AMD 990FX Mobo Round-Up: Asus, ASRock, Gigabyte

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The Asus CrossHair line of motherboards for AMD processors has long been a favorite amongst enthusiast and this latest addition seems poised to carry on the tradition. As we've mentioned, the CrossHair V Formula is based on the AMD 990FX chipset and supports all current socket AM3 processors and future AM3+ based processors as well. Asus has also augmented the board with a number of additional controllers to further enhance it's feature set and connectivity options.


The Asus CrossHair V Formula

Asus CrossHair V Formula 
Specifications & Features
CPU AMD AM3+ FX/Phenom II/Athlon II/Sempron 100 Series Processors
Supports AM3+ 32 nm CPU
Supports CPU up to 8 cores
Supports CPU up to 140 W
AMD Cool 'n' Quiet Technology
Chipset AMD 990FX/SB950
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 Hz ECC, Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA 3-Way SLI Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots 3 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (dual x16 or x16, x8, x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x4 mode)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
1 x PCI
Storage AMD SB950 controller :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
 
ASMedia ASM1061 controller :
1 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
1 x eSATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
LAN Intel, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller
Audio SupremeFX X-Fi 2 built-in 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- X-Fi Xtreme Fidelity
- EAX Advanced HD 5.0
- THX TruStudio PRO
- Creative ALchemy
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports ASMedia USB 3.0 controller :
6 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)

AMD SB950 controller :

12 x USB 2.0 port(s) (8 at back panel, black+white, 4 at mid-board)
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

In addition to exploiting all of the features inherent to the 990FX chipset, the CrossHair V Formula also sports a pair of ASMedia controllers that add additional SATA 6G ports and six USB 3.0 ports. The board supports both 3-Way NVDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX multi-GPU configurations and the board is outfitted with an advanced UEFI BIOS and DIGI+ digital VRM design as well. As you'll see a little later, the UEFI setup menu on this board is about as good as it gets.

As expected from an Asus RoG (Republic of Gamers) board, there are plenty of overclocking tools built in too and an onboard SupremeFX X-Fi 2 chip delivers decent audio, especially for an integrated solution.

    

    
The Asus CrossHair V Formula AM3+ AMD 990FX-Based Motherboard

In addition to the CrossHair V Formula pictured here, a Thunderbolt edition is on tap as well. The CrossHair V Formula/ThunderBolt will come with Asus’ ThunderBolt audio/LAN combo expansion card. The ThunderBolt card is outfitted with XONAR audio technology which provides better sound quality than integrated solutions, and also offers a built-in headphone amplifier with adjustable impedance settings for fine tuning of the audio output. The Crosshair V Formula/Thunderbolt also incorporates the Bigfoot Networks Killer E2100 NIC.

Other noteworthy features of the Asus CrossHair V Formula include its "CPU Level Up" tool which allows for easy overclocking, RoG Connect for accessing PC health status via a secondary system like a notebook or netbook, ProbeIt voltage check points, and its Intel Gigabit LAN controller. The layout of the board is also very good and there is ample cooling for the chipset and voltage regulators. As you can see in the final image above, there is also plenty of connectivity in the board's backplane, including USB 3.0, USB 2.0, eSATA, PS/2, LAN, digital and analog audio, and RoG connect port.

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This is cool. Bulldozer is ~really~ gonna pop soon.

I like that the performance of the ASRock board stayed so close to the ASUS. The fact that it has more features for less money has me sold. I may just buy one of them soon, and keep it on the shelf for when Bulldozer is here.

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I wish AMD all the best hopefully they bounce back this round.

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"Nice round-up Marco. But I cant agree with the conclusion, I feel that the Asrock board should have been the editors choice. First of of all, it has more features as you mentioned, like Firewire, dual-Gigabit LAN, and a front-mountable USB 3.0 panel. Second , it cost less. Third, it came out on top, in four of the test. The only thing I dont like is John's face in the bios."

"A request that I have for a future special report or article,that either you or Joel can hopefully take on is, Dual Gigabit lan. what are the advantages of this and how does it perform versus a standard gigabit lan , especially in gaming and in a workstation environment."

"One thing I noted, when Bulldozer arrives, the RAM specifications will change to native 1866 instead of 1800(OC)"

-Optimus

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@Optimus - I hear your points, but the more refined UEFI utility, Intel LAN controller, overall layout and configuration of the Asus board, plus the easy to use OC tools give the the edge for me. I put less stock in Firewire (I never use it) and dual gigabit LAN.

As for the perf of dual gigabit LAN, I'm sure we can work up some benchmarks that show a bandwidth advantage, but for gaming and real-world perf. it's not going to be noticable. It won't have an impact on pings in-game, etc.

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Marco C:
@Optimus - I hear your points, but the more refined UEFI utility, Intel LAN controller, overall layout and configuration of the Asus board, plus the easy to use OC tools give the the edge for me. I put less stock in Firewire (I never use it) and dual gigabit LAN.

"OK, The Intel Lan is better quality, Firewire I will never use, Dual Lan, maybe. The OC tools wasn't mentioned or expanded in the "Bios Comparo and Overclocking" but Asrock has a neat Auto OC feature that people love. Also, the Asrock board supports 4 Way Sli and 4 Way Crossfire, the Asus only supports 3 Way of both. Which brings me to this Question : Even though the GTX 590 and AMD 6990 are dual GPUs in one and are internally SLI'ed and Crossfired, is the Asus Crosshair V limited to only handle one 590 or one 6990?'

-Optimus

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Not at all. 3-way vs. 4-way means it can physically fit 3 or 4 cards.

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Marco C:

Not at all. 3-way vs. 4-way means it can physically fit 3 or 4 cards.

"Thanks for clearing that up for me"

Marco C:
As for the perf of dual gigabit LAN, I'm sure we can work up some benchmarks that show a bandwidth advantage, but for gaming and real-world perf. it's not going to be noticable. It won't have an impact on pings in-game, etc

"That would be great, I have always been curious about Dual Lan"

 

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OptimusPrimeTime:
Firewire I will never use,

One thing that Firewire does that I really like is that you can Daisy-Chain several drives together with only one initial connection to your PC and they'll be seen, and work. A guy that I knew in California produced films for owners of racehorses, about their horses. (something to do with attracting investors) He had a Mac Pro with 6 external Firewire 800 drives all plugged into one another and only one connection to the PC. All of them worked and all ran at full speed. He could use any combination of them at the same time and had no problems with losing data.

So I ended up buying three of them and using them on my IBM clone. (EDIT: After adding a Firewire adapter card to my system) Same result, all of them worked without a hitch. Firewire's speeds have been eclipsed by USB 3.0 and E-SATA since then, but at the time, it was the fastest game in town.

Firewire works, and I'm surprised that it never saw any better adaptation by consumers than it did. I still have one of those (now old) drives and it still works.

 

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USB 2.o :(

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gigabyte and msi should really exit the 19th century. UEFI should be standard by now. who the hell wants to use a non-intuitive old school tandy 1000 type interface anymore? I miss ABIT and all the others that shut down. They would always push for new tech to be standard.

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