Asus Crosshair IV Extreme

Lucid Hydra - An Overview

Lucid Hydra 200 Series

Asus Crosshair IV Extreme

Before I get started, I wanted to summarise Lucid Hydra in a few words.

At present, ATi and nVidia incorporate a similar means of implementing Multi GPU technology - Alternate Frame Rendering (AFR). As the name suggests, each graphics card is responsible for the rendering of each frame in a game. It may sound crude and in fairness it does sound a little primitive. Obviously the implementation works well but it isn't flawless either.

Lucid's implementation is a lot more complex. The Hydra processing unit is designed to link with either the northbridge or processor. While the approach requires a dedicated Lucid chip, it also requires a very clever driver. Normally, the graphics card's driver would handle Direct X and OpenGL commands, but instead Mr Lucid acts as a middle man. The software carefully considers the power required for each command, then appropriately balances the load between each graphics card. It should be mentioned that Lucid splits the same frame and recompiles it.

On paper it sounds like a solid concept and our previous experience with it reveals respectable performance gains.

So what's in it for you?

In the past, we have already worked on motherboards featuring Lucid Hydra technology. However, most implementations that we have seen are used to make the northbridge’s PCI-Express functionality redundant. Usually, this is because previous Lucid boards have utilised relatively entry level chipsets which lack in the PCI-E lane department anyway. This is where the Crosshair IV Extreme stands out.

So what exactly does Lucid Hydra bring to the table?

With the exception of “hacked” SLI drivers, the only way to go about a SLI setup on Socket AM3 was to buy into relatively unpopular nVidia 980a MCP core logic. Quite predictably, if you decide to follow that route you can forget about using ATi’s CrossfireX technology. You simply cannot win… until now.

Lucid’s Multi GPU implementation is entirely independent of the core logic and graphics cards that it must interface with. This means the technology can be deployed on most chipsets but can also leverage the power of multiple ATi, nVidia and Mixed GPU configurations.

What I have said thus far applies to all Lucid equipped motherboards. However, Asus’ design offers a greater level of flexibility.

Asus Crosshair IV Extreme

As shown above, the Crosshair IV Extreme allows the end user to harness the 890FX’s native 16x/16x lane CrossfireX, any of Lucid’s Dual/Triple/Quad configurations…or both. As Lucid Hydra is (by comparison to SLI/Crossfire) in its infancy, it could well be the case that a particular ATi Multi GPU arrangement might perform better with Crossfire’s proven “Alternate Frame Rendering” technique. At any rate, the ability to use either technology is very useful indeed.

Also note that even with Lucid operation, the CH4E always draws one 16x lane to the primary graphics card. Meanwhile Lucid pulls another 16x lane to handle the rest of the graphics cards in the configuration. In effect, the Crosshair IV Extreme has more PCI-Express lanes to play with, compared to previously reviewed samples such as the MSI 870A FUZION Power Edition.

Asus Crosshair IV Extreme     Asus Crosshair IV Extreme

Note that 4 way Lucid "A" and "N" modes will be available with a driver shortly.

Upon face value, it seems clear that the Crosshair IV Extreme has an incredibly flexible Multi GPU arrangement, which should suit every enthusiast’s needs.

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Most Recent Comments

29-09-2010, 19:28:31

Good review as usual though it did seem a little short. I had a bad feeling regarding the actively cooled heatsink when i first looked at the board a few weeks back, out of interest how hot does it get when the fan is unplugged? Hydra performance is thankfully better than i expected too. At £250 its not cheap especially with AMD's new none compatible CPU's coming quite soon. Never the less I will give this board some serious consideration for my new build.Quote

29-09-2010, 19:34:47

Originally Posted by tinytomlogan View Post

At last, it's finally here. After four weeks of examining Asus' flagship AMD motherboard, what do we think of it?

Continue Reading
there is no graph for metro fella

man i realy wished this performed better its a shame thoQuote

29-09-2010, 20:08:41

I must admit that I'm not a fan of the ROG motherboards. I liked the CHIV but this one goes too far with add on crap that's all a bit pointless.

I mean sure, if you are a gadget freak then it may appeal to you, but the bottom line on a board of this cost is function. Function should come over form as it does with the MSI.

Yet it wasn't even able to match the MSI's bottom line function.

So all of the stick on tat does very little if it is being compared to what I would call a budget board.

It was the same with my CHII ROG. Loads of stupid tat (The LED poster for one) that was fun for about five minutes and then got old fast. The only thing I really liked on that board that explained away the premium price was the cmos reset on the IO shield - that was bloody marvellous. But the rest? I ended up disconnecting the LED poster after about six boots never to use it again.

And then I got my M3A32 deluxe wifi which was also a very expensive board, yet doesn't have any silly bits on and has far more to offer in the way of function.

Again I suppose Asus are going to cater to many people with this board, but what with this, the Ares, the Mars II (if it ever comes along) and that add in board previewed today I just worry sometimes that they are being a bit over indulgent and started to fritter away their successes on stupid stuff.

It's all starting to seem a little... How do you say it?... EVGA.

Sorry if I sound harsh or pessimistic, I am only thinking aloud. But I think this time MSI have shown that stuff like this and EVGA boards are all rather pointless.

Thanks ever so much as ever for the reviews guys. Quote

30-09-2010, 01:11:52

hi, i wanted to know if any of you readers, or even tom could tell me if this mobo is able to boot from a PCI e slot. im looking to build a system and have been hoping this board comes out, but was set on getting the formula. the only thing holding me back was the fact that it couldnt boot from pcie. i was planning on an OCZ RevoDrive ( but on the OCZ site, it states, "-Asus Crosshair IV – Please check with motherboard manufacturer for BIOS update to enable boot over PCIe." basically, with the new board, has the bios been updated to allow pci e booting? or am i still SOL...Quote

30-09-2010, 03:52:20

PCIE booting is not something we test for so Im affraid you will have to look on the Asus website for specifics dude sorry Quote

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