ASUS Crosshair II Formula Reviewajmatson -
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When it comes to choosing a motherboard I must admit, I am really picky on the features and accessories I want. I used to think that one motherboard is no better or worse than the next, but boy was I wrong. Not only do features make a motherboard, but also the build quality. If you are an overclocking enthusiast, the quality of the components and the way the board is manufactured makes a difference in the amount of performance increase you can push out of it. That, and the accessories included with the board are what allow you to take full advantage of what it is that makes them different. NVIDIA has given the AMD crowd a major update in the motherboard chipset with the 780a. The 780a brings the new Hybrid SLi technology to the market, which allows graphics boosting and power saving features for the mainstream user and enthusiast alike. This new chipset gives the AMD processor using crowd another powerful platform to use instead of being limited to the 790FX chipset and brings them SLi capabilities, including the new Triple SLi design.
Previously, we took a look at the ASUS M3N-HT, which is a 780a based motherboard geared at the mainstream market. Today, we are going to take a look at another 780a based motherboard by ASUS, the Crosshair II Formula, which is part of the ASUS Republic of Gamers series. The Crosshair II uses the NVIDIA 780a GMCP for the Northbridge and the nForce 200 for the Southbridge and is interfaced with the CPU using HyperTransport 3.0. The Crosshair II supports AMD processors including the Phenom X3 and X4, Athlons and Semprons. Since the new 780a boards have graphics embedded, mainstream users will be able to use it without requiring a discrete card for operating, keeping costs low and enthusiasts will be able to combine a discrete card with the onboard graphics to boost performance using the Hybrid SLi technology.
I have to admit, I got all giddy when I opened the box and saw this inside. I have never seen a motherboard so attractively packaged like this. The front of the packaging features a big crosshair and some of the feature logos showing that this board is meant for hardcore gamers. The back lists the specifications of the Crosshair II as well as some of the overclocking features which really caught my eye since I always have this urge to push my hardware to the limits. The left side of the box gives you a peek at the back panel connections available for you. If you open the flap of the packaging, it reveals a more in-depth look into what the Crosshair II brings to the fight.
Sliding the goodies out of the packaging, you can see how well ASUS takes steps to ensure that your hardware is protected and intact. The motherboard itself is enclosed in a plastic shell which keeps it from being damaged, scratched or dust being built up on it. The black box underneath the motherboard shell houses the accessories.