings including real time display of system voltages, fan speeds, temperatures, CPU FSB and speed, as well as multiple supported overclocking methods.

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The CPU Level Up button gives access to the CPU Level Up interface, allowing for BIOS controlled overclocking through the use of pre-defined settings.

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The TurboV button runs the TurboV overclocking applet, with version 1.00.17 included on the installation disc. From the main screen, you have the ability to manually control board voltage settings as well as the BCLK bus speed setting.

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The Fan Xpert button within the main AiSuite window allows for operational configuration of all fan headers through a combination of preset options and direct operational threshold manipulation via a representational interface.