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::>Motherboards > 2014 > 09 > ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

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01-09-2014


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ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER motherboard: review and testing

It is logical that the major players in the motherboard market pay attention not only by Intel solutions but also provide excellent models for fans of AMD products. Company ASUS is not an exception, which expanded the range of ASUS ROG by motherboard ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER.

It is based on the flagship chipset AMD A88X, with the key features of which we have already introduced earlier. It is designed to build gaming systems with processors AMD Kaveri or solutions of series Trinity/Richland. Traditionally for series ASUS ROG the new model has received a number of proprietary modifications aimed primarily at the fans of computer games, namely: the network controller of Intel with technology GameFirst III, which optimizes Internet traffic in order to increase the priority of online games; qualitative sound subsystem; three PCI Express x16 slots and a number of other interesting technologies and features. But first, let's take a look at the detailed specification.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

The specs:

Producer

ASUS

Model

CROSSBLADE RANGER (rev 1.0)

Chipset

AMD A88X

CPU socket

Socket FM2+

Supported CPUs

AMD A / AMD Athlon

Memory frequency

2666* / 2400* / 2250* / 2200* / 2133* / 1866* / 1600 / 1333 MHz

(*OC)

Memory support

4 x DDR3 DIMM- slots with memory support up to 64 GB

Expansion slots

2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16

1 х PCI Express 2.0 x16

x16

x8+х8

x8+x8+x4

2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1

2 x PCI

Disk subsystem

AMD A88X chipset supports:

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, JBOD

LAN

1 x Intel WGI211AT (10/100/1000 Мb/s)

Sound subsystem

Codec ROG SupremeFX

8-channel sound

S/PDIF Out

Power connectors

1x24-pin ATX main power connector

1x8-pin ATX12V power connector

Fans

2 x CPU fan connector (4-pin)

3 x system fan connector (4-pin)

Cooling

Aluminum radiator on the chipset

Aluminum radiators on power subsystem elements

External I/O

1 x HDMI

1 x DVI-D

1 x D-Sub

1 x LAN (RJ45)

4 x USB 3.0

2 x USB 2.0

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x audio jacks

1 х button «USB BIOS Flashback»

1 х PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection)

Internal I/O

1 x USB 3.0 each with support of two USB 3.0 (19-pin)

3 x USB 2.0 each with support of two USB 2.0

8 x SATA 6 Gb/s

1 х socketTPM

1 x connector of audio output to front panel

1 x set of front panel connectors

1 х button «MemOK!»

1 x button «Power»

1 x button «Reboot»

1 х button «Reset CMOS»

1 x diagnostic LED-indicator

1 x socket ROG extension

7 x checkpoints to measure the voltage

1 x button «KeyBot»

1 x button «Sonic SoundStage»
1 х socket DRCT
1 х switch «Slow Mode»
1 х «LN2 Mode»

BIOS

64 Mb Flash ROM UEFI AMI BIOS

PnP, ACPI 5.0a, SM BIOS 2.7, DMI 2.7, WfM 2.0

Packaging

User’s manual

Warranty brochure

Driver and utility disc

1 х set ASUS Q-Connectors

4 x SATA cables

1 х 2-Way NVIDIA SLI bridge

1 x pad

1 х door hanger  

1 х interface panel plug

Form factor,

Dimensions

ATX

305 х 244 mm

Producer website

ASUS
Updated versions of BIOS and drives are available on support page

Packaging and content

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Packaging is made of high-quality cardboard and framed in a corporate style of lineup ASUS ROG. The front side in addition to the name of the manufacturer and model of the device ahs a number of logos at the bottom indicating about the support of the operating system Windows 8.1, technology AMD CrossFireX, and images display with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD ). Separately noted the presence of supplied mouse pad.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

On the reverse side of the flip cover there is a description of the following advantages of ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER:

  • SupremeFX 2014 - preset codec offers support of eight channel sound. In order to avoid interference caused by electromagnetic interference, a special screening technology EMI cover is used, and to maximize the quality of sound audio capacitors ELNA are used. The last on the list, but not the last in importance, is a support of technologies DTS Conneсt, BD Audio Layer Content Protection and Music PnP, and the presence of the port S/PDIF out on interface panel of the motherboard.
  • Sonic Studio - proprietary software that allows you to activate a virtual playing of 7.1 audio, as well as offering a wide range of audio settings.
  • Sonic SoundStage - provides hardware switching of audio profiles with a special button on the circuit board.
  • Sonic SenseAmp - hardware and software technology that allows you to adjust the playback sound with the level of impedance of user headphone.
  • Intel Ethernet - preset network controller from Intel has a high capacity and consumes less CPU resources than competing solutions.
  • LANGuard - a special fuse that will help prevent damage to the system due to shock or static electricity during a thunderstorm.
  • GameFirst III - technology designed to optimize Internet traffic in order to increase the priority of online games, which should reduce the delay and, accordingly, make the gameplay more pleasant. You can also select the priority “media streaming”, VoIP or file sharing.
  • KeyBot - using proprietary software, a special controller and buttons on the surface of the printed circuit board, you can record macros and create function keys, even for conventional keyboards.
  • 10K Black Metallic Capacitors - as part of the element base motherboard uses only solid capacitors series Black Metallic with increased up to 10 000 hours service life and extended by 20% operating temperature range.
  • DRAM Over-current Protection – special safety devices protect memory modules and DIMM-slots against damage by over-voltage or short circuit.
  • ESD Guards - special safety devices for increased protection against electrostatic discharges.
  • Stainless Steel Back I/O - interface panel is made of high quality stainless steel with coating of chromium oxide. It has a high resistance to oxidation which makes it three times more wear-resistant.
  • Black Nickel-coated Q-shield - plug of the interface board has rounded edges that will protect the user's hand in the process of installation.
  • Q-DIMM - for greater user convenience slots of memory modules are equipped with a latch on one side only.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

On the reverse side of the package, in addition to a brief technical specification of new item and a schematic representation of the interface board, there is a mention of the support of technologies SupremeFX, GameFirst III and KeyBot. Also the technology Sonic Radar II is specified. Thanks to it, during the gameplay on the screen you will find the radar, which analyzes the sound of footsteps, shots or requests for help and shows information about the location of enemies and allies, which gives the user a distinct advantage in the field of virtual battlefield.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

In addition to the usual CD with software, user’s guides and plug the interface board in the box we found:

  • four SATA-cables;
  • set of ASUS Q-Connectors, which greatly facilitates the process of connecting the front panel of the PC case;
  • brans pad ASUS ROG;
  • door hanger.

Design and features of the board

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER is performed on the circuit board in black with a matte coating. Its color scheme is fully consistent with the concept of corporate design ASUS ROG. It is made with a predominance of black and red colors. Special attention is given to radiators of complex shapes that give the model a certain charm.

Speaking of on-board elements arrangement, we note that all the ports and connectors are located on the best places on the edges of the board and DIMM-slots have a latch on one side only. As a result, you will not have problems with the assembly and future operation of the system.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

On the reverse side of the motherboard, in addition to the standard base plate of CPU socket, you can note the mounting screws of radiator for cooling system, as well as two low-profile heatsinks that not only remove heat from the area of the printed circuit board under the FETs, but also play the role of the support plates.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

At the bottom of the board there are the following connectors: front panel audio leading-in socket, buttons “CMOS”, “KeyBot”, “Sonic SoundStage”, TPM port, as well as front panel leading-in socket. Additionally here are three leading-in sockets for activation of USB 2.0 ports. One is combined with socket ROG_EXT. Total number of USB 2.0 sockets is eight: six are internal and two on the interface panel. 

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

The possibility of organizing a disk subsystem is presented by eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports. Their operation is provided by chipset. There is a support of SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5 and RAID 10. All SATA connectors are arranged parallel to the surface of the PCB, which means that you will not have any problems with the connection of drives at installed expansion cards.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Main board ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER is equipped with four DIMM-slots for memory modules DDR3, which are equipped with latches only on one side. RAM can operate in dual channel mode. To implement it the modules must be installed either in the first and third or second and fourth slots. Modules operating at frequencies up to 1600 MHz in nominal mode and up to 2666 MHz are supported.

Despite the declared RAM support of 64 GB the actual maximum amount is no more than 32 GB due to the absence modules with capacity greater than 8 GB. However, this is more than enough to handle all the tasks set by the user.

Leading-in sockets with ports USB 3.0 is placed on right side of the board. Total number of USB 3.0 sockets is four: two are internal and two on the interface panel. Also two additional interfaces operate due to the controller ASMedia ASM1042A.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Also note the upper right corner of the PCB which includes: the button «MemOK!» which allows you to automatically pick up the necessary parameters of the memory for the successful launch of the system; Diagnostic LED-indicator, button "power" and "reboot" and «LN2 Mode» and switch «Slow Mode», as well as seven points for the measurement of the stress on the key components of the system with a multimeter. All these components will be very useful in the case of usage the ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER for overclocking experiments.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Cooling system of the product includes three aluminum radiators: one for heat removal from chipset AMD A88X, while the others cover elements of power subsystem. They are separated by nickel-plated heat pipe. In the process of testing the following temperature indices were fixed:

  • radiator for chipset cooling – 33.5°C;
  • radiator for cooling of processor elements power – 32.7°C.

Excellent results show the correct selection of design and materials of used radiators. This gives hope for a stable board operation during overclocking.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Processor power supply is performed via 8-phase scheme for computational cores and additional joints. Converter is based on a digital PWM controller ASP1107 with integrated DIGI+VRM power consumption subsystem control. All power components of CPU have high reliability level: solid capacitors Black Metallic, MOS transistors and improved chokes with ferrite core are used. Basic 24-pin and additional 8-pin connectors are use for power feeding.     

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

To extend motherboard functionality the user has seven slots:

  1. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  2. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х16 or х8);
  3. PCI Express 2.0 x1;
  4. PCI;
  5. PCI Express 3.0 x16 (mode х8);
  6. PCI;
  7. PCI Express 2.0 x16 (mode х4).

As you can see, the choice is wide, as for graphics cards there are three PCI Express x16 slots. The first two are connected to the processor; they share 16 lines of standard PCI Express 3.0 (in the case of installation of APU AMD Kaveri). The third socket is connected to the chipset and always uses four lines of standard PCI Express 2.0.

Taking into account the support of technology AMD CrossFireX, if you install multiple graphicscards, we got the following options for distribution lines: х16 / х8+х8 / х8+х8+х4. The first two are optimal for modern systems.

If we talk about the compatibility of the motherboard with the overall graphics cards, you can easily install a three graphics card with dual-slot cooling system of two three-slot. In the first case you will have two slots: PCI and PCI Express x1, and in the second only a single slot PCI Express x1.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Multi I/O capabilities are based on NUVOTON NCT6791D chip which controls the operation of the system fans, PS/2 port, as well as provides the monitors.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

The operation of two additional USB 3.0 ports on the interface panel is provided by the chip ASMedia ASM1042A.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

To support network connection there is a gigabit LAN-controller Intel WGI211AT. And the distribution of network resources will provide proprietary technology GameFirst III.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Sound subsystem is based on HAD codec of 8-channel sound ROG SupremeFX that supports 2/4/5.1/7.1 and has a number of proprietary features described in the beginning of the review. 

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Modding fans will appreciate the red illumination of the audio subsystem on the PCB.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Interface panel of ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER model contains the following ports:  

  • 1 x HDMI;
  • 1 x DVI-D;
  • 1 x D-Sub;
  • 1 x PS/2 (mouse or keyboard connection);
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45);
  • 4 x USB 3.0;
  • 2 x USB 2.0;
  • 1 х optical S/PDIF out;
  • 1 х button «USB BIOS Flashback»;
  • 6 x audio jacks.

This layout of interface panel can be considered as perfect because it includes popular video outputs, a large number of USB ports, convenient connection of multichannel speakers and an optical audio output. Note the support of displaying the image with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels (4K Ultra HD), as well as a convenient update of firmware BIOS from a USB flash drive using the corresponding button.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

The capability of organizing the cooling system inside the body at ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER is very good. There are five 4-pin fan connectors, two of which are used for the cooling system CPU, while the other three are for system fans.

UEFI BIOS

Motherboard uses a modern pre-loader with UEFI basis. To provide the setting is possible using the mouse. It provides two usage scenarios.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

The first one is “EZ Mode”. All necessary settings are concentrated on one screen and overclocking is realized due to “EZ Tuning Wizard”.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Or initial “Advanced Mode” where all setting should be manually performed.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

All overclocking settings can be found in “Ai Tweaker” section.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

Frequency multiplier allows to set module connection speed within 800-2400MHz.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

If necessary you can get the access to memory latency adjustments.

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

To increase the stability during overclocking process you can use the setting of DIGI+ digital subsystem control.

Adjustments required to overclock and optimize the system:

Menu name

Range

Pitch

APU Frequency

90,0 – 300,0

0,1

Memory Frequency

800, 1066, 1333, 1600, 1866, 2133, 2400

 

DRAM Timing

CAS Latency, RAS to CAS, RAS PRE Time, RAS ACT Time, DRAM COMMAND Mode, RAS to RAS Delay, REF Cycle Time, Write Recovery Time, READ to PRE Time, FOUR ACT WIN Time, WRITE to READ Delay, Write Latency

 

CPU Ratio

8 – MAX

1

NB Frequency

400 – 6300

100

GPU Engine Frequency

434 - 894

 

DRAM Fixed Frequency Mode

300 - 500

50

CPU Power Thermal Control

125 - 135

1

CPU Manual Voltage

0,80000 – 1,90000

0,00625

VDDNB Manual Voltage

0,80000 – 1,75000

0,00625

DRAM Voltage

1,35000 – 2,13500

0,00500

SB 1.1V Voltage

1,10000 – 1,40000

0,01000

1.1VSB Voltage

1,10000 – 1,40000

0,10000

APU1.2V Voltage

1,20000 – 1,80000

0,01000

VDDA Voltage

2,50000 – 2,80000

0,10000

NB VREF Voltage

0,510 – 1,140

0,005

DRAM VREFCA Voltage

0,510 – 1,140

0,005

DRAM VREFDQ Voltage

0,510 – 1,140

0,005

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

ASUS CROSSBLADE RANGER

“Monitor” section provides the access to information about CPU and chipset temperature as well as rotation speed of installed fans. To check the voltage on CPU cores and power lines +12V, +5V and +3,3V is possible from any section because this information is displayed on the right side face. Also it is possible to make screenshots in BIOS mode. 


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