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Asus Crosshair IV Formula

Five AMD 890FX-Based Motherboards Compared
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Asus’ latest Republic of Gamers (RoG) series motherboard, the Crosshair IV Formula, includes a dual-port USB 3.0 controller. It also sports RoG exclusives like RoG Connect, a USB system link that allows overclockers to tune in custom BIOS settings from another system without disturbing the software running on the Crosshair IV Formula.

Overclockers will love the eight PWM-style fan headers, onboard power and reset buttons, the Asus Go Button overclocking profile switch, the Turbo Key II automatic overclocking utility, the Core Unlocker button for certain dual- and triple-core processors, and the row of voltage-detection points labeled “ProbeIT” along the Crosshair IV Formula’s front edge.

Game system builders, on the other hand, might be a little disappointed to note that the Crosshair IV Formula supports only three double-slot cards, in spite of its four x16-length slots, since the fourth slot is only a single space beneath the third. This layout is determined by the 890FX northbridge’s position, its oversized heat sink resting where the top slot might have otherwise been. DIMM slots that latch on one side would have alleviated any graphics card clearance issues, but enough space exists to make this feature unnecessary.

Three-way CrossFire configurations will fit within the seven-slot confines of a standard ATX case, while dual-card configurations receive a cooling benefit from the fact that the two full-bandwidth slots are four spaces apart. The second slot borrows lanes from the third when a high-bandwidth card is installed there, changing the pathway configuration from x16-x1-x16 to x16-x8-x8 automatically.

While Asus promotes some of its premium-series motherboards with a huge number of voltage regulator phases, its RoG series generally uses fewer, higher-capacity parts. This can be seen in the oversized chokes of the Crosshair IV Formula’s 10-phase design.

A large RoG logo sink covers the SB850 southbridge and an old-fashioned JMB363 ATA controller. The SB850’s six SATA 6Gb/s ports face forward, increasing card clearance at the cost of case clearance for cable ends. JMicron’s JMB363 SATA/Ultra ATA controller uses a single PCIe 1.1 lane to serve one internal and one external SATA port. Because the majority of high-end system builders now ignore old hardware and operating systems, the Crosshair IV Formula ignores the Ultra ATA and FDD capabilities of its JMicron and ITE controllers to instead focus on a cleaner layout.

The Crosshair IV Formula is one of the few AMD motherboards to “fix” the DIMM slot order, so that dual-channel mode is enabled by using the first and third slots (the red ones). This arrangement allows extra air space between two-module sets for improved overclocking capability.

BIOS Features

The Crosshair IV Formula BIOS includes a few built-in overclocking profiles and the system will do its own overclocking and stability test cycle if the Turbo Key II button is activated. Experienced overclockers will, however, find a relatively complete set of BIOS adjustments to be more effective tuning tools.

ROG series motherboards default to the Extreme Tweaker menu, where users will find clock frequency, ratio, and voltage settings.

DRAM Timing and Drive Strength submenus are also relatively complete, with the ltater adjustable per-channel.

Up to eight custom BIOS configurations can be stored as user profiles, which remain selectable even after clearing BIOS.

Accessories

The Crosshair IV Formula’s installation kit is just a little basic for such a high-end board, with two of its six SATA cables designated for use with SATA 6Gb/s devices. A case decal, an RoG Connect cable, SATA cable tags, and an eSATA/USB combination slot plate add to the motherboard’s allure.

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