The beast returns in all its glory.
There are two things you’ll notice on the Rampage IV Extreme immediately: the active X79 chipset cooling fan and the 4x PCIe 3.0 slots. Then you’ll see the 8x DIMM slots near the CPU area, but I’ll get to that later. The whole ATX sized board measures 12 x 11 inches.
On the bottom we have the front panel headers, the USB 3.0 and 2x USB 2.0 headers. Then there are the two system fan ports as well as the front panel audio port.
On the right we have 4x SATA II and 4x SATA III ports in black and red respectively. Next to it is the Subzero Sense module which basically allows you to monitor temperatures when using LN2 cooling.
Just a little further up is the second USB 3.0 header, followed by what ASUS calls the OC Zone. Traditional for the Rampage Extreme series motherboards, this is the place where you do all the hardware level tinkering for extreme overclocking. Apart from the Start and Reset buttons, there’s the debug LED, the PCIe lane on/off switches, the system check LEDs and probelt measuring plugs.
Looking at the main CPU area which some nice chunky ceramic heatsinks on all the MOSFETS. One large heatpipe connects all three heatsinks, providing further heat management. While the rest of the board is nicely spaced out, the first PCIe x16 slot sits uncomfortably close to the bottom heatsink of the CPU area. If you have an air cooler on the CPU, the only way to reach that clip and unplug your primary graphics card is via a long screwdriver.
Now let’s move onto the rear I/O panel starting with the PS/2 port, 8x USB 2.0 ports, 4x USB 3.0 ports, 2x eSATA/USB combo ports and a LAN port. The audio connectors also have an SPDIF/Optical out along with the standard connections, powered by a Realtek ALC898 chip. There’s also a Bluetooth adapter, next to which are the Clear CMOS and ROG Connect button.
Finally we move down again to see the 4x PCIe 3.0 slots. You’ll notice nestled between the second and third PCIe slot are 4x ASMedia chips. They basically function as channel switchers between 8x and 16x for each lane depending on what configuration of SLI or CFX you’re running. Near the top left of the 1st PCIe slot you’ll also notice an optional 6-pin power connector. The only time you’re going to use this is if you have three or four very high-end graphics card plugged in. Alternatively if you’re pushing the voltage on your RAM kit, this will also help provide some extra juice to the DIMM slots.