We at Overclock3D are always keen to examine the flagship products of any product line-up. The vast majority of readers will not necessarily be able to afford nor justify these exclusive creations, but that does not undermine their importance. On the contrary, this is where manufacturers have the opportunity to show us their latest innovations - and of course, without innovation we may as well throw the definition of "progression" out of the window.
This is why we always look forward to Asus’ “Republic of Gamers” range of equipment. In April, we assessed the surprisingly affordable Crosshair IV Formula motherboard. Aside its class leading overclocking ability, it also brought many features to the table such as remote overclocking and automated overclocking solutions. We regarded the new 890FX motherboard very highly and yet there was no denying that it was a comparatively restrained product when compared to other ROG offerings. Asus were excused for this, but why? Simple. The Crosshair IV Formula was only the baby – and nearly five months later, here comes the big daddy of all AMD motherboards. Ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to present to you the Crosshair IV Extreme.
There is both good and bad news to this story; like the optimist that I am, I will begin with the good. Unlike some of the previews that you may have seen already, we have not reused media from elsewhere. That's right, we have not grabbed leaked photographs or rehashed other organisations' articles. Of course this means that we actually have our very own Crosshair IV Extreme in our labs... but more to the point, we are in possession of Crosshair IV Extreme #001!
Unfortunately a fly has nose dived into our ointment; Asus have our lips stapled together with a NDA gun! As such, we cannot offer any indication of the board’s performance, its price or for that matter any major specifics.
What we will do however is offer you all a photo shoot and a brief overview of the board’s features!
Please turn over for more information…
Much like the CH4 Formula, the Extreme comes in a crimson box with carry handle. As always, the Republic of Gamers lineup has its own marketing formula and so it comes to no surprise that its packaging looks nothing like the rest of the Asus range.
The box itself appears much larger than conventional Asus Motherboard packaging. Is this just marketing tactics or is there actually more inside? Lets fine out...
Opening from the top of the box reveals two further boxes, one containing the board itself, the other containing the accessories. Just to be a pest, we'll start off with the boring box...
For those who have had the pleasure fo travelling in Business or First Class on long haul flights, you would know that you tend to be given a plethora of amenities to complement your excessively elaborate meals and seating arrangements. Noise cancelling headphones, premium toothpaste and brush, perhaps even a shaving kit are often part of the package.
Likewise, those who buy into ultra high end system components should expect the same treatment.
Inside the accessory box, you will find as many SATA cables as there are ports, additional external USB and Firewire ports, Bluetooth and USB connectivity for ROG Connect, a hefty user manual and a fancy sticker for your system chassis.
Perhaps it is a little naive to be excited about accessories. After all, cables must cost pennies surely? Regardless, it is the initiative that counts and for this, we highly commend Asus.
So you've seen the accessories. How about the board..?
While I would love to leak my entire folder of photos, I have decided to leave you all with just a small selection of teasers about the Crosshair IV Extreme.
As you can imagine, this huge Extended ATX motherboard must be brimmed with features. First of all, those who distrust hardware monitoring software can rejoice. At the corner of your new Crosshair IV Extreme motherboard, hardware enthusiasts can access ports to monitor your system's voltages with a multimeter. You can either poke the board directly or use an included cable in the accessory set.
Again, as an Overclocker's solution, it must also be able to keep itself cool. This is why, it comes bundled with a hefty heatpipe cooling module. The single piece device cools the 890FX/SB850 core logic as well as the board's high specification voltage regulators. While the camera has failed to fully show it, the cooler is infact actively cooled. Underneath the heatsinks are small fans; we will not comment on cooling performance or noise levels at this stage.
Got anough PCI-Express slots there? Yes, as the Crosshair IV Extreme comes with 5 x PCI-Express 16x ports. These can be used in a number of configurations...
But hang on, this is a Republic of Gamers board. Where's the Party Trick?
The Party Trick...
That's right folks - The Crosshair IV Extreme comes equipped with the chip that has nVidia spitting nails; the Lucid Hydra...
For those less informed, this is a very special feature. Ever since the dawn of Multi GPU computing, nVidia graphics cards have been forced to pair with another nVidia card - the same also applies to ATi's Crossfire Technology as well. Recently, chip designer Lucid came along and eloquently gave ATi/nVidia the middle finger with a bombshell named Hydra. This little innovation allows nVidia graphics cards to function in SLI mode on AMD motherboards but also allows ATi and nVidia graphics cards to work together!
Think about it. Let's just say you've saved up £400 and want to spend your hard earned cash on that range topping GeForce GTX 480 graphics card. With the Crosshair IV Extreme, you wouldn't need to part with your existing Radeon HD 4850 graphics card; simply add the GTX 480 and enjoy the perks of Multi GPU computing! It really is as simple as that.
That's all folks...
I'm afraid that from here on I will have to keep quiet. The Crosshair IV Extreme is currently being evaluated on our AMD testbed, but nothing more can be said until the NDA is broken at the end of this month. Until then, stay tuned and discuss your thoughts in our forums.