Asus Crosshair II AM2+ Motherboard

Packaging & Contents

Being familiar with the ROG range of motherboards based on the Intel chipset, I am happy to report that the familiar quality packaging and bundled accessories fail to disappoint with the latest addition to the ROG range. Asus really shine in this department with solid, glossy cardboard packing featuring everything you need to know about the board from the specs, features, down to the included software.
  front back
Starting with the exterior, it’s clear to see the box design is heavily influenced by the included Company of Heroes/Opposing Fronts game. The box background looks like a brick from the Berlin Wall, which is aptly emblazoned with a crosshair hovering over the embossed and reflective Crosshair II Formula title. The ROG logo and sketch effect hint at the performance this board will deliver. The nForce 780a SLI emblem confirmed our suspicions.
Carrying on with the Crosshair theme, the rear of the package gives an in-depth specification of the motherboard along with some of the more attractive features such as Overclocking, EZ DIY, Full versions of COH:OF and the Supreme FX, all of which I will go into greater detail later in the review. Asus’ usual 3 year warranty is confirmed by a label toward the bottom of the base along with age restrictions for the game and the various addresses of Asus from around the world.
Worthy of mention is a very secure, plastic carry handle which can be popped out of the top for those who wisely won’t trust a 10p carrier bag with their newly purchased hardware. Asus really have outdone themselves with this packaging, but it doesn’t stop there. Pop the Velcro-secured lid off the front and you are greeted with yet more information on the board which goes into further detail with regards to the many features this board has to offer. The lid section concentrates on the features that will appeal to the performance enthusiast such as CPU level up, 8+2 phase power design, Extreme tweaker, Voltminder and COP EX. Adjacent to this is an introduction into ROG and below, EZ-DIY and EL I/O. To the base of the lid we get the bundled software: Company of Heroes, 3dMark06 and Kaspersky Antivirus.
lid1 lid2
The lower section goes on to describe the cooling capabilities of the board with the new ‘Pin-Fin’ design of the MCP heat sink. With thermal imaging and a cut-out showing the heat sink itself, it is clear Asus believe this is yet another key selling point of the board. Finally, towards the bottom of the box is another cut out showing the Supreme FX II sound card which is now an established feature of ROG boards.
Opening the box we find that the motherboard is encased in a plastic container with sufficient anti-static properties and which should also protect the board from damage during transit – a much better option than the anti-static bags of old. Along with the board we also find a large accessory box.
board accessories
As you would expect from a high-end motherboard, the contents list is comprehensive.

contents• 3-Way SLI Bridge
• SLI Bridge
• HDMI/DVI converter
• ASUS Optional Fan
• 3 in 1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
• UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable 
• Floppy disk drive cable
• SATA cables
• SATA power cables
• 2-port USB2.0 module+IEEE1394a module
• ASUS Q-Shield
• Cable Ties
• User's manual
Some of the more interesting accessories are pictured below:
 lcd q-connector

Here we see the updated version of the LCD poster. This is a really useful accessory, as no more do we need the BIOS beep codes of old nor the digital LED codes on the motherboard itself. This little gadget will tell you where your POST problems are by displaying numerous readouts in (almost) plain English, such as CPU Init (CPU initialisation), DET DRAM (Detecting Ram), DET VRAM (detecting Video Ram) etc etc. A very handy tool for those troublesome times when your PC refuses to boot due to first installation or through overambitious overclocking. Not only will it aid in troubleshooting, but it can also be set to display your own custom display string or the (default) time. Whatever setting you choose, it can be displayed with or without the blue backlight.
Another familiar feature of high-end motherboards is the 3-in-1 Q-connectors. These are a time and hassle saving feature that enables the system builder to quickly and safely connect the motherboard headers as well as the USB and Firewire front-panel connectors should you have them. As the connectors themselves are clearly labeled, there shouldn’t be any more need to fumble with that Mag-light when finalising your build.
shield sli

Here’s a handy little ‘feature’ - the Asus Q-Shield I/O backplate. How many times have you built your setup only to find that the metal fingers on the backplate are either blocking (or worse) sticking in the USB, firewire ports etc? The Q-Shield does away with them but still keeps the static away from the motherboard using a padded shield. The backplate is printed matte-grey and is clearly labeled, although it doesn’t light up as with some other I/O plates from the ROG range. In addition to the above accessories, Asus have also included 2 SLI bridges: an extra long floppy-type bridge as well as a dual ‘hard’ PCB type bridge for use in 3-way SLI. 

sound sound1

Finally we come to the Asus SupremeFX II sound card. Once again, this is a staple addition to the ROG range of boards. It’s good to see Asus coming to the realisation that users of high-end boards are unlikely to be satisfied with on-board sound and as such give you the option of installing their own ‘freebie’ or using your own card. While the SupremeFX is not exactly high-end, it is much better than the usual on-board sound solutions and perfectly adequate in satisfying your everyday audio needs. Also, being PCIe x1, it won’t take up that much room on your motherboard should you intend to use a multi-GPU setup.
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Most Recent Comments

16-06-2008, 05:59:54

Very good review! Not really that good a board?

Only 11k on 3DMark06 with a 9800GX2?Quote

16-06-2008, 07:10:20

It's an AM2 board mate

That is some pricey board right there whoaQuote

16-06-2008, 07:20:54

Hybrid SLI working yet chaps?

Good review as always, nice work Rich. Quote

16-06-2008, 10:44:41

Originally Posted by name='Toxcity'
Very good review! Not really that good a board?

Only 11k on 3DMark06 with a 9800GX2?
Yeah m8, I was innitially dissappointed with the score but when you consider its AM2 the the scores can't really be compared to the performance of Core2.

Originally Posted by name='Kempez'
It's an AM2 board mate

That is some pricey board right there whoa
Yeah - dunno if I would pay that with AMD lagging behind like they are.

Originally Posted by name='Azza'
Hybrid SLI working yet chaps?

Good review as always, nice work Rich.
Cheers m8. Hybrid SLI does work....sometimes. Occassionally it would refuse to automatically come out of hybrid SLI and lag like hell as the 3d game was running of the onboard vga @ 2560x1600 which I'm sure you can imagine was a very WTF moment. Took me a while to realise it was the onboard VGA doing its thing lol. All it took was a quick restart and things were back to normal. Most of the time it was unoticable so must have been working fine. Maybe a driver issue?

I tested the on board VGA's capabilities more indepth in the 780a preview hence it's sparse inclusion in the actual motherboard review.Quote

16-06-2008, 11:05:20

nice looking board, and good review

nice to see AMD fans arnt left out of the current market, all this new tech spring up left, right, and center, its good to see Asus havent just left AMD behind..Quote

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