When Intel launched the Core i7 range of processors late last year most commentators agreed that whilst undeniably impressive with respect to performance, the overall cost of ownership - including motherboard and RAM - meant that even the Core i7 920 was out of reach for most readers, with the subsystem setting you back some £600-plus.
Since then, prices of DDR3 have dropped to a level where a 6GB triple-channel kit can be purchased for less than £75, and the cheapest supporting motherboards, X58, have dropped to around £150. That still represents a healthy outlay, of course, but system integrators are steadily cottoning-on to the fact that Core i7 needn't be reserved for £1,500 base units.
Intel's all-singing, all-dancing X58 chipset - X58 IOH and ICH10R southbridge - is an expensive bit of silicon, so much so that motherboard manufacturers have felt impelled to launch fully-loaded, full-ATX-sized motherboards, pushing up the price.
A couple of months ago, ASUS, the largest motherboard manufacturer in the world, decided to do X58 a little different. Rather than tow the usual full-ATX X58 line, on which it already has plenty of boards, the company released a micro-ATX X58 motherboard loaded to the hilt and presented under the Republic of Gamers banner.
The ASUS Rampage II GENE is that board. Let's see if it makes sense to have Core i7 in a small form-factor.