Final Words & Conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
The ASUS Rampage III Black Edition is silly, ridiculous, unheard of, it's GREAT. It's the Dark Horse riding inside your PC while you scream hi-hoo-silverrrr...
So yeah, with that first paragraph of the conclusion you may have guessed it, we like the ASUS Rampage III Black Edition a lot. The plethora of functions added to this motherboard is nearly silly. The cute GO, reset, clear CMOS buttons, diagnostic LED, extra power headers, Bluetooth, WIFI, the NICs, ThunderBolt and well, on and on. What's good to see is that the mobo is also multi-GPU certified, you can run up-to 4 GPUs for AMD's Radeon graphics cards, and up-to 3-GPU SLI is allowed. Remember though, that means no quad-SLI support, thus not even two GTX 590 cards in SLI would work.
Admittedly, it's completely over the top and that will carry its weight in gold when you look at the store price. The sheer reality is that an X58 chipset remains just that, meaning overclocking and overall baseline performance is roughly equal on all higher-end X58 based motherboards with the typical exceptions here and there.
Overclocking wise the BIOS really offers everything you need, it is 99% similar to the Rampage III series BIOS, you can also opt to go geeky with ROG Connect of course. But, do all of you with ASUS ROG Connect motherboards really use these features? For me it's BIOS overclocking and nothing less.
The thing is though that everything that Intel forfeits to embed in the chipset, ASUS simply added, and that resulted in the product you have seen today. So what I am saying is that performance wise you will not achieve much difference in results compared to other X58 motherboards. However, features wise you will gain so much. The Wireless N connectivity, USB 3.0 ports, SATA 6G, the really cool design, the optimized BIOS (no uEFI though), SLI support up-to three cards, Quad Crossfire support up-to four cards and then there's ThunderBolt, that all new expansion card from ASUS that integrates Xonar sound as well as BigFoot's Killer NPU.
Now BigFoot's Killer NPU means absolutely nothing to us as latency is found in-between your router and the server you play on, not your internal network. Sure, you can do a little LAN traffic shaping and speed up gaming packets, but once you pass that router and they enter cyber-space... it just does not matter. If we ping a connection from Europe to the USA, there's not a thing that can improve the ping times compared to a good Intel or Realtek NIC. But we'll say this though, it is a high-speed quality NIC and it certainly wont bother you to use it anyway. We love the little software suite as well.
Now we here at Guru3D.com are a bit anal when it comes to sound, 50% of our staff are audiophiles with the very best audio cards, DACs, cabling and speakers. If you don't believe me, then read up on some of our soundcard reviews here. Our editors and yours truly LOVE the Xonar range from ASUS, in fact the computer I am working on right now has an ASUS HDAV 13 Deluxe installed in it, yeah yeah... I'm an anal audiophile reviewer as well. But as such I was exhilarated to hear that ThunderBolt had some tender love and care from the ASUS audio team. Make no mistake, the Realtek chips are fine as they are, but remain OK. ASUS took that chip, and started adding, adding filters, opamps pretty much similar stuff to say Auzen, who use the X-Fi and build a proper card around it. The end result is an incredibly clean and managable audio solution, unparallelled by anything you've ever had included with a motherboard. Bear in mind though, the drivers are limited in terms of audio tweaking and you are looking at 2 channel sound there, unless you make an SPDIF passthrough over the optical out of course with multi-channel DVD/Blu-ray audio.
Pricing then, honestly I expected this motherboard to cost more. I mean, it's a hideous amount of money to put down for a motherboard, but here in the Netherlands the first prices have gone live and they indicate prices as low as 410 EUR. Now I'm not debating that's a lot of money, but really... realize the sheer perfection that you are buying. But we do have to point you to Sandy bridge and P67 as well, even with the Core i7 965 used in today's review, the 2500 and 2600K processors offer just so much ridiculous performance on the P67 that you will scratch behind your head every now and then.
For those that would like to go for a 6-core Intel Core i7 processor and need a X58 motherboard, well... if your budget allows, why the heck not. This is l33t, g33k and r3di1!cul0u$ fun stuff. Pure quality all in a stylish design. Top notch stuff, and as such top pick hardware.
So as of today we shall name this dark horse, the Black Beauty.