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

Asus Crosshair III BIOS

BIOS Options
 
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.
 
frontend extreme tweaker
 
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.
 
CPU level up CPU features
 
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.
 
DRAM frequency CPU frequency
 
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.
 
HT linkspeed DRAM controller
 
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.
 
 unganged swizzle
 
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!
 
timings voltages
 
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.
 
ref voltages LCD
 
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.
 
volt monitor voltage readout
 
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.
 
temp readout OC Profile
 
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...
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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.
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