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
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  • poohbear - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    one thing i liked about some of the recent high end mobo releases was the inclusion of an onboard wi-fi chip on a desktop mobo, but this mobo seems to be lacking that. i mean, they threw in everything but the kitchen sink, why not include wi-fi?:( Reply
  • TheDoc9 - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    One of the best I've read here, definitely one of the best on over clocking I've ever read. It takes it to the next level, reminded me of how a body builder friend of mine schedules and calculates his workouts, calories, and entire life to be the best he can be. Hope to see more like this one in the future. Reply
  • jimru22 - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    The article references the use of an Intel Extreme processor with adjustable multiplier. I'm planning on building a system hopefully anchored by the Asus Rampage Formula and a Intel Q9450 with locked 8X multiplier. Based in the charts, it seems to me that in order to run the Q9450 (333 MHZ) at 3.6 MHZ a 450 MHZ FSB is required. Therefore in this case, a tRD of 6 / Trd 13.3ns is the optimum value. Is this correct? Reply
  • kjboughton - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    You would be correct. Processors with lower maximum multipliers present somewhat of a challenge when selecting the best memory configuration. In this case the 8x multiplier forces a higher than normally desired FSB, which is one of the many benefits of owning an Extreme processor (no such limitation). As such, the next best option, and the first choice for you, would be to go to 450MHz FSB and set a tRD of 6. Although this might not be completely ideal (we like to stick with 400MHz) your results will without a doubt be within a few percent of real-world performance at 400MHz FSB and a tRD of 5. Yet another reason why the Extreme line of processors are worth their price. Reply
  • Odeen - Saturday, January 26, 2008 - link

    I'd like to differ on that.. As someone who first discovered overclocking during the Celeron 300A days, where a budget chip could run at 50-60% faster than its stock speed, and deliver higher performance than a $400 (at release time) Pentium III 450MHz, all without overstressing the rest of the platform (i.e. with bog-standard FSB and memory speed) I view overclocking as two ratios:
    Maximum attainable clock speed / original clock speed. 3:2 is the minimum ratio that isn't depressing to see booting up.
    Cost of equivalent performance from a processor w/o overclocking / cost of actual processor. In the case the ratio was 4:1. Some of the best-case scenarios (like the very last 300A's being 100% overclockable to 600mhz), the ratio can be 6-7:1.

    The Black Edition CPU's fail both value tests tests, because they are typically ONLY available at the fastest speed grades. Therefore, they are unlikely to reach a 30% overlock, never mind the requisite 50. And, being the most expensive SKU in the class combined with the lackluster overclock potential means that they are unlikely to outperform a processor that costs 4x as much (even an imaginary SKU that fits on the price-performance regression line of the class).

    That said, if the Wolfdale E8190 is $130 and Intel somehow offers an "enthusiast edition" of it for $180 (that is, an edition for true enthusiasts, who want to extract the maximum bang for their buck), I would get one - the unlocked multiplier would make overclocking less of a "platform" issue (i.e. "how fast will the chip go until my motherboard peters out") and more of "how fast will this particular chip go period". I can definitely get behind that.
    Reply
  • jimru22 - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    Thank you Kris for the outstanding article as well as your response.

    Kind regards,
    Jim
    Reply
  • Orthogonal - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    What are the chances someone could whip up an Excel Macro to incorporate all these inputs, equations and graphs for easy computation of optimal settings for a given CPU and Memory configuration. Reply
  • kjboughton - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    Already exists, although you'll have to sweet-talk me into releasing the file. Seriously though, the Excel spreadsheet makes choosing the right settings downright simple. Reply
  • Orthogonal - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    Fair enough, pretty please!

    Well maybe there could atleast be a web applet on the site or something of the sort. That would be killer.
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, January 25, 2008 - link

    Just one thought...IMO, no "Board Layout" portion of a review is complete without a picture of the port cluster on the back of the board. Reply

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