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Asus Rampage IV Black Edition (X79) Motherboard Review

The Asus Rampage IV Black Edition motherboard is a well-designed, high-end X79 powerhouse that has heaps of overclocking potential and a generous feature set to match.

Overclocking performance was better than any of the other X79 motherboard’s that we have tested with our 4960X, Asus’ own IVB-E tweaked X79-Deluxe included. We managed to push our 4960X slightly further than we had previously achieved, albeit without stability. Memory overclocking was very impressive, with the 3GHz barrier being broken for the first time on our IVB-E test system.

For extreme and professional overclockers, the Rampage IV Black Edition is outfitted with a host of worthwhile features, backed by Asus’ second-to-none UEFI BIOS. Using the latest power delivery system in Asus’ arsenal – Extreme Engine Digi+ III – and sporting tools such as an LN2 mode, the onboard OC Zone, an interchangeable extreme cooling backplate, and the versatile ROG OC panel, the Rampage IV Black Edition offers noticeable improvements over its Extreme predecessor.

If you’re looking to break world records, or power an ultra-high resolution configuration, up to four graphics cards can be connected to the Rampage IV Black Edition with a layout that is optimised for 4-way SLI/CrossFire. PCI-E lane spacing for dual-card users is also very good with cooling space being maintained between the pair of boards.

Making up for the ageing feature set offered by Intel’s X79 chipset, Asus outfits the Rampage IV Black Edition with a multitude of add-on controllers. Up to six SATA 6Gb/s drives can be connected to the motherboard, albeit with four at controller-limited speeds, eight USB 3.0 ports are positioned about the board and connectivity for 2.4/5 GHz Wi-Fi 802.11ac and Bluetooth 4.0 is provided.

As far as the SupremeFX Black audio solution goes, our testing proves it to be a formidable onboard configuration. While audio features are unlikely to impress extreme overclockers, high-end gamers who opt for the Rampage IV Black Edition will be pleased to know that their board packs one of the highest performance audio systems on the market. Support for Sonic Radar may also impress enthusiast gamers, although the software’s relevance is down to individual preference – I do not like it nor do I find it useful, but others may.

Fitting in with its naming scheme, the Rampage IV Black Edition’s consistent colour is likely to appeal to enthusiasts who place importance upon their system’s appearance. The matte black PCB finish and all-black colour scheme should allow effective matching of hardware for use with the RIVBE.

One of the main features that will appeal to overclockers is the Rampage IV Black Edition’s UEFI BIOS. Like many of the other ROG interfaces currently used on Asus’ motherboards, the sheer quantity of customisable settings and the level of control that Asus’ BIOS engineers give overclockers is unparalleled. From frequency switching to voltage fine-tuning, overclockers are unlikely to find a component parameter where they crave additional settings.

By far our biggest complaint with the Rampage IV Black Edition is the irritatingly slow POST time. Waiting over 30 seconds to reach the Windows loading screen is not something we have come to expect from a motherboard, irrelevant of the number of onboard controllers. This is something that we can foresee Asus addressing with future BIOS updates, but until then, patience during boot will most certainly be required.

We are struggling to identify any other issues with the Rampage IV Black Edition. Clearance between a video card in the top slot and a high-end air CPU cooler is an area for concern, but not specifically a board issue; 4-way SLI/CrossFire necessitates the room to be supported, after all.

With an anticipated retail price of £399.99 (currently available for pre-order from OverclockersUK), the Rampage IV Black Edition is one of the highest-priced X79 motherboard on the market. It is also more expensive than its predecessor – the Rampage IV Extreme.

To users looking at purchasing a high-end X79 motherboard, the Rampage IV Black Edition is quite possibly the best option there is. It’s not cheap, and it’s more expensive than the Rampage IV Extreme, but it also offers a number of worthwhile features for enthusiasts, gamers, and extreme overclockers, alike. If you’re looking for the best all-round X79 motherboard on the market, and don’t mind coughing up the cash required, the Rampage IV Black Edition is the board that should be right at the top of your shortlist.

Pros:

  • Sensible and effective layout.
  • Plenty of onboard features.
  • Worthwhile overclocking-orientated tools.
  • Strong overclocking performance, especially in regards to memory.
  • 4-way SLI/CrossFire support.
  • One of the best onboard audio solutions currently available.
  • Excellent UEFI BIOS.
  • Attractive colour scheme.
  • Free Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag game.

Cons:

  • Slow POST time – around 20 seconds just at the logo screen.
  • Possible interference issues with large CPU air coolers and top-slot graphics cards.

KitGuru says: If you’re an extreme overclocker, a general enthusiast, or a high-end gamer looking to buy the best X79 motherboard on the market, Asus’ Rampage IV Black Edition should be right at the top of your shopping list.

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Rating: 9.5.

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