Asus Crosshair II AM2+ Motherboard

Board Layout & Features

Board layout & Features
 
As with all of the Republic Of Gamers boards, Asus continue to make use of a Black PCB with blue, white and red slots. Maybe it’s just me, but I would like to see a shift in theme as the board at first glance looks much the same as the other ROG boards and while the theme is not unsightly and certainly not as badly coloured as some boards on the market today, it certainly would be nice to see a difference in your board from other ROG boards around.
 
board1 board 3

Apart from the obvious three PCIe x16 slots what does pop out at you is the massive cooler next to the CPU socket. Rather than surround the socket with Copper and thereby restricting the use of the CPU HSF size, Asus have put all their eggs in one basket. So what’s under there that requires so much cooling I hear you ask? Well I was as interested as you so I just had to have a peek:
 
board2 fets
 
Yup that’s a lot of Mosfets which deliver 10 phase power (or 8+2 phase as Asus declare) to your components ensuring that the voltages are cleaner with less ripple under load and more stable than ever before. With power delivery such as this the Crosshair is shaping up to be a monster overclocker.
 
780a http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/articles/2008/05/06105152561l.jpg
 
Connected via heatpipe to the mosfets is the new 780a (MCP) chipset and the nForce 200 chip. This chipset is heavily related to the Intel 780i but does have some significant differences. In contrast to the 780i, the 780a attaches all three SLI slots directly to the nForce 200 chip and then splits the bandwidth between them in a 16/8x/8x configuration. Therefore the 780a’s third slot is not crippled as in the 780i’s PCIe x1 slot which leaves the 780a a much more viable solution to Tri-SLI than its Intel based sibling.
 
As reported earlier the 780a has an on-board GPU which, assuming you have a low end 8000 series card, can pair up and give your 3D applications a boost (Geforce boost) via the new Hybrid SLI, or could be used with 9000 series cards to save power by cutting power to your main 3D card and using the on-board GPU instead when 3D is not required via Hybrid Power.
 
heatpipe heatsink2
 
The main heatsink itself appears to be Copper coated aluminium and is emblazoned with ROG and Asus wherever you look. Asus have redesigned the fins themselves and advertise this as ‘Pin-Fin’ which in effect increases the surface area of the heatsink and while hardly revolutionary it is welcomed. I am however, puzzled as to why Asus take the time to install a new heatsink fin design and then partially cover it with a cosmetic emblem (which lights up white by the way and does look nice). It seems form is just as important as function with the Crosshair II. But I digress.
 
backplates backplates 2

I applaud Asus in finally doing away with push pins to affix the 2 chipset heatsinks to the board. Instead they elected to use spring loaded screws with the Crosshair II. Push pins are still used in the mosfet area but this is sufficient for a solid mount. The screws are a godsend for those of us who wish to get a good, even and solid mount on the chipsets.
 
Easy removal of the heatsink assembly is also a credit to Asus, as past boards have had a thick cement like TIM on the chipsets which never gave the best possible contact with the chips as well as making the heatsinks very difficult to remove. The Crosshair II however uses thermal tape on the mosfets and a thin sliver of thermal tape on both the 780a and NF200 chips which creates a much better thermal transfer and also allows easy removal should you wish to fit alternative blocks or indeed watercooling blocks. Asus have also gone one step further. Because the chipsets are held on by screws they have also added backplates to the motherboard for added strength and counter the added pressure on the chips thereby preventing damage.

Upon checking this particular board there didn’t appear to be any mounting issues and good contact was made throughout with the chipset. I should point out that removing the heatsink assembly will invalidate your warranty and as I have shown there is little need for you to do so anyway. So it’s all good in the power delivery, chipset and cooling department but what else has the board to offer? 
 
connections 1 connections 2
 
There is just about every conceivable connection you could wish for on the I/O backplate with the option for more 3 more USB hubs and an additional Firewire connection on board should you wish to use the provided adapter or require front panel connectivity. 2x PCIe x1 slots, 3x PCIe x16 slots and 2 traditional PCI slots provide the bulk of PCB connections and along with 6 SATA connections, 1x PATA as well as a floppy port should be all that even the most hardware endowed enthusiast requires. Perhaps of notable absence that you may have use for is the PS2 mouse port. Asus have finally abandoned the traditional port and now expect everyone to be using a USB mouse which is fair play as I fail to understand why anyone would use a PS2 mouse with a gamer orientated board such as the Crosshair II.

onboard switch switch 3
 
As with all ROG boards there is the usual and very useful onboard Power and Reset buttons which light up red and green respectively. This is a definite plus for those who prefer to benchmark their hardware outside of a case and therefore don’t have to rely on shorting the power pins to get the board to boot. While not exactly new as DFI have been doing this for some time now, it is a welcome addition and will hopefully be passed down to other boards in the Asus range and not limited exclusively to the ROG boards as it is an invaluable addition for system builders. You shouldn’t need to clear the CMOS due to the boards CPU parameter recall feature which will reboot to the last known good settings should your overclock fail for whatever reason. However this isn’t bullet proof and on the odd occasion that you do need to clear the CMOS Asus have made it very easy.
 
Situated on the I/O section of the board is another button, not dissimilar to the power and reset buttons allowing you to reset the CMOS from outside the case. Not only that but Asus have also included a fail-safe switch on the motherboard that should you switch from the default (enabled) position you can disable the Clear CMOS button and therefore prevent any accidental erasures when plugging in your peripherals.
 
onboard switch 2

The 8-pin ATX socket is situated in the usual position for Asus boards, towards the top, which will prevent cabling from hindering your view of the onboard LED’s which Asus call ‘Voltminders’. These groups of three LEDs (Red, Yellow and Green) appear next to the CPU, Memory, Southbridge and BR chip and indicate the voltage level you have set: (Red = ‘Crazy’, Yellow=High and Green = Normal). I’m not sure of the usefulness of these as I should already be well aware of the ‘crazyness’ of my settings but it could act as a reminder should I have inadvertently set something too high in error.
 
With solid capacitors decorating the board ensuring durability and 8 fan headers for supreme cooling it appears that Asus have thought of everything when designing this board. 
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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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