Asus Crosshair II AM2+ Motherboard

Conclusion

Conclusion
 
Crosshair II Stock PhotoIt's clear Asus have pulled out all the stops to bring the first SLI capable motherboard to the current AMD chipset. With new features such as Hybrid SLI and Geforce boost along with the usual crop of Asus gadgetry seen on their other high-end ROG boards, the Crosshair II sets the stage to be the perfect AMD platform whether you require all out power or indeed wish to hug a tree and shave some money off the electricty bill - the Crosshair II is quite capable of catering for both quarters.

I thought the design layout was good apart from the plastic used on the SATA ports being a little hit and miss (no satisfying click to tell you the SATA cable is in place) and the possibility of the CPU HSF encroaching over the first DDR2 slot if you used anything larger than the Xigmatek used in this review. The on-board features such as voltminders (pretty useless but 'pretty' nonetheless), on-board power, reset and CMOS reset switches along with an abundance of connectivity more than quelled the previous disappointments.

The benchmark results, while not exactly ground breaking are pretty consistent with the 790FX boards. My one major disappointment was the dismal 3D benchmarks. While on the surface they appear respectable you have to bear in mind were are talking about a setup (motherboard & 2x GPU's) that at RRP costs close to £1000. Who is going to pay that kind of money for a setup that is crippled by a CPU's performance? While Asus' efforts are most welcome and it's clear they have outdone themselves with the feature packed Crosshair II, I cannot help but wonder who would actually buy this board? Priced around the £180 mark its difficult to see any enthusiast with any sense making the switch to AMD from Intel purely because of this board as they should know that Intel is where the performance is at this moment in time. Which leaves the AMD enthusiast...

With AMD still lagging behind Intel in both price and performance it's hard to imagine anyone basing their ultimate gaming rig on an AMD platform so the inclusion of SLI seems a little but redundant. So would you buy it for its power saving features? Maybe but Hybrid SLI at the time of writing this review is only compatible with the two Nvidia flagship models - 9800GTX and 9800GX2 which again leads me back to asking why bother basing your high-end gaming platform on AMD? There is no logical answer to this unless you have a distinct hatred of Intel or feel some sort of fanboy loyalty to AMD. If you are this person then I can honestly say you won't find a better AMD platform for their current CPU line up. The Crosshair II is a simply a monster offering everything you could possibly want from a motherboard and if it were a skt 775 based Intel board I would buy it tomorrow. Sadly it isn't and while I would love to jump ship to AMD as I adored my old NF4 based setup, I don't think the performance hit would be worth it despite the fantastic effort Asus have put in with the Crosshair II.

Put simply this motherboard is akin to driving a Rolls Royce with all the 'options' only to find its powered by a Lada engine. Great motherboard based on a great chipset that's let down with an underperforming CPU. The ball is now firmly in AMD's court to release a CPU worthy of such a motherboard.

The Good
• On board VGA
• Feature packed BIOS
• SLI capability
• Excellent connectivity
• On board switches
• Asus accessories
• Screw down design on the heat pipe assembly

The Mediocre

• The PCI-e release mechanism could be better designed
• Slight issues with the SATA port plastic

The Bad
• The Price - AMD and therefore anything based on AMD needs to be cheap to offset the performance difference with Intel. While the price is comparative to Intel based boards I would like to have seen an AMD platform be better priced if it was going to tempt anyone away for Core2.


I am reluctant to give the board a performance rating as I feel the derogatory score would not reflect how good the board really is. Not only is it crippled by a poor CPU design but our Phenom isn't the best clocker in the world. I am however confident that with the right CPU this board could fly that is why I would like to give the board a score based only on my gut feeling - I could be wrong so you will have to take the score with a pinch of salt but it would be unfair of me to give the board a poor score due to a poor CPU.
 
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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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