When Lynnfield launched with its built in PCIe controller the motherboard makers of the world collectively groaned. They began to wonder how in the world they were going to run everything they want to put onto their motherboards with the limited number of PCIe lanes that were provided. The answer to this solution was simple, use a bridge chip… the problem was that there were not many that were up to the job. One of these companies that quickly became synonymous with high-performance motherboards was PLX. We first saw these on Asus motherboards (the P55 motherboards) and the system simply worked. Since then many more motherboard makers have adopted them and come to reply on PLX to keep things moving.
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?