Asus Crosshair II AM2+ Motherboard
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.
• On board VGA
• Feature packed BIOS
• SLI capability
• Excellent connectivity
• On board switches
• Asus accessories
• Screw down design on the heat pipe assembly
• The PCI-e release mechanism could be better designed
• Slight issues with the SATA port plastic
• 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.