For most PC enthusiasts, the Rampage family from ASUS is the final word on performance and features. The ultimate expression of each successive platform, however, is always reserved for the Black Edition variants. Since the original Rampage III Black, the Black Edition SKUs remain the most impressive all-round offerings for any platform and still retail for a healthy sum on the second-hand market, if you can find them at all.
In terms of refinement, these boards are exemplary and that’s simply because they come to market much later than their Rampage Extreme counterparts. As with this model, sometimes they arrive over a year later. They bring to the end-user all the fixes and upgrades that occurred in the PC DIY market in the time since the release of the Extreme boards. What the chipset may lack, they make up for via third-party controllers. For overclockers, these boards not only offer refined overclocking features and firmware updates, but often allow improved performance. As such, they are highly sought after and this year’s model is no different.
Dubbed the Rampage V 10 Edition (not an appropriate name in the least), this model celebrates the 10th anniversary of the ROG line. Regarding milestone products, this is a fine example of what the ROG engineers have produced over the last decade.
Mechanically, it’s more than just a Rampage V Extreme wearing a more expensive suit. It’s a reworked board that allows for better overclocking and greater out-the-box compatibility. This is particularly true for memory. The previous motherboards had a difficult time with DRAM frequencies above 3,200MHz, where they would often lose memory channels. This issue has been quelled and frequencies are by and large limited by the individual CPU IMC. In our own testing, reaching 3,400MHz was straightforward and 3,466MHz was possible as well with some manual tuning and the right CPU sample. On the Rampage V Extreme, using the latest official BIOS, this is not the case.
Beyond memory overclocking, the 10 Edition is robust and predictable as it delivers consistent performance test after test. By default, the board is tuned rather well and in those sensitive synthetic benchmarks comes out ahead of the Rampage V Extreme. The margins are small, but they are repeatable and with the latest Broadwell-E CPUs the gains are a little more pronounced. ASUS gets top marks here for producing what is likely the most refined X99 motherboard on the market.
As always, ASUS is no stranger to pristine audio reproduction and their Xonar line of audio products is testament to this. The SupremeFX Hi-Fi add-on module that ASUS has included with the Rampage V 10 Edition is the best bundled audio solution on any motherboard to date. Previously it was the Creative Labs-powered audio systems of older boards from GIGABYTE that held this position, but the Rampage V 10 Edition SupremeFX Hi-Fi has displaced them as the benchmark for what motherboard audio can deliver. Yes, it’s a slightly unfair comparison as this is a standalone USB unit and not an on-board audio solution at all. That said, it’s part of the package and therefore part of the motherboard.
This break-out box is more than a gimmick as it features only the most premium audio components including a Cirrus Logic ADC, the much-vaunted ESS SABRE 9018 DAC, two separate LM4562 op-amps per output channel (stereo of course) and more. There are no virtual surround shenanigans here, just pure Hi-Fi-grade electronics that deliver the most uncompromised sound of any board you can buy. It has a simple fascia with a large volume dial, 6.3mm and 3.5mm headphone ports and a mic/line-in input and that’s it. You’ll simply not find a better audio solution on any other board, that’s for sure. For the purists, this is definitively worth whatever it adds to the breathtaking price. If we were to score motherboard audio separately, the Rampage V 10 Edition would receive a perfect score here.
Finally, we come to the aesthetics and visual element. As with all Black Edition boards (even the ones not named “Black Edition”, such as this one), the 10 Edition looks simply stunning. The pure black works wonderfully and the RGB LED lighting looks even better when configured correctly in a contrasting colour scheme. My favourite combination (of course, this is entirely subjective) is the white LED setting against the matte black PCB and covers. It’s a pity that the white isn’t a pure one, as it has some colour bleed. Thankfully, it’s close enough that you’ll not notice it inside your case.
It’s easily the most attractive board ASUS has ever constructed, even in the company of its predecessors. It’s simple in concept but works well in practice. For those who are into case modding, the LEDs are just about everywhere on the board, including on the underside, so you can customize it to your heart’s content to match the build you’re working on. The AURA software has the expected static, breathing, strobing and other LED behaviour options. This can be synced to your 4-pin RGB LED strip lights as well via the onboard header. In essence, you can essentially control all or most of your system lights from this one application.
As for the rest of the features that round off the 10 Edition, ROG has tossed in everything they could, including the kitchen sink. Oddly enough the familiar OC Panel is missing, but then again you do receive the SupremeFX Hi-Fi. At this price I do feel it could’ve been added even if it ended up costing R1,000 more. An extra R1,000 is unlikely to deter those determined to own it in the first place. With USB 3.1/3.0 (Type-C and Type-A via four USB controllers), M.2, U.2, two Gigabit LAN controllers, Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac NIC, 3-way SLI / 4-way CFX support, SupremeFX on-board audio (separate from the SupremeFX Hi-Fi unit) and so much more, the Rampage V 10 Edition is packed to the rafters with features.
There isn’t a connectivity method or cutting-edge technology that isn’t supported. With up to 18 months left in the X99 platform, the Rampage V 10 Edition will be up-to-date for the foreseeable future.
As stated at the beginning of this review, this model is the culmination of everything that’s been learnt about the platform and the advancements made since its introduction in Q3 2014. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, but looking at the 10 Edition, it’s so impressive and advanced that the platform may as well have been released a couple of months ago. There isn’t anything to dislike here, apart from the price. While understandable, it’s still a lot of money and is the only thing that prevents it from getting the perfect score which it rightfully deserves. ASUS has done a brilliant job with this board. There’s simply nothing else like it on the market.