Asus Crosshair IV Extreme: More Lucid for AMD
Not Much Left to Put on There...
What do you give a board that already has everything? Apparently a Lucid HydraLogix chip. Asus loves to release high end motherboards with more features packed in than anyone else. Their ROG based boards are typically a step above the rest when it comes to features, overclocking, and a coolness factor dressed in reds and blacks. Previously I have reviewed the little brother of the Extreme, which is the Crosshair IV Formula. That board is one of the top AMD 890FX products out there, and it received not just a glowing review from me, but also nearly everyone else who has touched it. Pretty heady company for a motherboard stepping into new territory with Lucid Hydra support.
Nearly identical to the CHIV Formula board, but slightly larger.
Asus has taken all of the good features from the Formula, and applied them to the Extreme. Asus has added a few more extras other than the Lucid Hydra chip, and they have dropped one or two features from the previous model as well. Motherboard space is limited, so there were obviously some things that just had to go. Like the automatic overclocking button, or that particular functionality in the BIOS. But I had found that of limited use in my overclocking endeavors, and any user willing to pay $299 for a motherboard probably would not use such a thing either.
The box features a flip up cover, so users can see exactly what they are getting through a fairly thick plastic cover.
The centerpiece of this board is the Lucid HydraLogix chip which allows the use of NVIDIA cards in multi-GPU situations. It is not a licensed “SLI” solution, and does not use NVIDIA’s scaling technology. Instead the Lucid controller is a 300 MHz RISC based processor which calculates the workload for each scene, and sends that workload to the individual cards. After the work is done, the chip uses the primary video card to composite the scene and sends it to the output. This allows the use of not just identical cards in multi-GPU, but also cards of differing performance attributes, as well as cross-manufacturer multi-GPU setups. One weakness of this solution is that it is not compatible with multi-monitor setups with NVIDIA cards. As readers may well remember, NVIDIA supports more than 2 monitors in gaming situations, but it requires a second card in SLI to power the 3rd monitor. Interestingly enough, due to the AMD cards and drivers handling Eyefinity through one card, Lucid Hydra does in fact accelerate multi-monitors on that platform.
Inside the box are two separate boxes, one holding the board, and the other handling all the bundle.
With that under our belt, let us take a more detailed look at the board and its features. Asus was kind enough to ship a nice smattering of graphics cards to test out the performance scaling of the Lucid controller, but that will be a separate article covering a wide variety of combinations in multiple applications.