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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