Another week and another small form factor board hits our test benches! Asus' Gene range isn't limited to its P45 series - there is significant interest in LGA1366, X58 and Core i7 too, because it affords far greater performance and the i7-920 is currently a good buy in terms of price and performance.
The Rampage II Gene is a micro-ATX board extending from the full-size desktop Rampage II line of Core i7 boards. It doesn't quite carry over all the features you get on the ATX boards, but it's still a Republic of Gamers model, and so it's still rather special, and of course, rather pricey. Here's a quick run down of the main features the board includes.
Support for Core i7 LGA1366 CPUs at 4.8-6.4GT/s QPI
Intel X58 northbridge and ICH10R southbridge
Six1.5V DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 24GB of memory
One Realtek RTL8111C Gigabit Ethernet controllers
Two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots providing two x16 links
One PCI-Express x4 slot
One PCI slot
Six ICH10R SATA 3Gbps ports supporting Intel Matrix RAID 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBOD
One IDE port supporting two devices from JMicron JMB363
One eSATA port and one SATA 3Gbps ports from JMicron JMB363
Twelve USB 2.0 ports - six on rear I/O, six via pin-outs
VIA VT6315N IEEE1394a Firewire supporting two ports - one via pin-outs, one on the rear I/O
SONAR X-Fi Xtreme HD Audio card featuring the premium Realtek ALC889 audio codec supporting EAX 4.0 and CMSS3D.
Click to enlarge
The box might be a bit small but the bundle's reasonable, aside from only having two SATA cables which strikes us as a bit mean. You get still the Asus Q-shield, the well machined rear IO plate that's nice to use, and more importantly, the Poster LCD display for easy POST error detection. Also thrown in is an IDE cable and Q-Connectors - the latter is always useful for making wiring the front panel easy - and an SLI bridge (CrossFire ones come with the graphics cards).
As usual the manual is well detailed and the driver disk comes with an auto-install function that's very welcome for the lazy among us.