Asus Crosshair IV Extreme AMD 890FX Motherboard

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Asus includes a USB 2.0/FireWire 1394a PCI bracket, six SATA cables (4x6G, two 2x3G), a Bluetooth receiver, S/PDIF cables, Crossfire/SLI bridges, Asus' handy Q-connector for the various front panel indicator lights/power switch, and multimeter cables for enthusiasts who want to check voltage outputs directly rather than relying on the BIOS reports. There's also a set of three thermal probes for monitoring specific hot spots (don't try to put these between the CPU and heatsink).

Most of the value-added components that ship with the Crosshair IV-E are hardware-based, but there are a few exceptions. The company's driver CD contains the usual suite of tools, anti-virus software, and various overclocking/system monitoring utilities; Asus noted to us that it's completely redesigned the way its tools interlock and function to streamline usage and make things less confusing. The disc also contains a pre-loaded Linux distro and a full licensed copy of 3DMark Vantage. 
 
Asus MemOk!

 
Asus' MemOk! button is the smallest button at the lower left. It doubles as the "Go Button," which can be used to automatically restore a preset BIOS profile after a firmware reset.  Note that the right-hand shot is from an earlier board revision; the button positions changed slightly in the final product.

The Crosshair IV Extreme isn't the first Asus board we've tested that featured the company's MemOk! compatibility technology, but we actually needed to use it at one point during this particular review. We are, therefore, able to verify that the function works (mostly)  as advertised; activating MemOk! allowed the system to successfully and stably boot a RAM configuration that otherwise refused to POST.


MemOk!'s status display after successfully booting our system

According to Asus, activating MemOk! is only supposed to change RAM timings. In our tests, using MemOk! also reset all BIOS settings. This was not an issue; we were able to re-set and save our other BIOS settings with no problem.

PCI-E On / Off Switches

The PCIe switches can be seen in the right-hand photograph above. Enthusiasts who want to conserve power or are trying to break overclocking records can manually disable each of the Crosshair IV's five auxiliary PCI-Express ports by flipping the appropriate switch(es).

Various Buttons And Status LEDs

The Crosshair IV Extreme's BIOS can be reset via an external button on the back plate. There are also three independent LEDs that shine green, yellow, or red depending on voltage settings. The Go, power, reset, and Asus core unlocker buttons located in the upper north quadrant of the board are extremely useful if you're fine-tuning certain settings or setting it up for the first time. The core unlock button only does something if your CPU has deactivated cores, but it's a useful way to make sure one's CPU cores remain unlocked even after a BIOS restore.

BIOS Protections


The BIOS swap button

BIOS protection is a major feature of the Crosshair IV. The board features two independent BIOSes on two different physical chips—if one becomes corrupted or physically damaged, switching to the second is as simple as pushing a button. The two are maintained completely independently, there's no way for problems with BIOS #1 to impact BIOS #2.

Profiles can be saved and titled on each BIOS—it's possible, for example, to save all overclocking settings to the first BIOS chip while customizing fail-safes for BIOS #2. Additionally, it's also possible to restore a proper BIOS even if neither of the installed images will POST.

The BIOS can be reflashed by inserting a USB flash drive with the appropriate image and holding down the iROG connector on the back of the motherboard until it flashes. If, by some quirk of fate, all of these options fail, the chips themselves are removable/replaceable.

ROG / RC Bluetooth



The Crosshair IV Extreme incorporates Asus' ROG (Republic of Gamers) processor; this chip enables several different overclocking-friendly options. Enthusiasts can either overclock the Crosshair IV Extreme via a second system over USB or alternately use Bluetooth and a mobile phone to perform the same tasks. Touch phones, including the iPhone, are not supported.

If overclocking isn't your cup of tea, the included BlueTooth radio is also compatible with standard BlueTooth devices—any BT device that works with your phone should theoretically be able to double up and function on the PC. 

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