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Asus Crosshair nForce 590 SLI AM2 Motherboard Review

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Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: Asus
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Introduction and Specifications

Introduction


It's not very often that a motherboard we see actually makes us raise an eyebrow or two.  Looking at a wall full of them at trade shows across the world, 99% of the time you'd be hard pressed to find one that really stood out from the crowd in both appearance and functionality.  Since AMD made the move to an on-chip memory controller with the Athlon 64 processor, the AMD motherboard market has been fairly stagnant as motherboard and chipset designers struggled to find a way to make their products better than the competition, without the crutch of memory controller performance to lean on. 


In June of this year at the annual Computex show in Taiwan, Asus showed off a "demonstration board" that had some unique features on it; LCD post display, audio riser card and liquid cooled chipsets were the main attractions.  Some of these features (and some other interesting ideas) made it on to the Asus Crosshair motherboard which we are reviewing here today. The board is based on the NVIDIA nForce 590 SLI chipset and the AMD AM2 processor platform. 


Specifications (from Asus.com)





































































CPU

Support AMD® Socket AM2 Athlon 64 X2 / Athlon 64 FX / Athlon 64/ Sempron
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet™ Technology
AMD64 architecture enables simultaneous 32-bit and 64-bit computing
AMD Live!™ Ready

Chipset

NVIDIA nForce® 590 SLI™ MCP
NVIDIA LinkBoost™ Technology

Front Side Bus

2000 / 1600 MT/s

Memory

Dual channel memory architecture
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, DDR2-800/667/533, ECC and non-ECC, un-buffered memory

Expansion Slots

2 x PCI Express x16 slot with NVIDIA® SLI™ technology support, at full x16, x16 speed
1 x PCI Express x4
3 x PCI 2.2

SLI

Support two identical NVIDIA SLI-Ready graphics cards (both at x16 mode)
ASUS two-slot thermal design
ASUS PEG Link

Storage

NVIDIA nForce® 590 SLI™ MCP supports:
 * 1 x Ultra DMA 133 / 100 / 66 / 33
 * 6 x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s
 * NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID supports RAID 0, 1, 0+1, 5 and JBOD span cross Serial ATA drives
Silicon Image® 3132 SATA controller supports
 * 2 x External Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s port on back I/O (SATA On-the-Go)
 * Support RAID 0, 1, and JBOD

LAN

Dual Gigabit LAN controllers support NVIDIA DualNet® technology
NVIDIA nForce® 590 SLI™ MCP built-in dual Gigabit MAC with external Marvell PHY
 * Support Teaming and fail-over functions
 * Support TCP/IP Acceleration

Audio

SupremeFX Audio Card
featuring ADI 1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Support Jack-Sensing, Enumeration, Multi-streaming and Jack-Retasking
8 channel audio ports
Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out on back I/O port
 * ASUS Array Mic
 * Noise Filter

IEEE 1394a

TI 1394 controller supports 2 x 1394a ports

USB

max. 10 USB2.0/1.1 ports

Overclocking Features

 * ASUS AI NOS™ (Non-delay Overclocking System)
 * AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
 * AI Clock Skew
 * ASUS PEG Link - automatically performance tuning for graphics cards
 * ASUS O.C. Profile: overclocking configuration-sharing tool
 * ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
 * Extreme Tweaker
ASUS AI Booster Utility
Adjustable FSB/DDR2 ratio. Fixed PCI/PCIe frequencies.

Special Features

LCD Poster
EL I/O
Onboard LED
Onboard switches: Power / Reset / Clr CMOS
Q-Connector
Q-Fan Plus
ASUS CrashFree BIOS3
ASUS EZ Flash2
ASUS Music Alarm
ASUS MyLogo3

Back Panel I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 Keyboard port
1 x PS/2 Mouses
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
2 x External SATA
2 x LAN (RJ45) port
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x IEEE 1394a port
1 x onboard LED switch
1 x LCD Poster

Internal I/O Connectors

3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector for two devices
6 x SATA connectors
1 x CPU / 7 x option Fan
3 x thermal sensor connector
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x S/PDIF output connector
Chassis Intrusion connector
Front Panel Audio connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
System panel connector
1 x EL I/O Shield Connector

BIOS

8Mb AWARD BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.3

Manageability

WOL by PME, WOR by PME, Chasis Intrusion, PXE

Accessories

1 x SLI bridge
1 x ASUS Array Mic
1 x ASUS Optional Fan
1 x ASUS Q-Connector Kit (system panel; Retail version only)
3 x thermal sensor cables
1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
1 x Floppy disk drive cable
6 x SATA cables
7 x Cable Ties
3 x SATA power cable for 6 devices
1 x 2-port USB2.0 module
1 x IEEE1394a module
1 x EL I/O Shield
InterVideo® Media Launcher (OEM version only)
User's manual

Support CD

Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Booster
Futuremark ® 3DMark® 06 Advanced Edition
NVIDIA MediaShield™ RAID
Kaspersky®  Anti-Virus

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor, 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.5cm)

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