Asus Blitz Formula Intel P35 Motherboard Review
Layout and Features
First, we should note that there are two versions of the Asus Blitz motherboard: one called Blitz Formula and another known as Blitz Extreme. The Blitz Formula uses DDR2 memory (and is the one we are reviewing here) while the Extreme model uses DDR3 modules. We'll be writing about the Extreme model very soon as well, but in reality the only true difference is memory configurations.
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The Asus Blitz Formula motherboard has several features that stand out even at first glance that separate it from the crowd of P35 motherboards. There are some interesting black nubs on the chipset cooler and it actually appears as if there are three chips making up the chipset rather than two.
First though, we'll look at the CPU socket area to see if anything is out of place. The socket area does look a little bit cramped with the heatpipe fins to the right and the copper heatsink covering some power regulators towards the bottom of the photo. Despite that, I didn't have any issues installing the heatsinks I had in-house or even water cooling setups from Koolance onto the board.
The 8-pin CPU power connector is up close to the external connectors on the motherboard making it a bit of pain to release after it's installed but that shouldn't be a problem for most people.
The four DDR2 DIMM slots are seen here with alternate colors to denote the different installation options. For sticks of RAM, just fill the blue slots and you are good to go. While the P35 chipset only officially supports DDR2-800 memory, Asus isn't shy about sticking support for DDR2-10066 on the box and we didn't have any problems running it at that speed either.
The ATX power connector and floppy channel connector are seen in the photo as well and are well placed on the outside edge of the motherboard PCB.
Okay, we'll finally get to this triplet of chipsets and their cooling solution -- what we have is the standard P35 north bridge up top and the ICH9 south bridge with the RoG logo on it to the right. The third chip is what Asus is dubbing the "Crosslinx" and it is used to enhance support for multi-GPU performance. Asus is using an almost-standard heatpipe cooling solution to draw the heat away from the chipsets but it does have a hidden surprise in it under those black rubber caps on the north bridge. (We'll see that on the next page.)
Basically, the "Crosslinx" is a bridge chip that is able to split the standard x16 PCIe lane coming from the north bridge into dual x8 PCIe lanes for multi-GPU gaming. Unlike other P35 motherboards that use a x16 for the primary PCIe slot and x4 for the secondary, Asus has taken the time to custom build a solution that matches what the previous 975X chipset was able to offer in the way of CrossFire support. Now if only NVIDIA would allow SLI to run on it...
The storage solutions on the Asus Blitz Formula are nearly standard now -- six SATA ports and a single IDE channel for two devices. The outward facing SATA ports should also prevent any issues from installing larger than normal graphics card, etc.
Along the bottom of the board we see three USB headers and a Firewire header for additional ports of those connections. There is also a nice set of power and reset buttons for open case testing or if you do a lot of overclocking but don't want to install the board in a case before getting it all finalized.
Looking at the rear external connections, you'll notice that there is only ONE PS2 port -- if you are still using a legacy keyboard and mouse it's going to be time to upgrade! In place of that there are six USB 2.0 ports and a single Firewire connection. The two network connections are both Gigabit speed. You'll notice that there aren't any analog audio outputs but they do have an optical output and SPDIF output. Next to them is the Clear CMOS button that we use to reset the BIOS when your overclocking attempts go awry -- and since there isn't any other clear CMOS option on the board get used to its placement!