Asus ROG Crosshair IV Formula Preview
With the impending launch of AMD's range topping 890FX chipset as well as Phenom II X6 series CPUs, it's no surprise that we'll soon have a whole host of new motherboard arrivals on our doorstep. Having extensively tested Asus’ 890GX offering, we’re now eager to see what it’s bigger brother is capable of. Of course, if the 790FX lineup was anything to go by you’ll struggle to go wrong with most offerings. In the case of the 790FX, most of the boards in question offered respectable board layouts, similar feature sets, abundant cooling/power regulation and a fairly generous HTT Base Clock ability. We are of course fully aware that for many, the words “generous”, “respectable” and “abundant” simply doesn’t cut it... There are enthusiasts out there who take pride in purchasing only the bleeding high end, where only the cream of the crop is a worthwhile investment. This is exactly what Asus’ Republic of Gamers division is about.
By comparison, Asus ROG isn't too dissimilar to the BMW “M” or Mercedes “AMG” divisions of the motoring world, who specialise only in the production of high performance products. In this sector, value for money has little bearing, most notably so when the key requirements entail over engineered designs, radical styling and immense capabilities under extreme conditions. It's products such as these that are built to push boundaries and break records, be it lap times around a track or time to calculate in SuperPi.
Since the division’s launch in 2006 we’ve seen and tested a number of stunning products including the venerable Rampage III Extreme, Asus Ares and of course, the award winning Crosshair III motherboard. Given our colleague’s take on the Crosshair III, let’s see what improvements #4 has to offer.
|Processor Support||AMD Socket AM3 Sempron 100/Athlon II X2/X3/X4 and Phenom II X2/X3/X4 Processors|
|Chipset||AMD 890FX / SB850 |
|Memory||4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB 2000(OC)/1600/1333/1066 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory|
Dual Channel memory architecture
|Expansion Slots||4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (Operates in Dual 16x/16x or Quad 8x/8x/8x/8x)|
2 x PCI
|Multi-GPU Support||ATi CrossfireX Supported|
AMD SB850 Southbridge
3rd Party SATA Controller.
|LAN||Supports one PCI Express LAN 10/100/1000|
|Audio||Creative SupremeFX X-Fi 7.1 Audio|
|USB||AMD SB850 Southbridge|
- 14 x USB 2.0 ports (6 x Rear, 8 x Internal)
NEC USB3.0 Controller
- 2 x rear USB 3.0 ports
In terms of fundamental specifications the Crosshair IV doesn't particularly stand out amongst it's competition. However there is much more than meets the eye as like it's predecessor, you can expect a wide variety of additional "ROG" features. Among these features is the innovative ROG Connect, allowing the user to fully bypass the BIOS for CPU Overclocking. The end result is the ability to remotely overclock your processor "on the fly", over an intuitive software interface.
Other convenience features include one touch auto overclock and core unlock functionality, onboard voltage probes for multimeters and also an exclusive feature that remedies memory related BIOS POST issues. When you also consider that the Crosshair IV Formula includes Creative X-Fi Audio, USB 3.0 and full SATA 6.0Gb/s support, it's clear that a lot of thought has gone into the product. But wait, there's still more to consider. Let's have a sneak peak of the motherboard in the flesh...
In the flesh...
Due to the board under a strict NDA, we will have to remain tight lipped about the board's performance results however TTL has kindly recorded a sneak peek video of the Crosshair IV Formula.
We were glad to see that Asus have refreshed the ROG Crosshair styling, dropping the previous blue and white colour scheme with a more pleasant red and black. It's also quite evident that the feature rich Crosshair IV runs the risk of being deemed somewhat cluttered. That said, Asus have done well to place components in a sensible fashion but it certainly does appear cramped regardless.
There are no PCI-Express 1x/2x slots but one must remind themselves that PCI-Express 16x slots are backwards compatible, thus permitting x4/x2/x1 Sound/RAID/WiFi cards to be used. Certainly for a board of it's calibre, it makes far more sense to implement enough expansion slots for four way CrossfireX instead. Do note however that if you are crazy enough to be able to justify four way CrossfireX, you will need a single slot cooler of some form as a result of the slot spacings between PCI-E #3 and #4...
All six of the SB850 powered SATA ports are side mounted, saving space and also aiding cable management. The Motherboard's power regulation modules, Northbridge and Southbridge are cooled by a single heatpipe solution. No active cooling solution is required.
From what we have seen thus far, the Crosshair IV Formula may well have what it takes to be a true successor to the outgoing 790FX model. Feature wise the board is a fair but incremental improvement. Over the next seven days leading up to the product's launch we will be pushing this 890FX wonder through it's paces to ascertain it's strengths and weaknesses as an ultra high end platform. Given our previous experience with the Asus ROG range, our expectations are set sky high as search for our next favourite Socket AM3 solution. So long as the Crosshair IV isn't all show and no go, we could well be onto something rather special indeed...
You can expect the full review on the 27th of April when the NDA is lifted, you can discuss this in our forums.