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Overclocking: Asus Rampage IV Extreme Versus EVGA X79 FTW

Overclocking: Asus Rampage IV Extreme Versus EVGA X79 FTW
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Many companies claim to offer the best overclocking for your money, yet only two compete for the best overclocking at the very highest price point. Today we put those claims to the test, including a full set of benchmarks to analyze performance gains.

The editors of Tom's Hardware do our best to cover the broadest selection of hardware that finds its way into your PC, but some components fall through the cracks whenever the steady march of technology pushes us to move on to the next new thing. Such was the case for a few X79 Express-based motherboards priced over $380.

Reader John Case wrote in a few weeks after our premium X79 motherboard comparison to tell us that one of the products we missed wouldn't support any of his high-end memory at its rated frequency, no matter how much time he spent trying to optimize timings and voltage levels. After several successful RMAs, he was ready to ship us his board for testing. That’s when the manufacturer stepped in to provide a full refund.

We contacted that manufacturer (along with one of its closest competitors) to see how two of today’s top-rated enthusiast-oriented boards would compare to each other in terms of overclocking ease, stability, and features.

X79 Motherboard Features
 Asus Rampage IV ExtremeEVGA X79 FTW 151-SE-E777-KR
PCB Revision1.021.0
ChipsetIntel X79 ExpressIntel X79 Express
Voltage RegulatorEleven Phases14 Phases
BIOS1202 (03/22/2012)035 (03/08/2012)
100.0 MHz BCLK100.1 MHz (+0.10%)100.0 MHz (+0.00%)
Internal Interfaces
PCIe 3.0 x164 (x16/x8/16/x0 or x16/x8/x8x8)5 (x16/x0/x4/x16/x0 or x8/x8/x4/x8/x8)
PCIe 2.0 x16NoneNone
PCIe x1/x411/0
Legacy PCINoneNone
USB 2.02 (4 ports)3 (6 ports)
USB 3.02 (4 ports)1 (2 ports)
IEEE-1394None1x Firewire 800
Serial PortNone1
Parallel PortNoneNone
SATA 6.0 Gb/s42
SATA 3.0 Gb/s44
4-Pin Fan77
3-Pin FanNoneNone
FP-Audio11
S/PDIF I/OOutput OnlyBoth
Power ButtonYesYes
Reset ButtonYesYes
CLR_CMOS ButtonYesYes
Diagnostics PanelNumericNumeric
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 211
USB 3.048
USB 2.082
IEEE-1394NoneNone
NetworkSingleDual
eSATA2 (1 Powered)2
CLR_CMOS ButtonYesYes
Digital Audio OutOpticalOptical
Digital Audio InNoneNone
Analog Audio55
Other DevicesBluetooth Transceiver, ROG ConnectBluetooth Transceiver, EVBot Header
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
4 x SATA 3Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATA2 x ASM1061 PCIe
2 x SATA 6Gb/s
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
88SE6121 PCIe
2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
USB 3.03 x ASM1042 PCIe2 x ASM1042 PCIe
2 x VL810 Hub
IEEE-1394NoneXIO2213B PCIe
1 x FireWire 800
Gigabit Ethernet
Primary LANWG82579V PHY88E8059 PCIe
Secondary LANNone88E8059 PCIe
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC898ALC898
DDL/DTS ConnectNot SpecifiedNot Specified


Asus and EVGA committed to this article with their Rampage IV Extreme and X79 Classified. We were a little surprised when EVGA instead sent its X79 FTW, but noted that this still fell within the $380+ ultra-premium market that was so scantly covered by only one board in our previous round-up.

Display 57 Comments.
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Top Comments
  • 14 Hide
    halcyon , April 17, 2012 11:13 AM
    I wish I hadn't seen this. I really do. I have no excuse to get an X79 based system. I don't. I..do...not. I want. ...but I can't. Food. Food is important.
Other Comments
  • 2 Hide
    EzioAs , April 17, 2012 5:20 AM
    Nice article.

    Where is the MSI Big Bang Xpower II? That's known to be a great board for overclocking as well.
  • 4 Hide
    schn1tt3r , April 17, 2012 5:39 AM
    I'd love to see a comparison like this between the Rampage IV Extreme and the Rampage IV Formula. The price difference is over $100 and I don't see WHY. 8 RAM slots is something I would never fill up so the Formula and its 4 slots seems perfect to me.
  • 3 Hide
    hellfire24 , April 17, 2012 6:14 AM
    i would take rampage iv formula.it's cheaper and provides similar features.who needs 4-way sli?
  • 1 Hide
    WR2 , April 17, 2012 7:04 AM
    Kind of a lukewarm recommendation. Just 'Tom's Hardware Approved award'
  • 2 Hide
    Crashman , April 17, 2012 7:47 AM
    WR2Kind of a lukewarm recommendation. Just 'Tom's Hardware Approved award'
    Only because there aren't many readers who can get $50 of value out of its specific feature set, compared to the WS.
  • 1 Hide
    niknovacain , April 17, 2012 10:09 AM
    Red and black looks sick.
  • 14 Hide
    halcyon , April 17, 2012 11:13 AM
    I wish I hadn't seen this. I really do. I have no excuse to get an X79 based system. I don't. I..do...not. I want. ...but I can't. Food. Food is important.
  • 0 Hide
    master9716 , April 17, 2012 1:40 PM
    You guys really need to start Testing @ 5760x1080 !!! , Monitors go for really cheap on craiglist now from wholesellers , you can buy 3 24" leds for like 300 bucks so a lot of people that I know have been runing 3 monitor setups for a while.
  • 1 Hide
    jaquith , April 17, 2012 1:41 PM
    Thanks Thomas for another enlightening Article! :) 

    Just knowing the ASUS and EVGA from past history (LGA 1366) which may or may not play any role here, ASUS tends to (lets call it adjust) the CPU vCore and VTT/VCCSA higher than advertised vs EVGA which probably explains* the problems with both the high frequency RAM and CPU OC's.

    The disturbing thing to 'me' was the regulator voltages. I know the EVGA uses 12+2 vs ASUS's 8+3+(2+2) PWM and it's all digital controlled on ASUS, (*)but IDK if the EVGA is digitally controlled which might explain the inefficiency and OC.

    The EVGA has always been a very 'manual' MOBO, so in that regard I'm not surprised you had to dive into the BIOS. I have no doubts if you raised the EVGA's voltages vs a cloned ASUS optimized OC set that you'd have no problems obtaining the SAME 4.8GHz OC. Both boards offer voltage check points and I'd be very interesting how they compared.

    Just the other day I updated my ASUS BIOS and right-off I noticed an increased vCore increase by +0.01v~+0.015v and as part of the documented (improvements) was 'Improved Stability' ; yeah sure if you raise the vCore or VTT/VCCSA, phase, etc profiles... Now I have to redo my validations.

    The most important testing here, to me, is the Baseline Comparison which tells me EVGA has some work to do ASAP, and hopefully a BIOS update can close the gaps. Further, personally I won't buy or recommend any X79 MOBO unless it offers an 8xDIMM option. In the forum it's been very clear which X79's I recommend since day one, and the ASUS R4E has always been on top on my list if you can afford it! ;) 
  • 1 Hide
    spookyman , April 17, 2012 2:37 PM
    Considering Ivy Bridge is around the corner. Would it be beneficial in buying a Sandy Bridge-E board?
  • 0 Hide
    Yuka , April 17, 2012 3:20 PM
    Uhm... How is the USB3 count works? I'm kind of confused.

    Thanks for the Article! Nice couple of boards indeed.

    Cheers!
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , April 17, 2012 4:03 PM
    Of course Asus wins. Asus is the boss hogg.
  • 1 Hide
    CaedenV , April 17, 2012 4:21 PM
    Great review!

    If I was into extreme system building I would not hesitate for a moment for a $50 price difference between a board that works as advertised vs a board you have to coax into working properly. In the grand scheme of things $50 is not that much money, especially considering the platform cost of the rest of the system. It's not like you build these rigs for OC'd gaming with less than $1000 in GPU horsepower alone, not to mention nice big SSDs and RAID arrays, $100 coolers, oversized cases etc. $50 just disappears at that point.

    The ironic thing to me however is that this proves more than anything that OCing a system has little to no effect on gaming (at least with a single GPU), and yet gamers are the ones more likely to OC as most productivity people are artists or cube dwellers by nature and not hardware junkies who would OC their system to the moon. Yet there is a near 1/3rd of untapped performance potential in their computers that will never be touched.

    Another thing of interest to me is that on the 1155 platform it is possible to get a higher efficiency by doing an OC (because you can get to 4.4GHz on some before changing any voltages which only gives a minor wattage increase). I wonder of the 2011 platform gets a little more efficient with a minor OC compared to these higher OCs.

    Last thought: It is odd to me how OCing works. Something like 90% hit 4.2GHz with no problem, only some 50% of the CPUs can hit 4.5GHz, and then only ~5% can hit anything above 4.8GHz. On my own rig I can hit 4.2GHz with no problems at all, and that is a 2600 non-K (turbo OC as I am locked out of the base clock, but according to CPUz it hits a consistent 4.2GHz when under load, which is the only time I need anything above stock anyways). Back when I use to OC a lot (way back in the P3/P4 days) you would be lucky to hit a 500MHz boost before having heat problems (much less stability issues). It just amazes me that you can easily hit a near 1GHz OC these days without any voltage changes, but then going much higher than that it requires exponential amounts of power. And now the thing holding OCers back is more timing stability and power regulation instead of heat.
  • 0 Hide
    CaedenV , April 17, 2012 4:26 PM
    Anyone remember this?: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/5-ghz-project,731.html

    Perhaps Tom's could do a modern 'extreme OC' and see how far you can get. 6GHz maybe?
  • -1 Hide
    Marcus52 , April 17, 2012 6:00 PM
    I really would like to see more CPU intensive games used when the article is comparing CPU performance. Battlefield 3 and, even better, World of Warcraft come to mind.

    ;) 
  • -1 Hide
    Marcus52 , April 17, 2012 6:03 PM
    EzioAsNice article.Where is the MSI Big Bang Xpower II? That's known to be a great board for overclocking as well.


    Why you asking? Did you send one in to be included in the test?
  • 1 Hide
    EzioAs , April 17, 2012 6:23 PM
    Quote:
    Why you asking? Did you send one in to be included in the test?


    Because in the article they wrote "We contacted that manufacturer (along with one of its closest competitors) to see how two of today’s top-rated enthusiast-oriented boards would compare to each other in terms of overclocking ease, stability, and features.", meaning they never contacted MSI(I'm assuming). I'm pretty sure MSI would be eager to put their flagship board to the test as well.

    Hope I clarify something here and I never meant to be rude in the first comment. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    Hellbound , April 17, 2012 6:49 PM
    This article helped me make a decision.. I ordered a rampage IV today.
  • 1 Hide
    halcyon , April 17, 2012 7:05 PM
    HellboundThis article helped me make a decision.. I ordered a rampage IV today.

    I'm jealous. I don't need a Rampage IV. I don't. What I have is fine. Yeahp. You know, A Rampage IV and a 3820 wouldn't be that expensive. I could sell my Asrock Z68 Pro and 2500K... I don't need a Rampage IV...won't make a difference. Its just for light gaming. I have another machine for serious stuff. I...I....
  • 1 Hide
    billj214 , April 17, 2012 9:04 PM
    Any board from the cheapest to the most expensive is just as fast as the other with a few MHZ clock change.

    Buy your board based on:
    1. Reputation
    2. Reviews
    3. Warranty
    4. Price
    5. Options

    I also opt to use integrated chips for NIC and Audio made from anyone other than Realtek! :) 
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