ASUS Crosshair V Formula-Z Review: Cream of the Crop for AM3+
Asus certainly has the market for top end AMD boards cornered. While other manufacturers have high end AMD boards, none seem to compare well against what Asus brings with their ROG products. The price is not all that bad, considering. $225 US will get you this board at most retailers, but some would argue if it is really worth it to buy this board at this price when the top end CPU for AM3+ is the FX-8350 being sold for $199 US. CPUs are obviously not under their control at Asus, but even so they make an impressive product.
The back is utilized by Asus for extra space when it comes to the VRMs for the CPU.
The Formula-Z takes all that was good about the Crosshair V and then supercharges it. It really is a totally new design from the ground up. There really is no part that Asus left untouched and it truly is a fantastic board. The feature set matches that of the latest Intel boards that easily cost $100 more. The aesthetics of the board follow that of other ROG products, and the red/black motif works very well.
Here we see the Formula-Z compared to the earlier Sabertooth 990FX.
If there was one problem with the board, it is the overall weakness of the chipset as compared to other recent offerings. I honestly wonder why the A85X chipset for FM2 is not used with the 990FX northbridge? The SB950 utilizes the same 4 x PCI-E connections to go to the northbridge as the A85X does to connect to the northbridge portion of the FM2 processor. Theoretically these should be interchangeable. It would be great to see manufacturers given the option of using this, but I am afraid that it will never happen. AM3+ looks to be a dying platform. The 1090FX chipset was cancelled long ago and it will never see the light of day. FM2+ with Kaveri looks to be the next enthusiast platform for AMD and current Vishera processors look to be the last AM3+ products to be released.
The Redline is really a red line. The board has some real curb appeal.
Having said that, Asus is sending AM3+ out with a bang. The Crosshair V Formula-Z is one of the best motherboards I have ever tested. Stability, feature set, quality, design, and overall appeal are tops. The Redline audio is very interesting and very clean. Connectivity options are outstanding as well. I really cannot think of where Asus could have improved the design, other than squeezing in the A85X as a southbridge.
AMD enthusiasts will want to take a long, hard look at this board. It offers a compelling package for the price. The issue is again the seeming dead end socket that it embraces. Vishera looks about as good as it will get. I am not entirely certain that there will be a significant refresh of Vishera parts (eg. FX-8450 or the like). Still, it is hard to ignore this product.