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

Introduction

Introduction
 
It's been quite some time since we reviewed any motherboards from the green camp of AMD. With Intel's stranglehold on the CPU market, one might say that AMD motherboards are a 'much of a muchness' these days and as such have not received the same attention Intel have been given over the past year. AMD it seems, have been thrown in the bottom drawer while Intel have taken pride of place on the mantelpiece. It's quite a sad state of affairs we find ourselves in at present as Intel's domination of the CPU market has stifled new technology. Sure, there have been some breakthroughs but it seems eons away since AMD and Intel were squaring up against one another, Mano ET Mano in a no holds barred contest of speed. Not since the very popular Opteron and x2 range of processors have AMD held any significant advantage over Intel. Of course, dedicated followers of AMD will beg to differ but the truth is Intel are reigning supreme and it looks like we are going to have a long wait until AMD catch up.
 
Last year we checked out AMD's progress with the Phenom chip and the AM2 socket. While Intel have jumped from Core2Duo, to Core2Quad and most recently Core i7, AMD have made just one switch with the AM3 socket and Phenom II CPU. Quietly busying themselves away, AMD have made advances in both chipset and CPU technology. The 790FX chipset is renown to be the best AMD platform since the good old Nforce 4 days and like I stated in our last visit to the AMD camp, all AMD need now is a CPU to match this chipsets potential. Today we believe that AMD have made a step in the right direction with the Phenom II 955 Black edition.
 
AM3 motherboards are a break away from the AM2/+ range of motherboards and will require a new AM3 compatible CPU. These CPU's carry 938pins where current AM2+ processors have 940.This drop in pin count is not the only change though. While the same 128bit memory controller is still in-situ, running in dual 64bit configuration for the memory, the major shift in speed is with the increase of the frequency from 1.8GHz to 2GHz. The kicker here is the hyper transport bus also increases in-line with the memory controller to match the 2GHz speed. Add DDR3 memory support with an official rating of 1333MHz (although this can be overclocked higher) and you have the makings of a speedy platform. The transistor count has been increased to around the 758 million mark thanks to a die shrink to 45nm. Also worthy of note is the price. For £150 you can have an unlocked top of the range AMD Phenom II 955 Black edition which is a drop in the ocean compared to the extortionate prices Intel are asking for there comparable Extreme Edition CPU's.
 
Today we have two 790FX based motherboards with which to test this new CPU on and will compare the performance of both motherboards with an X58/Intel i7 combination which is thrown in for good measure. The two boards we will be looking at will be like a throwback to the top performing motherboards of yesteryear. Anyone who had the fortune to enjoy the NForce 4 platform will remember the two top performing motherboards of the day, the Asus A8n32SLI Deluxe and the DFI Lanparty Ultra/Expert. Both of these motherboards could overclock socket 939 CPU's to amazing speeds, and the performance of these setups were enough to make Intel enthusiasts cry into there Pentium boxes. DFI, most would agree, were the victors in that previous battle so today it only seemed right that we pitch both manufacturers head to head once more.Both the Asus Crosshair III and DFI DK 790FX M3H5 are targeted toward the overclockers and gamers, much the same as the NF4 boards of yesterday so it will be good to see how each manufacturer has progressed in the AMD sector.
 
Specification
 
Before we take a look at both boards in details, let's take a moment to compare specifications:
 
  Asus Crosshair III Formula
DFI DK 790FXB M3H5
CPU
 
AMD® Phenom™ II processor
HyperTransport 3.0 (5200MT/s) HyperTransport 1.0 (2000/1600MT/s)
AMD OverDrive provides tuning options using the new Advanced Clock Calibration” overclocking feature.
CPU Socket 938 AM3 45nm
 
 
AMD® Phenom™ II processor
HyperTransport 3.0 (5200MT/s) HyperTransport 1.0 (2000/1600MT/s)
AMD OverDrive provides tuning options using the new Advanced Clock Calibration” overclocking feature.
CPU Socket 938 AM3 45nm
 
 
Chipset
 Northbridge: AMD 790FX
Southbridge: AMD SB750
Northbridge: AMD 790FX
Southbridge: AMD SB750
Memory
 Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets
 Supports DDR3 1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 MHz
 Delivers up to 21Gb/s bandwidth at 1333MHz
 Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
 Supports non-ECC unbuffered DIMMs
 Supports up to 16GB system memory.
 
Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM sockets
Supports DDR3 1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 MHz
Delivers up to 21Gb/s bandwidth at 1333MHz
Supports dual channel (128-bit wide) memory interface
Supports non-ECC unbuffered DIMMs
 Supports up to 16GB system memory.
 
Expansion Slots
 
2 PCI Express (Gen 2) x 16 slots (16x16)
3 PCI Express x1 slots
1x PCI slot
3 PCI Express (Gen 2) x16 slots (16x16x4)
3 PCI slots
 
Audio SupremeFX XFI expansion card
Realtek ALC885 8-channel HD Audio Codec
 
 
LAN Realtek Gigabit Lan ControllerMarvell 88E8056 PCIE Gigabit LAN controller
Storage
5x SATA
1x eSATA
Raid 0,1, 0+1 5 and 10 capable
1x IDE port (ATA133)
6x SATA
Raid 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and 10 capable
1x IDE port (ATA133)
Dimensions
ATX form factor
24.5cm (9.64") x 30.5cm (12")
 
ATX form factor
24.5cm (9.64") x 30.5cm (12")
 
 
 
As you can see, both boards are pretty much identical on paper with just a few subtle differences. The DFI employs 6 full fat SATA ports while the Asus offers extra connectivity in providing 5 SATA ports with an additional eSATA port. The DFI has 3 PCIe 16 slots opposed to the Asus's two, instead providing 3 PCIe 1x slots and a PCI slot instead of the DFI's 3x PCI slots. Both boards have approached the audio in different ways with the DFI using Realteks ALC885 chip and Asus making use of the ever popular SupremeFX X-FI riser card.
 
Let's firstly pay homage to the Asus motherboard before getting down and dirty with the DFI...
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Most Recent Comments

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 Quote

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.Quote

26-07-2009, 16:39:45

w3bbo
Compared to the cost of i7 motherboards its a freakin bargain!Quote

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.Quote

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.Quote
Reply
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