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Review: ASUS Rampage II GENE: microATX mobo for Intel Core i7 chips

by Tarinder Sandhu on 13 May 2009, 08:49 3.8

Tags: Rampage II GENE, ASUSTeK (TPE:2357), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qar6r

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Layout and features I

The size of the LGA1,366 socket gives board engineers a little headache when designing a mATX board on Intel's latest and greatest chip.

The overall layout looks pretty good on first glance; the power-connectors are on the edge of the board and ASUS has managed to fit the full complement of six DIMM slots on to the Rampage II Gene.

Qualified for both SLI and CrossFireX, in dual-card mode, one concession to space lies with the slots' arrangement. Should you use two double-height cards you lose the PCIe x1 and PCIc slots.

Unlike other high-end boards, the mATX version doesn't have any fancy cooling on the back.

We commend ASUS' engineers for producing such a clean layout, bearing in mind the lack of space to work with. The CPU area, in particular, is clear enough to mount the reference HSF with ease; there are no huge heatsinks to contend with.

The board's hot-running components are cooled by passive heatsinks. That makes sense considering that most folk considering this board will want a quiet system in a small-ish chassis.

Six DIMM slots will take up to 24GB of DDR3 RAM. One end of the RAM slots - the high side - the setup is such that it requires you to push the modules in, rather too firmly, for them to be installed correctly. We see why ASUS has this innovative feature, to stop the regular DIMM-locks from being fouled by the graphics card, but don't push too hard!

ASUS supports DDR3-2,000MHz frequencies in the BIOS, but you will need to toggle the Core i7's speeds to hit such a speed.

The side-on shot shows six SATA2 ports, all run off the ICH10R southbridge. ASUS also adds in a PATA port for legacy support and uses the same controller - JMicron JMB363 - for a seventh SATA port, located just below the side-angled variety, as shown on the next page.