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Five AMD 890FX-Based Motherboards Compared

Asus Crosshair IV Formula

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.

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

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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.


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.

  • makwy2
    Great article. Very informative!

    One little suggestion, in the features comparison it would be nice to include a row on the cost of these mobos. As one eventually reads in the Conclusion there is quite a bit of difference between them in this area but if this 'stat' was featured I would be able to focus only on the boards within my price range. I know that it would be hard to keep up to date and such but it would really be a service to those of us who are not made of money.
  • wintermint
    I own a gigabyte mobo and I'm happy with it :)
  • Lmeow
    I'd personally go for the Crosshair IV Formula simply because of the kickass colour scheme. :D
  • xurwin
    uhuh! i really like the crosshair IV formula for its design and Awesome color! wish every mobo has a creativity design
  • joytech22
    Ugh this year i already made some horrible decisions, honestly didn't think the Asus board would look so beautiful! i really wanted that board too but i already ordered a different Asus board for SLi support (with AM3)..

  • liquidsnake718
    interesting and very persuasive article as i was seriously thinking of getting an AMD based system instead just a few weeks ago until I finally bought a new processor. I still dont have the mb yet but reading this article made me want to get the Asus or the Gigabyte board. I would have possibly gone for a phenom II x4 or even x6 but its too late! What a good read this was and I am slowly understanding the value oriented target market that AMD and ATi offer to beginners and enthusiast builders and overclockers.

    Truly.... if not for getting my i7930 I would have bought these motherboards first!

    I have just purchased a i7 chip x58 chip but reading this article actually made me regret it! I have yet to buy a mb as the ud4 isnt available in Manila yet.

    I will build this pc slowly but make it the best possible in the timeframe while I eke out the best of my current c2d system and netbook in the meantime.
  • alexcheng
    URRGH!!! X58 or 890FX?!?!! AMD and Intel are causing me a mental breakdown!!!!!!!
  • dEAne
    I have a gigabyte mobo and Its good, One thing I don't like is that DDR3 cannot use past 1333 range if you want to use 1600 only few slots are available.
  • aquicl
  • xurwin
    dEAneI have a gigabyte mobo and Its good, One thing I don't like is that DDR3 cannot use past 1333 range if you want to use 1600 only few slots are available. now now. breathe slowly. ASUS CROSSHAIR IV FORMULA 890FX!!!