ASUS ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX X299 Motherboard Review
When looking at the definition of the word APEX, the word is synonymous with being the highest point at which something can be, such as a climax; take that however you wish! Getting more relevant, the APEX in the eyes of ASUS Republic of Gamers is nothing short of climatic, in that short, but the popular lineage of the ASUS ROG APEX line of motherboards has focused primarily on performance. The new RAMPAGE VI APEX from ASUS ROG is certainly no different in those regards and brings overclocking features to the X299 chipset (socket LGA 2066) that 90% of other boards could only dream of doing…
ROG RAMPAGE VI APEX Technical Specifications & Features
- Designed for 7th generation Intel® Core™ X-Series processors to maximize connectivity and speed with four vertically mounted M.2 drives via DIMM.2 adapters, USB 3.1 Gen2, 802.11AC WiFi, Intel® VROC and Intel® Optane™ Memory compatibility
- Record-shattering Overclocking Design with a full suite of onboard features like dual BIOS chips, LN2 mode switch, water cooling system headers, thermal sensor connectors and Probelt measurement points.
- 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning and FanXpert 4 automatically tailors overclocking profiles to your unique build for maximum OC performance and dynamic system cooling 4.Four Patent-pending SafeSlots feature an injection molding process that integrates metal framing for stronger, firmly anchored PCIe slots built for heavyweight GPUs
- Unmatched Personalization with ASUS exclusive AURA Sync RGB lighting, customizable nameplate, two additional RGB headers and a 3D-printing friendly design
- Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) with the addition of an ASUS Hyper M.2 X16 Card and Intel Unlock Key, you can attach up to eight PCIe® 3.0 x16 NVMe M.2 drives for bandwidth up to 128Gbps.
- Industry-leading 8-channel HD audio with the ROG exclusive SupremeFX S1220A driven by Japanese capacitors
Rampage VI Apex includes an overclocker’s toolkit with hardware-level controls to aid your overclocking experience. The motherboard’s Dual BIOS allows you to experiment with different firmware versions and provides a path for recovery in case one becomes corrupt, and the onboard switch allows you to easily change between the first and second BIOS. The overclocker’s toolkit also includes a Pause switch to halt the system, and four PCIe switches for quick slot toggling. Other tools include Safe Boot and ReTry buttons, an LN2 jumper to aid POST at sub-zero temperatures, and a Slow mode switch. Combined, they’re quick and easy time-savers designed to help you break more records.
Specialized circuitry allows Rampage VI Apex to detect when condensation occurs on the back of the board. Divided into four distinct sections — CPU, DRAM_L, DRAM_R and PCIe — the feature provides a useful warning when an area may be at risk of short-circuiting.
OPTIMIZED TRACE LAYOUT
It’s the combination of intricate and innovative engineering that makes Rampage VI Apex such a big performer. Allotting just one DIMM slot per channel allowed our engineers to create shorter trace distances, which in turn means tighter control over impedance and the reduced possibility of signal interference. We also adopted an engineering-first strategy, paring back the number of integrated circuits to enable the best possible trace routing. The end result is a motherboard with better stability and more overclocking headroom, allowing you to get the best performance from your memory kit.
DDR4 OVERCLOCKING STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
ROG engineers adopted a four-slot memory design on an EATX motherboard, enabling a highly optimized layout for memory trace paths to minimize noise and improve signal integrity. Rampage VI Apex allows for DDR4 overclocking to reach up to 4500+MHz in dual channel mode, and 4133MHz+ with 4 DIMMs in quad-channel mode. ROG also works with all the major DDR4 memory vendors to ensure the best compatibility and real-world performance.
ASUS PRO CLOCK II TECHNOLOGY WITH EXTREME ENGINE DIGI+
A dedicated base-clock generator that extends CPU and memory overclocking margins. This custom solution works in tandem with the TPU to enhance voltage and base-clock overclocking control, providing the flexibility to extract every ounce of performance from Intel® Core™ X-series processors. And, of course, Rampage VI Apex includes Extreme Engine Digi+ — ROG’s revered digital power controller. With a Digi+ PWM controller, PowlRstage® IR3555 MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10K black metallic capacitors, Extreme Engine Digi+ technology delivers consistently stable power.
DUAL ROG DIMM.2
Rampage VI Apex includes two ROG DIMM.2 modules to support a total of four PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 SSDs. ROG DIMM.2 supports a wide variety of existing memory coolers, and the Rampage VI Apex comes with two fan mounts that support up to two 50mm fans or a single 80mm fan, making it easy to chill your M.2 drives. Each module features a pair of onboard thermal-sensor headers for temperature reporting, allowing control over fan speed and acoustics via Fan Xpert 4 software, or the ASUS UEFI. As a finishing touch, the modules have onboard RGB LEDs that are controllable via our Aura software, adding options to accent your build with a range of lighting effects.
RAID & VROC
Use the CPU_DIMM.2 expansion card to take advantage of Intel’s Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC) feature* by connecting two M.2 drives in RAID. Or maximize storage performance with the addition of an ASUS Hyper M.2 X16 Card** for up to four PCIe® 3.0 x4 M.2 drives and total bandwidth of up to 128Gbps. With VROC, your RAID arrays are easily configured to be bootable, and traditional DMI bottlenecks are eliminated so your storage is not held back by other traffic.
Wired directly to the X299 PCH, the PCH_DIMM.2 module can be installed to enable chipset-based RAID configurations to improve storage performance or provide a layer of redundancy.
VRM AND I/O HEATSINK
The latest high-core-count Intel Core i7 and i9 CPUs consume serious amounts of power, so Rampage VI Apex is equipped with serious VRM cooling. Featuring a high-mass, finned heatsink that connects to the I/O cover via the heat pipe, the expansive surface area dissipates heat efficiently. And, for enthusiasts that want to push the platform to the absolute limit, we’ve even included a bracket that allows you to mount a fan to accelerate the airflow.
OUTSHINE THE COMPETITION
A well-tuned enthusiast system deserves a matching aesthetic. ASUS Aura offers full RGB lighting control with a variety of functional presets for the built-in RGB LEDs, as well as strips connected to the two onboard 4-pin RGB headers.* And it can all be synced with an ever-growing portfolio of Aura Sync-enabled ASUS hardware.
INFINITE LIGHTING POSSIBILITIES
ASUS Aura SDK allows developers to take full advantage of the vast eco-system of Aura Sync-capable PC gear. From in-system illumination to peripherals and beyond, the SDK provides an evolving toolkit of options to enhance games and software with RGB lighting. Game effects, alerts, and audio can all be portrayed via Aura-compatible hardware, creating subtle or dazzling visual cues to augment the action. There’s also scope to map system parameters such as temperatures to lighting, giving enthusiasts new ways to monitor vital information.
ILLUMINATED CUSTOMIZABLE NAMEPLATE
Use the bundled DIY kit to customize your nameplate and then see your personal mark illuminated with Aura Sync lighting!
With an asymmetrical X-shaped circuit board and a radical lighting scheme, Rampage VI Apex dares to be different. The unique X design enables simpler, cleaner cable routing, and features Aura RGB backlighting to make your build stand out from the crowd.
Intel® Socket 2066 Core™ X-Series Processors
Supports Intel® Virtual RAID on CPU (VROC)
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 support depends on the CPU types
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Intel® Core™ X-series Processors (6-core above)
4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 4133(O.C.)/4000(O.C.)/3866(O.C.)/3800(O.C.)/3600(O.C.)/3333(O.C.)/3300(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Intel® Core™ X-series Processors (4-core)
2 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR4 4500(O.C)/4266(O.C.)/4133(O.C.)/4000(O.C.)/3866(O.C.)/3600(O.C.)/3333(O.C.)/3300(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
- Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports AMD 2-Way CrossFireX Technology
- Expansion Slots
Intel® Core™ X-Series Processors Family
4 x PCIe 3.0 x16 *
Intel® X299 Chipset
1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
Intel® Core™ X-Series Processors Family :
1 x ROG DIMM.2 Module support(CPU_DIMM.2)*, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
2 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
Intel® X299 Chipset :
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
1 x ROG DIMM.2 Module support(PCH_DIMM.2)
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology
Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready
Dual interconnect between the integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and physical layer (PHY)
- Wireless Data Network
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220A
– Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
– Supports : Jack-detection
– SupremeFX Shielding Technology
– Supports up to 32-Bit/192kHz playback
- USB Ports
Intel® X299 Chipset :
6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s) (4 at mid-board)
Intel® X299 Chipset :
5 x USB 2.0 port(s) (3 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller :
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 front panel connector port(s)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller :
2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 port(s)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 Gen 1 controller :
4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s)
- ROG Exclusive Features
Clear CMOS button
ROG RAMCache II
Safe Boot Button
– Aura Lighting Control
– Aura RGB Strip Headers
Extreme Engine Digi+ :
– IR3555 PoweIRstage®
– MicroFine Alloy Chokes
– 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
ROG Extreme OC kit :
– PCIe x16 Lane Switch
Double Power :
– Dual 8 -pin CPU
UEFI BIOS features :
– O.C. Profile
– Tweakers’ Paradise
– ROG SSD Secure Erase
USB BIOS Flashback
- Special Features
OC Design – ASUS PRO Clock II Technology
5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
ASUS 5X Protection III :
– DRAM Overcurrent Protection
– 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
ASUS EPU :
ASUS Protect Technology :
– Anti-Surge Protection
– Aura Lighting Control
– Aura RGB Strip Headers
– Aura Lighting Effects Synchronization with compatible ASUS ROG devices
ASUS Exclusive Features :
– AI Suite 3
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :
– ASUS Fan Xpert 4
ASUS EZ DIY :
– ASUS MyLogo
ASUS Q-Design :
– ASUS Q-Shield
– ASUS Q-Code
– ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED, HDD LED)
– ASUS Q-Connector
Gaming Aesthetics :
– 3D printing friendly
– AURA-RGB Lighting
- Operating System Support
Windows® 10 86×64
- Internal I/O Ports
1 x VROC_HW_Key
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
4 x M.2 screws
1 x Supporting DVD
1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)
1 x R6A MOS Fan bracket pack
2 x ROG DIMM.2 Fan Stand Pack (s)
1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
1 x SLI HB BRIDGE(2-WAY-L)
1 x ROG big sticker
1 x Q-Connector
1 x 10 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
1 x ROG coaster(s)
2 x 128 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 3.0, ACPI 6.0, Multi-language BIOS,
ASUS EZ Flash 3, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, Last Modified log,
F12 PrintScreen, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information.
- Operating System
Windows® 10 64-bit
- Form Factor
Extended ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 10.7 inch ( 30.5 cm x 20.7 cm ) X-SHAPED PCB
When touching on the performance of a board initially designed for such a niche market (overclocking), it’s hard to give a full picture. In the past, previous APEX models have cut out certain mainstream features and opted for specific and dedicated options to improving core component performance such as memory. This is why ASUS has opted to use 4 x DIMM slots instead of the more usual 8 x DIMM slots you will find on most X299 ATX and above boards. The Rampage VI Apex does feature an E-ATX form factor and this is primarily because of all the additional areas ASUS had to factor in while designing this board, not to mention having 4 x full-length PCIe x16 slots for the most hardcore of multi-graphics configurations.
Performance on the whole is good all-round, but the real performance comes on when you enable LN2 mode, mount your CPU pots and start pouring LN2; the REAL purpose of this board to most users. The general enthusiast however will be happy with the inclusion of an Intel I219V Gigabit controller and the fabled ROG S1220A audio codec which is shielded by the way to protect the audio signals from EMI/signal interference; just what the good doctor ordered!
Design & Value
Design wise, the Rampage VI Apex has all the right components needed for breaking all of those overclocking world records, but still remains functional for the average users and enthusiast and let’s be honest, which other board lets you run 4 x NVMe M.2 drives directly from 2 x DIMM.2 slots? Exactly! Focusing more on expanding the visual and aesthetics, ASUS ROG has included an addressable RGB header as well as options for regular RGB headers to give your system that unique, but classy RGBeeeeee finish!
The X299 Apex also features a unique PCB design with the primary PCB layout resembling an X shape as opposed to a rectangle styled board like most others come as. This is to allow the onboard and built-in RGB LEDs to pop out more when installing inside of a case. This actually does work and it makes me wonder why other manufacturers haven’t contemplated doing something similar with their designs. I mean as I have previously mentioned, ASUS is the top-selling motherboard vendor in the world and maybe some of the lesser popular vendors currently could learn a thing or 2 from ASUS and Republic of Gamers here? Or maybe ASUS can just keep innovating, either way is good for me!
When bringing value into the debate when something is at the top of the tree, it’s hard to distinguish between paying for premium features like the Apex brandishes, and that element of “good” value that boards such as the lower spec’d models on offer. The ROG Rampage VI Apex is currently priced on Amazon UK at £381.27 (at the time of review) which I believe is a solid price for a board of this caliber. If you expected a board at the top of its chipset (X299) to be under £300, then you probably need to re-think things a little.
Whether your an extreme overclocker looking for the best X299 motherboard to use under LN2, or an enthusiast who is serious about performance, but doesn’t want to omit certain features such as audio, expansion slots and even network controllers thanks to the inclusion of the Intel I219V Gigabit controller. The current price is reasonable beyond my expectations and if you’re looking for a serious looking board with serious looking features and a board that delivers serious performance, the ROG Rampage VI Apex is the X299 motherboard to set the bar on this particular chipset.
Huge thanks to ASUS Republic of Gamers for sending the Rampage VI Apex X299 motherboard in for review.
- Top performing motherboard for enthusiasts and overclockers alike
- Tons of overclocking features including LN2 mode switch, CBB switch etc thanks to the ASUS Overclocking Toolkit built-in
- Looks great and unique X-shaped PCB works well
- Reasonable price for everything on offer
- Better memory overclocking performance than any other X299 motherboard on the market right now