ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard
Today we have the opportunity to take an in depth look at the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is an AMD based motherboard that is based on AMD's 890FX chipset. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard is the cream of the crop when it comes to AMD based motherboards from ASUS. Though the price tag of $225 may cause some to shy away, for those that are willing to pay a premium for an enthusiast board, a premium board is what you will get! Though before we look at the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula, let's take a look at the AMD 890FX chipset that is used on it. AMD officially announced the 890FX chipset back in April; this happened to concur with the release of the new Phenom II X6 processors. The 890 series and the Phenom II X6's combined with the Radeon HD 5000 series graphics card make up the new Leo platform. One of the features of the AMD 890FX chipset that differs from the previous generations of chipsets is the memory configurations. When using the AMD 890FX chipset you will be limited to using DDR3, although the Phenom II X6's are still able to be placed in AM2+ platforms that will take advantage of DDR2.
AMD's 890FX chipset has a couple of significant differences when compared to the 890GX chipset. The first and most obvious on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is the lack of onboard graphics while the 890GX features the Radeon HD 4290 integrated graphics. The second and quite possibly the most important to the enthusiast looking for the best performance from the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula when running in CrossfireX is the number of PCI Express lanes. The 890GX chipset is limited to 16 lanes while the 890FX chipset has double that at 32 lanes. Most people will most likely never notice a difference unless of course you are one of the lucky ones that can afford a pair of ATI Radeon HD 5970's or one of the insane ones who is lucky enough to pick up a pair of the ASUS ARES. Another significant difference is the IOMMU (input/output memory management unit). This is a feature that is typically available only on server boards, though is included in the 890FX chipset only when comparing the 8xx series chipsets. According to AMD: The IOMMU (input/output memory management unit) included with the 890FX chipset is a function of a chipset that enables enhancements to system-level software and that prevents illegal access of memory by I/O devices. By preventing illegal access of memory, the IOMMU can prevent problems with latency. An IOMMU can map device memory addresses to physical memory addresses, but in a manner that is transparent to the device hardware. The IOMMU automates the translation between the physical address of the I/O device and the host system.
Though I digress, the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is the fourth board in the ASUS Crosshair series. For those that are new to the enthusiast scene or that are beginning to realize that yes, AMD is pushing out products with some serious performance. The Crosshair series is the top of the line boards from ASUS. With features such as ROG Connect, GameFirst, Loadline Calibration, Extreme Tweaker and many more features offered by the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula we have a lot to cover. Below is a down and dirty specifications chart and on the next page we will start looking at the features much more in depth.
|CPU||AMD Socket AM3: Phenom II, Athlon II, Sempron 100 Series Processors
AMD 140W CPU Support
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Technology
Supports 45nm CPU
|System Bus||Up to 5200 MT/s ; HyperTransport 3.0|
|Memory||4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066
Dual Channel memory architecture
|Expansion Slots||3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (dual @ x16, triple @x16 x8 x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
2 x PCI 2.2
|Multi-GPU Support||Support ATI CrossFireX Technology graphics cards|
6 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports Support RAID 0,1,5,10
JMicron JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
1 xSATA 3Gb/s port (Black)
1 xExternal power SATA 3Gb/s port on rear (SATA On-the-Go)
|LAN||Marvell 8059 Gigabit LAN controller|
|Audio||SupremeFX X-Fi built-in 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- EAX Advanced HD 4.0
- X-Fi CMSS-3D
- X-Fi Crystalizer
- Creative ALchemy
- Supports Blu-ray audio layer content protection
- Supports 1 Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
- Supports 1 x S/PDIF out header
- Supports Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
|IEEE 1394||2 x 1394a port(s) (1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)|
|USB||NEC USB 3.0 controller
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports (at back I/O)
AMD SB850 chipset
- 12 x USB 2.0 ports (5 ports at mid-board, 7 ports at back I/O, 1 port at back I/O is also for ROG connect)
|Overclocking Features||ROG Connect
- 8+2 phase CPU power design
CPU Level Up
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- ASUS TurboV Evo
- O.C Profile
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
|Special Features||Turbo Unlocker
Turbo Key II
ASUS Q-Fan 2
ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
ASUS MyLogo 3
|Back Panel I/O Ports||1 x External SATA
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
1 x IEEE 1394a
1 x LAN(RJ45) port
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports
7 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (1 port is also for ROG Connect)
1 x ROG Connect On/Off switch
1 x Clr CMOS switch
|Internal I/O Connectors||3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 5 USB 2.0 ports
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors (Red)
1 x SATA 3Gb/s connectors (Black)
8 x Fan connectors: 1 x CPU / 1 x PWR / 3 x Chassis / 3 x Optional
7 x ProbeIt measurement points
3 x Thermal sensor connectors
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x SPDIF_out connector
1 x 24-pin ATX power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V power connector
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS switch
1 x Core unlocker switch
1 x Turbo key II switch
1 x Power on switch
1 x Reset switch
1 x OC Station Header
1 x Go Button
System panel connector
|BIOS||16 Mb Flash ROM AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI2.0a
1 x I/O Shield
1 x ROG Connect Cable
1 x 2-in-1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
1 x 2-in-1 SATA 6.0Gb/s Cables
2 x 2-in-1 SATA 3.0Gb/s Signal Cables
1 x 2-port USB2.0 + ESATA Module
1 x Crossfire Cable
1 x Cable Ties Pack
1 x ROG Theme Label
1 x 12-in-1 ROG Cable Label
|Support Disc||Support DVD:
- Drivers and applications
* ASUS PC Probe II
* ASUS Update
* ASUS AI Suite
* Sound Blaster X-Fi Utility
* Kaspersky Anti-Virus 1-year license
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x24.5 cm )
Now that you know everything that there is to know about the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula 890FX motherboard, that concludes our review today. Okay, I'm kidding. Over the next couple of pages we are going to take a tour of the retail bundle and the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula board itself. While we are taking the tour, we will take a look at the key features and then we will look at the performance of the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula!
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard Box and Bundle
The front of the retail packaging for the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is kept free and clear of marketing text, yet the packaging has an eye catching appearance that will make you want to handle it. This is a key marketing technique for those lucky enough to live close enough to a retail location that carries products of this caliber.
Once you have the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula in hand you can flip the cover of the package open to reveal the Crosshair IV Formula itself. As you can plainly see, it follows the same color scheme as all of the current Republic of Gamers products.
Once the cover is flipped and you are done oohing and aahing over the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula, we can get our first taste of marketing text from ASUS.
- ROG Connect allows you to monitor the status of the ASUS Crosshair IV formula and tweak the settings via a notebook and a USB cable (included). All of the on the fly adjustments are done at a hardware level.
- GameFirst allows you to manage the flow of traffic according to your needs. This allows you to still listen to online music, download and upload files, and engage in Internet chats without sacrificing the low ping times you need to pwn your opponents!
- ProbeIt takes the guesswork out of locating the motherboard’s measurement points, identifying them clearly in the form of 7 sets of detection points so you’ll know exactly where to get quick yet accurate readings using a multimeter.
The back of the retail packaging for the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula features a specifications chart and a few close up images of the board that highlight some of the features. Unlike the past three revisions of the ASUS Crosshair, the Crosshair IV has the audio built into the motherboard. The previous three revisions have used an add-in card. This time around ASUS opted to integrate the SupremeFX X-Fi.
The sides of the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula aren't real exciting, although they do give you the Republic of Gamers logo, ASUS brand logo, and the Crosshair IV Formula name.
Once you start pulling apart the packaging you find that you have an additional couple of boxes. The first of which comes with a plastic lid and includes the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard. The second includes the retail bundle.
Above is how the retail bundle looks when you receive it.
The retail bundle for the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula includes everything you will need to set up a system.
- User Guide
- Driver/Utility Disc
- USB/E-SATA expansion bracket
- Six SATA cables
- I/O panel
- Crossfire Bridge
- Several Zip Ties for cable management
- USB cable for the ROG Connect (six foot)
- And a Republic of Gamers Decal
Now that we have taken a look at the retail packaging and the bundle that comes with the Crosshair IV Formula motherboard, let's step up the excitement a bit and take a look at the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard itself!
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard Layout
Now we get to the part where all the magic starts to happen! Here we will be able to take an in depth look at the components that make the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula tick. The first feature that stands out to me, aside from the Republic of Gamers Red and Black color scheme, is the heatsink assembly. The heatsink assembly is connected with a single heatpipe that aids in keeping all the components nice and cool. Though that isn't the particular part that does it for me, what does is the unique design and shape of the individual heatsinks. If you are a fan of showing off your components, these will undoubtedly draw some attention!
Starting the tour by the memory slots, there are a couple of features that I like about the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula. The first feature that I notice is where you place the memory to take advantage of the dual channel architecture. Unlike the 890GX boards that I have taken a look at here and here, the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula separates the DIMMS for better cooling of the memory. Just below the DIMM slots are the ProbeIt points. There are a total of nine points to measure voltage, two of which are grounds, one at either end. The other points are VDDNB1, SB, HT, NB, DRAM1 CPU_PLL, and CPU1. To the left of these are the 24 pin EATX power and a 4-pin chassis fan header. Just below the 24-pin plug is a set of four LED's. These are POST state LED's; if there is a situation of POST failure the LED that is next to the component that is having issues will light up and help narrow down the issue. Fortunately, during my experience with the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula I didn't have to use these since the board never had an issue.
Moving further down the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula we will start by looking at the little red button. Typically in my experience a little red button isn't a good thing; in this case, though, it is. If it is depressed prior to firing up the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula it will enable the MemOK feature. MemOK is a technology that is able to determine failsafe memory settings that can dramatically improve system booting success. If the Go Button is depressed once the system is already loaded into Windows, it will automatically overclock the system to a predetermined profile. Next to the Go Button we have the six red SATA 6Gb/s ports and one black SATA port that can be used for the USB/E-SATA bracket that is included in the retail bundle. Next to the E-SATA port there is one of the many fan headers. Above the SATA ports we can see the SB850 chipset heatsink. Next to the heatsink is the i.R.O.G. chip.
- The iROG is a special IC which enables several ROG highlighted functions that gives users full disposal of the motherboard at any stage! This design allows advanced user control and management to be processed purely at a hardware level. iROG greatly increases fun during overclocking for PC enthusiasts and it offers system maintenance and management with more control and efficiency.
On the lower right hand corner of the above image is the pin out for the front panel. Next to the front panel pin out is a fan header with the clear CMOS just above that. Just past the fan header is a USB header followed by the OC Station connector. Moving past the OC station we can see another pair of USB headers.
Sliding down this edge of the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula we have a series of onboard switches. The two obvious ones are the system reset and system power, followed by a button that will assist in unlocking "extra" cores if there are any present. The final on-board switch is the Turbo Key II. The Turbo Key II will auto tune your CPU to squeeze some extra performance out of your CPU. We will give this a go when we start to overclock with the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula. Past the on-board switches we have an IEEE 1394 header and SPDIF audio connector, as well as the front panel audio pin out.
Rounding the corner we can see the expansion slots. There is a total of 32 PCI express lanes which can be automatically configured depending on the number of graphics cards you are going to run. There is a pair of PCI slots as well as a PCIex4 slot on the right. There are also 3 additional 4-pin fan headers.
Here is a nice little close of shot of the integrated SupremeFX audio.
Above we can see that the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is equipped with an 8-pin CPU power plug. This will be able to supply even the latest 6-core processors enough power for some serious overclocking! Underneath the heatsink is the power circuitry that will supply 8+2 power phases to the CPU.
There is no shortage of USB ports on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula. There is a grand total of nine USB ports, two of which are Super Speed USB3.0 which will provide you with transfer rates up to 5Gb/s! The vertical USB port is designed to use the ROG Connect with the included cable for hardware level adjustments through a laptop. The on-board NIC is controlled by a Marvell 8059 Gigabit LAN controller. The switch on the left side of the I/O panel is a BIOS reset switch and the switch on the left will enable the ROG connect.
The CPU socket is an AM3 socket that will support all of the latest processors from AMD including the new AMD Phenom II X6 processors with a TDP rating up to 140 Watts. The processor power circuitry uses 8+2 power phases to provide stable power to the processor.
Now that we have taken a look at the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula, let's throw some parts on it and fire it up. Although, before we start the series of tests let's stick our heads into the BIOS and see what makes the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula tick!
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard BIOS
Once we are inside the BIOS we can see that the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is designed for the enthusiast. Why? The first page of the BIOS is the Extreme Tweaker page; this is where you will be setting all of your voltages and all of your settings during overclocking. This is a very thoughtful way for ASUS to do this; now you won't have to tab through the various other pages after that inevitable time comes when you need to make some adjustments.
Scrolling down on the Extreme Tweaker page we can see all of the Voltage adjustments. There should be more than enough to satisfy even the most power hungry overclockers out there!
The next page is the Main page that is usually the first page of the BIOS. Here we set the system time and date as well as what drive is plugged into each SATA3 port.
The system information page gives you some of the core information like BIOS revision, processor, and total memory installed.
The Advanced tab gives you access to several of the sub-pages like CPU Configuration and Chipset.
The CPU Configuration page allows you to enable or disable various processor technologies.
The Power tab allows you to enable or disable several of the power options. This is also where you get access to the Hardware monitor.
The Hardware Monitor is divided into an additional four pages: Voltage Monitor, Temperature Monitor, Fan Speed Monitor and Fan Speed Control.
All of the temperatures or Voltages in the above two images you can choose to ignore if you choose to. On the Temperature Monitor page you can set thresh hold temperatures of the southbridge and northbridge as well as three optional temperatures.
The Fan Speed Monitor allows you to view the various fan speeds or you can set them to ignore. This is handy if you are running cooling that doesn't have fans that plug into the motherboard; it will prevent you from getting warnings about your fans.
Above you can set the various fan speeds.
Under the Tools tab you have access to the ASUS EX Flash 2, ASUS O.C. Profile, AI Net 2, and the Go Button File pages.
The O.C. Profile Configuration page lets you save or reload up to eight different overclocking profiles.
AI Net 2 will check the LAN cable for shorts and faults during the boot up sequence and report any errors.
Last but not least is the Exit page. Here you can exit while saving or discarding all the changes. You can also load the setup defaults or simply discard all the changes made during this session.
Legit Reviews Test System
All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit with all the latest updates installed. All benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. The Corsair Dominator memory modules were run in double-channel mode at 1600MHz with 8,8,8,24 timings. The ATI Radeon HD graphics cards were tested with 10.6 CATALYST suite drivers. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard was running the latest BIOS. The AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processor was running at the default clock of 2.8GHz with turbo enabled.
AMD Test Bench
|Processor||AMD Phenom II X6 1055T||Live Pricing|
|Motherboard||ASUS Crosshair IV Formula||Live Pricing|
|Hard Drive||Western Digital Black 640gb||Live Pricing|
|Video Card||HIS Radeon HD5870||Live Pricing|
|CPU cooler||ThermalTake SpinQ VT||Live Pricing|
|Chassis||None - Open Bench|
|Power Supply||Corsair TX750||Live Pricing|
PCMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed for Windows Vista offering one-click simplicity for casual users and detailed, professional grade testing for industry, press and enthusiasts.
A PCMark score is a measure of your computer’s performance across a variety of common tasks such as viewing and editing photos, video, music and other media, gaming, communications, productivity and security.
From desktops and laptops to workstations and gaming rigs, by comparing your PCMark Vantage score with other similar systems you can find the hardware and software bottlenecks that stop you getting more from your PC.
Benchmark Results: The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula had a significant performance margin over both the ASRock 890GX Extreme3 and the BIOSTAR TA890GXB HD, especially when you consider that the motherboard is the only piece of hardware that was different.
3DMark Vantage is the new industry standard PC gaming performance benchmark from Futuremark, newly designed for Windows Vista and DirectX10. It includes two new graphics tests, two new CPU tests, several new feature tests, and support for the latest hardware. 3DMark Vantage is based on a completely new rendering engine, developed specifically to take full advantage of DirectX10, the new graphics API from Microsoft.
Performance settings were used, so a 1280x1024 resolution was used.
Benchmark Results: The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula was nearly 500 points higher overall than either of the 890GX boards that we tested today. Though it scored slightly lower in the CPU tests, it was able to outscore both 890GX boards in the GPU tests by a minimum margin of nearly 700 points which was enough to take the top spot in 3DMark Vantage!
SiSoft Sandra 2010 Memory Bandwidth
The Sisoft Sandra 2010 benchmark utility was released a few weeks ago and we have started to include it in our benchmarking. Sandra 2010 now comes with support for Virtualization (Virtual PC/Server, Hyper-V, VMware) and GPGPU (OpenCL, DirectX 11 Compute Shader/DirectCompute). Today we will be utilizing Sandra 2010 to look at memory bandwidth performance!
Benchmark Results: The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula fell to the bottom of the pack in the SiSoftware Sandra 2010 Memory bandwidth test, though it was only ~1%.
HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible.
Benchmark Results: The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula had slightly faster average read and write times when using the USB3 ports. The burst speed was nearly 18MB/s faster while the CPU usage is too close to compare since both systems are within the margin of error.
HD Tune Pro 4.01 is an extended version of HD Tune which includes many new features such as write benchmark, secure erasing, AAM setting, folder usage view, disk monitor, command line parameters and file benchmark.
Benchmark Results: There is very little performance difference between the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula and the ASRock 890GX Extreme3 USB3 performance, though our results in HD Tune are very similar to those of HD Tach above, where the biggest difference is in the burst speed which is faster by 28.1MB/s on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula.
The Gigabit PCIe Ethernet controllers vary on each board, so it will be interesting to see what the performance is on all the boards. Each of the Socket AM3 boards uses a different Gigabit Controller. Let's take a look at what controller is on each of the boards.
- ASUS Crosshair IV Formula - Marvell 8059 Gigabit LAN controller
- ASRock 890GX Extreme3 - Realtek RTL8111E
- Biostar TA890GXB HD - Realtek RTL8111E
To test the Gigabit PCIe Ethernet controllers we used the NTttcp tool to test Ethernet Throughput and the CPU utilization of the various Ethernet controllers used on the AMD Motherboards. To do this properly we set up one machine as the server; in this test and Intel Core I7 930 system with an EVGA X58 Tri-SLI motherboard acted as our Gigabit LAN server.
On the server side, we used the following Command Line for Gigabit PCIe Ethernet Testing:
Ntttcpr -m 4,0,
On the client side (the motherboard being tested), we used the following Command Line:
Ntttcps -m 4,0,
At the conclusion of each test we recorded the throughput and CPU utilization figures from the client screen as that is the system being tested.
Benchmark Results: All three of the boards that we tested had nearly the same throughput. What separates them is the CPU Usage; the ASRock 890GX Extreme3 and the BIOSTAR TA890GXB HD are both using the Realtek RTL8111E Gigabit Ethernet controller and they both utilized ~7.3% of the available CPU. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula uses a Marvell 8059 Gigabit Ethernet LAN controller and used only 1.82% of the CPU which is only a quarter of what the other boards used!
Rightmark Audio Analyzer
The RightMark Audio Analyzer suite is designed for testing quality of analog and digital paths of any audio devices, be it a sound card, an MP3 player, a consumer CD/DVD player or an acoustic set. The results are obtained by playing and recording test signals passed through the tested audio path by means of frequency analysis algorithms. The latest version of RightMark Audio Analyzer can be found here.
Comparison Chart (click for larger image)
The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula sounded good while gaming. Although, a deeper analysis with RightMark Audio Analyzer showed that the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula fell short of the ASRock 890GX Extreme3. Most notably, the IMD + Noise % (intermodulation) was quite a bit higher than the other motherboards that we are testing.
Aliens Vs. Predator
Aliens vs Predator is an entirely new title for PC and high-definition consoles from acclaimed British developer Rebellion, the team behind the 1999 original PC gaming classic. Bringing the most intense war between two of science-fiction’s most popular characters FPS fans, AvP delivers three outstanding single player campaigns and provides untold hours of unique 3-way multiplayer gaming. Experience distinctly new and thrilling first person gameplay as you survive, hunt and prey in the deadly jungles and swamps surrounding the damned colony of Freya’s Prospect.
We cranked up all the image quality settings in the benchmark to the highest level possible, so we were running 4x AA and 16x AF with SSAO enabled at both 1920x1200 and 1280x1024 on all the video cards.
Benchmark Results: The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula was able to edge out the 890GX boards! However, there was only ~1.5fps between any of them.
Overclocking the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Motherboard
Overclocking greatly varies due to what hardware is being used and who is doing the overclocking. Always remember that no two pieces of hardware will perform the same, so our results will differ from what you might be able to get.
With stock BIOS settings, the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T processor runs with a 200MHz bus speed (base clock) and an x14.0 multiplier that is used to reach the final core clock of 2.8GHz when all the cores are at full load.
Firing up the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula with the Turbo Key enabled gave us a rock solid overclock of 3.258GHz. That is a 458MHz boost with the simple press of a button! Of course we can't leave it at that!
With the only adjustments in the BIOS being the FSB we were able to achieve a rock solid overclock beyond the 4GHz mark. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula did a great job scaling the voltage while it was left on auto. I am sure with some better cooling the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula would be able to push the AMD Phenom II X6 1055T even further!
Firing up wPrime we can see that each setting was stable with a full load across all six cores. wPrime also allows us to see the performance gains from each overclock. Using the Turbo Key overclock we knocked ~37.5 seconds or ~13% off of the overall time. Cranking up the overclock to 4.017GHz we can knock off~86 seconds or ~29% off of the overall time.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Without a doubt in my mind the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard is a force to be reckoned with. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is one of the best looking motherboards I have tested, but looks always take a back seat for me when it comes to computer components. Performance is king, and the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula easily takes the crown today! For the most part performance across the board was above and beyond that of either of the AMD 890GX chipset boards that were compared today. The only tests that the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula faltered on were SiSoft Sandra 2010 Memory Bandwidth and Rightmark Audio Analyzer. Although if you look at the BIOSTAR TA890GXB HD article, you can see that the BIOSTAR TA890GXB HD fell short of the ASRock 890GX Extreme3. In today's article those two boards switched places. SiSoft Sandra is a great application for looking at performance like memory bandwidth, though the performance is so similar that the memory bandwidth of all three boards today varied by only ~1%.
When it comes to the features of the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula the list is long and plentiful. Features like ROG Connect, ProbeIt, and Extreme Tweaker are just a few of the features that make the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula the enthusiast level board that it is. The layout of the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is top notch as well. There are only two aspects of the layout that I wasn't wild about. The first is the black SATA port for the e-SATA. Since ASUS Gives you a bracket for the expansion slots that includes an e-SATA port, I would have liked to have seen the internal port for it closer to the back of the board. The other option would be to lay it out parallel to the other SATA3 ports so it doesn't interfere with the graphics cards. Fortunately using the expansion bracket isn't required and is easy enough to leave off, especially since there is an e-SATA port on the I/O panel. That brings us to the only other issue I experienced with the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula: the release latch for the first graphics card. Because of the size of the heat sink on the northbridge there is very little room between the graphics card and the heat sink, which makes it difficult to depress the latch. It isn't impossible to do, but I thought it was worth mentioning. Neither of these issues are deal breakers in the least; I would happily sacrifice in these small areas for the level of performance that the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula offers!
Overclocking on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula was a breeze. It took very little effort to break that pesky little 4GHz barrier. Past 4GHz it did get tougher, though I think that the ThermalTake SpinQ VT that we were using may not have been up to the task of keeping the 125W TDP AMD Phenom II X6 1055T cool at those types of speeds. Though being able to achieve 4GHz on air is an impressive task!
AMD 890FX chipset based ATX motherboards range in price from $139.99 to $229.99 on Newegg. The ASUS Crosshair IV Formula motherboard retails for $229.99 shipped, which makes it the most expensive AMD 890FX ATX motherboard on the market today. The Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7 takes the overall crown as having the most expensive 890FX powered motherboard with their extended ATX monster. The price tag on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula might be high, but this is an enthusiast class board and has all the features that gamers and power users are going to want. It also comes backed by a 3-year warranty if anything happens to go wrong.
Legit Bottom Line: Top notch performance, a solid layout, and great looks seal the deal and make the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula my top pick for my next AMD based system!