Finals Words and conclusion
Finals Words and conclusion
Like any of the other AMD 990FX based motherboard reviews allow me to split up this conclusion into two segments, the AMD chipset and the ASUS motherboard. We'll start off with the chipset. To be totally honest I expected more features and innovation in the 99FX chipset, pretty much this a petit overhaul of the 890FX chipset with very subtle yet small changes. The changes can be found in somewhat wider multi-GPU support, creating optimized data paths for stuff like USB 3.0 chips and thus bandwidth and some minor tweaks in the RAID unit. Truth be told, the 790 and 890 chipsets were already very impressive, so while the chipset itself is really good we did hope for native USB 3.0 support, and how cool would it have been to assign three graphics cards x16 PCI-Express lanes? Still though if you have two GPUs two full bandwidth x16 links are available to you and that is certainly much better then anything Intel has to offer with its chipsets. But to fully and optimally enjoy multi-GPU solutions, AMD needs faster processors. So tweaks, optimizations better multi GPU support (SLI is now supported) and of course Socket AM3+ with Bulldozer processor support is what the 990FX chipset is all about. But the chipset release though remaining a little underwhelming, certainly is capable and sufficient.
That said, let's move onward to the motherboard itself as ASUS certainly did a nice job with the Crosshair V Formula.
Let's forget about performance with the Phenom II for now and look at the product for what it's intended for, and that would be the upcoming Bulldozer based FX series processors. So from A to Z this motherboards really is impressive. Whether that's build quality, the overall looks or the feature set it simply is a dark and evil looking apparatus.
The ROG team implemented all their fav features into the motherboard, though not included in the review don't forget that for true overclocking entrepreneurs you also get ROG Connect, the ability to overclock the PC from say your laptop. Next to that you get the ROG uEFI BIOS and I've stated it many times already, the ASUS uEFi implementation kicks ass as it is seriously good. Go have a look at some of the screenshots we posted in this review. Very handy is the OC button, when powered off you click it, then power on and within seconds your PC is overclocked for you. Our Phenom II X4 980 BE was now clocked at 4 GHz (on air), that's pretty okay really.
Once Bulldozer processors are released that where that other feature will become interesting as well, yup SLI support. Especially in the high-end segment of graphics cards you certainly need a better processor then Phenom II right now can offer. So we'll look into that when Bulldozer FX has arrived in September of this year. This motherboard will support up-to 3-way SLI, and that's pretty cool.
The motherboard as delivered is extensive, you'll have all the feasible gadgets onboard ranging from integrated multi-channel audio, gigabit Ethernet, wide DDR3 frequency support in dual-channel configuration even up-to 2133 MHz, the USB 3.0 ports but more overly; we like the multiple PCIe x16 slots. Running multiple GPUs is getting more common all the time so it's good to know that at the very least your motherboard is supporting it.
The overall baseline performance is as good as any 800/900 series chipset with a Phenom II processor, with 1600/1866/2133 MHz DDR3 memory support now able to be configured in the BIOS you might see slightly faster performance thanks to that feature, but as many of our memory reviews already have shown, very high memory bandwidth does not do a lot for Phenom II and Athlon II processors at all.
Overclocking wise the sky is the limit and you can take the processor as far as its willing to go, no problems on that front either. In fact this motherboard allows our 980BE processor to be clocked to 4.3 GHz on air, and that's the second mobo ever to pull that off with this CPU. Be aware though of the fact that once overclocked the CPU gets very hungry for power.
Is there anything missing? Well, at this price a 2nd Ethernet jack would have been nice, perhaps a diagnostic LED and sure even more SATA ports? I'm nitpicking here though.
So overall the Crosshair V Formula is an excellent piece of machinery, and with Crossfire and SLI support things just got more interesting, as the motherboard gains value, features and could be real fast once AMD's Bulldozer processors are launched, yeah that's where things get really interesting (well -- we hope).
We'll say it again and again, 990FX should have never been released prior to the new FX series processor launch but instead should have been released alongside of it. For us it is really hard to make a point as to what the motherboard is all about as that should be the AMD FX (Bulldozer) processor. But we do hope that anyone can see through the Phenom II performance and look at the Crosshair V Formula for what it really is, a grand design, looking fantastic with all the latest features and gadgets you'll need. At just under 190 EUR this really is a kick-ass motherboard, all we really need is AMDs upcoming Bulldozer FX processors. But the Phenom II processors will hold up fine for now.