Looking at the benchmarks we have run today it is clear that AMD have made up a lot of ground on Intel. Bang per buck there is no doubting that the AMD setup is the clear winner. £150 vs £220 is a no brainer, especially if you intend to run the CPU at stock speed where the AMD also happens to be the better performer. However, and here is the kicker, one has to consider that the benchmarks run today were at very different clockspeeds. Almost 600MHz separated the two CPU's and as such it was, in hindsight not the best comparison to make.
Had the Intel been overclocked to the same speed as the AMD I'm sure the results would have been much closer although dare I say it not close enough. The Intel setup is so much easier to overclock and 4-4.2GHz is easily attainable on most setups. This is in stark contrast to the AMD rig where even the range topping Phenom II x4 955 struggled to surpass 3.8GHz. So for now Intel still hold the crown as best performers but they better watch out because AMD are closing on them and if we were talking value for money, the AMD setup is by far and away the better setup.
The two AMD motherboards we had on test today were also different in that the Crosshair III is the flagship Asus AMD board whereby the DFI DK 790FXB M3H5 is DFI's mid range option. This was no more evident than in the packaging and presentation. Think of Ferrari vs Porsche and you are almost there. The Asus screamed premium from the outside of the box to the accessories included whereby the DFI just seemed to go through the motions with little improvement bar the exterior design of there packaging from over 2 years ago. Much more thought had gone into presenting the Asus board, that much was clear.
Performance wise I would have to give that to the Asus too, just. There was very little to separate the motherboards but overall I think it's fair to say the Asus Crosshair III just edged it in the benchmarks. One area which I expected the DFI to win hands down was the overclocking arena. DFI have long been the masters of overclocking and have attracted enthusiasts by the bus load thanks to the complex yet easy to navigate BIOS. I would like to say nothing has changed but surprisingly it has. The DFI still has an amazing BIOS but the Asus is much easier to follow and now has the options to compete with the DFI.
The overall overclocking experience of both boards was very different. I enjoyed the process with the Asus but felt very frustrated with the DFI. I don't know whether it was because I was expecting much more from the DFI or not as you have to remember this is not DFI's range topper. Then again, neither was the DFI nForce Ultra back in the day but you would never hear me complain about that as it was the best board out at the time and overclocking that was a pleasure. Perhaps the thing that frustrated me most was the very poor overclock recovery of the DFI. I seemed to spend more time trying to get the board to post than I did actually testing it and the EZ switches on this board did not seem to work as well as previous DFI boards I have tested. Also, what were DFI thinking putting a jumper on the backplate too, surely a button is not too much to ask for?
While the DFI did gain the upperhand in the overclocking department, the time and effort spent in getting that extra 80MHz was the most infuriating I have had overclocking in a long time.
It appears DFI have taken a backward step and as such Asus have taken the initiative by making a very solid motherboard that not only looks the part but can hold it's own against both AMD motherboards and Intel setups too. Both motherboards are priced competitively at around the £140 mark. With that in mind I would place my money on the Asus as even though it didn't quite match the overclock of the DFI, it was by far the more superior product in all other areas assessed.
Asus Crosshair III
- A1 packaging
- Excellent performance
- On boards switches
- 5 SATA ports
- Ageing ROG colour scheme
- 2x PCIe x16 ports
- Memory slots too close to CPU socket
DFI 790FXB M3H5
- Best overclocker out of the two boards on test
- 6 SATA Ports
- UV Design
- CrossfireX Compatible
- Diagnostic LED (not enough info)
- Interior packaging dated
- Poor switches, both in design and function
- Memory slots too close to CPU socket
- Jumper on I/O shield