AM3+ Last Gasp?
Over the past several years I have reviewed quite a few Asus products. The ones that typically grab my attention are the ROG based units. These are usually the most interesting, over the top, and expensive products in their respective fields. Ryan has reviewed the ROG graphics cards, and they have rarely disappointed. I have typically taken a look at the Crosshair series of boards that support AMD CPUs.
Crosshair usually entails the “best of the best” when it comes to features and power delivery. My first brush with these boards was the Crosshair IV. That particular model was only recently taken out of my primary work machine. It proved itself to be an able performer and lasted for years (even overclocked). The Crosshair IV Extreme featured the Lucid Hydra chip to allow mutli-GPU performance without going to pure SLI or Crossfire. The Crosshair V got rid of Lucid and added official SLI support and it incorporated the Supreme FX II X-Fi audio. All of these boards have some things in common. They are fast, they overclock well, and they are among the most expensive motherboards ever for the AMD platform.
So what is there left to add? The Crosshair V is a very able platform for Bulldozer and Piledriver based parts. AMD is not updating the AM3+ chipsets, so we are left with the same 990FX northbridge and the SB950 southie (both of which are essentially the same as the 890FX/SB850). It should be a simple refresh, right? We had Piledriver released a few months ago and there should be some power and BIOS tweaks that can be implemented and then have a rebranded board. Sounds logical, right? Well, thankfully for us, Asus did not follow that path.
The Asus Crosshair V Formula Z is a fairly radical redesign of the previous generation of products. The amount of extra features, design changes, and power characteristics make it a far different creature than the original Crosshair V. While both share many of the same style features, under the skin this is a very different motherboard. I am rather curious why Asus did not brand this as the “Crosshair VI”. Let’s explore, shall we?
Subject: Motherboards, Chipsets | May 30, 2011 - 11:35 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: computex, ROG, asus, crosshair, z68, maximus
On the first day of Computex 2011, ASUS held an event in Taipei to announce a host of new ROG (Republic of Gamers) branded devices including motherboards, displays, headphones, notebooks and even a desktop system.
For the Intel Sandy Bridge platform ASUS is releasing the Maximus IV GENE-Z and Maximus IV Extreme-Z that will both obviously use the Intel Z68 chipset and support the host of new features it introduces including Smart Response Technology and dual-graphics capability with Lucid Virtu. The GENE model is the micro-ATX variant that that supports SLI and CrossFire in addition to the Sandy Bridge graphics technology. For a full size solution the Maximus IV Extreme-Z offers four full-size PCIe x16 slots and support for 3-Way SLI and CrossFireX.
For the AMD platform the Crosshair V Formula is the first ROG board to use the new AMD 990FX chipset as well as the first AMD board in a LONG time with support SLI in addition to CrossFire graphics scaling. Not only that, but this board will be the first ASUS option to offer the innovative UEFI BIOS that users on the Intel front have had access to for some time. While the Crosshair V Formula will work with current Phenom processors the big selling point is that it will support the upcoming AMD Bulldozer-based processors with the AM3+ socket due later in 2011.
A slightly more expensive Crosshair V Formula/Thunderbolt SKU will be available as well that will include an ASUS Thunderbolt card that combines ASUS Xonar audio capability (and built-in headphone amplifier) with the BigFoot Networks Killer NIC E2100 NPU. We can debate the value of Killer NIC addition to your system all day, but if you want it, that option will be available from ASUS in July.
All three boards will include the overclocking and performance features that users of the ROG brand have come to expect and will be available this month. Be sure to check out PC Perspective for reviews of all the new ROG offerings!