Asus CrossHair NF590 SLI: Republic of Gamers

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The BIOS and Overclocking

The Asus CrossHair is equipped with a Phoenix/Award BIOS that is is very complete and relatively easy to navigate. From within the BIOS users have the ability to configure, enable or disable all of the board's integrated peripherals, and monitor voltages and clock speeds. The CrossHair also has a very complete set of memory timing options that offer amazing flexibility for fine tuning memory performance.

Asus CrossHair: Exploring the BIOS
Way Over The Top

        

      

      

The CrossHair's standard BIOS menu screens don't reveal anything out of the ordinary, but they will give you a "feel" for the general layout and organization of the options. Each individual screen has a host of menus that tunnel deeper and deeper as the options get more complex.

Overall, other than the color scheme, it is very similar to the BIOS derivatives used on most other motherboards, but navigating through Asus' BIOS menus does take some getting used to if you've never experienced them before.

Asus CrossHair: Overclocking Tools
Too Much Going On?

      

      

      

      

    

Yes, we know, that's a whole heck of a lot of BIOS screenshots, but the CrossHair has so many overclocking and tweaking related option, we felt compelled to show them all.  This motherboard is easily one of the more tweaker-friendly offerings available for users in the market for an AMD socket AM2-based processor.  Shoot, it's one of the more tweaker-friendly boards period, regardless of the platform.

From within the "Extreme Tweaker" section of the BIOS, users have the ability to alter clock frequencies and voltages for virtually every major on-board component. The CPU and PCI Express frequencies can be altered in 1MHz increments, and the CPU multiplier and memory ratio can also be manipulated manually, as can the HT link ratio, memory bus width and HT bus width.  There are also extensive voltage options for the CPU, Memory, chipset, HT link, and DDR2 termination. The CPU voltage can first be set to a specified range, and the specific voltage within that range can be altered in increments of tiny fractions of a volt.

There are also an extensive array of memory timing options available on the CrossHair. In addition to memory termination voltage options, memory voltages as high as 3.425v, and memory clock frequency options, the CrossHair offers a multitude of tools related to memory timings.  And were not talking just about the traditional five or six options you may be accustomed to. In addition to CAS latency and command rate options, there are nearly two dozen memory timing related menus available in the CrossHair's BIOS.  There are also a host of automatic overclocking tools available (AI Tuning), all of the features inherent to the nForce 590 SLI chipset (LinkBoost, EPP, etc.) are exposed, and fans speeds can be monitors and tweaked from within the BIOS as well. Without a doubt the CrossHair has one of, if not the most complete BIOS menus we have ever come across.

Overclocking the Asus CrossHair
Crankin' Up The MHz

To assess the overclocking prowess of the Asus CrossHair, we dropped our Athlon 64 X2 5000+'s multiplier, locked the PCI clock, and lowered the memory frequency / ratio. Then we gave the CPU a .1v bump in voltage, set the memory voltage to 2.4v, and increased the chipset and HT link voltages (all other settings were left on Auto).  Then we began raising the HT reference clock frequency until our test system was no longer stable.  In the end, we were able to take the Asus CrossHair up from the default 200MHz all the way to 382MHz. With our CPU's multiplier set to 8x, that was a final stable clock speed of just over 3GHz. The board would actually boot Windows with slightly higher HT frequencies, but we weren't able to completely stabilize the system until we dropped it back down to 382MHz.


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