We have received numerous emails about the upcoming X58 motherboards concerning price, availability, and of course performance. Pricing has yet to be determined as we believe each of the manufacturers are waiting to hear what their competitors will charge for a board before committing to a price. What we do know is that the $185 price target mentioned for several X58 motherboards back at Computex has quickly turned into an exclusive $250 and up club from all indications.

Retail availability and launch date is another question that we cannot answer, we know the answer, it's just that our hands (and mouths) are tied by an NDA. All we can say it that it will be soon, but soon for some is tomorrow and for others it could be a month for now. Let's just say they will be out sometime this quarter.

Performance is another subject that we cannot discuss either. The reason is the same as above. Starting to see a pattern develop here? That's what an NDA will do for you. At least we can say this without having the legal eagles from the blue team sweep down upon us; the board we are showing today is the fastest one in the labs to date. It will also probably be the most expensive one, but hey, if you have to ask for the price then you probably can't afford it anyway.

That board is the ASUS Rampage II Extreme featuring the soon to be released X58 chipset supporting an i7 processor. Designed for a very niche market and with limited production numbers, this board will be ASUS' primary weapon in the ultra high-end market against some stiff competition from Gigabyte and perhaps others. The Rampage "2 the" Extreme board is the latest and greatest contribution from the Republic of Gamers (ROG) design group.

How fast? Imagine a cheetah sprinting for a gazelle after devouring a case of Red Bull. Actually, that has more to do with the 3.2GHz i7 overclocked to a healthy X.XGHz (Ed: Sorry, not yet!) with a few gigabytes of Qimonda's finest running at a leisurely 2200MHz. Yeah, we broke the 1.65V memory guideline, but there is a trick to it without causing permanent damage to the CPU, although our benchmark programs are crying foul right now. To be honest, this board does bring out the best in the new i7 in a very easy manner once you learn the tricks of the BIOS.

While we wanted to show the BIOS options today, ASUS is still discussing it internally. We will provide a gallery update once we get permission. For those of you weaned on overclocking the Core 2 series via the FSB design, get ready for the shock of your life. Those with experience overclocking the Athlon 64 and now Phenom processor series will feel right at home - just start substituting HT with QPI. It is a little more complicated than that actually, as a few of Intel's new features require some additional study. The other problem we have noticed is each of the motherboard suppliers like to name various BIOS options differently, resulting in a need to have five or six BIOS guides ready for the launch on 1X/XX/2008 (Ed: Not going to get away with it).

All that said, let's take a quick look at the ASUS Rampage II Extreme and see what makes this board tick.

The Board
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  • asoccerplayer99 - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    I'm dying to know, what are those buttons/switches on the board next to the memory slots??
  • ghitz - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    I sure hope we will see some good mATX boards for i7 from Tier 1 mfg. at launch.
  • Concillian - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    Yawn. Let me know when you have something normal people would consider buying.

    Seriously, "performance" computing margins have increased, but returns have decreased compared with several years ago where SLi / Crossfire boards were expensive because they were over $100.

    Seriously, what do boards have now that makes them cost so much? a few more PCIe lanes? Other than that it's just higher FSB, but i7 removes that from the motherboard, yes? So just what IS it that makes boards expensive now?

    Just something I've had bouncing around in my head for a while now. Boards then had all the overclocking and voltage options they have now, they had Crossfire or SLi, they had on-board raid, SATA, and most of the same features, but they've doubled in price since S939 days. Why? Inflation accounts for some, but not a 100% increase in just a couple years.
  • icrf - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    That's a reasonable question. I'd like to know, too.
  • 3DoubleD - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    Second that. It is ridiculous right now. I have been looking into ASUS P45 motherboards and I'm just overwhelmed at the number of models. I can barely tell the difference between them. I'm not sure if I should be happy that they all offer the same large set of features or whether I should be worried that there is a large price difference for what seems to be a different heat sink design on 4 or 5 identical motherboards. Why do you charge $200+ for a board that has the same slots, ports, and features that a $130 board has? I heat sink redesign doesn't really justify it. I think Anandtech needs to pick up the pace on it's motherboard reviews to help us see the difference (not to mention we need a good CPU round up to clarify the performance differences between the various cache sizes, clock speeds, and number of cores of all the Penryn CPUs that have been slowly leaking out over the past few months).
  • Mr Roboto - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    Ha I had the same problem trying to tell what differences there are between the Asus P5Q, P5Q Pro, P5Q-E,P5Q Deluxe and P5Q Premium. It turns out it was very little for the extra $100-$150. A couple of RAID options, dual PCI-e and dual LAN. What a fuckin joke.
  • strikeback03 - Monday, October 13, 2008 - link

    Even better is that Asus website (at least the English version) is not the best designed, so if you try and go through their menus you won't necessarily find all the models. Google the model name and the first thing that pops up is the Asus page for it though.
  • Visual - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    why do the two sets of pins appear different color?
  • Concillian - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    It's just the way the pins face coupled with the lighting.
  • takumsawsherman - Friday, October 10, 2008 - link

    This is gonna be awesome. I have no doubt this board will be near $300, and ASUS still won't give you Firewire800 for that price. Truly fantastic that the speed of the firewire port on this machine is about the speed of the firewire ports on a 10 year old mac.

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