Asus Crosshair III Formula vs DFI DK 790FXB M3H5 Face-Off

Introduction

Introduction
 
It's been quite some time since we reviewed any motherboards from the green camp of AMD. With Intel's stranglehold on the CPU market, one might say that AMD motherboards are a 'much of a muchness' these days and as such have not received the same attention Intel have been given over the past year. AMD it seems, have been thrown in the bottom drawer while Intel have taken pride of place on the mantelpiece. It's quite a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in at present as Intel's domination of the CPU market has stifled new technology. Sure, there have been some breakthroughs but it seems eons away since AMD and Intel were squaring up against one another, Mano ET Mano in a no holds barred contest of speed. Not since the very popular Opteron and x2 range of processors have AMD held any significant advantage over Intel. Of course, dedicated followers of AMD will beg to differ but the truth is Intel are reigning supreme and it looks like we are going to have a long wait until AMD catch up.
 
Last year we checked out AMD's progress with the Phenom chip and the AM2 socket. While Intel have jumped from Core2Duo, to Core2Quad and most recently Core i7, AMD have made just one switch with the AM3 socket and Phenom II CPU. Quietly busying themselves away, AMD have made advances in both chipset and CPU technology. The 790FX chipset is renown to be the best AMD platform since the good old Nforce 4 days and like I stated in our last visit to the AMD camp, all AMD need now is a CPU to match this chipsets potential. Today we believe that AMD have made a step in the right direction with the Phenom II 955 Black edition.
 
AM3 motherboards are a break away from the AM2/+ range of motherboards and will require a new AM3 compatible CPU. These CPU's carry 938pins where current AM2+ processors have 940.This drop in pin count is not the only change though. While the same 128bit memory controller is still in-situ, running in dual 64bit configuration for the memory, the major shift in speed is with the increase of the frequency from 1.8GHz to 2GHz. The kicker here is the hyper transport bus also increases in-line with the memory controller to match the 2GHz speed. Add DDR3 memory support with an official rating of 1333MHz (although this can be overclocked higher) and you have the makings of a speedy platform. The transistor count has been increased to around the 758 million mark thanks to a die shrink to 45nm. Also worthy of note is the price. For £150 you can have an unlocked top of the range AMD Phenom II 955 Black edition which is a drop in the ocean compared to the extortionate prices Intel are asking for there comparable Extreme Edition CPU's.
 
Today we have two 790FX based motherboards with which to test this new CPU on and will compare the performance of both motherboards with an X58/Intel i7 combination which is thrown in for good measure. The two boards we will be looking at will be like a throwback to the top performing motherboards of yesteryear. Anyone who had the fortune to enjoy the NForce 4 platform will remember the two top performing motherboards of the day, the Asus A8n32SLI Deluxe and the DFI Lanparty Ultra/Expert. Both of these motherboards could overclock socket 939 CPU's to amazing speeds, and the performance of these setups were enough to make Intel enthusiasts cry into there Pentium boxes. DFI, most would agree, were the victors in that previous battle so today it only seemed right that we pitch both manufacturers head to head once more.Both the Asus Crosshair III and DFI DK 790FX M3H5 are targeted toward the overclockers and gamers, much the same as the NF4 boards of yesterday so it will be good to see how each manufacturer has progressed in the AMD sector.
 
Specification
 
Before we take a look at both boards in details, let's take a moment to compare specifications:
 
  Asus Crosshair III Formula
DFI DK 790FXB M3H5
CPU
 
AMD® Phenom™ II processor
HyperTransport 3.0 (5200MT/s) HyperTransport 1.0 (2000/1600MT/s)
AMD OverDrive provides tuning options using the new Advanced Clock Calibration” overclocking feature.
CPU Socket 938 AM3 45nm
 
 
AMD® Phenom™ II processor
HyperTransport 3.0 (5200MT/s) HyperTransport 1.0 (2000/1600MT/s)
AMD OverDrive provides tuning options using the new Advanced Clock Calibration” overclocking feature.
CPU Socket 938 AM3 45nm
 
 
Chipset
 Northbridge: AMD 790FX
Southbridge: AMD SB750
Northbridge: AMD 790FX
Southbridge: AMD SB750
Memory
 Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets
 Supports DDR3 1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 MHz
 Delivers up to 21Gb/s bandwidth at 1333MHz
 Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
 Supports non-ECC unbuffered DIMMs
 Supports up to 16GB system memory.
 
Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets
Supports DDR3 1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 MHz
Delivers up to 21Gb/s bandwidth at 1333MHz
Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
Supports non-ECC unbuffered DIMMs
 Supports up to 16GB system memory.
 
Expansion Slots
 
2 PCI Express (Gen 2) x 16 slots (16x16)
3 PCI Express x1 slots
1x PCI slot
3 PCI Express (Gen 2) x16 slots (16x16x4)
3 PCI slots
 
Audio SupremeFX XFI expansion card
Realtek ALC885 8-channel HD Audio Codec
 
 
LAN Realtek Gigabit Lan ControllerMarvell 88E8056 PCIE Gigabit LAN controller
Storage
5x SATA
1x eSATA
Raid 0,1, 0+1 5 and 10 capable
1x IDE port (ATA133)
6x SATA
Raid 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and 10 capable
1x IDE port (ATA133)
Dimensions
ATX form factor
24.5cm (9.64") x 30.5cm (12")
 
ATX form factor
24.5cm (9.64") x 30.5cm (12")
 
 
 
As you can see, both boards are pretty much identical on paper with just a few subtle differences. The DFI employs 6 full fat SATA ports while the Asus offers extra connectivity in providing 5 SATA ports with an additional eSATA port. The DFI has 3 PCIe 16 slots opposed to the Asus's two, instead providing 3 PCIe 1x slots and a PCI slot instead of the DFI's 3x PCI slots. Both boards have approached the audio in different ways with the DFI using Realteks ALC885 chip and Asus making use of the ever popular SupremeFX X-FI riser card.
 
Let's firstly pay homage to the Asus motherboard before getting down and dirty with the DFI...
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Most Recent Comments

26-07-2009, 15:26:07

w3bbo
Have AMD made up any ground on Intel since we last checked them out? Find out as we pitch two AM3 motherboards against each other. You might be surprised!

http://www.overclock3d.net/gfx/artic...132619817l.jpg

Full Review Here

26-07-2009, 16:29:16

Rastalovich
Jeez I'm quite surprized tbh.

Excellent review.

Shame on DFI with some of their onboard choices ALC885 and Marvell ? c'mon - throw in the jumper and I'd expect the mobo to be cheaper.

The ASUS tho, even as the DFI kept up with it (and it can be assumed better with the model up), very very nice figures for the gamer.

Things are looking green whilst blue seems to want to confuse. Weird that cos in other respects AMD would be ... red

26-07-2009, 16:37:36

mayhem
Asus calling that a top of the range bord ...

If i was paying that much id expect 6 sata and water cooling blocks for the chip set and so much more ...

Is it relay worth that much ...

Excellent review.

26-07-2009, 16:39:45

w3bbo
Compared to the cost of i7 motherboards its a freakin bargain!

26-07-2009, 16:41:55

mayhem
yeh i7 is just extortion ...

What happened to our lovely sub 100 boards that used to perform like "some thing off a stick" ..

Now there filled with useless rubbish and fancy packaging that costs more than half the bit's inside the box.

I would like my 100 Sub boards that performed back .... This is a recession were in ...

God if i was a reviewer id be the most hated reviewer out there because im so critical or half the gear they stuff inside these things.

Reviews all say yeah you get 6 sata leads and a LCD and loads of fancy this and that. Me i say remove that and drop the price by 50 / 60 quid and ill be happy.

Half the Gimmicks are just that "Pure Gimmicks" nothing more.

Im trying to avoid this coming out as a rant more trying to point out facts.

Bling is just chav.....

Don't forget im a little old fashioned as well.

26-07-2009, 17:08:18

w3bbo
I totally agree. However I do like a well rounded product. Packaging is a major plus point with me and they score highly if its done right.

Prices have rocketted though I do agree and yeah they could cut out half the crap but when you compare the Asus vs the DFI here, both costing more or less the same the Asus wins hands down for the bling and accessories alone, let alone performance.

26-07-2009, 17:08:29

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'

Reviews all say yeah you get 6 sata leads and a LCD and loads of fancy this and that. Me i say remove that and drop the price by 50 / 60 quid and ill be happy.
The way I see it is that manufacturers tend to use these "Extras" as more of a way to justify the price to the public rather than to artificially inflate it (to extent).

SATA cables, LCD screens, fancy boxes are all bought in bulk...MASSIVE bulk from China or other cheap labour countries. At most every accessory in those boxes adds 5 to the price imo.

Take for example the Striker II...That was probably the most expensive lga775 board ever. But what most people didnt get was that the chipset alone cost ASUS 100 a piece, then ASUS had all of their board building costs on top of that, BIOS coding etc and at the end of the day when they totalled it up + adding profit, they realised oh sh*t..better make this at least appear to be "fully loaded" by jamming the box full of cheap extra's.

26-07-2009, 17:32:48

mayhem
Didnt know that jim but still who is artificially inflating these prices ... Intel and AMD (chip sets). They need to get there act together.

There trying to increase there profits the wrong way. Cheaper in build = Higher more sales figures. Expensive = less sales , less profit more annoyed customers.

We have to remember as over clocker's, modders , water cooler ect ect were the minority and all ways will be. But why should we pay a premium price just to be in the minority.

If manufactures such as Asus ect turned around and refused to pay there prices AMD and Intel would have no choice but to drop there prices and this in turn forcing the price down.

There is a big difference between common sense and greed....

As for packaging . i worked in a ice cream factory once. the ice cream cost 2p to make the box was 12p (btw that was real ice cream the cheaper stuff was 0.05p yet packaging was same price). Packing cost more than ppl know.

26-07-2009, 17:45:50

w3bbo
You have to remember that the high end chipsets we use will not be seen in the mainstream for some time. I had to lol the other day when PC world were advertising the next generation in computing - pentium IV. Buying premium products such as we do will always attract premium prices. Why else would AMD and Intel still cater for the enthusiast?

26-07-2009, 17:49:08

mayhem
so in other words we pay a premium to be a monky .....

As we test them to destruction and we have to pay over the odds for it.

26-07-2009, 17:50:34

w3bbo
You could buy a Dell for 200 but that wouldn't be nearly as much fun!

26-07-2009, 17:52:12

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'
Didnt know that jim but still who is artificialy inflating these prices ... Intel and AMD (chip sets). They need to get there act together.

There trying to increase there profits the wrong way. Cheaper in build = Higher more sales figures. Expensive = less sales , less profit my annoyed customers.

We have to remember as over clocker's, modders , water cooler ect ect were the minority and all ways will be. But why should we pay a premium price just to be in the minority.
Yeah agreed, but I do wonder sometimes if we (enthusiasts) are the problem. There are cheap motherboards out there, cheap CPU's too. You can buy some stupidly overclockable products (E7200 + ASRock) for next to nothing and almost double your speed with a bit of overclocking. But we dont. The roots we came from don't exist any more.

Its a bit like asking a Porsche owner why he didn't go and buy a Nova + a few grand of engine mods.

Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'

If manufactures such as Asus ect turned around and refused to pay there prices AMD and Intel would have no choice but to drop there prices and this in turn forcing the price down.
In this respect I think that motherboard manufacturers are in the same position as consumers. Until every motherboard manufacturer turns around to AMD/Intel/Nvidia and says "no, bugger off", nothing will happen.

Additionally if just ASUS was to say no, Gigabyte/DFI...etc would just use it as a chance to 'get in there first' with a new motherboard release.

Its a tough one to find a solution for and I'm certainly by no means sticking up for anyone. It's just things in the industry aren't as clear as they always seem. The people 'stiffing' us are often being 'stiffed' themselves on a much bigger scale.

26-07-2009, 18:13:45

mayhem
toatly agree here with what your saying.

Me i still love my route. take a E5200 and blow a q9* to peace's.... No world record braker but a 45 CPU blowing a 150 CPU is what over clocking is about.

yes i have 3 x q6600 but they were bought at 99 each (which at the time was a real bargain) yet i wont move to i7 or i5 for that matter because its pointless and the speed is no good because no software really needs it.

Were quickly running into the ground now as im still running a 8800 GT and that still plays games fine. maybe not at the best looking it can be but then again why pay more for only a small increase.

I feel as though if i buy new hardware im just joining the sheep. (personal feeling). As there is not 1 thing out there yet that will increase my system 25 to 50% more and make a Big difference or impact to make me go "I really need that" ...

I think thats why i like modding because the end result is some one turns around afterwards and goes "I really need that" or "I really what that" for the right reasons.

p.s have you worked on dells lately its all fun trying to install xp on them. it will take you a good few hours of hunting around on the net finding out why it BSODS while installing ... been there last week.

and last but not least . just to upset quite a lot of ppl. there is "NO" skill in over clocking any more. .... with the right pre bought tools any one can do it. If you gave me enough money or free stuff i dare say i can beat any world record. (would love to be proved wrong)...

27-07-2009, 03:01:36

denis6902
thats an ace thread, im following it up!

i feel like a stupid man sometimes cause i have an ace set of gear and i have no idea how to overclock :facepalm: Not to say i have a high end wc set and still i dunno how, besides when i try to my stupid striker II doesnt let me! i hate this dam mobo so fussy!

btw oc is not that esay may, cause none of the asus oc tools has ever worked for me.

great review webbo!

btw, when is asus changing their colour scheme, white and blue sucks hard, i thinnk its time for some black n red on connections or all red or all black

27-07-2009, 03:23:09

JN
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='mayhem'

and last but not least . just to upset quite a lot of ppl. there is "NO" skill in over clocking any more. .... with the right pre bought tools any one can do it. If you gave me enough money or free stuff i dare say i can beat any world record. (would love to be proved wrong)...
I wouldnt say "NO" skill, more like "Much Less" skill. There was a time where you had to play around with jumpers, dip switches and wiremods to achieve any kind of OC on your CPU. However, the process of overclocking has been simplified for quite some time now thanks to ABIT iirc for making the first motherboard with FSB options in the BIOS.

But there is some skill left in achieving the 'highest overclock'. FSB/Multi/Volts will only get you so far. Its the little tweaks, cooling mods, beta BIOS' etc that can make the difference between 4GHz and 4.4GHz. 'Knowing' your hardware does still play a part in the overclocking process, just not as much as it once did.

27-07-2009, 03:53:57

mayhem
I dunno it seems most of the work is taken out of it. As in guess work.

I cannot remember the last time i volt modded properly or pencil tricked a Chip to gain more ratio's or even wire wrapping the pins for different ratio's.

I still remember pushing the amiga's to get more speed and the TI99 and modding the hell out of it to gain speed and do things that no one on earth intended for it. These are the route's i have come from hence why i say there is no skill in over clocking any more.

I still remember buying my first voodoo 1 and blowing it up in less than 24 hrs due to over clocking and not fully understanding how it worked. After a quick exchange with the place i bought it (naughty of me) i was back up and running doing it all again. I still remember the rage 3d add on cards and things like that and the early matrox's.

The little tweak with modern day systems are mainly us humans playing and learning as we go along. A new MB comes out were pushed to see what each setting does does how it reacts to pushing it that little further. I still say over clocking now a days is not difficult provided you have the money or resources.

It all so help having or knowing which chips are from a so called good batch.

Maybe im old fashioned and i prefer the "Old " methods of over clocking were jumper's and a calculator's was needed and we sat there for hours working out how to chuck in a few extra cap's and resistors to get a better over clock and having to grab your Soyo MB and volt mod the hell out of it just for a 10% to 20% increase in speed.

I still remember the days sitting in the bedroom making a VIC 20 be as fast as a commodore 64 with the disbelief of my mate. and actually having to build my own Sinclair and having to use a milk bottle off the door step to cool it down long enough for it to work (extreme cooling then).

Think ill stand buy what i said ... Over clocking has lost its roots and again Over clocking isn't as skill full as people would like you to think. Ill agree though getting them very few extra Hrtz is now the challenge.

27-07-2009, 04:11:36

w3bbo
Overclocking is easier, no doubts about it. However it is only easier because you no longer need to mod boards and CPU's, most boards have all the options you will need. However, there is still a fair amount of skill involved as a stable overclock is what most folk want these days and to get the max out of a CPU AND make it stable takes patience and a fair amount of knowledge. No longer is it a case of ramping up the vCore and FSB - Knowing your GTL ref voltages from your drive strengths etc helps.

It is easier in the fact we now have the 'tools' to overclock but harder in the fact there are just so many 'tools' to choose from. I will however agree that overclocking has lost alot of it's roots as it used to be about getting a cheap chip andrunning it faster than the range toppers. Now it seems he who has the most dosh will get the fastest setup.

We are however going quite a long way of topic guys. This is a review thread.

27-07-2009, 04:21:48

mayhem
hehe . well in sorts its a discussion about over clocking and that's what these boards are but yeh off topic a little .

Still nice review any way lol ...

27-07-2009, 04:35:26

PopcornMachine
Quote:
Originally Posted by name='Jim'
Yeah agreed, but I do wonder sometimes if we (enthusiasts) are the problem. There are cheap motherboards out there, cheap CPU's too. You can buy some stupidly overclockable products (E7200 + ASRock) for next to nothing and almost double your speed with a bit of overclocking. But we dont. The roots we came from don't exist any more.
Interesting conversation. I kind of see what you're saying ... overclocking isn't as challenging as it used to be ... so not as much motivation for some of you.

But in a larger picture, I think people are getting ripped off because they don't know what overclocking will buy them and how easy it is to get a lot more for your money. I've built a few systems over the years, but never overclocked much becuase, to be honest, it kind of scared me. And I didn't realize that it is the way to get most out of your money.

So I started overclocking about a year ago. My current system is a Q6600 and found that it went to 3.0GHz without any voltage increase. After that it became a little harder, but now have it stable at 3.4GHz. It's in a Gigabyte P45-UD3P (not too expensive) and has two HD 4830s. They are set to the max allowable overclock and run in crossfire when playing games.

All in all, a not very expensive yet good gaming system. And folds nice too with the cards and a Linux VM. The important thing is I picked these parts with overclocking in mind because of the research I had done. Instead of buying the real expensive CPU and motherboard, which I probably would have done in the past.

30-07-2009, 04:08:06

Bungral
I have to disagree with some of what you've been saying Mayhem. Just because people don't have to hardmod their boards anymore, which wasn't necessarily an overclocking skill but more of an understanding of electronics skill, it doesn't mean there is no skill involved.

By saying there is absolutely no skill involved implies that someone who has never done it before could just walk up to a PC and overclock it. I know for a fact that isn't the case as I've just asked a couple of colleagues if they know what it is and how they would even attempt to go about it and they haven't a clue.

Also the comment above kind of confirms the point. I expect he's read up on how to overclock and has done an admirible just going to 3.4GHz on his Q6600. Point is that getting that stable at 4GHz can require quite an indepth knowledge of the motherboard and overclocking in general which I would call a skill.

Even then you can still mod boards if you want to / it's required. I was using a simple pencil mod on one of my boards up until recently to counter massive vdroop. Nothing major but still modding the board.

Saying there is no skill what so ever is a bit of an insult to anyone who has taken the time to bother reading up on it and make the effort.

On the subject of the review though... Nice one as ever Rich. Always look forward to the mobo reviews and at least it's not just another review of an X58 pumping out exactly the same results as all other X58's

30-07-2009, 05:18:03

BustaH
Amd platforms are really begining to come to the fore, its really good to see, still a way to go but its looking good. some real nice boards coming up at nice prices.

30-07-2009, 05:28:41

Rastalovich
Big thing would be to get SATA3 & USB3.0 on AMD mobos b4 Intel get a foot in.
Reply
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