Tom's Hardware's 2011 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders

Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Extreme

$499
www.asus.com

For those who want to give the very best this season (or are lucky enough to receive it), the processor to beat is Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E-based Core i7-3930K. Which motherboard belongs under this powerhouse of a processor? One of the best (and most expensive) candidates around is Asus’ Rampage IV Extreme.

Of course, the Rampage series stands as one of the premier choices for top-end enthusiasts. For five years, Asus has been working to position its Republic of Gamers (ROG) brand as the de facto product family for cutting-edge features and top-end performance. The Rampage IV Extreme takes this tradition to new heights, introducing three new features: OC Key, Subzero Sense, and VGA Hotwire. OC Key is a clever nod to those who want control over their performance tweaks and need to see the results of those tweaks during benchmarking, but don’t want a tweaking client app sucking up CPU cycles and skewing results. The “key” looks like an oversized DVI adapter and simply plugs into a graphics output port, acting as a signal pass-through. OC data shows up on-screen as an overlay.

Subzero Sense dovetails with a switch on the board called “LN2 Mode.” This is for users who crank their cooling to 11 with liquid nitrogen. Subzero Sense simply (and accurately) reports the motherboard’s true temperature (a tricky proposition if you don’t otherwise have proper temperature sensing gear). For those who enjoy GPU overvolting but aren’t crazy about some of the technical headaches, VGA Hotwire entails a series of six integrated variable resistors and voltage sensors. Simply plug the included two-wire cable into the motherboard, solder two wires onto the graphics card’s voltage regulator, and start monkeying with your voltage.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve sunk a grip of green into your LGA 1366-compatible heatsink, Asus’ X-Socket adapts the new LGA 2011 interface for your old cooler. The board supports four-way SLI and CrossFire, is PCIe 3.0-ready, and sports no less than eight DIMM slots supporting up to DDR3-2400 in quad-channel mode. Naturally, you’re not likely to need 32 GB for any of your individual apps, but all of that capacity can be applied to having a RAM disk, which is essentially like having an SSD on steroids, only the data vanishes when you power cycle.

On the I/O panel, you’ll find a full 7.1-channel audio riser with optical S/PDIF. There are eight USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, and even two 6Gb/s eSATA ports. This is in addition to the four 6 Gb/s SATA (and another four 3 Gb/s SATA) headers already on the board. With so much here, features such as BIOS Flashback, an LED diagnostic readout, and the inclusion of Kapersky anti-virus almost seem like afterthoughts. This may be one of the most expensive motherboards you’ll ever consider, but can you think of another that’s ever offered more enthusiast insanity?

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    Top Comments
  • I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
    36
  • i clicked for the lady
    33
  • Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
    22
  • Other Comments
  • Where is the girl for the PNY RAM?!?!?!
    0
  • i clicked for the lady
    33
  • What is your favorite picture?

    Mine was the one with the 4 SSD.
    My floppy disk totally turned to a hard disk drive.

    I can't wait for part 2 already.
    6
  • I feel sorry for those girls that they have to smile for the camera even though they have no idea what they are holding
    36
  • Must... focus ... on ... computer parts...
    22
  • What is hotter? The computer parts or the girl?
    -6
  • haha do these girls know what they're doing?
    -7
  • richboylianghaha do these girls know what they're doing?


    Depends on if you use an aftermarket cooler or the stock one
    -6
  • For one second, my focus was deviated, back to pc!
    -5
  • It looks like the Blonde model was having more fun, or is it just me. If I wasn't married, I'd take either! Forget the PC hardware, there are more important things to look at!!! Lol!
    10
  • All these pages later and I still have no idea what the topic of the story was...
    11
  • I don't get it.

    Why are some things suggested in this guide mostly the worst value you could get for that sum of cash?

    For starters:

    -MSI 990FX-GD80 wouldn't be my top pick. That would go to a Gigabyte 990FXA-UD(x) board. Why bother getting a board that's more expensive than the best processor for the platform (or one whose lower-end boards don't catch fire).

    -i7-3930K? Ivy's just around the corner and will run on 150 dollar boards that do more than X79 could think of.

    -Silverstone 1000W PSU? Seasonic's already got their X-1050, which has 80+ Platinum certification instead of gold for the same cost.

    Some things I guess I just don't understand, then. You list some parts that have really good value, such as that RAM and Powercolor graphics card along with the 955BE, and then go to the polar opposite. I don't see the reason for that.
    21
  • I can ditch pc hardware if i can get a girl in those photos
    1
  • I'm sorry, was there supposed to be some sort of gift guide here? I know it's a tech site and I was expecting one but I can't seem to see what they're recommending.
    0
  • The redhead doesn't seem to have fun....
    17
  • I'm having a hard time deciding whether I'd take all the hardware or all the girls. :$
    -8
  • Those girls prove why Tom's Hardware will never be at the level of AnandTech...
    -7
  • 388991 said:
    I'm sorry, was there supposed to be some sort of gift guide here? I know it's a tech site and I was expecting one but I can't seem to see what they're recommending.



    Get a life you freak
    -22
  • gazum123Get a life you freak

    Get a sense of humor you rude little man.
    15
  • and not a single anti-static precaution taken... All those naked components... what a waste
    -4