The LGA2066 desktop platform is an outlet for motherboard developers who are fond of their work, each time trying to surprise the most demanding audience of enthusiasts. Today at us on a review ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX – the charged model which already was registered in a platform of platforms for the overclockers experimenting with dispersal of processors Skylake-X / Kaby Lake-X.
The motherboard is shipped in a large box with aggressive red design.
The top panel can be folded and a board can be viewed through the transparent cover. The ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX comes with a manual, a driver and software CD, a back cover, four SATA cables, two DIMM.2 modules, a fan bracket, a 2-Way / 3-Way / 4 SLI bridge -Way), external antenna for wireless communication module, extension for RGB tape, Q-Connector adapter, screws for mounting M.2 drives.
A blank for manufacturing the original plate (fixed in the central part of the board), stickers-identifiers for interface cables, a large set of different stickers in stylistics ROG, cardboard stand for a cup and a discount coupon for the purchase of Cablemod products.
Design and layout
When choosing the LGA2066 platform, users expect something special, something that can not be obtained on mass and more affordable systems under LGA1151 or Socket AM4. First of all, it's about higher performance and enhanced functionality. Within the LGA2066, processors with 4 to 18 cores are available. Skylake-X chips support a 4-channel memory controller and offer up to 44 PCI Express lines, which are needed for configurations with multiple graphics cards and not only.
ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX – very extraordinary model, even within the enthusiast line of Republic Of Gamers. We already got acquainted with the devices of the APEX subset, considering ROG MAXIMUS IX APEX (Intel Z270). It was full of interesting solutions, we expect that the board for LGA2066 will surprise even the most sophisticated users.
The model is offered in the extended Extended ATX form factor (E-ATX), having dimensions of 305 × 272 mm. This immediately requires a preliminary check of the specifications of the enclosure for supporting devices of the appropriate format.
The board has an already recognizable original profile. The textolite base has received an asymmetric X-shaped shape, which makes it very easy to recognize APEX models.
A black mask with a matte finish is provided for the printed circuit board. The same color has most of the connectors on the PCB.
The board uses an 8-phase power subsystem. The VRM circuit uses high quality International Rectifier IR3555M assemblies, which are controlled by the Digi + ASP1405I controller. At the top edge of the PCB, there are two 8-pin connectors for connecting additional power. Indicative moment for the platform LGA2066. During the overclocking of chips with TDP of 140-165 W, the load on the power subsystem rises sharply.
Additional cooling is provided for power assemblies. In the case of boards with LGA2066, the MOSFET platform is always limited. Elements are placed along the upper edge and a space cooler is installed that will not interfere with the CPU cooler, in this case it is problematic.
Manufacturers have to resort to various technical tricks. In this case, the radiator is connected by a heat pipe with a massive cooler located in the interface panel area. On the one hand, this element plays the role of an ornamental casing covering the connector block, on the other – it significantly increases the dispersion area and improves the heat removal from the power elements. We already met such a decision earlier. Perhaps the most efficient and relatively simple way to improve the cooling of power assemblies.
Motherboards for LGA2066 often have eight memory slots on board, but there are four DIMM slots on the APEX board. According to the developers, this scheme is used to reduce noise, maximally preserving the "integrity" of the signal. This is one of the obvious optimizations of the board for overclocking. For ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX, support for DDR4-4500 + in dual-channel mode and DDR4-4133 + for four memory modules is claimed. The fastest versions are available to Kaby Lake-X chips, but because of the dual-channel controller, only two modules can be used in conjunction with the CPU data with a total capacity of up to 32 GB. When using Skylake-X chips, all four slots are available, and the total capacity of RAM can be up to 64 GB.
Despite the formidable dimensions of the PCB, five expansion slots are available to the owner. But this is the case when it is not quantity, but quality that is important. There are four PCI Express x16 slots and one PCI Express x4 slot on the PCB.
The mode of the full-size connectors is directly dependent on the processor used. 4-core chips Kaby Lake-X can offer 16 lines of PCI Express 3.0 bus, because of the available modes only x16 and x8 / x8. Models of Skylake-X processors with 28 lines PCI-E 3.0 are available modes x16, x16 / 8 and x8 / x8 / x8. And the most equipped CPUs with 44 lines of PCI Express allow using the x16, x16 / 16, x16 / x8 / x8 and x16 / x8 / x8 / x8 configurations. In this case, the board allows the use of bundles with several video cards up to 4-Way SLI / CrossFire.
The full-size connectors are located so that you can install four graphics cards with dual-slot cooling systems. In this configuration, you should pay special attention to the width of the heatsink of the processor cooler. Since the first position is already occupied by the full-size connector, the CPU cooler with the radiator block can block access to the slot. This is a special case, but it's worth considering.
All four main slots are reinforced with metal inserts that increase the strength of the connectors.
Using two or more video cards, the manufacturer recommends connecting additional power for PCI-E slots. At the bottom edge of the board for these purposes, a 4-pin Molex connector is provided. The additional source will be especially useful when overclocking the multi-adapter configuration when bus voltage drops are possible.
ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX is a vivid example of an enthusiastic motherboard, so it's no wonder that the model is simply sprinkled with various devices for tuning and overclocking platform. The main part of the toolkit is located in the upper right corner of the PCB. There are large power-up and reset buttons, as well as the SAFE_BOOT and RETRY_BUTTON keys for safe loading and resetting of the system. Jumper LN2_MODE and tumblers SLOW_MODE, PAUSE allow to prepare a platform for dispersal with liquid nitrogen.
In the corner there is also a segment indicator Q-CODE, as well as the Q-LED rapid diagnostics line.
A condensation detection system is provided, which can be useful for extreme overclocking. The sensors are located on the back of the PCB in the processor area, memory slots and PCI Express slots. When the contacts are closed in certain areas, one of the four LEDs lights up on the board.
A 4-LED ruler is also highlighted to indicate the number of used memory channels. This value coincides with the number of installed RAM modules.
An additional block of four DIP switches allows deactivating full-size PCI Express x16 slots. This can be useful during experiments with overclocking graphics cards in a multi-adapter configuration. One or more video cards can be disconnected physically without removing them from the system.
At the PCB edge, the ProbeIt contact group for measuring and monitoring voltages at various nodes using a multimeter
In the lower right corner of the board there is a MemOK button!
The board is also equipped with two BIOS chips and offers the option of manually switching between chips. You can select a microcircuit using the button at the bottom edge. LED indicators will tell you which chip is currently activated.
The number of available connectors for connecting fans can be used to determine the cooling system tuning possibilities. The board provides 12 (twelve!) 4-pin connectors. Two are nominally provided for the air processor CO, another pair – for connecting the SVO and three controllable connectors (CHA_FAN1 / 2/3) are designed for enclosure fans. Another five 4-pin connectors (FS_FAN1 / 2/3/4/5) assume full-rate modes for connected devices without monitoring and the ability to adjust the speed of rotation. Again, the claimed options during the experiments with liquid nitrogen.
As for setting up the managed channels, everything is expected here. During the initial tuning of the 150mm fan of the Thermalright Archon Rev.B processor, the working range was as wide as possible for the model – 300-1000 rpm.
Holders of custom FCS may be interested in having two connectors for connecting temperature sensors, as well as a three-pin connector for the flow sensor.
There is also another two-pin external thermocouple connector on the board, which could be bundled with the board positioned.
ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX backlight. With the help of illuminations, the developers tried to intentionally emphasize the unusual X-shaped design of the printed circuit board. There are a lot of backlighting, and RGB-LEDs are located on both the rear and the front plane of the PCB. There are six zones with independent control channels. Additional lights are added to the audio subsystem area, the lower edge, the SATA-ports section. The chipset heatsink, the contiguous section towards the PCI-E slots, the central board area and the ledge at the top edge are illuminated.
The backlight modes are configured in the ASUS AURA application, where you can select about a dozen modes and adjust the algorithm of operation.
, supporting AURA Sync, you can synchronize the illumination of various devices. We must admit that it looks organic. Of course, if you basically bother with the backlight, and the side wall of your case has a transparent window. It's funny that for the old believers and outspoken opponents of additional illumination ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX also offers an "iron" version of getting rid of annoying lights.
If the possibilities to programmatically turn off the backlight seems not enough, you can put out the LEDs in hardware. In the lower right corner is a group of four jumpers, which not only reliably relieves the backlight, but also allows you to turn off the Q-CODE indicator. Reliable option for people with LED phobia. It's surprising to see that the developers paid so much attention to such things on such a board. On the other hand, and such an abundance of light-emitting diodes is also in some way a surprise. It seems that the manufacturer tried to please both opponents and supporters of additional illuminations. The latter may also be useful to learn about the presence of two 4-connectors for connecting external RGB-tapes (5050, 12 V). But there is no connector for the intended 5-volt garlands. Well, it would have been already.
The board has 6 SATA ports, and the connectors are unusually placed on the sloping edge of the PCB edge. Note that 4 connectors serve the chipset, another pair of channels are implemented with the help of an additional controller. Next to the SATA ports is the orange LED (HD_LED) – the drive activity indicator.
ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX allows you to connect four high-speed drives M.2. At first glance it may seem surprising that the board does not show the corresponding connectors. Two special DIMMs are available for connecting this type of SSD.
These are additional expansion cards that have two M.2 connectors (one on each side) with universal landing pads for up to 110 mm in length
The modules are installed in special connectors located next to the DIMM slots for RAM.
The connector to the left of the LGA2066 uses PCI processor lines Express 3.0. Accordingly, the module can be equipped with only high-speed SSDs transmitting data over the PCI-E bus.
The bandwidth of the DIMM.2_1 and DIMM.2_2 ports depends on the processor used and the configuration of the video cards.
Judging by the data in the presented tables, the x4 / x4 for drives is possible if the system uses a processor with 44 PCI-E lines and no more than three video cards are installed.
The second DIMM.2 slot is serviced by the chipset, allowing the use of M.2 SATA / PCI-E. Note that for expansion cards DIMM.2 additional brackets are provided, which allow to fix the fan on the unit for additional blowing of the drives. Dimensions of the frame are enough to install a pair of fans with a diameter of 50 mm. The manufacturer mentions that it is possible to use even one 100 mm fan, but here a lot depends on the configuration of the CPU cooler – for such a large model there may not be enough free space. By the way, the fans are not included in the kit, therefore the necessary configuration can be selected independently.
The manufacturer has already used the concept with DIMM.2 modules, but the idea to use the processor bus lines was first realized in this form.
In general, DIMM.2 allows you to take the drives out of the potential zone of increased heat. In a system with ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX, a bundle with several video cards is quite possible, and in this case the area under the graphic adapters will warm up more than usual, and the space between the slots is filled with elements that help to split the PCI Express processing lines.
19659013] Despite the overclocking focus, the peripheral strapping of the board also does not suffer. ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX received a pair of fast USB 3.1 controller – ASMedia ASM3142. One serves a pair of corresponding connectors on the interface panel (Type-C + Type-A), and the second one is used to output one high-speed port to the front wall of the case.
In the context of connecting to a wired network, developers did not become anything invent, using a proven controller Intel i219-V, revealing the capabilities of the chipset. The network circuit is additionally protected from high-voltage breakdown by means of the proprietary development of LANGuard.
In addition, ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX is also equipped with a dual-band module with a Wi-Fi 802.11ac controller (2 × 2, up to 867 MB / c) and Bluetooth 4.1. The RTL8822BE module of M.2 2230 format is fixed in the interface panel area. In addition to the board, an external antenna is provided to amplify the signal.
In the field of the sound subsystem without any surprises. For the presented version of SupremeFX, the manufacturer used the modified Realtek S1220 codec, placing it under a protective metal casing, simultaneously coding the area of the audio track with specialized capacities from Nichicon. The final voice acting corresponds to the element base.
The dense building is on the interface panel. Retrogrades will appreciate the presence of a pair of PS / 2, also there are two USB 2.0 ports, six USB 3.0, two high-speed USB 3.1 Gen2 (Type-C and Type-A) and an Ethernet socket. The panel also has connectors for connecting an external antenna and two keys – cleaning the CMOS and starting flashing from the USB Flash BIOS. For acoustics, there are five 3.5mm audio connectors and an optical S / PDIF.
Recall that the LGA2066 processors do not have a built-in graphics core, so no video output should be embarrassing.
C The back side of the PCB elements is not so much. A standard protective plate is fixed under the processor connector, in addition, a large protective plate is fixed in the chipset area, and an additional rectangular radiator is installed under the power assemblies.
UEFI shells of enthusiastic ASUS boards were difficult to blame for lack of options for tuning , but in the case of ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX developers again raise the bar. It's just some kind of holiday for those who are willing to dig into an infinite number of parameters and study their influence on stability / performance.
Multipliers, frequencies, voltages, timings and that's it. From the basic things, we note that the voltage on the processing units of the processor can be increased to 1.92 V in steps of 0, 001 V. The power supply on the memory modules is regulated in the range 1.0-2.1 V in steps of 0.01 V. Within a wide range all auxiliary platform subsystems can be configured. The board allows the use of reducing multipliers when executing AVX instructions and the new AVX-512.
In UEFI, you can also activate the Q-CODE indicator mode, in which, after system start, it will display the current processor temperature. По умолчанию такой режим отключен.
Во время экспериментов с платой мы использовали 10-ядерный процессор семейства Skylake-X – Core i9-7900X. Согласно спецификации чип имеет частотную формулу 3,3/4,3 ГГц с ускорением до 4,5 ГГц под действием Turbo Boost Max 3.0. Текущие значения зависят от характера нагрузки и количества задействованных вычислительных блоков.
В базовом режиме под нагрузкой на все 10 ядер чип работала на 4000 МГц при 1,1 В, снижая частоту до 3600 МГц во время выполнения ресурсоемких AVX-инструкций. Уже в таком случае с охлаждением CPU справится не любой воздушный кулер. Во время затяжной нагрузочной сессии было очевидно, что наш тестовый Thermalright Archon Rev.A хотя и способен отвести выделяемое тепло, еще более эффективная модель или СВО были вы вовсе не лишними. Температура отдельных ядер чипа повышалась до 80–85С. К сожалению в чипах Skylake-X для контакта кристалла с теплораспределительной крышкой используется термопаста, а не припой. Это снижает себестоимость изготовления процессоров, но заметно ухудшает эффективность передачи тепла.
Рассчитывать на дополнительный разгон процессора стоит в первую очередь ориентируясь на температурный режим работы чипа. До троттлинга здесь уже рукой подать, потому при повышении частот и питающих напряжений стоит отслеживать не только температуру, но и активацию механизма пропуска тактов.
Пробуя встроенные механизмы экспресс-разгона, мы активировали режим TPU1. В этом случае тактовая частота процессора при нагрузке на все блоки повышалась до 4300 МГц при 1,2В, тогда как под AVX-инструкциями частота чипа варьировалась в пределах 3800–4100 МГц.
Таких частотных горизонтов в комбинации с напряжением питания в 1,2 В оказалось достаточно, чтобы процессор под нагрузкой начал сваливаться в троттлинг. Ситуацию исправило уменьшение напряжения до 1,15 В. В этом случае стабильность сохранилась, но чип перестал пропускать такты под нагрузкой. Но при температурных значениях 90–95С было очевидно, что далеко не самый плохой воздушный кулер попросту не справляется со своей задачей.
Режим TPU II предполагает повышение частоты Core i9-7900X до 4400 МГц при 1,24В. Как несложно догадаться, это точно не наш вариант. Разгоняя топовые Skylake-X, придется соизмерять возможности своей системы охлаждения, тонко подстраивая питающие напряжения. В любом случае, ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX позволяет выжать максимум из чипов под LGA2066.
Системам на основе рассматриваемой платы покорились многие рекорды. Например, известному в оверклокерских кругах энтузиасту der8auer удалось ускорить Core i7-7740K до 7562 МГц. На просторах HWBot можно найти примеры, когда базовую частоту удается повысить со 100 МГц до более, чем 400 МГц. То есть, все в ваших руках.
Напомним также о преимуществах 4-канального доступа к оперативной памяти. Комплект DDR4-3000 (15-16-16-39) в таком режиме обеспечивает пропускную способность более 75 ГБ/c. На «двухканалке» подобных значений не увидишь.
Что касается нагрева элементов платы, то в штатном режиме под нагрузкой на все блоки 10-ядерного Core i9-7900X температура элементов VRM, согласно встроенному термодатчику платы, поднималась до 50С.
После разгона чипа температура силовых сборок удерживалась на уровне 60–62С. Для подобных условий результат очень хороший, в этом случае точно не стоит переживать о перегреве VRM – типичной проблеме при форсировании чипов на LGA2066.
Температура микросхемы чипсета повышалась до 51С, но здесь многое будет зависеть от конкретных условий. В нашем случае над радиаторным блоком PCH нависала видеокарта Radeon RX Vega 64 с пассивным режимом охлаждения во время простоя, а это создавало дополнительную тепловую нагрузку на близлежащие элементы. Указанная температура достигалась во время исследований оболочки UEFI, тогда как в режиме покоя PCH не прогревался выше 44С.