Board Layout, Features and Specifications





The ASUS Rampage Formula makes use of a beefy 8-phase PWM solution. The copper heatsink covering the MOSFETS is actually not thermally coupled to the Northbridge or the Southbridge as the cooling solution consists of two separate blocks. The hold-down mechanism for the X48's high quality heatsink is comprised of four tension screws attached to a backplate on the opposite side of the board. Besides changing the thermal paste ASUS utilized, we feel there is nothing that needs modification by the end user as long as overclocking aspirations are within reason.





Two full x16 PCI-E 2.0 slots are available for official CrossFire support and the spacing is appropriate. We would have liked an additional PCI slot, for a total of three, instead of the three x1 PCI-E 1.x slots.

Six onboard SATA headers are on the right side of the board, each at 90 degree angles. This made inserting and removing cables easy, even with two full-length video cards installed.

One feature we particularly like is the volt-minder LEDs - one each for the CPU, Northbridge, Southbridge, and memory slots. Each can be one of three colors - green, yellow, or red - and they are useful for determining at a glance the approximate voltage being fed to each component. Green represents "safe" voltages, yellow is elevated (high), and red means "crazy high." Crazy high is just that too, as the board won't set the light red for the CPU voltage until it eclipses about 2.025V.

ASUS R.O.G. Rampage Formula
Market Segment Gamer / Extreme Performance - $299.99 (estimated)
CPU Interface Socket T (LGA-775)
CPU Support LGA775-based Core2 Duo, Core2 Extreme, or Core2 Quad recommended, including next-generation 45nm compatibility (06/05B/05A processors)
Chipset Intel X48 Northbridge (MCH) and ICH9R Southbridge
CPU Clock Multiplier 6x ~ 11x, downward adjustable for Core2, upward to 31x for Extreme, half-multiplier support for 45nm processors
Front Side Bus Speeds Auto, 200 ~ 800 in 1MHz increments
System Bus Speeds 1600/1333/1066/800 (MHz) with Official DDR-1066 Support
DDR2 Memory Dividers 1:1, 6:5, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2, 8:5, 5:3, and 2:1 (dependent upon strap setting)
FSB Strap Auto, 200, 266, 333, 400
PCIe Speeds Auto, 100MHz ~ 180MHz
PCI Speeds Locked at 33.33MHz
DRAM Voltage Auto, 1.80V ~ 3.40V in 0.02V increments, 1.80V standard
DRAM CLK/CMD Skew CA/CB Auto, Manual (Advance/Delay 50ps ~ 350ps in 50ps increments)
DRAM Timing Control Auto, Manual - 20 DRAM Timing Options (tCL, tRCD, tRP, tRAS, tRFC + 15 sub-timings)
DRAM Command Rate Auto, 1N, 2N
DRAM Static Read Control Auto, Enabled, Disabled
Ai Clock Twister Auto, Light, Moderate, Strong
Ai Transaction Booster Auto, Manual
Common Performance Level 1 ~ 31 (settings above 14 prevent POST)
CH A/B Phase Pull-In Based on Memory Divider, All Phases Adjustable (Enabled/Disabled)
Core Voltage Auto, 1.10000 to 1.60000 in 0.00625V increments then 0.05V increments
CPU PLL Voltage Auto, 1.50 ~ 3.00v in 0.02V increments, 1.50V standard
FSB Termination Voltage Auto, 1.20V to 2.00V in 0.02V increments, 1.20V standard
North Bridge Voltage Auto, 1.25V ~ 1.85V in 0.02V increments, 1.25v standard
South Bridge Voltage Auto, 1.050V ~ 1.225V in 0.025V increments, 1.050V standard
SB 1.5V Voltage Auto, 1.50V ~ 2.05V in 0.05V increments, 1.50V standard
Loadline Calibration Auto, Enabled, Disabled
CPU Voltage Reference Auto, x0.63, x0.61, x0.59, x0.57
NB Voltage Reference Auto, x0.67, x0.63, x0.60, x0.57, x0.56, x0.53, x0.51, x0.49
Memory Slots Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM Slots
Dual-Channel Configuration
Regular Unbuffered, non-ECC DDR2 Memory to 8GB Total
Expansion Slots 2 - PCIe 2.0 x16, Supports ATI CrossFire Technology
3 - PCIe (1.x) x1, (1) is Compatible with Add-in Audio Card
2 - PCI Slot 2.2
Onboard SATA RAID 6 SATA 3Gbps Ports - ICH9R (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)
Onboard IDE (PATA) JMicron JMB368 PATA Controller (up to two UDMA 133/100/66 devices)
Onboard USB 2.0/IEEE-1394 12 USB 2.0 Ports - (6) I/O Panel - (6) via Headers
2 IEEE-1394(a) Ports - (1) I/O Panel, (1) via Header
Onboard LAN (with Teaming) Realtek RTL8110SC - PCI Gigabit Ethernet controller
Marvell 88E8056 PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller
Onboard Audio ADI 1988B - 8-channel HD Audio CODEC
Power Connectors ATX 24-pin, 8-pin ATX 12V
I/O Panel 1 x PS/2 Keyboard
2 x SPDIF - (1) Optical Out, (1) Coaxial Out
1 x IEEE-1394a
2 x RJ-45 (LAN)
6 x USB 2.0/1.1
1 Clear CMOS Switch
Fan Headers 8 - (1) CPU, (1) Power, (3) Chassis, (3) Optional/Misc.
Fan Control CPU and Chassis Fan Control via BIOS/Extreme Tweaker, PC Probe II monitoring
BIOS Revision v0108
Board Revision 1.03G

The ASUS Rampage Formula provides an impressive range of setting specifications. We would go so far as to say that more than a few of these are simply ridiculously high; however, there are sure to be a few people that require these options. A couple of the higher settings to pay attention to: CPU voltage well above 2.0V, CPU PLL voltage to 3.0V (sure to kill your chip super quick), FSB Termination voltage to around 2.0V, and DRAM voltages over 3.4V. While we certainly must commend ASUS on their fine range of control we also feel the need to strongly caution users when working with some of these settings. It's entirely possible to damage or destroy your chipset, CPU, or memory when moving to the extreme limits of these ranges; sometimes less is more.

As we have discussed before Loadline Calibration is best left disabled, especially when using the newer 45nm CPUs. Our testing has shown these settings induce power instabilities, even when using lower voltages. In addition, when enabled the option sometimes requires more CPU voltage than would otherwise be necessary, meaning increased power dissipation and higher temperatures.

Of note, the Rampage Formula allows for half-multiplier usage. This is particularly useful when working in the higher FSB ranges. Because all Core 2 Duo/Quad CPUs are downward unlocked, every half multiplier between the processor default value and 6 can be used, with the exception of 6.5x. For the Extreme processors, this limitation has been relaxed allowing for multipliers as high as 31x in half steps. Besides providing finer CPU frequency control, half-multipliers permit a wider choice of final multiplier/FSB combinations, which can help when choosing the best operating point for the processor and memory. Now that we have experienced what these new values have to offer, it will be hard to work with anything else.

As we pointed out before, "Ai Transaction Booster" is completely revamped for this board series. Setting this option to manual allows the user to take full control of the "Common Performance Level", meaning that all memory phases will baseline at the value as set. Each individual phase can then be "pulled-in" or left as is. "Pulling-in" a phase reduces just that phase's associated tRD value (performance level) by one. Like memory timings, lower values are tighter and thus provide better memory read performance and lower latencies. If all phases are pulled-in, this is the equivalent of selecting the next lower common performance level and performs identically to this new setting. Thus, pulling-in particular phases can allow the user to affect a minor performance improvement if selecting the next lower common performance level is not possible.

Index BIOS Screenshots and Interesting Settings
POST A COMMENT

73 Comments

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  • kjboughton - Sunday, January 27, 2008 - link

    The rules as defined may not apply exactly as provided for P35. The equations have been tested to be true for X38/X48 but additional testing is still needed on P35 in order to validate the results. Reply
  • Super Nade - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    Hi,

    I love the technical depth of the article. Outstanding writeup! I hope you will NOT dumb down future articles as this is how, IMO a review should be written.

    S-N
    Reply
  • Eric Rekut - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    Great article! I have a question, is x48 faster in super-pi than p35/x38? Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    Hi,

    In general the X38/X48 chipset outscores the P35 in Super Pi. The x48 can/will pull ahead of the X38 very marginally IF it can handle a lower overall tRD with a higher FSB combination and tighter memory sub-timing ranges - within an available level of Northbridge voltage.

    regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • Rob94hawk - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    I would love to see you guys do benchmarking and overclocking with the QX9770+DDR3 1800 with this mobo. Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    Hi Rob,

    Kris will be testing the Rampage Extreme soon (with DDR3). The 9770's only show a little more prowess than QX9650's under LN2 cooling (in some instances - not always). With cascade/water/air cooling there's little to separate the QX9650 from the QX9770 (at least in my experience with both processors thus far).


    regards
    Raja

    Reply
  • enigma1997 - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    Another excellent article after the QX9650 O/C one. Congratulations!!

    I have a few questions: What ram did you use to achieve the amazingly high bandwidth result (the one that goes with the 450FSB and tRD 5)? I understand you are using a divider of 3:2 and CAS5, so I expect the DDR2 speed should be at 10800!!

    Also, I am not sure how you can get a memory read of >9000MB/s with tRD 5. I have a pair of G.Skill F2-8000PHU2-2GBHZ 4-4-4-5 and a DFI X38-T2R motherboard. I set it up with a QX9650 with tRD/FSB/ram timing identical to yours, but I only get around 8800MB/s. Note that the CPU runs at 3000Mhz.

    Thanks for the article and your answers to my questions :)
    Reply
  • kjboughton - Sunday, January 27, 2008 - link

    Memory used for the incredible 450FSB/tRD 5 result was OCZ DDR2 PC-9200 Reaper (2GB kit).

    Regarding the testing you did at equivalent speeds, contrary to popular belief, CPU speed does influence both system memory read latency and bandwidth (add 16 clocks of whatever the CPU's Tcycle is to total system latency - about an extra 1.33ns going from 4GHz, where I tested, down to 3GHz uses in your system). This is certainly enough to reduce your BW results down below 9GB/s.
    Reply
  • Jodiuh - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    "we feel there is nothing that needs modification by the end user as long as overclocking aspirations are within reason."

    The current Maximus series requires a bit of work (heatgun, fridge) to pull this off and replace with TIM of choice. Also I noticed a 7C drop on the bench when adding a 5CFM 40mm to the NB. Would you mind fleshing out the comment a bit more?

    Thanks for the very thorough information in the article!
    Reply
  • jedisoulfly - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    there is a patriot viper ddr3 1600 cl7 kit at newegg for $295 (out of stock at time of this post) that is dramatically higher than good 800 ddr2 or even 1066 but just over a year ago ddr2 800 2gb kits were going for that price. I think once NV and AMD start making chip sets that support ddr3 the prices will start to come down...hopefully Reply

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