ASUS Crosshair III Formula Review
While the mainstream consumer recognizes the ASUS name due to the overwhelming success of their Eee PC lineup of netbook computers, among PC hardware enthusiasts the ASUS brand is known first and foremost for their excellent motherboards. Over the past two decades the company has produced some of the finest motherboards in the world, and as a result, ASUS is now the largest motherboard manufacturer on the globe. Each month the company ships millions of motherboards.
As most enthusiasts know, ASUSí best boards fall under the Republic of Gamers (ROG) line. ASUS ROG motherboards are known for incorporating all the latest features into one package. The boards ship with the very best cooling and BIOS ASUS offers, flashy LEDs, and are decked out with extras like their LCD Poster, which can be used to diagnose errors during POST.
It has been awhile since ASUS produced an AMD-based ROG board though. While ASUS has steadily released new ROG boards for the Core 2 and Core i7 platforms based on multiple NVIDIA and Intel chipsets, their last AMD-based ROG board was the Crosshair II Formula released back in April 2008. Thatís an awfully long time for ASUS to go between ROG products Ė the Crosshair II Formula doesnít even support the latest Phenom II CPUs like the AMD Phenom II X4 920 and 940, both of which are based on the AM2+ socket.
Clearly itís time for an update right?
Thankfully, ASUS has finally answered in the affirmative with their Crosshair III Formula board. Built on AMDís 790FX chipset, this is actually the first ROG board to utilize core logic from AMD; up to this point their chipsets apparently didnít have the street-cred needed in a product tailored for enthusiasts. As itís their first AMD-based ROG motherboard, this is also the first ROG product from ASUS for the AMD platform that doesnít support SLI. This isnít an indictment against the SLI platform, rather NVIDIAís lack of chipset development for AMD. The fact of the matter is if youíre building yourself a brand new AMD-based PC today, chances are you wonít be looking at a motherboard based on core logic from NVIDIA. Instead the most popular options are AMDís 780G, 790GX, and 790FX chipsets.
The Crosshair III continues ASUSí tradition of providing decked-out ROG boards. Weíll quickly go over some of its most distinguishing features.
The Crosshair III Formula board sports more LEDs per square foot than NYCís Times Square. For instance, the ASUS ROG logo located on the chipsetís North Bridge is lit with four white LEDs. These LEDs pulsate intermittently when the motherboard is off, lighting the motherboard up in a sea of white light. The onboard power/reset/clear CMOS switches are also backlit, so you can easily spot them in the dark.
3 LEDs indicate voltage, red=crazy, amber=high, green=normal
You can see the voltage LEDs highlighted in red
ASUS also uses several banks of LEDs to indicate current voltages for several system components. LEDs for the North Bridge and South Bridge voltage are present, as are LEDs for the system memory and CPU voltage. If the LED is lit green, you know that your voltage for that particular component is in the normal range, but if the LED is yellow itís in the moderate range. Finally, a red LED indicates a high voltage setting that could potentially damage that particular component. ASUS refers to this feature as the voltiminder LED.
Thereís even an amber HDD activity LED located just behind the IDE connector, and the SupremeFX X-Fi audio module has its own blue LEDs.
The other really neat feature ASUS incorporates on their ROG motherboards is MemOK! Diagnosing memory compatibility issues can be extremely tricky at times because in some cases the motherboard fails to display a video signal, leading some users to suspect they have a faulty graphics card or motherboard, even though itís simply a case of the motherboard not properly recognizing the memory modules. his leads many users to prematurely return their graphics card or motherboard, even though that isnít the culprit.
To help resolve this issue, ASUS has come up with MemOK! ASUS refers to MemOK! as a ďmemory rescue toolĒ. Simply push the MemOK! button on the motherboard and the technology automatically determines the failsafe memory settings needed to boot the motherboard.