The 3.6GHz setting raises the 133MHz base clock to 150MHz with the multiplier at 24x and the memory at 8x150MHz while the 4.0GHz settings adjusts the clocks to 26x155MHz and memory to 6x155MHz. That's a very low memory speed of 930MHz but we were able to raise the memory speed one notch to 1,232MHz (8x155MHz) without any trouble. The results were very impressive but we had to spoil things by raising the multiplier further to 27x155MHz whereupon the system froze and it became clear after a restart that Windows was completely and utterly broken. Once we had nuked the hard drive and reinstalled Vista we were able to give the Core i7 920 a whirl and let's face it, you might consider buying the 920 for £270 but the 965 Extreme is out of reach at £880. The Rampage II Extreme BIOS is intelligent enough to spot the change in CPU and adjusts the CPU Level Up options to 940-2.93GHz and 965-3.20GHz.
One aspect of the BIOS that caught our eye is that the memory can be set to 800MHz, 1,066MHz, 1,333MHz, 1,600MHz, 1,866MHz and 2,133MHz using a base clock of 133MHz. That seems awfully ambitious with a memory voltage limit of 1.5V-1.6V but perhaps it is an indication that faster memory that runs on low voltage is coming soon.
When we had finished testing we reset the BIOS to Auto settings and … broke Windows. This time we were able to use the installation DVD to go back to a restore point but it's not the sort of problem we expect to deal with when we're returning to standard clock speeds.
Our test results were achieved with the Asus CPU-6 power saving software running in maximum performance mode. Switching to maximum power saving made a significant difference to the power draw, reducing the figure from 190W to 150W under load, but it crippled performance by some 50 per cent. The 3DMark06 figure for the GeForce 8800GT dropped from 14,658 to 10,037 with power saving enabled so we strongly suggest you only turn power saving on if you are absolutely certain that you'll remember to turn it off when you want to play a game or recode a movie.
And so we come to the price. This is a hugely expensive motherboard that carries a premium of some £50 over the original Rampage Extreme which in turn was horribly expensive. The thing is you'll be spending at least £235 on an X58 motherboard as that is the price of an Intel DX58SO and closer to £300 for a Gigabyte or MSI so every X58 motherboard is expensive. It's just that the Rampage II Extreme is more expensive.
This is a lovely motherboard that delivers everything you need as well as a few features that are frivolous. Our only reservations centre on the occasions when we broke Windows Vista and, yes, that astronomical price.