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ASUS Crosshair V Formula 990FX Motherboard Review

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Closer Look:

The introduction of the 990FX based motherboards from ASUS has brought us the first ASUS boards for AMD chipsets that use the EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface) BIOS. This implementation gets rid of the old "feel" when navigating through the BIOS and replaces it with the feeling of navigating through an operating system. Instead of the keyboard being the primary way to navigate through the BIOS, you use the mouse and the same gestures and mouse movements used in the OS to select options and values. The keyboard is not totally abandoned, but plays a lesser role in the process. The EFI Forum is a location where you can find out everything you want to know about the EFI standard and its implementation. The first question on their FAQ page is "What is EFI?" Here is the answer:

UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) will be a specification detailing an interface that helps hand off control of the system for the pre-boot environment (i.e.: after the system is powered on, but before the operating system starts) to an operating system, such as Windows* or Linux*. UEFI will provide a clean interface between operating systems and platform firmware at boot time, and will support an architecture-independent mechanism for initializing add-in cards.

I will show a brief walkthrough of the BIOS used on the ASUS Crosshair V for the new 990FX chipset.

EZ Mode is just what it implies. This page gives a top line view of the system in regards to the CPU used, the amount of memory, and BIOS revision. Under that are monitors for the temperatures, voltages, and fan speeds. Several presets can be used to optimize performance and energy use, with the boot order listed along the bottom of the page. With the move to Advanced Mode, a more familiar layout is seen on screen. In Advanced Mode there are a total of six sub-menus that contain all the BIOS options. The Main page shows much the same information seen on the EZ-Mode page, just in a different format.











Extreme Tweaker is the section used to adjust the performance of the CPU and memory installed in the system. AI Overclock Tuner is a one-stop shop with three options: Auto, Manual, and D.O.C.P. Memory Frequency allows you to set a memory multiplier higher than the default 1333MHz setting. EPU Power Saving Mode is what it implies, a way to lower the carbon footprint of your system. OC Tuner is used to run the auto-tune algorithm after the reboot from BIOS. DRAM Timing Control is where you set the memory sub-timings with CPU Power management being where you enable and set up the Turbo Core multiplier. There are also the options for changing the CPU/NB frequency in increments, as well as the HyperTransport frequency. Excellent overclocking can be had with the Tubo Mode parameters left on auto.





Further down the page are the voltage options, starting with Load Line Calibration. There are five presets that work their way up from Regular to Extreme. The VRM Switching Frequency is another tool for overclocking that is new to this lineup. Additional options include Phase Control and Over Voltage and Over Temperature Protection



At the bottom of the page are the voltage options. CPU Voltage has two options, Offset Mode and Manual Mode, for applying voltage to the CPU. Offset Mode allows for an offset from the base CPU voltage, instead of a specifically applied voltage in Manual Mode. DRAM voltage should be manually set for high performance modules. Beyond these options are the VCCSA, VCCIO, CPU PLL, PCH, and DRAM DATA REF Voltages with CPU Spread Spectrum as the last option.



The Advanced section allows additional configuration of the CPU parameters, configuration of SATA, USB, and PCH, and the option to enable or disable the onboard hardware.







The Monitor Functions show the operating temperature of the CPU and motherboard, as well as the fan speed of the CPU fan, three chassis fans, and PSU fan, if connected. CPU Q-Fan control can be used to intelligently increase or decrease fan speeds based on temperature.




The Boot section is where the boot device priority is set, the keyboard numlock state is set, the Full Screen Logo is enabled or disabled, and the BIOS mode you enter when first entering the EFI BIOS — EZ Mode is the default. Choosing the order in which the installed optical and HDD devices are polled is completed here as well.



The Tool section is where the ASUS EZ-Flash utility can be found to flash the BIOS. ASUS OC Profile allows the user to save BIOS profiles with up to eight spots available. ASUS SPD Information shows the information stored on the SPD chip of the memory modules.




Wow that was a lot to take in, but I am really impressed with the usability and changes made to the BIOS system with the UEFI BIOS.

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