As a proud owner of the Rampage II Extreme (in my daily driver) I was looking forward to trying out the Rampage III Extreme, especially after a poor cold bug EVGA Classified E760. Anyhow, as some of you are well aware the R3E board temperatures get a little warm when you start to push clocks and voltages–oh come on I know you have put your hand on the stock cooling heatsink. I have been wanting to take a closer look at full board blocks for some time now and the Rampage III Extreme looked to be a good candidate, knowing several water block companies would be producing blocks. Asus was open to the idea and graciously provided us with a test board to beat on. But keep in mind, this is not a motherboard review–the merits of the excellent board are covered at length by nearly every hardware enthusiast site–but a look at water cooling the board and VRM’s and what is available on the market. However, I might throw in some comments about the board throughout the article here. Before moving to the blocks in our testing of the Rampage III Extreme, we just have to have a few shots of the main product here.
Asus must agree that the board temps do favor the warm side, they include a fan module that replaces the heatsink over the NorthBridge to provide a little extra cooling. For us water heads, that little fan module is the anti-christ, but alas, we’re on a mission to find the better alternative to that noisy fan module. Time to end the intro and distractions and get to the line-up.
Quite the motley crew and several different design approaches into cooling the board, with heat pipe hybrid to one piece and even two piece with a custom bridge. These design differences mostly impact installation and how many different spots you need to slap a thermal pad more than they do temperature wise.
Before we roll into the first looks I need to pull out the soap box a moment and address the opinions of cooling the board is useless or just for aesthetics… I have a completely different view. To be clear, the stock Asus heat sink showed no problem maintaining stability with the overclock settings we will use in testing, but that heat sink relies on air flow through the case in order to shed the heat. Sure, the heat sink will continue to capture the heat until saturation, but air flow is what moves the heat away from the heat sink and board. Removing the stock heat sink and replacing with a water block is about managing the heat. We spend a tremendous amount of time planning and figuring out how to cool our components with a dedicated cooling system, thermal management if you will which is focused at capturing and removing the heat where we want it. I do not want the heat just radiating in my cases, let my cooling system(s) deal with it. Board blocks are the next logical step after CPU and GPU cooling. Additionally, you also gain the advantage of lowering the operating temperatures of the chips, which will potentially lead to a longer life for your components. Okay, I have spent enough time on the soap box.