ASUS Crossblade Ranger Review
PCB & connectivity
We can see that ASUS uses on Crossblade Ranger most of the features introduced in their new Z97 ROG line-up: matte black PCB, LANGuard + GameFirst III, SupremeFX 2014 + Sonic Radar II and Keybot. The Gigabit connectivity is based on an Intel i211-AT controller which has ESD guard and Surge protection through LANGuard. Also, for better performance ASUS developed GameFirst III network-optimization software to show that using a performant controller (Intel) and a properly designed software you don’t need Killer E2200 controller.
SupremeFX 2014 is the new and improved integrated audio solution for mainstream and performance motherboards from the ROG line-up. It’s based on a Realtek ALC1150 controller with EMI cover and physical PCB separation for lower interference. Sonic SenseAmp detects your headphone impedance and adjust the headphone amp immediately to fit that. Sonic Soundstage are 4 hardware-level audio game profiles through which you can cycle pushing the soundstage button on the lower edge of the motherboard. Coupling all this features with the use of ELNA capacitors and gold-plated outputs we can say that the audio solution is good, especially taking in consideration the price of the motherboard.
If we talk about connectivity, Crossblade Ranger is pretty standard when it comes to A88X motherboards having two PCI-Express 3.0 16x slots connected to the CPU which can be configured as 16x / – or 8x / 8x. The A88X PCH is responsible for the black coloured slots: one PCI-Express 2.0 16x slot (4x electrical), two PCI-Express 2.0 1x and two legacy PCI slots.
You can connect a maximum of eight SATA 3 drives to the motherboard, using native ports provided by the A88X PCH. In the top right corner of the Crossblade Ranger we have a little OC Corner as I like to call it, a normal feature for a ROG motherboard. We have the Power and Reset buttons together with the Debug LED and MemOK button. The LN2 mode jumper together with the Slow Mode switch are also there, situated right next to the measurement points.