Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Asus Crossblade Ranger Motherboard

aka Asus ROG's flagship AMD FM2+ ATX motherboard
aka the very first Asus ROG AMD Fusion APU motherboard


If one had clicked and read the above link, one can't help but notice that Asus had unabashedly boasted its "best" in almost everything philosophy... great marketing department, huh? lol

And the best gaming networking consists of... yes, you just can't get completely away from the Intel monster cos it lives on this AMD motherboard in the form of... 

This beautifully illustrated photo highlights its salient selling points at a glance as well as shows the back I/O ports nicely.

It's beyond any doubt that this is a fantastically feature packed  high end model but do remember that the AMD's FM2+ platform has alas remained in the middling market segment, thus far...


Classic ROG cardboard box as shown


Relatively simple for ROG standards but it comes with a large Asus ROG mouse mat

The Crossblade Ranger Motherboard

dressed in the classic Asus ROG colours on a matte black PCB

Note the much welcomed proper heatsink anchorage with metal backplates/screws (wow, 4 screws on the Southbridge heatsink alone!) and not some wimpy springy push pins


Staying on the topic of heatsinks and their anchorage, let's take a closer look and later rip them up to check what lies beneath at the same time

2 chunky discrete VRM heatsinks with metal backplates covering NexFET™ Power Block MOSFETs supplied with 8 phased (6 CPU + 2  iGPU / NB) full digital power, 2 digital phased RAM power

A well anchored way oversized Southbridge heatink with a surprisingly thick polymer TIM

Onboard Buttons & LEDs

Seen here in the first photo are the beautiful Power (Start) button, tiny but functional Reset & MemOK buttons and the essential Debug LED 

The audio isolation strip has a BIOS togglable red LED strip. Note that the SupremeFX audio section is equipped with premium Japanese-made ELNA caps. The Asus Sonic Soundstage button is seen here too.


Generous 8 x SATA3 (Raid 0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD) ports and an upright USB3 front header

Expansion Slots

A rather curious motley crew of slots ranging from old world PCI to open ended PCI-e x1 slots, perhaps the mobo designer was trying to be everything to everyone

Test Setup

Thinking out of the box... had to assemble a mishmash compact test box (another ongoing project's on the main test space) in a hurry due to time and space constraints. Yeah, this mobo's arrival was disappointingly way overdue...  a long unfortunate story of misplaced priorities resulting in clashing test schedules and space.

Test results pending... may be some delay though, perhaps after completing my other ongoing projects and upcoming overseas trip/s.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Is Asus Supporting VT-d Officially on Z Mobos Now?

Despite earlier statements in user forums to the contrary, check out what is now available on some recent Z chipset BIOS updates...

Z87-A BIOS 2103

And nestled slightly deep in the bosom of the 2103 UEFI, you find this...

What do you guys think, nice huh? 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fractal Design Node 804 mATX Case

Fractal Design
"Designed and Engineered in Sweden
All Fractal Design products have been carefully designed and tested in our Swedish headquarters. The well-known elements of Scandinavian design can be found throughout all of our product lines; a minimalistic, elegant and simple design, embracing the motto of 'less is more'."

The FD NODE Series 
"The NODE series of cases offers a stylish way to integrate the computer into your home. With the flexibility to serve as an HTPC, fileserver or media and gaming station, the Node series delivers endless possibilities to combine design and entertainment."

FD Node 804 Case

Official Page

"The Node 804 is a micro ATX chassis which focuses on cooling performance and maximum configurability, all packed in an interesting new form factor with Scandinavian elegant design.

The dual chamber layout separates hot running components from the cooler ones and allows for unrestricted airflow over the motherboard, processor and graphics card."

Key Features

  • Highly effective dual chamber case layout for best possible cooling.
  • Minimalistic design with an elegant brushed aluminum front panel
  • Unique hard drive mounting system, fitting up to 8 x 3.5″, 4 x 2.5” or up to 10 x 3.5”, 2 x 2.5″ drives HDD/SSD
  • Three Fractal Design Silent Series R2 fans included with the case and space for an additional 7 fans.
  • Excellent water cooling support with space for up to 4 radiators simultaneously.
  • All intakes feature removable dust filters providing a dust-free interior.
  • Featuring a window side panel to show off your set up in style.
  • Additional space in the front to mount a slim slot-in ODD, optical bay drive, and 2 x 2.5″ drives.
  • Fan controller included.
  • Five expansion slots that allows for multiple GPU setups.

The Maximums

Maximum discrete card length 320mm
Maximum CPU cooler height 160mm
Maximum power supply length 260mm 
Maximum 10 x 3.5” devices
Maximum number of fans 10 possible positions
Maximum radiator configuration: 1x240mm,1x280mm and 2x120mm radiators simultaneously


Sensible & effective packaging with proper finger holes for easy lugging around

Proudly sweet Swede originals!

OK, OK... here's the correct Swede proof on paper...


Yes, the FD designers label even the styrofoam blocks if you ever need to rebox the case

The Case

Arrived pristinely unscratched with its protective packaging, a slim manual is also included as can be seen


Showing the exquisitely fine brushed Aluminium bezel with subtle branding & LED at one corner and the bottom ventilation grille


Showing the plastic panel and its thick dust/sound mesh up close and against the noon sunlight


Showing the sole windowed panel

Close up of the panel catches and window mounting, note the protective plastic film applied on both sides of the case window


Showing the USB3 ports, power button, audio jacks and subtle slim ODD opening with the solid side panel 

Close up of the ODD slot as well as demonstrating panel fit and paint finish


Showing 2 of the 3 bundled 120mm Silent Series R2 fans and reusable fenestrated expansion slot plates in its distinctive white finish. Each removable panel is secured by 2 thumbscrews as shown.

Close up of the 3 speed fan controller


Showing the easily removable slotted dust meshes x 2, note also the 2 Velcro bands meant for cable management purposes in the PSU chamber

Close up of the high quality plasticized non-skid case feet


The front panel holds nicely tight but pops off easily with a little effort demonstrating good fit. This reveals the 2 x removable dust meshes and storage options for 1 x slim ODD and 2 x SSDs.

Close up of the dust mesh and its mounting to its plastic frame

Mobo Chamber

Close up of the fan markings

Storage/PSU Chamber

Note the 2 x 3.5" HDD cages done in white and the little brown accessories box. The PSU mounting is dampened with rubber rests and with a sufficently short PSU, you can optionally shift a HDD cage  over onto the case floor.

Little Brown Accessories Box

Measuring Up

Featuring the Asus Maximus VI Gene mATX mobo

Initial Impressions

  • Scandinavian minimalist looks
  • Beautiful finish - exquisitely fine brushed aluminium front panel
  • Dual chamber design
  • Good panel fitting - neither too tight nor too loose
  • Superb space utilisation with much potential for high end components and abundant storage
  • Flexible water cooling support for a compact cube design
  • Good ventilation support for numerous fans with easily removable dust meshes

Can be improved...
  • Not tool-free
  • Mild tendency of front bezel in showing finger print marks due to its fine brushed finish
  • Low & side positioned USB ports limits this case to a desktop location placed strictly to your left
  • No reset button

To be continued...