Asus Crosshair II AM2+ Motherboard

Introduction & Specifications

Introduction
 
ASUSAMD have been having quite a hard time of it lately with Intel being the CPU of choice for most enthusiasts, overclockers and gamers alike. Even the introduction of AMD’s much anticipated native quad-core ‘Phenom’ CPU could not bring back its once loyal fan base. Intel not only dominates the CPU market but also have a stunning lineup of chipsets to make full use of their Core2 range. It was then, with some surprise, that Asus are about to unleash what they claim to be "The Ultimate Gaming/Overclocking Platform" in the form of the Crosshair II Formula motherboard.

Tier 1 manufacturer Asus are the producers of some of the most revered boards available for both AMD and Intel and as it also carrying the ‘ROG’ moniker (Republic Of Gamers), which as Asus claim is the best hardware engineering and the fastest performance along with the most innovating ideas you can possess in a motherboard – a bold claim indeed. Rest assured then that this is a premium product aimed squarely at today’s high end AMD users.

A highly anticipated feature of this board is the inclusion of the Nvidia 780a chipset and rightly so. It not only allows the use of hybrid SLI, with up to three GPU’s operating together, but perhaps more importantly improved stability, power delivery and performance when overclocking. The previous Crosshair based on the 570 chipset promised a lot, but some users felt let down by the chipset. Is this simply a rinse and repeat or the return of the king? Let's check out the specs...
 
Crosshair II Specs
 
As the spec above shows, this is a feature-packed board. With 3 x PCIe 16 speed slots, up to 12 USB ports, Firewire, eSATA, Dual Gigabit Lan controllers and perhaps most unusually for one of today's boards, on-board VGA! Everything is there for today’s multimedia connectivity apart from the now seemingly obsolete serial port. Let's see how these specifications translate to the main features of the board...
 
PCIe 2.0
The Crosshair II features the latest PCIe 2.0 standard, which allows double the bandwidth of the previous 8x incarnation. Not only that, but there are 3 available PCIe 2.0 ports!

NVIDIA nForce 780a SLI Chipset
Nvidia’s latest AMD chipset supports Scalable Link Interface (SLI) technology that allows up to three (yes THREE) GPU’s in a single system. The 780a chipset is also designed from the ground up to provide extreme overclocking along with the provision of 6 x SATA II 3GB/s devices and 12 USB 2.0 ports.

Memory
Native DDR2 1066 support (depending on CPU model) providing faster data transfer rates and increased bandwidth.

Hybrid SLI
For those with older, underwhelming GPU’s (Nvidia only), rejoice as you can now receive a GeForce boost from the on-board GPU by combining the power of both dedicated and on-board GPU’s. Hybrid SLI also allows ‘Hybrid power’, which is a power saving feature for when 3D power is not required.

NVIDIA 3-way SLI

Link up to 3 GPU’s to take advantage of the increased bandwidth. The PCIe 2.0 standard should give a significant boost in 3D applications.

HDMI/DVI Support
High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) delivers multi channel audio and uncompressed digital video for full HD 1080p content through a single cable.

Quite an impressive list of features I'm sure you'll agree. So without further ado, let's have a look at what you get for your money.
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Most Recent Comments

16-06-2008, 05:49:18

JN
"The latest release from Asus see's the Crosshair II blessed with Nvidia's 780a chipset. We strip the board past its copper clothes to see if it's a worthy upgrade."

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...104556402s.jpg

Asus Crosshair II Review - By Rich Weatherstone

16-06-2008, 05:59:54

Toxcity
Very good review! Not really that good a board?

Only 11k on 3DMark06 with a 9800GX2?

16-06-2008, 07:10:20

FarFarAway
It's an AM2 board mate

That is some pricey board right there whoa

16-06-2008, 07:20:54

Azza
Hybrid SLI working yet chaps?

Good review as always, nice work Rich.

16-06-2008, 10:44:41

w3bbo
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Toxcity'
Very good review! Not really that good a board?

Only 11k on 3DMark06 with a 9800GX2?
Yeah m8, I was innitially dissappointed with the score but when you consider its AM2 the the scores can't really be compared to the performance of Core2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
It's an AM2 board mate

That is some pricey board right there whoa
Yeah - dunno if I would pay that with AMD lagging behind like they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Azza'
Hybrid SLI working yet chaps?

Good review as always, nice work Rich.
Cheers m8. Hybrid SLI does work....sometimes. Occassionally it would refuse to automatically come out of hybrid SLI and lag like hell as the 3d game was running of the onboard vga @ 2560x1600 which I'm sure you can imagine was a very WTF moment. Took me a while to realise it was the onboard VGA doing its thing lol. All it took was a quick restart and things were back to normal. Most of the time it was unoticable so must have been working fine. Maybe a driver issue?

I tested the on board VGA's capabilities more indepth in the 780a preview hence it's sparse inclusion in the actual motherboard review.

16-06-2008, 11:05:20

ionicle
nice looking board, and good review

nice to see AMD fans arnt left out of the current market, all this new tech spring up left, right, and center, its good to see Asus havent just left AMD behind..

16-06-2008, 11:23:23

Rastalovich
Great review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Toxcity'
Very good review! Not really that good a board?

Only 11k on 3DMark06 with a 9800GX2?
Futuremark`s benchies are flawed in this way. Just as u take a Q6600 cpu out of ur mobo and drop in a QX9650, ur score will change, but if u look at the performance of games.... I could steal ur QX9650, replacing it with a Q6600 and u`d be none-the-wizer

However, breaking their scores down, minus the CPU score would have been a good recording. Particularly in comparison with Intel mobos maybe.

Looking at the mobo as a whole, including the onboard stuff, input/outputs, I think it`s great. Price wize tho, it`s definately not a winner.

18-06-2008, 08:44:43

aGeoM
Hi

Nice Crosshair II Formula presentation.

I just want to point a small mistake made by Rich Weatherstone, on his review.

I'm sure he eared about TBL bug on Phenom B2's, and how it could be fixed.

Well, some board's have the ability to disable the patch from bios, however even when this patch are disabled in bios, Vista (x86/x64) SP1 overrides it, and apply it by it's self, meaning a poor CPU performance, only using a small software program can make this patch disabled, allowing full CPU performance.

Test Setup

...

A fresh copy of Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit with SP1 installed along with the most recent drivers then applied. No applications/programs apart from the ones used in benchmarking were installed to ensure a totally clean fair environment to which you can base your comparisons.



Since it have no reference to TBL bug, and from the 9800GX2 SLI 3DMark06, it's obvious that he didn't disabled the TBL patch, making all benchmarks suffer from CPU performance.

As you can see in my Sig I achieved with the same board, a Phenom 9500 (B2)@3000 and 8600GT SLI GPU's, 12589 in 3DMark06 in Vista.

http://img397.imageshack.us/img397/7...008600gad5.jpg

I hope Mr Rich Weatherstone correct his review, to be fair about real Phenom/nForce780a/9800GX2 SLI performance.

All the best...

Paulo

18-06-2008, 08:54:30

Rastalovich
That screenie shows 12k+ with an 8600gt! What the heck is all that about ?

Off the top of my head, replacing the gpu card will gain so many 1000 more points..

What I`m thinking is, with a x9650 and 8800gt, clocked air-wize, I get a biscuit under 15k.

12k+ a 8800gt instead of a 8600gt has to pass 14k surely.

If that`s correct, that`s outstanding.

18-06-2008, 09:18:16

aGeoM
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Rastalovich'
That screenie shows 12k+ with an 8600gt! What the heck is all that about ?
Was to show my point about TBL patch not been disabled by the reviewer, giving him very low scores on benchmarks. 2 8600GT SLI btw.

Off the top of my head, replacing the gpu card will gain so many 1000 more points..

What I`m thinking is, with a x9650 and 8800gt, clocked air-wize, I get a biscuit under 15k.

12k+ a 8800gt instead of a 8600gt has to pass 14k surely.

If that`s correct, that`s outstanding.



I have tested one 8800GT on a different board (790FX) and the max achieved was 13k+.

http://img116.imageshack.us/img116/8...0613486dd9.jpg

But if you are planning to go SLI 15k+ are doable

18-06-2008, 10:24:15

Rastalovich
Ah yes SLI, ofc.

12k+, almost 13, with 2x8600 is still darn good in my book.

18-06-2008, 15:46:29

w3bbo
The only AM2 we have in our possession at OC3D towers is the 9600phenom and unforunately it's a very poor overclocker. So as the review shows, having quad sli makes very little difference when the clockspeed, and therefore the processing power is so poor.

I will however give the TBL patch a try even though it was disabled in the Bios and amend the review if needed.

18-06-2008, 18:49:56

aGeoM
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
The only AM2 we have in our possession at OC3D towers is the 9600phenom and unforunately it's a very poor overclocker. So as the review shows, having quad sli makes very little difference when the clockspeed, and therefore the processing power is so poor.

I will however give the TBL patch a try even though it was disabled in the Bios and amend the review if needed.
Hi

Even if you disable TBL patch in BIOS, Vista SP1 will enable it after loaded.

You can read here, how to disable it with Sam2008 tool.

The best way to check if TBL is or isn't enable, is using Winrar benching tool, if your score is ~300 it's enable, normal score when disable is >1000.

You will notice a better 3D performance, even with low CPU clock.



Paulo

22-06-2008, 20:21:31

PP Mguire
Or better yet grab a Phenom 9850. This board was made for that CPU.

22-06-2008, 20:43:56

aGeoM
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='PP Mguire'
Or better yet grab a Phenom 9850. This board was made for that CPU.
Not exactly, the board is made for any AM2/AM2+ CPU's

Anyway a B3 CPU don't have the TBL bug, so it can be used with Vista's SP1 OS, avoiding the problem.

Be well

22-06-2008, 21:04:03

PP Mguire
The 9850s still perform alot better and an enthusiast board is made for the enthusiast cpu for that socket which happens to be the 9850 BE. The AMD Phenoms arent that bad, they just arent that good either. And Quad SLI is heavily CPU bottlenecked even with a QX9650 @ 4.0ghz (As well as SLI and Tri SLI 280s) then it will be moreso with a 9850 or 9600. (B3 and B2)

22-06-2008, 21:43:18

aGeoM
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='PP Mguire'
The 9850s still perform alot better and an enthusiast board is made for the enthusiast cpu for that socket which happens to be the 9850 BE. The AMD Phenoms arent that bad, they just arent that good either. And Quad SLI is heavily CPU bottlenecked even with a QX9650 @ 4.0ghz (As well as SLI and Tri SLI 280s) then it will be moreso with a 9850 or 9600. (B3 and B2)
True, very true.

My B2 9500 goes at +3000 and my 3rd B3 9850BE only goes at 2800, on this board. 1st did 3100(not stable) and the 2nd 2600 on DFI 790FX board.

23-06-2008, 05:24:58

PP Mguire
Thats odd cause most all 9850s are getting around 3.0ghz standard.

24-06-2008, 07:21:23

w3bbo
We will try and get a better 'bug free' AM2 chip for future reviews and the crosshair II will hopefully be benched again before comparisons are drawn.

24-06-2008, 09:30:25

PP Mguire
Im sure there will be some performance increase but i dont expect alot. Its sorta like these other sites doing reviews of monster video cards with crap CPUs and then say the GPU sucks when its clearly being bottlenecked by the CPU.

04-07-2008, 10:32:08

aGeoM
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='webbo'
We will try and get a better 'bug free' AM2 chip for future reviews and the crosshair II will hopefully be benched again before comparisons are drawn.
Hi

You dont need, but if you will, you can take the new 9950BE and kill 2 rabbits with 1 stroke, hehehe

Be well
Reply
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