Asus Rampage III Extreme Board Blocks

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The installation or mounting videos we included in the GTX480 round-up was met with incredibly positive feedback, and we had initially planned on videos for all the Rampage III Extreme blocks too. Unfortunately, the first videos just did not turn out like I had hoped, the videos looked more like someone flopping a board around and just did not capture the detail and process of mounting the blocks properly. However, we are not scrapping coverage of the installations entirely. In lieu of the videos, I kept notes through mounting and remounting each of the blocks and will share my overall approach and tips with a shot of the block all mounted up and ready for testing.

Unlike mounting a GPU block where you can easily flip the PCB over during the mount process, I found using the edge of a table to hang the board partially off the table and secure the screws from underneath. Others may find this weird, but I was able to achieve consistent mounts and shorten the time needed between tests.

Stock Removal

For the most part, stock heat sink removal is straightforward and is secured to the board quite well. Be prepared to fire up the heat gun or hair dryer (be stealthy so the wife will not know you used her hair dryer). With all the screws removed and the mosfet backplate off, lift slightly on the mosfet portion and start with a slight wiggle motion. If the wiggle does not produce much movement, then you need the heat to loosen up the stock TIM. Continue with the wiggle and heat until you separate the heat sink from the board. One item to note here, do not be surprised if one of the screws under the IOH is missing, I did and have confirmation of the same from others.

Now that the board is naked, you will encounter the TIM and thermal pad Asus used on the IOH and ICH. The grease on the IOH is easy to remove with some citrus cleaner and/or Arctic Clean 1. I had to let some Arctic Clean sit on the pad over the ICH for a while before I was just able to wipe it clean. Do not under any circumstances scrape and gouge at the TIM/pad on the chips… you are just tempting fate with your board. I clean the mosfets too, just a touch of Arctic Clean on a coffee filter is plenty, you just need to clean any remnants from the stock thermal pads. Don’t forget the VRM’s on the back side of the board as well.

Be sure to collect all the screws, back plate, heat sink and store them away safely. You may need to remount the heat sink, but you will need the thermal pad from the mosfet back plate if you have the EK block.

Koolance MB-ASR3E

Koolance block mounted and readyKoolance supplies a white/pink thermal pad for you to cut to proper size over the two VRM locations and a 0.5mm gray pad to cover the included back plate. You can use the block/backplate as the guide for cutting the pads, which is easier than trying to size up the pads on the board. Be sure to cover both mosfets on the top side, the main row and the set of six. Thermal grease (Koolance includes their normal TIM) goes on the IOH and ICH, just a grain of rice size blob is needed, remember these chips are smaller than your CPU, so be sure not to go overboard with TIM. One last step I take is to get the barbs secured with tubing and the female VL3N’s attached prior to mounting. I do not want to be fumbling with all of that after the block is already on.

With the pads cut, placed, peeled and TIM applied, hold the block over the board and continue to align as you slowly bring the block down to the board. If you really mess up on this part, just clean the TIM off the chips and block and retry… you are only sacrificing some TIM, so repeat until you are happy. A test mount for reassurance is not a bad idea either.

With the block in place on the board, place the board partially off the table and start with the back plate, screws and washer, then proceed to the IOH and finish up with the ICH. Go slow, just get the screws threaded and in place before finishing the tightening. Do not over tighten, you can crush the IOH. Through the four mounts used in testing I found that just past the initial resistance is tight enough, do not, I repeat, do not over tighten. I want to make this clear because I was surprised at how easily I had good contact without going tight with the screws. I went finger tight using a jeweler’s screwdriver and that was perfect.

With that said, you are done… mount the board to your motherboard tray and proceed with leak testing.

EK FB-RE3 Nickel

EK block mounted and readyThe EK block install differs from Koolance a bit, EK includes nylon standoffs that you have to install yourself. Setting the standoffs is quite simple, even though a bit messy. In order to get the standoffs to stick, apply some thermal grease to one side, then stick it over one of the threaded holes, finish with a little push with your finger to help the standoff stick. Repeat until you have the nine standoffs in place. Now we move to thermal pads and TIM, which as I mentioned earlier, you will need the thermal pad from the Asus back plate, which does go on the EK back plate.

EK supplies two different thickness pads, a 0.5mm and a 1.5mm. The 1.5mm pad goes over the set of six mosfets close the molex plug and the 0.5mm pad over the rest of VRM’s on the top side and the Asus pad for the back plate. You will have to supply your own thermal grease for the IOH and ICH, and again, only a grain of rice size blob is needed.

I use the same hover and lowering method maintaining alignment as I go to place the block on the board. Again, feel free to do a test run; you are only wasting a little TIM to be comfortable with the process, well worth the slight loss. You should have at least two more standoffs, which you will place on the pad side of the back plate, only this time with no grease. From here, I used the same process as with the Koolance block, but the big difference is how tight you can go with the screws. The standoffs EK supplies are thicker than the machined standoffs from Koolance, this provides a little extra thickness to overcome and get good contact. A twist or two past initial finger tight with a screwdriver is plenty. There you have it, proceed with getting your board mounted and leak testing.

Danger Den CHP-100

The install for the Danger Den block was the easiest of the group, probably because you just slap on the pre-cut thermal pads, and drop a grain of rice blob of grease (Danger Den includes some “Hot Sauce”), and start the lowering of the block on to the board. No crazy standoffs or extra hoops to jump through. Start securing the block to the board at the mosfet backplate, remember those red washers between the screws and board and continue until you have the four under the ICH threaded. Now go back through and tighten the screws down a little past finger tight using the included allen wrench. After tightening from underneath, I flipped the board on its side and just made sure the screws were snug. A gentle reminder that the IOH is exposed and you can crush it with too much mount force, so resist really cranking on the screws, it is just not needed.

With the block secure, go ahead and proceed with leak testing. Like I said, easiest mount process of them all.

Bitspower AIX58NSE3

I saved the Bitspower for last in this section, because the installation/mount process is by far the most involved, and I will try to stay brief and to the point here. But before we roll in here, I was not able to mount the Bitspower block with the white PCIe (slot 1) slot lock in place; the slot lock had to be removed. Once removed, the block had proper clearance to be placed and mounted. I communicated with Bitspower through the trouble and I am the first to report any sort of clearance issue when attempting to mount the IOH/ICH block. So a heads up, you may have to do a little modification in order to mount the BP block.

I started out by getting my barbs and included rotary elbows secure in the block, barbs/fittings go on the top of the mosfet block and the right barb port over the IOH with the rotaries at the bottom of the mosfet block and the left port over the IOH. My next step was to get the fittings for the tube bridge into the rotaries (just hand tight) and roughly aligned the two rotaries for slipping in the tube a bit later. Moving to the thermal pads, be prepared for a lot of cutting and filling gaps with small pieces of thermal pad. Begin with the mosfet block and back plate, as that is going to be the big pieces of pad and make sure that you cover all of the fets on both sides of the board. Covering all the fets required me to use two pieces on the top side as well as one large piece and small piece to assure coverage, but don’t forget about the six fets below the primary set. With the easy part complete, time to move to the IOH/ICH block.

For the IOH/ICH I used the block as the guide, any raised spot means you will need to place a pad there, a total of eight spots on the block (actually covers ten chips). Just take it slow and make sure you cover all the raised spots, double check the instruction page. Some extra time spent here making sure you have all the locations covered will save you headaches later on. With all your thermal pads placed and peeled, place a grain of rice-sized blob on the IOH and ICH and proceed with lowering the blocks onto the board.

My next step was to start threading the screws (with washers), starting with the back plate and making sure the 1mm washers were between the board and the back plate. With all the screws threaded, I went back to the back plate and finished those off first. Again, tight but not super tight, I went a turn or two past finger tight using the included allen wrench. Once you have the blocks secure, now is the time to slide the acrylic tube into the two fittings between the blocks. My method was to get the tube all the way in on one side and then turn the rotaries in towards each other, letting the tube slip into the other fitting as I turned the rotaries in. The critical piece here is to ensure you have the tube past the first o-ring inside the fittings as the o-ring makes the seal. You may have to slide the tube a bit just to make sure you have a good fit… and this is where leak testing is extremely important. Mount your board and begin leak testing.

I am happy to report no problems with the tube bridge, after the initial mount, I never separated the two blocks. I actually used the tube bridge as a handle of sorts, you might actually find this method easier than getting the tube in place after mounting. Experiment a bit before prepping with TIM and thermal pads, one way may work better than the other for you.

Installation note for all blocks:The back plate for the VRM’s will flex if you have over-tightened, and you do want to watch for this (EK back plate is rather thick though). The goal here is to have the back plate remain flat and make contact to all the fets on the backside of the board. Before you mount your board in the case, be sure to check for backplate flexing.

That concludes my notes for installations, thanks for enduring the text onslaught. With installation covered, on to the Test Method and Specification.

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