Asus RoG Crosshair V Formula £190
5th Aug 2011 | 10:09
Just waiting for the processor to ask it to dance...
Asus RoG Crosshair V Formula: Overview
With the Asus Republic of Gamers Crosshair V Formula it has produced a board that makes us almost want to recommend it regardless of whether or not Bulldozer is much cop.
We've looked at a few motherboards based on AMD's 9-series chipsets now, and so far the general impression has been that they're OK. Unfortunately it all really depends on the forthcoming FX (aka Bulldozer) processors to make them worthwhile.
Like other Crosshair, Rampage and Maximus motherboards in the RoG series, it's a stupidly over specified board that just makes you want to grin.
It's unlikely most people would even know what to do with half of the features included, let alone actually use them. So being able to say you own a motherboard that features them carries its own form of geek cache.
What sort of things do we mean?
There's the optional remote for overclocking, for a start, and the power out points for taking manual volt readings of the main motherboard rails. There's the plethora of diagnostic LEDs, the inclusion of two full 16 lane graphics ports for two way SLI or Crossfire... the list goes on.
Asus RoG Crosshair V Formula: Benchmarks
There's clearly not a lot of performance difference between the 990FX and the 990X chipsets from AMD, and even the lower spec 960 isn't far behind.
What's more interesting than the performance benchmarks, perhaps, is the power usage. Playing around with ASUS' EPU settings can lower this even further.
Asus RoG Crosshair V Formula: Verdict
What's nice about the Crosshair V is that despite being so well equipped it isn't intimidating.
Having said all that, the Crosshair V Formula isn't the most highly specced motherboard ASUS has ever made.
Some of the extras that you'll find in the Extreme range of motherboards like Bluetooth – which is useful for overclocking via a mobile phone – are noticeable by their absence.
But there is a host of ways the Asus RoG Crosshair V Formula makes things easy for the user.
The new UEFI graphical BIOS, for example is well laid out and simple to use. And while the ASUS software utilities are hateful if you ever try to uninstall them, so long as you leave them doing their own thing they're a straightforward gateway to controlling not just the CPU clock settings but also ASUS' Push-me-pull-you chips, TPU and EPU. These automatically undervolt or overclock other motherboard components depending on current system load.
It's the little things that make the biggest difference though.
Things like the inclusion of an X-Fi chip for sound (this isn't a full blown X-Fi, mind, but it is better than normal on board audio) and one touch overclocking buttons.
There's an extra couple of USB 3.0 ports over and above the norm too.
Sadly, though, as fun as the Crosshair V is, value for money does have to come into play at some point.
It's not terrible in this regard – ASUS own Sabertooth 990FX is almost identical but has a worse soundcard for £10 less – but it'd still be unwise to shell out for a top spec motherboard without knowing how good Bulldozer is going to be or how much it's going to cost.
And that last point is critical – because if AMD's next CPU can undercut its Intel rivals significantly, it's going to be worth buying a premium board to make the most of it.
And they don't come much more premium than this.
The Crosshair V has got just about everything you could wish for to build a high end system around.
It's fast, endlessly teakable and even has a decent on board sound chip.
The price isn't terrible either, unless you're a die hard bargain hunter that it.
As we said this is a board with everything, except that is for a good CPU to go with it.
Phenom II is yesterday's news, and to make the Crosshair V worthwhile, Bulldozer has to be good. So like every other AMD 9-series motherboard at the moment it's just a warm up to the main event.
If Bulldozer is top notch performance at a bargain price, it'll be worth buying a high end motherboard like this to get the most out of it.