Due to Intel releasing new chipsets often a lot of people might think that the motherboard market has a big focus on Intel boards. As I have seen in the past on our forums, our Facebook, and even at our events there is still a large AMD following that is hungry for the latest and greatest to support their preferred vender as well. Well when looking to lock in a board for future AM3+ testing I ended up with the Asus Crosshair V Formula in my hands. Today I’m going to dig into it and see what makes it Asus’s flagship AMD board.

Product Name: Asus Crosshair V Formula-Z

Review Sample Provided by: Asus

Written by: Wes

Pictures by: Wes

 

Specifications

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(s)

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)

ROG Exclusive Features

ROG Connect :

- RC Diagram

- RC Remote

- RC Poster

- GPU TweakIt

Extreme Engine Digi+ :

- 8 + 2 phase power design

UEFI BIOS features :

- ROG BIOS Print

- GPU.DIMM Post

GameFirst

iROG

Extreme Tweaker

Overclocking Protection :

- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)

- Voltiminder LED

- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)

Special Features

ASUS TPU :

- CPU Level Up

Core Unlocker

ASUS Exclusive Features :

- MemOK!

- Ai Charger+

ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution :

- ASUS Fan Xpert

ASUS EZ DIY :

- ASUS Q-Shield

- ASUS O.C. Profile

- ASUS EZ Flash 2

- ASUS MyLogo 3

ASUS Q-Design :

- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)

- ASUS Q-Connector

Back I/O Ports

1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)

1 x eSATA 6Gb/s

1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)

4 x USB 3.0

8 x USB 2.0 (white port can be switched to ROG Connect)

1 x Optical S/PDIF out

6 x Audio jack(s)

1 x Clear CMOS button(s)

Internal I/O Ports

1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)

2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)

7 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)

2 x CPU Fan connector(s)

3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)

3 x Optional Fan connector(s)

1 x S/PDIF out header(s)

1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)

1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)

1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)

1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)

1 x System panel(s)

8 x ProbeIt Measurement Points

3 x Thermal sensor connector(s)

1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS header(s)

1 x EZ Plug connector(s) (4-pin Molex power connector)

1 x Power-on button(s)

1 x Reset button(s)

1 x CPU Level Up button(s)

1 x ROG Connect switch(es)

1 x Go Button(s)

Accessories

User's manual

I/O Shield

6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)

1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)

1 x SLI bridge(s)

1 x CrossFire cable(s)

1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)

1 x ROG Connect cable(s)

1 x Cable ties pack(s)

1 x ROG theme label(s)

1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)

BIOS

32Mb Flash ROM, UEFI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a, Multi-Language BIOS

Manageability

WOL by PME, WOR by PME, PXE

Support Disc

Drivers

Sound Blaster® X-Fi 2 Utility

Kaspersky® Anti-Virus

DAEMON Tools Pro Standard

ROG CPU-Z

ASUS Utilities

Form Factor

ATX Form Factor

12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 


Packaging and Accessories

No surprises here, the Crosshair V came in a standard ROG themed box. The cover has some of the ROG artwork along with the product name and then some of the small badges from AMD and some of the other board features. The front opens up to show a full sized window that gives you full view of the board inside of the box. Also behind the front panel is a little more information about the SupremeFX III sound card, Digi+ II power circuitry, as well as some of the software included. The back of the box has a few small photos of key features as well as the software. Below that most of the back is taken up by a full specification listing. Asus even included a line drawing of the rear I/O panel with color accents. I love having this stuff on the packaging because when you shop in the store it is nice to know what you are getting without having to stop and research everything online before buying it.

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When you open up the packaging there are two boxes inside. The first has the motherboard in it and the second is packed full of accessories, software, and documentation.

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For accessories we get a total of six black SATA cables, half of those have right angles connections on one end. Asus included one of their Q connectors that make hooking up your front panel connections much easier by letting you do it all out in the open then plug one plug in. You also an ROG Connect cable for hooking up and overclocking remotely. Asus made sure to include a normal SLI bridge as well as a triple SLI bridge, both in black with the ROG logo on them. Even nicer, they also included a black ROG crossfire bridge, typically these only come with video cards and most manufactures only include the ugly bronze colored version. Lastly you get a black rear I/O panel. The I/O panel has the nice foam backing rather than metal springs that get caught on all of your ports when installing you motherboard.

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For documentation you get a full user guide to help with any questions on installation or setup. For the gamers still living at home you get a do not disturb door hanger. Then you get a sheet of SATA labels as well as the software/driver disc. Also slipped in with the disc is a small ROG case badge as well.

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Board Layout and Pictures

Much like the packaging, with the Crosshair V Formula-Z being an ROG motherboard it does have the full black and red theme going on. Being a little bit of an older board design its overall styling isn’t really what we see on the newer boards. That means the headsinks have the older more aggressive styling. Beyond that it is a full ATX board packed full of features, so lets take a closer look to see what it is all about.

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To start things off, let’s take a look at all of the cooling on the Crosshair Formula-Z. Around the CPU socket we have two heatsinks, the smaller of the two along the top with a long heatsink that runs the full height of the CPU socket area and is longer than the RAM slots.  Those two heatsinks have a single red anodized piece and the rest are anodized black. For the chipset heatsink Asus kept things low profile to prevent ay clearance issues with video cards. That heatsink has both the Asus and ROG logos on them along with a machined V shape.

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Starting up in the top left corner we have a few things going on. For starters, behind the rear I/O panel we have a Molex power connection to give additional power to the PCI slots for when you are running and overclocking quad card setups. Next to it is our first 4-pin PWM fan header. Up along the top we have an 8-pin power connection for the CPU and then a second 4-pin for when you are overclocking to supply the CPU with even more power. Next to the four pin is the 4-pin PWM fan header for the CPU and then two more up in the top right corner of the photo. That’s makes a total of four so far.

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Over on the top right we have the four DDR3 DIMMS taking up most of the room, two in red and two in black. Starting up along the top there is a small switch, this turns on slow mode to help when overclocking and you are having a hard time getting through the boot. The jumper just below it is for LN2 mode to help support the lower temperatures. Next we have the LED diagnostic readout, it’s interesting this is up on the top, they are normally down along the bottom of most boards. Next are the start/power and reset buttons, the start button has a racecar start button look to it. Next is the GO button, this will test and set reset the memory to a working speed when you are having problems. Down next to the RAM slots we have our 5th 4-pin PWM fan header as well as the 24-pin motherboard power connection. Slipped in next to the motherboard power is a set of test pads to test all of the motherboard voltages. Under the voltage pads are four small LEDs, these will help diagnose boot problems, the part of the board with an issue will be lit up. Lastly, we have a red USB 3.0 header.

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Down in the bottom right corner we have 8 SATA 3 ports. Down along the bottom starting from the right we have the front panel connections. Next are two more 4-pin PWM fan headers putting us up to 7 now. Next is a small Direct Key button that loads you directly into the BIOS. Next is a small switch that turns on fast boot mode.

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Over on the bottom left half there are two USB 3.0 headers up under the PCIe slots. Next is the TPM header and the TB Header. After that we have the eighth and final 4-pin PWM header, making for a crazy number of fan connections. Next is the front panel audio header, if you look close you can see that the PCB is split with a transparent resin between the main motherboard and the audio section. This helps isolate the SupremeFX II onboard audio to give the best possible audio performance. This isn’t up to the standard that the most recent SupremeFX chipsets with headphone amps and premium capacitors, but still better than most other AM3+ boards.  

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For PCI Express slots on the Crosshair you get four full length slots and two PCIe x1 slots. Of the four PCIe x16 looking slots, the bottom one is a full time x4 and the other three share bandwidth. You can run two as x16 slots or one x16 and two x8’s.

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When we finally get around to the rear I/O panel I can see that Asus has packed the entire panel almost completely full. You get a total of 12 USB ports, four of those being USB 3.0. One of the ports doubles as the ROG Connect port as well, you can spot it because of its white color. For audio you get a six port audio setup as well as a S/PDIF connection over on the left side. Speaking of over on the left, just above the two USB 2.0 ports for your mouse and keyboard you have a PS2 connection for people who are looking for full NKRO on some keyboards and for older keyboards. I’m a little surprised that the Crosshair only gets one NIC, typically higher end boards have two, not that I ever need two. You do get an Intel 82574L NIC though. Then lastly, we have two buttons on the rear I/O panel. The top button is the SMOS reset button, giving you easy access to that without having to pull your side panel off. The other buttons is the ROG connect button.

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When we flip the Crosshair over, we can get a better look at the glossy black PCB that Asus went with. There are also three different backplates, two are for the motherboards heatsinks to keep them more secure and prevent damage to the board. The third is the larger one under the heatsink that supports the CPU heatsink mounts.

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Test Rig and Procedures

AMD AM3+ Test System

CPU

AMD FX-9370

Live Pricing

Cooling

Noctua NH-U14S for cooling

Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste

Live Pricing

Live Pricing

Memory

Kingston HyperX 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 RAM

Live Pricing

Storage

Kingston HyperX 128GB SSD

N/A

Video Card

Nvidia GTX 780

Live Pricing

Power Supply

Cooler Master V1000 Power Supply

Live Pricing

Case

Microcool Banchetto 101 Test bench

N/A

OS

Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

Live Pricing

Motherboard Testing

Passmark Performance Test 8.0

Overall PCMark score

PCMark 8

We use the Home Accelerated benchmark and track the overall score

3DMark

We run the 2013 Fire Strike test on the performance setting

In Game Tests

Bioshock Infinite

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool, we run Bioshock Infinite on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Tomb Raider

 Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool, we run Tomb Raider on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Hitman: Absolution

Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool, we run Hitman: Absolution on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Sleeping Dogs

 Using the Adrenaline Action Benchmark Tool, we run Sleeping Dogs on the “Xtreme” quality setting.

Subsystem Testing

Crystal Disk Mark

We use this benchmark for USB 3.0 and SATA speed tests. Testing is done with Crystal Disc Mark with a Corsair Force GT 60 Gb. USB 3.0 testing is hooked up through a Thermaltake BlackX with USB 3.0 support

Passmark

Passmark Advanced network test

 


Performance

To put the Crosshair V Formula-Z to the test I ran both it and the Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional through our benchmark suite. This way I would have numbers to compare to. Our benchmarks hit a variety of tests but focus the most on real world performance with PCMark and gaming performance with 3DMark and the games benchmarked. As expected, both boards perform on par with each other with each board pulling ahead on a few benchmarks. The small variances are most likely just small differences in driver performance and the margin of error on the benchmarks. What do we learn from the benchmarks? Well we learn that the Crosshair paired up with a GTX 780 and a decent CPU is more than enough to get your game on, putting down numbers in all four games that are more than playable as well as kick ass numbers in 3DMark.

3DMark

Motherboard

Overall Score

Graphics Score

Physics Score

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Pro

7966

9610

8369

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

7747

9504

8367

PCMark 8 Home Accelerated Score

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

4486

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

4493

Passmark Overall Score

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

3580

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

3557.2

Bioshock Infinite Average FPS

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

91.03

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

91.02

Tomb Raider Average FPS

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

56.5

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

56.5

Hitman: Absolution Average FPS

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

42.9

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

43.4

Sleeping Dogs Average FPS

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

55.2

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

55.3

         

 


Network

Running the Crosshair through our network benchmark tests I did run into a bit of an issue but something I have seen before in the past. When testing using the normal switch that we use in the office (a Trendnet TEG-S24Dg) I ran into slowdowns. I have seen this on a few other boards previously using the same Intel 82574L NIC run into this same issue. Having that history I knew right away to give a few other switches a try and not surprisingly the Crosshair performed perfectly. I point it out because if by chance you do run the Trendnet switch you should keep it in mind, but beyond that I would consider the 876.8 to be the actual result.

Motherboard

Average Network Speed

Asrock Fatal1ty 990FX Professional

897.1

Asus Crosshair V Forumula-Z

473.4 on the Trendnet switch 876.8 otherwise

 


Overall and Final Verdict

Now that I have taken an in depth look at the board and put it through our benchmarks what do I think? Well as usual I love the styling, the black and red theme that all ROG boards have is always great. The heatsinks are extremely heavy duty to the point where Asus had to use backplates on two of them to keep them secure. When it comes to features, they packed the board full, especially 4-pin PWM fan headers and also USB connections on the rear I/O. Performance was on par with the competition as expected. For software you get AI Suite 2, the older version of Asus’s software but you get most of the same features. I wasn’t able to completely cover the software due to issues with already having AI Suite 3 installed on our test bench, but you can check out a previous video that I made of the software.

So what are the downsides to the Corssfire V Formula-Z? Well for starters that name is far too long lol. Really I only had two issues though. When doing network testing I ran into the performance issues with our Trendnet TEG-S24Dg switch but none of our other switches. Beyond that my only complaint is that as great as this board is, you can tell it is a little dated. It is keeping up with the competition until you start comparing it to what Asus has to offer on all of the newer chipsets. I can’t fault them to much because like I said it is still a great board, but if they introduced a new 990FX board right now it would be even better!

At the end of the day if I were shopping for a replacement AM3+ board this would still be at the top of my list. That said, it is a lot more expensive than any of the other boards available as well, by something like $34. You do however get a few copy of Sniper Elite III if you pick it up on Newegg currently to help make that price premium hurt a little less.

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Author Bio
garfi3ld
Author: garfi3ldWebsite: https://lanoc.org
Editor-in-chief
You might call him obsessed or just a hardcore geek. Wes's obsession with gaming hardware and gadgets isn't anything new, he could be found taking things apart even as a child. When not poking around in PC's he can be found playing League of Legends, Awesomenauts, or Civilization 5 or watching a wide variety of TV shows and Movies. A car guy at heart, the same things that draw him into tweaking cars apply when building good looking fast computers. If you are interested in writing for Wes here at LanOC you can reach out to him directly using our contact form.

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garfi3ld replied the topic: #35997 19 Dec 2014 16:14
Today I show a little AMD love and check out an AM3+ board from Asus. Its not exactly a spring chicken, but how does it compare to today's latest and greatest? Lets find out!

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