ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE Motherboard Review

Features - Software and Utilities

We loved the graphical touches and modularity of AI Suite II when we first laid eyes on it during our review of the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro. From the looks of it, not a single thing about the interface is different, which is a very good thing. Having the same class of adjusment and tuning from within the OS as from within the UEFI BIOS is a serious boon for those unfamiliar with advanced system settings and overclocking. Navigation and tweaking of all manner of system settings is intuitive and the various statistics are presented in an easy to understand manner. Perhaps the most, shall we say, ‘dumbed down’ feature of AI Suite II is the ‘CPU Level Up’ function found under the TuboV EVO overclocking pane. The program presents you with three levels of overclocking, which are pre-determined by the CPU that you have installed in your system. Our rig happened to be running on Intel’s 6-Core i7-3930K LGA 2011 CPU, resulting in small, moderate, and high OC levels of 4.017, 4.125, and 4.250 GHz respectively. This is where countless hours of stability testing in the ASUS labs have really paid off, as it takes some of the nervous edge off of noobie overclockers who might not be sure how hard they can push their systems without giving themselves a little margin for extra stability and safety.

 

It is important to keep in mind that ASUS has no way of knowing what type of cooling setup you have installed, so be sure to consider what kind of TDP you are dealing with before maxing out the CPU on a first try. We were fine with all of the settings supplied with an Antec Kuhler 920, but if you're using the stock cooler you could very well have a temperature warning in your not-so-distant future. Cooling issues aside, which is out of ASUS' hands, they certainly have done their part to deliver one of the most hassle-free OS-based overclocking interfaces that you will ever come across.

 

Of course there’s more to TurboV EVO than just the Level Up function. Those wanting to set a specific CPU ratio can enter the aptly named ‘CPU Ratio’ window. One can tune all four cores separately or as a group. Unlike the CPU Level UP, the effects here are immediate and don’t require a reboot. Users with a higher degree of background knowledge can tab into an ‘Advanced Mode where they can tweak all the voltages they desire. Be it scary or liberating, nothing seems to be off limits here.  You get all of the options you could find in the BIOS with a real-time application and a friendly UI.

 

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Those with a passion for knowing every detail about what is going on inside their system will love what they see upon clicking the ‘Tool’ button. There is a total of eleven utilities to take advantage of, including the already mentioned TurboV EVO. DIGI+ Power Control is the next item on the list. The main motivation behind the thermal, voltage, and current controls offered here is that they can increase the overclocking potential of your system.

 

Again, a digital PWM is the foundation of ASUS' Digi+ VRM design which gives users, especially overclockers, a few distinct advantages.  Digital PWM designs have lower latency response to power needs, can provide more precise frequency changes, allow precise control of a number of power delivery options such as phase frequency of the CPU, DRAM, and System Agent, Load Line Calibration, VRM Over-Temp protection, and, as we are showing here, OS-side control applied in a friendly UI.

 

If being green is more your thing, the ASUS' EPU allows you to tweak the power efficiency of your board so having the performance you want will show up less on your electricity bill.   The EPU isn’t just another chip, it’s actually a hardware chip controller that dynamically adjusts the Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) ‘load line’ for the most stable environment under overclocking or power saving modes. Three modes are available: Auto, High Performance, and Maximum Power Saving. You can configure the way the system responds to each of these modes or just stick with the stock settings. For a high level view of what these toggles do to your computer, ASUS has provided a sort of ‘mood pentagon’ to highlight the direction your system is leaning.  To give a little extra incentive, ASUS makes sure to show you how much CO2 you've reduced by being conscientious of your power usage.

 

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Everyone knows that a well-cooled gaming rig is a happy gaming rig, and ASUS' Fan Xpert utility, while not a "headliner," has been one of our favorite utilities.  As can be expected, there are three predefined modes of operation on the front page: Silent, Standard, and Turbo. Additionally, you can prescribe custom fan curves to the CPU and Chassis fans separately.  While this doesn't go as far as Fan Xpert 2 on ASUS' Z77 motherboards, it's still a very functional and versatile fan control system which we utilize heavily when fine-tuning for acoustics while ensuring adequate airflow.

 

USB 3 Boost automatically uses optimal USB protocols to boost USB 3.0 drive performance, including taking advantage of UASP-enabled hardware to give an even greater boost.  We'll show the impacts of this in our testing segment.  Probe II and the Hardware Monitor allow you to keep an eye on your system's state and to also log system temperatures and voltages.

 

ROG GameFirst II

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Even if you claim to have the best gaming rig in the world, it all means nothing if your performance on the battlefield is hindered by a poor network connection. However, managing the speed of your connection can be an exercise in frustration as you try to hack your way through a field of networking jargon that even IT specialists have a difficult time understanding. With GameFirst, all that Greek speech happens in the background, so you can get back to focusing on the game and not how miserable your ping is. Much like the EZ Mode of the UEFI BIOS, the GameFirst EZ Mode offers an intuitive interface that reports just the information you care about. What adapter am I running on? What's my IP? What nagging programs are taking up my precious bandwidth and how can I kill them? All of these questions can be answered by a quick glance at the EZ Mode front page. The entire GameFirst system is based on cFosSpeed software, which was built from the ground up for traffic shaping and reducing latency. It can also be assigned to accelerate and tune network performance for both wired and wireless connections.

ROG Connect

RCtweakit

If you thought that real-time performance tuning via an externally connected laptop was something reserved for the racetrack, think again. You can monitor the "telemetry" of your very own motherboard by jacking into the ROG Connect USB port on the rear I/O. Sounds like a great opportunity for your Windows 8 tablet to serve another functional purpose. The RC TweakIt application gives you access to nearly everything you'd expect from TurboV EVO like voltages, currents, ratios, temps and fan speeds. Post codes can be viewed ini string format and the CMOS can be cleared. You can even overclock your system on the fly, so you never have to leave the action happening on the main screen. Being able to utilize an existing laptop and avoid having to purchase a dedicated 5.25" controller to monitor active temperatures and voltages is a great convenience. Additionally, ROG Connect takes no CPU resources, as it is implemented on a hardware level.

 

Mem TweakIt

Mem TweakIt is very similar to TurboVEvo, and is a software-side way to overclock your memory outside of the BIOS.  It offers all of the same options you'd look for in the BIOS, so Tweak away and start up your stability testing without the start-restart cycles you may have grown all too fond of.

 

Bundled Software

And while most tweakers will be re-installing their OS often enough,  ASUS has bundled Kaspersky Anti-Virus, which would cost you an extra $60 if you wanted to buy it separately.  Also, the utility we were especially excited to see included was Daemon Tools Pro Standard, which should be a welcome upgrade for everyone's Daemon Tools - Lite installs, and at another $35 per license, adds another chunk of value to the overall package.

 

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