When you talk about gaming, overclocking and performance there are always a couple of names that pop up. One name that is sure to pop up in the conversation is the name of Asus. Asus has been making great products (along with the not so great) for many years. However, with the launch of Intel’s Nehalem and AMD’s Phenom II Asus has really took off. Their flagship Republic of Gamers (ROG) line has simply been stellar. It is one of these that we are taking a look at today. In the lab we have the Asus ROG Rampage III Extreme (RIIIE). This $380 board packs a ton of features and performance into an attractive red and black ATX package. Let’s see just what $380 gets you for performance.
Although the Intel Z77 Express chipset has been available for a while now we chose to wait until the official launch of Ivy Bridge to begin our reviews. After all the Z77 with Panther Point was designed to get the best performance when tied with Ivy Bridge so why not show that off first. To kick off our coverage of the Z77 we deiced to try out Intel’s reference design in the DZ77GA-70K. This performance desktop board from Intel is a great starting point and will give us the feel of how Intel meant things to work. So let’s get to it shall we?
Moving through some of the more prominent Z77 motherboards that are out right now we come to another one from Gigabyte. Here we have the Z77X-UD5H WiFi Motherboard (Model number GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB). The UD5H is typically their second in line for the top spot in Gigabyte’s food chain The Z77X-UD7 currently holds that top crown. However the UD5 boards are always very functional and tend to combine the best of both performance and features. With this review we will be covering not only the features of the Z77X-UD5H WiFi but also come of the design choices that go into the board to get you the performance you expect on the other end. So let’s get right to it and find out if the Z77X-UD5H WiFi is worth the $210 that Gigabyte is asking.
As we round out our coverage of the Asus Republic of Gamers Rampage IV Gene we are taking a look at both the synthetic and real-world performance of this board. As we have mentioned before the Gene is the gateway into the ROG Line and shows an excellent blending of performance, features and ease of use for those that are new to playing with higher end Motherboards. Of course the Gene also serves a purpose with the enthusiasts as well it offers a very competent motherboard in a small package for gaming, small and quiet systems and even for someone looking for a solid board to build a home server on. Since we have already shown you what the Rampage IV Gene looks like on paper, let’s take the tiem to show you how it looks in the real world.
After a look into the design and features of the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H we are now diving into how well it performs. Unlike the MSI Z68A-GD80 we do not have any indications that we will run out of PCIe lanes, however we are still a little concerned about how well the Z68X will perform when we drop in the HD5870. We are also more than a little curious to see how the touchBIOS will work on the real world. So, let’s dive in and get to testing the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H.
Editor’s Note – We delayed our release of the Haswell review due to some performance issues we saw with some of our tests. We reached out to Intel and all of the companies that provide our testing software to ensure that our numbers were accurate. We did find that at least Sisoft’s SANDRA suite needed to address the use of the AVX2 instructions in Haswell. We are also in the process of validating LightWave 11 for use in the lab (and other new tests). Additionally we removed the gaming tests from this review, due to problems encountered with the updated games we are using. We intended to publish our gaming tests at a later date. This should help show off Haswell and the new Z87 chipset in a better light than some of the current tests. So without further commentary lets dive into our Haswell review
With all of the news about the Z77 Express motherboards and Ivy Bridge we thought we would step back and take a look at our old friend the X79 and the Sandy Bridge-E CPU. This platform still represents the top end for Intel and although it does not have the same mainstream media acceleration that Ivy Bridge does it is still quite the platform. We are going to dive into the design and features of one of the more prominent enthusiast products for this chipset; Asus Republic of Gamers Rampage IV. We have the Rampage IV Gene and the Formula in the lab and will be running both of these through their paces in the coming days. Right now we are going to walk around the Rampage IV Gene which at $290 is a lot of money to shell out, but it also looks like a lot of motherboard in a small package. Let’s take a look shall we?
Earlier this year when we visited Gigabyte during CES they reiterated something that they said about three years ago. They are committed to providing a much better performing product and are gearing themselves more and more toward the enthusiast and gamer’s market. We have watched them make this shift since we first started working with them back in early 2005. Now 6+ years later we can say they have made this transition well. Their lineup has become much more diversified with a good separation of products. We have already shown you some of the top end boards like the G1.Assassin2 and the X79-UD5 and have goe though the design and features of the X79-UD3 so now we can tell you how this board really performs. Let’s take a look.
Only a few weeks after we showed you the performance of the MAINGEAR Epic180 we have another product from MAINGEAR in the labs. This is their DIY thermal interface material called the MAINGEAR EPIC T1000 (yes it is a terminator reference). The EPIC T1000 is a phase change alloy that changes from a solid to a liquid when exposed to heat. This creates and flow that is capable of filling in any and all pores and lines in both the CPU heat spreader and the head of your cooler (whether it is water cooling, air or other). This, technically can beat even the smoothest thermal paste on the market in terms of fill and also should be able to outperform them in terms of thermal transfer as the head of your cooler and the CPU are almost soldered together for an even and continuous surface contact. So let’s take a look at what you get with this new DIY kit from MAINGEAR and also see if it really can improve performance.
As 2011 comes to a close the big name in desktop CPUs is Intel. AMD’s Bulldozer failed to impress the market and while it is not a terrible product it does not have what it takes to grab the CPU performance crown from Intel. The top product for Intel is its new Sandy Bridge E CPUs and the X79 chipset. We have taken a look at Intel’s X79 Desktop board and Gigabyte’s G1.Assassin2. Both of these products let the Sandy Bridge E stretch its legs and run. Now we have our third X79 board in the lab. This one is from Asus and is the upper end of their consumer line. The board in question is the Asus P9X79 Deluxe. This board features the standard Intel LAN (you get dual LAN but only one is Intel in this case) as well as Asus’ BTGO (Bluetooth Go) 3.0. This is a continuation of the Bluetooth that Asus has been putting on their boards since the beginning of the year (we saw this at CES 2011). Now they are also dropping in Wireless (just like most other X79 boards), but wireless and Bluetooth are not all that Asus has packed into this board. So let’s take a look at exactly what you get with the Asus P9X79 Deluxe.