ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition Review
When the ASUS Rampage IV Extreme was first launched we found it to be a performance powerhouse, albeit one that was slightly pricier than the competition. We gave it our Performance award, both as a nod towards that towering price tag and in expectation of an array of X79 motherboards appearing that gave similar performance for less money. As it was the LGA2011 socket never saw very many motherboards, and our long-term experience of the Extreme meant that if we were reviewing it today we'd give it our Gold award.
So it was with some trepidation that we tested the Rampage IV Black Edition. After all, we know the Extreme inside and out and it's been relentlessly reliable.
We're happy to report that the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition is brilliant. Ridiculously brilliant actually. Every single thing about it is refined and honed until it's probably the greatest motherboard available, which we think makes it the best of all time. Starting with the looks, we find the Red and Black that is the standard ROG colour scheme to be a bit passé. So the all black look of the Black Edition (funny that) looks more menacing and would free you up to choose any colour scheme you liked. The heatsink is particularly gorgeous, keeping all the power phases nice and cool and doing a great job of it. Usually you can choose performance or aesthetics, but the Black gives you both.
Speaking of performance it churned out some jaw dropping numbers. Comparing it to the Extreme with absolutely identical hardware and clock speeds the Black Edition was ahead in nearly every test. In some, such as the PC Mark tests, it was so far ahead that you would be forgiven for thinking this was an entirely new CPU or something. The overclocking is incredibly easy so that anyone on even the most humble setup would be able to extract some extra performance, and yet the amount of headroom available means that those with unlimited funding and a waterfall of LN2 will be able to bust world records. Many have already been claimed by the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition.
Awesome looks and performance would be enough to have us reaching for our wallets, but ASUS have gone above and beyond by including the largest amount of USB ports and SATA interfaces we can recall seeing. The star is definitely the CirrusLogic CS4398 and Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 that combine to form the SupremeFX HD audio. It's as good as the very best sound cards and there definitely has been no expense spared. The inclusion of onboard sound that would cost the thick end of £100 to purchase separately helps make the £400 price tag easier to swallow too. Wherever you look there is a new tweak, a slight improvement, something you hadn't noticed that shows this is so very much more than a mere colour change.
In every department there is enough with the ASUS Rampage IV Black Edition to make it worthy of the highest recommendation, but when you take all those elements together it becomes staggeringly good and we can't think of a more desirable, better performing, feature rich motherboard on the planet. Unhesitatingly worthy of our OC3D Gold Award.