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Overclocking: Asus Rampage IV Extreme Versus EVGA X79 FTW

X79's Last Hurrah Before Ivy Bridge

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/s2 x SATA 6Gb/s 4 x SATA 3Gb/s
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATA2 x ASM1061 PCIe2 x SATA 6Gb/s2 x eSATA 6Gb/s88SE6121 PCIe2 x eSATA 6Gb/s
USB 3.03 x ASM1042 PCIe2 x ASM1042 PCIe 2 x VL810 Hub
IEEE-1394NoneXIO2213B PCIe1 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.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.