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.
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.
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.
As you would expect from a high-end motherboard, the contents list is comprehensive.
• 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:
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.
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