ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Motherboard Review

The ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is the second offering to carry the "Black Edition" moniker and as a result there is much riding on this particular edition as this will be the last hurrah for the X79 platform. The previous edition was the absolute best X58 motherboard money could buy and we expect no less from this Black Edition.

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Overclocking

Overclocking the Rampage IV Black Edition was actually a bit harder than anticipated. I had issues with the overclocking presets. The water cooling profile wasn’t viable at all. I had stability issues with the air cooling profile as well. Largely the biggest issue turned out to be the fact that the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition wasn’t properly detecting the SPD values of the Corsair memory modules. I had this problem with more than one kit. It was detecting or rather setting tighter timings than the modules were capable of and setting the voltage too low for such speeds.

I also had what appeared to be an error in which the GPU DIMM POST reported an anomaly for one module however this didn’t affect stability or my testing in anyway. With the settings on manual control I was able to dial in a memory speed of DDR3 2400MHz without any issue. As for CPU speed, only load-line calibration, CPU voltage, VCCSA voltage, memory and CPU phase control. With these adjustments I was able to achieve a result of 4.7GHz. One nice thing is that Ivy Bridge-E runs cooler than Haswell at higher speeds so the CPU temperatures were much nicer. I never saw temperatures over 65c no matter what I did.

4.70GHz (100x47) DDR3 2400MHz

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At speeds beyond 4.7GHz I had problems with workers stopping during Prime95 testing. I never did experience outright crashes or lockups while tuning the system so long as I didn’t use the presets. And that’s the surprising thing. I expected the Rampage IV Black Edition to overclock well which it did, but I never expected the profile presets to be so useless.

I rather enjoyed using the OC panel though it could be a bit more user friendly. Never the less I still found the device is still a powerful tool. Combine that with the other overclocking features and you have what is essentially one of the most hardcore overclocking motherboards ever made.

Conclusions

Dan's Thoughts:

My experiences were nearly perfect. I did have two issues which were both minor in the grand scheme of everything. The memory problems overclocking and the one glitch with AI Suite III were the only problems of note and both were easily fixed. The Corsair memory issue doesn’t actually surprise me as I’ve seen these problems with some Corsair modules and ASUS motherboards more and more recently. It’s not the end of the world and I’m not sure what’s going on with that but it needs to be fixed. We have recently brought in newer 2400MHz rated modules as well. I’ve made ASUS aware of this in the past with the Rampage III Extreme, Maximus IV Extreme and P8Z77-I Deluxe. So far I’ve not heard anything concerning this other than "were working on it." Again I wouldn’t consider this a deal breaker as setting the values manually has worked in each case.

I’ve often said that late model ASUS boards which come at the end of a chipset's life cycle are nothing short of the very best. These overclock better and just work more smoothly than anything else you’ll ever work with. The Rampage III Black Edition was the last X58 motherboard ASUS designed and it was bar none the best X58 motherboard ASUS ever built. The Rampage IV Black Edition does the name proud and continues this tradition. It is without a doubt the finest X79 motherboard you can buy today.

The X79 is a niche product as are the CPUs used with it. It’s definitely not a value solution and not for the general masses but if you’re one of the few that can leverage this awesome platform then this Rampage IV Black Edition is simply the best motherboard money can buy.

Kyle's Thoughts:

My overall experience with the Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard was nothing short of perfect.

I flashed the newest BIOS downloaded from the ASUS website without issue. The BIOS layout for the Rampage IV Black Edition is probably the best I have used. The setup and configuration of it is intuitive and easy to use. The BIOS is clear and concise as to what it controls. One odd thing about the BIOS was that on the closing screen that summarizes changes made would show me that the CPU multipliers had been changed even though those had not been. Not a big deal, just a bug that I came across.

The Windows 7 OS installed perfectly and the ASUS InstALL driver program and Update program worked as these should as well. This is not always the case with motherboards from many manufacturers including ASUS.

I easily hand tuned the Core i7-4820K (4C/8T) processor to run at 4.5GHz/1866MHz with 1.55v vCore. Keep in mind this is an older generation architecture Ivybridge-E CPU, and we would not suggest running this high of a vCore on newer Haswell CPUs.

With the overclocked settings I ran the system under full load for 48 hours with airflow from one 120mm fan without any issues. Given that we know this motherboard could end up in some cramped cases, we continued stress testing for another 3 days with no airflow on the open bench. The huge heatsink system on the Rampage IV Black Edition kept the system perfectly stable. The surface temperatures on the heatsinks registered at 140F on the larger power supply heatsinks, with 160F on the smaller sinks. With the single fan blowing across the surface of the motherboard, we saw these surface temperatures drop to the mid-90s. The cooling system on this motherboard is excellent.

Using the Air Cooling Profile presets, I had fairly good success. This profile sets the CPU at 47/47/46/46 core multipliers. With 32GB (8x4GB) of RAM installed, I did have some issues getting the RAM stable at 1866MHz. I could not get the system to run stable for long periods of time under Prime95 at these RAM speeds. Bumping the PLL voltage to 1.9v would give me much more solid performance with these presets. I had to back down to 1600MHz with 32GB installed. I did experience something that I have not seen for a long long time using an ASUS motherboard. Setting the Rampage IV Black Edition to its OC Water Profile, the system failed and corrupted the OS install on the Samsung SSD. As Dan pointed out above, the SPD timings are not recognized properly for all the sets of Corsair RAM that we used. I would highly suggest that you not rely on SPD timings and set those timings by hand.

The Bottom Line

The Rampage IV Black Edition is an extremely well built motherboard with a ton of features. This motherboard currently sells for around $500 from Amazon and Tiger Direct. Obviously this motherboard is built for a very narrow segment of users and therefore it simply is not going to be even an option to buy for most enthusiasts. However, if you are part of that niche, it is likely the best X79 chipset motherboard built with more feature sets than you can shake a stick at.

While Dan did not elaborate on it, he very much liked the "OC Panel - Overclocking Command Center" and just how well it worked for overclocking and controlling the motherboard. He liked the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition so much that he is putting this motherboard in his primary system.

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Rampage IV Black Edition

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