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Preview: ASUS Does 890FX and 880G

By Vincent Chang - 18 Apr 2010

ASUS Crosshair IV Formula

ASUS Crosshair IV Formula

It's hardly a secret that AMD is preparing its 6-core processor for imminent launch. Along with that, you can expect two updated chipsets to join the AMD 890GX that's already in the market - the AMD 890FX for the enthusiast crowd and the AMD 880G for the integrated graphics mainstream audience. We have already previewed two such boards from Gigabyte and next up, we have a similar duo of these boards, this time from ASUS. First up, from its Republic of Gamers series, we have the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula, which packs the high-end 890FX chipset with ASUS' own in-house features, some of which are pretty extreme. Here are our quick impressions; benchmarks results are unfortunately still under NDA.


ASUS has gone with a striking red and black motif that fits with its other ROG designs. Expect nothing less than the whole suite of ASUS' ROG technologies.

Besides the useful and necessary Clear CMOS button (which could have been smaller so as to avoid accidents), this board has ASUS' ROG Connect feature, which allows you to hook up the board to another system for monitoring and tweaking purposes (using the reserved USB port). As you can tell, it's for pretty hardcore users. The rest of the ports are rather normal, with the blue USB ports being version 3.0 while the Gigabit LAN connection has ASUS' GamerFirst feature, which claims to optimize your internet connection such that your gaming experience will not be adversely affected by other concurrent internet usage like downloading of files.

Six SATA 6Gbps ports aligned just the way we prefer. The black SATA port there is from the JMicron controller is only 3Gbps capable.

The standard configuration of four DIMM slots supporting up to 16GB memory, up to DDR3 2000 (O.C). Note too ASUS' unique single-sided lock mechanism for the DIMMs.

ProbeIT is another of ASUS' ROG features, which is basically a set of five voltage detection points for enthusiasts who prefer to use a multimeter to take readings.

Pressing this Go button before booting up will enable MemOK!, ASUS' memory compatibility check utility. If you press it when the OS is running, it instead loads the preset profile for temporary overclocking.

Besides the obvious Power and Reset buttons, ASUS has two of its proprietary features here with Core Unlocker, which unlocks your AMD processor if it has cores disabled, like the Phenom II X2. The Turbo Key II is an auto-overclocking utility which kicks in when the button is enabled prior to booting the system. The amount of overclock can be controlled within the BIOS settings.

ASUS relies on this custom iROG chip to handle the ROG related technologies.

While it used to be a separate audio module, the SupremeFX X-Fi appears to be onboard now. It supports X-Fi and other Creative technologies, though like the previous version, these effects will be handled through software. This onboard integration is surely a cost saving move, but we think it's fine given that folks who're really concerned with their audio quality would further invest in a dedicated sound card, while the onboard audio is to take care of basic audio needs.

The Crosshair IV Formula comes with three PCIe 2.0 x16 slots (dual x16 or x16/x8/x8) for 3-way CrossFireX. The last slot is a PCIe 2.0 x4 and there are two PCI slots, all of which becomes unusable if you opt for three dual-slot graphics cards in tandem.

The NEC controller for USB 3.0 support.

ASUS certainly has quite a fancy and visually arresting heatsink design which is also reasonably low-profile.


On first glance, this board feels expensive and checking out the various components confirms it. Not to mention that ASUS usually charges quite the premium for its ROG series, especially with the various unique and enthusiast oriented features. It's likely to be overkill for most consumers but even the average user will appreciate the design and layout, which appears to be very well done.

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