ASUS Crosshair V Formula 990FX Motherboard Review

ajmatson - 2011-05-23 14:56:36 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ajmatson   
Reviewed on: May 30, 2011
Price: $240

Introduction:

There is no secret that AMD has been working on a new CPU socket for their upcoming flagship eight core processors. With all that hype, they have been causing quite a stir and a lot of gossip. Some of that gossip was concerning what the new chipset would be and what it might offer to complement the new line of processors. The new socket is dubbed AM3+ and is designed to support both current AM3 processors (including the now current Phenom II X6 1100T flagship processor) as well as the new processors that will be launching in the near future. The one thing about new chipsets that make them even better is the support and additional functionality that the manufacturers put into them. One manufacturer that puts a lot into their bread and butter boards is ASUS and their Republic of Gamers series. The ROG series puts the best of the best into the boards designed to give you the best bang for your buck. Anyone who has used an ASUS ROG board knows the potential they have at their disposal.

ASUS has been producing Republic of Gamers series boards for AMD users for some time under the Crosshair name. Just a year ago we saw the power of the Crosshair IV Formula with the release of the Phenom II six cores and today we are going to see the successor of that board with the introduction of the new "Scorpius" 990FX chipset with the ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard. The new 990FX chipset combines the power of the 990FX Northbridge and the SB950 Southbridge for an unprecedented pair to be reckoned with. The new chipset boasts full PCI Express 2.0 support, SATA 6Gbps support via the SB950 chip, support for multiple graphics cards including Quadfire and a first on AMD boards, Tri-SLI. That's right you heard it here, the Crosshair V Formula will allow you to not only run four AMD graphics cards but now you have the choice to run multiple NVIDIA cards stacked up to three deep. If I don't have your attention by now you must really be a noob :) Anywho, how about we stop the yapping and dig down into what we all have been waiting for.

 

Closer Look:

The ASUS Crosshair V Formula comes packaged in the signature Republic of Gamers design with the red color scheme. On the front are the logos that the board supports including the new feature for NVIDIA SLI that everyone has been screaming for. On the back of the box are some closeups of the most important features and a breakdown of the specification for the Crosshair V motherboard. One thing I love that manufacturers do is provide the "windows" for us to see first hand what we are getting without having to open the box. By flipping up the front flap on the box you get a good look at the beauty that the Crosshair V has to offer. On the flap there are some more details of the features that you get in this rocking board.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To protect the motherboard and accessories there are two inner boxes. One houses the board itself and the other houses the accessories in compartments so when you take out your new investment everything is safe and sound just the way it should be.

 

 

The Republic of Gamers boards come with a decent bit of accessories. The Crosshair V Formula is no exception. Included with the board is the standard bit of accessories and some unique ones as well. We have the User manual which you will definitely have to read with the amount of features that this board offers, the software CD, a window cling for your case, a set of cable labels which really makes a difference when cleaning up your case with proper cable routing, six SATA 6Gbps cables, the white ROG connect cable for remote overclocking using your notebook or netbook, the shielded back plate, the Q-Connectors and the Crossfire and SLI bridges for your multi-GPU setup.

 

 

 

 

Now that we have everything out of the box let's take a better look at the board itself.

Closer Look:

The Crosshair V Formula uses the same red and black scheme that we have grown to either love or hate with the Republic of Gamers series boards. I personally love the scheme as it looks fierce and fiery inside my HAF 932 case. This board uses the ATX form factor and packs a lot into the space it has to work with. The 990FX chipset was built to base the new eight core Phenom II processors we are patiently awaiting and offers some high end features for the gamer and enthusiast alike. ASUS then takes the base of the chipset and throws their own spin on it giving you a board that is designed to take you to virtual battle. The 990FX chipset is designed to support up to 5.2GT/s HyperTransport 3.0 interface speeds and multi-GPU graphics. The chipset is optimized for multicore CPU systems including the Sempron 100 series, Athlon II series, Phenom II series and the upcoming FX series processors including the Bulldozer eight core series. The AM3+ socket features AMD Turbo Core Technology 2.0 and supports the new 32nm manufacturing process. The system as a whole is designed to support up to 8-native cores with better overclocking capabilities and more efficient power consumption.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As with the rest of the offering, the back panel has some really great additions to it. Starting from the top we have a lone PS2 port that can accept either a mouse or keyboard should you still need them, four USB 3.0 ports, a BIOS reset button, one eSATA port, seven USB 2.0 ports, an optical audio port, one LAN port powered by Intel, the standard analog audio ports powered by SupremeFX X-Fi 2 technology and a white USB 2.0 port for the ASUS ROG Connect features.

 

 

Down below the back panel are the numerous expansion slots for your use. To start there is a single black PCI Express x1 slot and a single PCI slot for legacy devices and other peripherals. Then we have the four red PCI Express x16 slots which allow you to run up to four video cards for AMD Quadfire or now up to three NVIDIA cards for tri-SLI. The fun doesn't stop there either, as the Crosshair V Formula also supports the ROG Xpander which allows the ability to run up to four NVIDIA cards in a quad-SLI design. Ok ok you can wipe the drool away from your mouth now, you're slobbering on my motherboard. The first and third PCI Express x16 slots run at full x16 speeds and should be the first ones populated with dual cards. The second PCI Express x16 slot runs at x8 speeds and the last slot runs at x4 speeds. ASUS recommend populating the 1st slot for a single card setup and using the last slot for accessories unless running a four card GPU setup.

 

The top CPU area of the board looks crowded but it actually has a lot of room to play with. The new AM3+ socket now has a black color which really meshes with the design of the board quite well. The AM3+ socket support AM3 and AM3+ processors including the Sempron, Athlon II, Phenom II and the upcoming Phenom II eight core processors code named Bulldozer. The Crosshair V uses an 8 + 2 Phase Extreme Engine Digi+ VRM design to supply your components the cleanest power for maximum clock speeds. The memory also has a 2 Phase power design to keep them powered just as cleanly. The board also uses a five step Load-Line Calibration for all power needs when pushing your system to the maximum. There are four DIMM slots which support DDR3 memory up to 32GB with a top speed of 2133MHz when overclocked. ASUS recommends to use the red slots first when running a six core or larger processor and the black ones first when running a two to four core processor for maximum results. At the top of the board above the CPU area you will notice that there is an additional 4-pin CPU power plug included with the 8-pin standard one. This is to support the power requirements for the upcoming eight core processors that will be hitting the market soon. That should tell you right there how beefy they should be.

 

 

At the bottom of the board are the majority of the headers and ports. Starting from the left side to the right there is the front panel audio header, the switches for CPU Level Up, system start and system reset, two USB 2.0 headers, a number of fan headers, and the front panel headers which are used with the Q-Connectors. Turning the corner of the board there are the seven SATA 6Gbps ports for all of your hard drive and SSD needs. The SATA ports also support onboard RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. Right above the SATA ports is something I have not seen on other AMD boards before. There is a USB 3.0 header which will allow cases to use the internal headers for front USB 3.0 support instead of having to route a cable to the back panel and occupy one of the back USB 3.0 ports. This is a killer addition as USB 3.0 is really taking off for the storage industry.

 

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, ASUS puts some special additions to their Republic of Gamers boards and the Crosshair V is no exception. At the top right of the board there is the Go Button which when pressed enables the MemOK! feature that tests the installed memory and sets them to working speeds, timings and voltages with no fuss allowing you to boot without having to figure out the settings to start up. For the audio, ASUS has included the SupremeFX X-Fi 2 chipset which offers ultra real in-game cinematic sound without the need for an external audio card. Down near the Southbridge is the iROG chips. These chips are what offer the true Republic of Gamers overclocking with the TurboV software for auto overclocking and stability. There are several chipsets used on the Crosshair V which add more to the package. There is the Intel 82583V chip which powers the integrated Intel LAN port and the ASMedia ASM1042 chips that power the USB 3.0 ports and headers. Finally for stability, ASUS has included the ProbIt contacts which allow you to exactly monitor the voltages of the board with a voltmeter as well as POST LEDs and voltage LEDs spread around the board. There is one hidden switch that you will want to know about as well which is the ROG Connect switch positioned right behind the back panel audio ports. When the switch is off the white port is in USB 2.0 mode and when switched on it is in ROG Connect mode ready to be used with your laptop for extreme overclocking and tweaking.

 

 

 

 

 

Too cool all of these components down ASUS has employed a passive cooling system. There is a large fin type heatsink and heatpipe combination covering the 990FX Northbrige and voltage regulation area and a smaller flat heatsink which covers the SB950 Southbridge keeping them in top operating condition.

 

 

Now that we finally have the board out let's get her installed and take a look at the software side of things.

Closer Look:

ASUS comes to market with the latest implementation of their AISuite II utility. This new look is a tremendous step away from a fractured utility with everything having an individual interface. Now it's all under one comprehensive suite accessed through a toolbar menu. This toolbar has five separate functional areas plus an "Auto Tuning" tab that is accessible in the Turbo V submenu. When you dig under the surface, the Republic of Gamers version used with the Crosshair V Formula is the same application with the ROG Logo up top to let you know you have an ROG product. It's a nice added touch.

 

Tool: Under the tool section there are a total of six separate functional areas to look through. TurboV Evo, DIGI+ VRM, EPU, Fan Expert, Probe II, Sensor Recorder and Ai Charger+. Sensor Recorder will show you the system status over time. You can monitor voltages, temperatures, fan speed and set the duration of the monitoring and the interval in which it polls the system. Probe II allows you to choose what functions you can set alerts for. You can set thermal, voltage and fan speed thresholds that will throw an alert. Fan Expert allows you to set up fan profiles as well as choosing from a set of pre-set profiles from Standard to Turbo. The EPU Control Panel is used to define the power profile of the system from High Performance to Maximum power saving modes that reduce the carbon footprint of the system using the EPU processor to its fullest capability. Ai Charger+ is new with the USB 3.0 support allowing you to charge your external devices such as iPads, iPhones, iPods and more with 3x the faster charge speed than the normal USB port.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIGI+ VRM offers some pretty unique features that allow you to really fine tune the capabilities of the 990FX lineup from ASUS. Under this submenu there are a total of five areas that can be manipulated. The first is the familiar Load Line Calibration to change the Vdroop when the CPU is loaded from 0-100% in 25% increments. DIGI+VRM CPU Current Protection allows you the ability to increase the current flow to the CPU with a wider range of up to 180%. DIGI+ VRM Switching Frequency can be set to auto or fixed frequency mode. This helps when overclocking and the frequency range is from 250Khz to 1100Khz in 50 Khz increments. Much like most of the adjustments we make, this one has a trade off between stability and overclocking potential. DIGI+ VRM PWM Mode can be set to T.Probe or Extreme. Phase control can be set to one of three presets as well as a manual adjustment option to set how fast the phase switching of the VRM circuit occurs.

 

 

TurboV Evo is the section where you set the voltages and target frequency you are shooting for. You can use the Auto Tuning section to let the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) take over and set up an overclock using the Fast or Extreme options. When running the Auto Tuning, I saw varying success with it depending on the board with the Crosshair V Formula delivering an overclock of 3.91Ghz using the Extreme option while I was able to pull a stable 3.82GHz with the TurboV using the Fast mode. Using the Manual configuration option you can push to almost the extreme maximum your chip is capable of reaching through this interface. Under the More Settings section of TurboV Evo is an advanced mode section with additional voltage options as well as the CPU ratio tab that allows for adjusting the CPU Turbo Boost ratio. Once you find your sweet spot, the profile can be saved so that changing between settings can be a simple process so that you can step up on a new setup slowly or fall back to the saved settings when things don't go so well when overclocking.

 

 

ASUS Update is used to update the BIOS in several different ways. You can download the file from the ASUS FTP site, load from a file, save a file or download from the internet. Updating the BIOS via this method would have been unheard of a few years back but after using this method to update the BIOS, it went off without a hitch. If it goes bad, you do have the BIOS Backup feature. System Information allows you to look at information much the same way you would with CPUz. There is the motherboard section, CPU section and the SPD tab that provides the memory information stored on the SPD chip of the installed memory DIMMs.

 

 

 

In the 'Settings' tab you can configure the AI Suite GUI so that you can change the view and add or subtract components. All in all, this application looks better and seems to bring added functionality to the table.

 

 

As part of the ROG series, the Rampage III Formula is equipped with ASUS's own ROG Connect feature that lets you use another computer to not only monitor the vital statistics of your ROG baby but to overclock it remotely using the RC Tweakit software installed on a netbook, notebook or smartphone. You can increase the bclock and PCIe clock speeds for added performance and to make sure the changes are stable, you can modify voltages much like in the aforementioned TurboV Evo section of the AI Suite software. There is a post code monitor to tell you where you are in the post process to help with diagnostics of a failed boot process. In this way, you can find out if the settings you applied will do the trick for that next level of performance. One thing I was surprised to not have included is the new Bluetooth features that we have seen on other ROG boards. It would have been nice to have the ROG Connect via cellphone or iPad on the Crosshair V Formula.

 

The last application I will look at is ROG GameFirst. This little utility can be configured to give your game data priority over other applications that interact with the internet. With this application, you can decide what data has the highest priority to maximize your gaming experience.

 

 

 

Now that we have seen the board and the supplied applications that make the ROG series what they are, it's time to see what ASUS has done for us in the BIOS.

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.

 

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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.

Specifications:

CPU
CPU Socket Type
AM3+
DRAM
DRAM Spec Supported
4 x DIMM, MAX 32GB,
DDR3-2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/
1800(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 ECC/Non-ECC,
Unbuffered Memory
*when using AM3 CPU
Chipset
Chipsets Used
AMD 990FX / SB950
BIOS
BIOS Update
EZFlash2
BIOS Structure
UEFI with EZ Mode
BIOS Feature
Multi-Language BIOS
GPT Installation via USB
Yes
Power Solution
CPU Power / iGPU
8 + 2 Phase Extreme Engine DIGI+
DRAM Power
2 Phase
Override CPU Load-Line
5 Steps Load-Line Calibration
Realtime adjustment of power behavior
Yes
Power Protection
Anti-Surge Protection
ESD Protection
ESD Guard
Power Saving
DIP2 (EPU)
Power Components
Inductor
Alloy Choke
MOSFET
Low RDS(on) MOSFET
Capacitor
FPCAP 5K Graded Premium Cap
Power Driver
Dual Driver
Debug Tools
Debug POST
QLED(CPU, DRAM, VGA, HDD)
Debug DRAM
MemOK!
Debug Power
Voltiminder LED
Networking
LAN Controller
Intel 82583V
Network Optimizer
GameFirst
Audio
Audio Solution
SupremeFX X-FI 2 built-in
Audio Features
EAX Advanced HD 5.0
THX TruStudio PRO
X-FI Xtreme Fidelity
Creative Alchemy
Bundled Applications
Realtime Monitor
AI Suite II
Realtime OC
Expansion Slots
PCIex16 (Red@x16)
2
PCIex16 (Red@x8)
1
PCIex16 (Red@x4)
1
PCIex1
1
PCI
1
VGA
Multi GPU
Quad-GPU
SLI™/CrossFireX™
Technology with two
cards
3 way SLI™ / CrossFireX™
*4 Way SLI™ Technology
with Xpander
Mass Storage
SATA 6GB/s Ports
7
SATA 3GB/s Ports
0
eSATA
1x eSATA6G
RAID Support
RAID 0,1,5,10
GPT Boot Support
Yes
2TB+ Support on non-GPT OS
Disk Unlocker
USB 3.0
6 (2 front, 4 rear) via
triple Asmedia USB 3.0
controller
USB 2.0
12 (4 ports at midboard;
7 ports at back panel, 1
white port shared with
ROG Connect)
1394
0
System Optimization
Power Optimization
DIP (EPU)
Performance Optimization
iROG
Unleashed msked out cores
Core Unlocker
Thermal Design
Headers
8 x Fan connectors: 2 x
CPU / 3 x Chassis / 3 x
Optional
Fan Control
Q-Fan with customizable
CPU and chassis fan
Curve
FanXpert with
customizable CPU and
chassis fan curve
Heatsink
Heatpipe solution
Heatsink
Other Features
User Customization
MyLogo3
Easy DIY
ASUS Q-Connector
ASUS Q-Slot
ASUS Q-Shield
ASUS Q-DIMM
ROG BIOS Print
Quick Charge Mobile Devices
Ai Charger+
Automatic Overclocking
Auto Tuning
CPU Level Up Button
CPU Level Up
Overclocking Tools
RICH OC Options
Extreme Tweaker
BIOS Profile
O.C. Profile
Overheat Protection
C.O.P EX
OC Recovery
C.P.R.
Quick load of OC Profile
Go! Button
Remote OC
ROG Connect
Remote GPU OC
GPU TweakIt

 

Features:

All information courtsey of ASUS.

Testing:

Testing the ASUS Crosshair V Formula motherboard will include running it through the OCC test suite of benchmarks that include both synthetic benchmarks and real world applications to see how it compates to other boards. The gaming tests will also include a couple of synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay to see if similarly-prepared setups offer any performance advantages. Each board received a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit Edition and used the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catayst drivers for the HD 6970. To keep all the tests consistent and eliminate any variables, all the hardware will be tested at the same speeds, voltages, timings, and latencies.

 

Testing Setup:


 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked Settings:

Overclocking the Crosshair V Formula was a dream with the new UEFI BIOS and the TurboV utility. To get started, I pushed the multiplier to 19x, as I have found this to be a sweet spot for the Phenom II X6 1100T I am using. I then booted into the system and used the TurboV utility to tweak the processor's reference clock a bit, adjusting the voltages as I went along. I was able to remain in the OS at 4.3 GHz, but it was not stable so I restarted the system and started where I left off. After a bit of tweaking and playing with the voltages, I was able to keep the system stable at 4.213GHz. Overall, this was a great overclock at about 25%. The final numbers were 19x on the multiplier, with a reference clock speed of 221.7MHz at 1.5 volts on air. Not bad for this chip and the highest I have had on air so far. The Crosshair V Formula features an excellent Auto Tuning utility within the AI Suite. When I ran the fast OC I, the system automatically pulled out a whopping 16% overclock in seconds, putting the CPU at 3.828GHz. On the Extreme setting, it was able to pull out a bit more juice, topping out at 3.91GHz, all with practically no effort.

 

 

Maximum Clock Speed:

Each motherboard has been tested for stability at the CPU clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will provide the performance difference increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. Apophysis
  2. Bibble 5
  3. WinRAR
  4. Geekbench
  5. Office 2007
  6. POV Ray 3.7
  7. PCMark Vantage Professional
  8. Sandra XII
  9. ScienceMark 2.02
  10. Cinebench 10
  11. Cinebench 11.5
  12. HD Tune 4.60
  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  3. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  4. 3DMark Vantage

Testing:

The first part of our testing will be the system specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. We will use 100MB and 500MB files to test the time needed to compress these files. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

   

   

Lower is Better

 

 

RAR:

   

   

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy to use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.

   

Higher is Better

 

Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting 100 8.2MP RAW images to jpeg format. The file size is 837MB. The measure used for comparison is time to convert the file in seconds.

   

Lower is Better

 

Throughout these benchmarks, the Crosshair V Formula was consistantly better, even if by a hair — no pun intended.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is how long it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Lower Is Better

 

POV Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric MultiProcessing), enabling the workload to be spread across the cores for quicker completion.

   

Higher Is Better

 

PCMark 7: PCMark is a full-PC benchmark based are real-world tasks, including a series of tests ranging from web browsing to gaming graphics to browsing music. The suite is designed to give you an overall view of system performance based on scores from the different areas of testing.

   

Higher Is Better

Again, in the Office, POV Ray and PCMark 7 tests, the Crosshair was the leader.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

   

   

Multi-Core Efficiency

   

   

 

Memory Bandwidth

   

   

 

Memory Latency

   

 

Cache and Memory

   

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

   

 

While only a slight bit of difference in the Sandra tests, the Crosshair V is overall the faster competitor.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we ran the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

   

Higher is Better!

 

 

 

CineBench 11.5 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

   

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

   

 

   

Higher is Better

 

   

 

   

Lower is Better

 

In Sciencemark and Cinebench, the Crosshair had the advantage, but fell a bit behind in the HD Tune hard drive tests by a slight margin.

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. To test this game, I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

At stock, the two boards were dead even, but overclocked, the Crosshair V had the advantage.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an iteration of the venerable first person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Unlike the AVP benchmark, in Call of Duty the Crosshair V was faster by a few frames on almost all accounts.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Once again, the Crosshair V was slightly faster at both stock and overclocked settings.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

In the new 3DMark 11 benchmark, the results were very close, with the Crosshair V slightly ahead.

Conclusion:

I went into this review with open arms and high expectations and was satisfied on every account. First, let me start off with the features of the board. This thing has everything under the sun, from a number of USB 3.0 ports and headers to all SATA 6Gbps interfaces. There was not one time I said, "man, I wish there was a port for that." The one thing that I do wish was included was the Bluetooth connectivity that we have seen on some of the other ROG boards for Intel chips. I was quite surprised, with a board designed for overclocking and featuring a rather full feature set, that this was not included. Hopefully we will see this included on a future Crosshair board, possibly a Crosshair Extreme board. One other thing of note about the feature set is that the Crosshair V comes in two flavors. The one we reviewed today was the base Crosshair V Formula and the other, which will be launching sometime in the near future, will include the ASUS Thunderbolt add-on card.

Overclocking the Crosshair V Formula was a joy with the new UEFI BIOS and the improved TurboV utility. Even without the ROG Connect, you can simply and easily push your system to the best performance possible. On air, I was able to achieve 4.213GHz with little effort. The ROG Connect feature takes the overclocking to a new level, allowing you to boot, tweak and even reset a failed overclock from another notebook, leaving you from having to move from the seat. ASUS includes an Auto Tuning feature in the TurboV utility that does a real good job at overclocking the system with no effort. The fast auto tune settings pushed out an amazing 3.82GHz in mere seconds. The Extreme setting was able to tweak the system a little more, topping out at almost 4GHz, all on its own — talk about a smart system.

Overall, the ASUS Crosshair V Formula is one motherboard that deserves to be held on the pedestal it created. Throughout the whole review, it did not falter and not once did I have a problem with the usability. NVIDIA users will definitely be pleased with the inclusion of SLI support and the ability to use the ROG Xpander, giving users the freedom to finally choose their path. I am looking forward to seeing the future AMD AM3+ boards from ASUS and its Thunderbolt add-on for the combo set. With the new features I encountered on the ASUS Crosshair V Formula, I don't think I can ever go back to the older boards I was using. Call me spoiled, but this motherboard just set my expectations high for the new chipset and delivered in a awesome way.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: