This Core i7 board has plenty of features including a Creative X-Fi sound processor, but it's expensive.
LGA1366, microATX, Intel X58 chipset, supports: Core i7, Core i7 Extreme Edition
Asus’s Rampage II GENE is a stunning looking microATX Core i7 motherboard, and its black and red Republic of Gamers logo makes it quite clear who this board is aimed at. It even comes with an external LCD to help diagnose faults.
The board’s twin PCI-E x16 graphics card slots support both CrossFireX and SLI, so you can link a pair of Nvidia or ATI graphics cards. Alongside these is a PCI-E x4 slot and a PCI slot for other expansion cards. Six memory slots are present and will accept up to 24GB of RAM. Six SATA ports and an IDE connector allow you to connect plenty of storage.
Most motherboards have integrated audio processors that don’t really make the most of your sound. We were pleased to see that on-board audio is provided by a Creative X-Fi processor, with full hardware EAX support and decoding for a range of gaming and home theatre audio standards. On the back panel, you’ll find six USB ports, eSATA and FireWire ports and analogue and optical S/PDIF audio outputs. There’s also a PS/2 keyboard connector in case you want to free up USB port.
This isn’t the best performing Core i7 motherboard we’ve reviewed – MSI’s £124 X58M outperforms it a little at standard settings. However, the difference is negligible, and it’s the difference in price that’s considerably more significant. The Rampage II GENE does a lot, but it’s an expensive way to build a Core i7 system.
|Core i7, Core i7 Extreme Edition
|Processor external bus
|400MHz (1,600MHz quad-pumped FSB)
|Chipset north bridge
|Chipset south bridge
|Passively-cooled north bridge
|Supported memory type
|1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin ATX
|PCI-E x16 slots
|Dual graphics architecture
|PCI-E x4 slots
|PCI-E x1 slots
|Serial ATA ports
|RAID chipset (max disks)
|Intel ICH10R (6x SATAII, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)
|Wired network ports
|Creative X-Fi (6x analogue out, optical S/PDIF out)
|USB2 ports / headers
|Firewire ports / headers
|2x SATA, 1x IDE, SLI connector
Setup and Overclocking
|CPU clock max adjustment