Asus Crosshair IV Formula review

AMD gets back its competitive edge with this i7-worrier

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Our Verdict

It's the perfect companion for the Thuban chips and gives AMD back its competitive CPU edge

For

  • Great OC performance
  • An AMD gamer's board
  • Competitive pricing

Against

  • How much longer for AM3?

There's defnitely no coincidence in AMD sending out the review chips of its hex-core processor snugly secured in Asus' Crosshair IV Formula board.

It's the finest current example of the 890 chipset. And this is what we've come to expect from its lineup of Republic of Gamers motherboards.

What we've also come to expect is pricing so far out of the reach of most mere mortals as to render them out of range of all but the serious overclocker and the money-no-object buyers.

But not on the AMD side. Sure, they're at the top end of AMD mobos, but not astronomically out of reach. More importantly, though, the Crosshair IV Formula actually enables the hex-core Phenom II X6 1090T to compete with the current mid-range Core i7 platforms out there.

This is its raison d'etre, to provide a platform for this latest chip to launch from.

It's actually going above and beyond what AMD was looking for, too. Aside from the extra couple of cores tacked on to the traditional quad-core Deneb chip, AMD has introduced its own take on Intel's Turbo Mode: cunningly entitled Turbo CORE.

Unfortunately the main problem with the Turbo CORE is that it's a bit of a binary technology as opposed to Intel's smarter TurboMode. If the CPU sees that three of the six cores are inactive then it clocks those down as low as 800MHz and clocks the remaining three up.

Although the increase is slight. You see, it only bumps the clockspeeds of the three active core by 500MHz and 400MHz in the 2.8GHz and 3.2GHz chips that are currently on offer.

Asus – like I'm sure many other manufacturers has unlocked this to allow all the cores to benefit from this turbo goodness.

Clocking nicely

Using its out-of-the-box settings, the Crosshair IV Formula had all six cores of the 1090T running at 3.7GHz without breaking a sweat as soon as you started taxing the chip at all. This is where this ROG, like its Intel-sporting brethren, comes to the fore.

Overclocking prowess has long been the hallmark of Asus' ROG motherboards and if you want to get the most out of your Thuban then currently the Crosshair is by far your best bet, and indeed the best way of showing off the capabilities of AMD's new chips.

There is a high-end Gigabyte board coming around the corner which could offer a challenge, but we'll have to wait and see on that. Until then, though, the Formula can hold its head high.

At stock rated speeds, this board keeps its nose in front, in gaming terms at least, where the Crosshair posted a 10 per cent boost in DiRT2.

But it's the ease of overclocking and the subsequent headroom the Crosshair IV Formula achieves that makes its mark. We were able to hit 4GHz on all six cores of the 1090T without any form of voltage tweaking involved, whereas even Asus' own closest 890 chipset board couldn't get there.

All in all, if you really want the most for your Thuban, then right now the Crosshair IV Formula is your best bet. The competition is going to have to work pretty hard to claw it back.

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Tech Specs

Product TypeDesktop Motherboard
Chipset ManufacturerAMD
Chipset Model890FX
Multi GPU SupportedCrossFire
Number of PCI Express x16 Slots3
Memory TechnologyDDR3 SDRAM
Processor SocketSocket AM3 PGA-941
Brand NameAsus
Form FactorATX
Processor SupportedAthlon II X4, Athlon II X3, Athlon II X2, Phenom II X4, Phenom II X3, Phenom II X2, Phenom II, Athlon II, Sempron
Total Processor Supported1
Maximum Memory16 GB
64-bit ProcessingYes
Number of Memory Slots4
Number of PCI Slots2
Audio Channels7.1
Gigabit EthernetYes
Number of SATA Interfaces8
HyperTransport Speed2600 MHz
RAID SupportedYes
Number of Total Expansion Slots6
eSATAYes
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Total Number of USB Ports9
Number of USB 3.0 Ports2
Total Number of FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
PS/2 PortYes
Number of PS/2 Ports1
Total Number of Onboard USB Ports3
Total Number of Onboard FireWire/i.LINK Ports1
Total Number of PCI Express Slots4
Processor TechnologyHyperTransport Technology
Width304.8 mm
Depth243.8 mm
Product SeriesRepublic of Gamers
ManufacturerASUS Computer International
Product ModelCrosshair IV Formula
Product NameRepublic of Gamers Crosshair IV Formula Desktop Board
Controller TypeSerial ATA/300
Manufacturer Part Number90-MIBCN0-G0EAY00Z
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://uk.asus.com
Marketing Information

The Republic of Gamers consists only the best of the best. We offer the best hardware engineering, the fastest performance, the most innovating ideas, and we welcome the best gamers to join in. In the Republic of Gamers, mercy rules are only for the weak, and bragging rights means everything. We believe in making statements and we excel in competitions. If your character matches our trait, then join the elite club, make your presence felt, in the Republic of Gamers.