ASUS Crosshair V Formula Z Motherboard Reviewformerstaff - June 3, 2013
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ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z Closer Look: Program & Utilities
ASUS takes its software very seriously from looks to functionality. The Ai II Turbo EVO Suite II looks as powerful as it is. Organized in an intuitive manner, It puts just about any voltage, temp, or resource usage nearby. Even some of those who are not traditionally fans of overclocking in a software environment will find the ease and option rich environment a bit much to pass up. One thing that ASUS does wonderfully is too animate overclocking adjustments as they are made and carried out. You always know and can watch in real time as that next attempt at a higher frequency is carried out and the heat and voltage being generated and used.
When you open TurboV EVO you get the option to auto tune your OC with Asus 'Level Up'. Basically, you choose a target frequency and TurboV adjusts different parameters and algorithms to reach the target clock. If you wouldn't dare use an auto tune program to get the frequency you want, then manual mode is more to your liking. Here you have control over the reference clock and the unlocked multiplier. You can also adjust voltages for the memory, APU, NB, and SB. Under the GPU boost tab, you can adjust the frequency of the on-die GPU. The APU multiplier tab lets you choose the cores you want to OC and features a real time animation to illustrate the settings you change. Here you can set the parameters for a auto clock, whether you want it fast and more conservative, or give the program 'Extreme' liberties to manipulate the voltages for the CPU and other functions.
Taking things in your own hands, EVO in concert with the Extreme Engine DIGI+ II Power Control gives you the options to change the capacitance for the CPU, CPU/NB, and the DRAM. This raises the level of power available for higher overclocking and more stability, by changing the VRM switching frequencies. As in the BIOS, the capacitance adjustments are in 10% increments that range from 100% to 130%, save the phase control that is adjustable to 140%.
Of course while all of this overclocking is taking place, you want to keep an eye on such things as temperatures and voltages to make sure nothing goes awry. ASUS has some of the most thorough real time monitoring programs available today. ASUS EVO Probe II is a complete package that not only monitors temps, voltages, and fan speeds, but also provides the adjustment control to set thresholds for all of them and sets an alarm if they drop below or exceed the tolerance you set. While doing this review, ASUS Probe II popped up a warning box in the bottom right corner letting me know that the SB voltage had momentarily dropped below the 1.0V I had set to .088v.
Dovetailing with the ASUS Probe II is the EVO Sensor Recorder. Here you can watch all of the values found in Probe II, as well as setting parameters and tolerances and watch for fluctuations or record/log the goings on to have a look at later. It is highly customizable, as you can choose as many or as few settings to watch and record as you wish.
Sticking to the monitoring and adjusting theme, ASUS FAN Xpert is a highly customizable fan profile program that lets you enter and change custom fan curves for every fan that draws from the motherboard headers. The idea is made simple, with a graphical interface that you drag and drop your fans temperature setting and RPM on an X-Y axis and changes take place in real time.
If you are not a heavy duty all out overclocker and prefer to apply an easy overall 'theme' to your operations, ASUS EPU may be more your speed. The GUI is set as a radar graph, with different aspects from 'performance' to 'energy saving' to 'tranquility' in operation. On the side there is a CO2 emissions saved readout. While that is not exactly my kind of thing, if you become skillful at this program and being green, you may be able to have Al Gore purchasing carbon credits from you.
ASUS AI Charger enables up 3x the normal charging speed for devices that are compatible most notably iPad, iPhone, iPod, etc. It can easily be enabled or disabled from within the software suite. USB 3.0 Boost enables faster transfer rates vis UASP protocol and automatically detects the devices compatibility to take advantage of it. The GUI shows the USB port on the rear I/O panel that is highlighted with a green border to highlight the USB Charger+, so all you have to do is plug into the corresponding port for faster charging than the 4.5-5W routed to a standard USB port. You can also choose the settings for charging under sleep or hibernate modes.
ASUS USB 3.0 Boost boosts transfer speeds for USB storage devices automatically for devices that support it. ASUS claims that with the utilization of both UASP and BOT protocol, read performance is much closer to the rates seen with the use of SATA 6Gb/s ports or up to 170%. ASUS Network iControl optimizes your Internet connection and can prioritize your current network program
EVO Suite II System Information is simply ASUS's own hardware ID program, where you can get that basic information about the make, model, stepping, etc for your CPU, SPD, and motherboard information. You can also get a quick look at your CPU's cache levels, BIOS revisions, and CPU instruction.
ASUS settings is simply a program that lets you change the look, location, and how much screen real estate the ASUS EVO Suite II takes up. The full version can be reduced and separated into the lower bar and can auto hide the readout screens until you mouse over them.
ASUS ROG series, as you may know, puts a heavy premium on features and performance for gamers. One of the revisions from the initial Crosshair V Formula are the changes and additions to the Game First aspect of the Formula V. The addition of the Intel Ethernet speeds up Internet access while lowering CPU usage. This coupled with ROG Game First traffic shaping lowers latencies and ping times, while directing your traffic in a way that you can carry out more than one internet requiring task, without incurring a serious fragging, while downloading Linkin Park
ASUS ROG Connect is one of those programs for the hard core overclocker. Simply stated, ROG Connect gives you complete overclocking and monitoring control of your machine, from another remote machine or portable device such as a laptop or tablet. By installing the ROG Connect software onto the remote computer or device(s) of your choice, you can make hardware level changes such as overclocking and limit the interruption to the process. RC TweakIt is a versatile software suite, with controls for frequency, voltage, monitoring, and stored profiles. It is very functional and responsive. Activated by the special ROG USB cable included in the accessory bundle, all that needs to be done after the software installation is to connect the cable and press the ROG connect button on the I/O panel and start tweaking away.
ASUS USB BIOS Flashback is a utility that allows you to flash a corrupt BIOS or update and even simply try out a BIOS version. You can also schedule a check for new BIOS versions and download them. The Clear CMOS button on the rear I/O panel is held down for three seconds while a USB drive with a BIOS file is plugged in and the BIOS is updated or flashed back, without the machine even having to be powered on. In fact, the BIOS can be flashed without a CPU or system memory being in place. Paired with BIOS Flashback is ASUS update. From this utility you can update the BIOS from your choice of three ways. Directly from the Internet, a download, or from a BIOS file. Choose your method and the program will walk you through a BIOS flash.
This section could have gone on for another four or five pages easily. I am always mightily impressed with the functionality, diversity, and polish that ASUS continues to put into their software. In today's computing environment, where overclocking and squeezing the last bit of performance out of your hardware is a key sell point, ASUS makes it easy and even fun to do so, while providing a way to always know how far you are pushing things and giving you a heads up early when you need to intercede.