The animated ROG emblem bursts onto your screen during POST but this can be changed to the standard device detection and configuration if you wish by pressing the .del key and entering the BIOS itself. The first screen you will see is perhaps the screen you will use most if you like to tweak settings to get the most out of your PC setup. Asus call this section the Extreme Tweaker which has all the major overclocking settings available, each with sub-menus and pop up screens.
If you don't fancy messing with the massive array of options available then Asus will allow basic overclocks using preconfigured settings with the CPU Level Up feature which for our test CPU allows 3.4, 3.6 and 3.8GHz overclocks. Before we get to the nitty gritty of the Extreme Tweaker options you would be best to visit the CPU configuration section where various utilities can be enabled or disabled depending on your preference.
DRAM frequency can be tweaked to four different settings (dependent on FSB and DDR SPD setting). The settings can be set either by the +/- keys or via the use of a pop up menu which is navigated by the arrow keys.
Both the Northbridge and HT Link Speed are highly tweak-able with a huge range of frequencies. Aside from the DRAM timing and frequencies one can also configure the memory controller by enabling or disabled a variety of features allowing the user to obtain greater compatibility and stability.
A great feature of the 790FX chipset is the ganged/unganged feature. Ganged allows both memory controllers on the Phenom to work together. Unganged allows the memory controllers to work independently of one another allowing each controller to work asynchronously with each DIMM channel. So in effect you could run two different sets of DDR3 together on the same motherboard making the upgrade path easier.
Delving further into the memory options we arrive at the timings section which is as complete/complex as any other memory section I have seen. This section is spread over two screens so what timings you can't find here are simply not worth having. Much the same could be said regarding the voltage area which has some seriously insane options available, especially if you enable Extreme OV setting. Asus remind the user of the level of voltage with blue, yellow and red coloured font depending on the severity of the voltage. If that wasn't enough Asus also give various other warnings such as 'Setting over 1.75v may 'damage CPU permanently!' and 'Please use better cooling!'. Thanks Asus, where would we be without you!
Memory Data and Control reference voltages can be also be tweaked to get that extreme overclock stable with a wide array of options available on both channels. The tweaking doesn't stop there though because in a separate section of the Extreme Tweaker, the included LCD poster can be tweaked in the BIOS to your display preferences as can the on board LED's.
After you are done with all of your tweaking you can view the results (after an F10 and reboot to save the settings) which are available in the Power section. Voltage, Temperature and fan speed readouts can be monitored here. The attached fans can also be set to your cooling/audible preference here too.
It would be a shame if you spent time setting up the board to your preferences only for it to fail POST meaning a CMOS reset along with entering them all again with a few adjustments. For this reason, Asus allow the user to save upto 8 profiles so you could say have one for stock speeds, another for mild, another for extreme benching etc.
The Asus BIOS was a doddle to navigate and most of the options will be familiar to anyone adept to overclocking. There are also many not so familiar options available which will no doubt tempt the most ardent overclocker to explore. Even if you are not into tweaking until the early hours, Asus have made a BIOS which is simple to use for anyone at any level. There were a few occasions where I encountered a little stuttering during navigation which made navigating a little cumbersome at times but other than that, I doubt anyone would be unhappy with the massive array of options available on the Crosshair III Formula.
So with a full fat package and heavyweight BIOS, the DFI motherboard will certainly have it's work cut out if it is to better the Asus board. Let's take a look at how DFI have presented their product...