Asus Crosshair V Formula review
At £170, Asus's Crosshair V Formula is one of the most expensive AM3+ motherboards around, but it doesn't skimp on features, having seven SATA3 ports, support for up to 32GB of memory running at 2,133MHz and four PCI-E x16 slots that support a variety of CrossFireX and SLI GPU configurations. It's also worth noting that one runs at x4, while another runs at x16 and the other two can either act as one x16 and one x4 slot or as a pair of x8 slots. If you enjoy testing and tweaking your hardware you’ll be pleased with its onboard power, reset and CMOS clearing buttons too.
Although the motherboard’s advertised as having Creative’s X-Fi audio, this is only a set of drivers. The audio codec chip is actually a Realtek ALC889, but the Creative driver provides extra features, including THX TruStudio Pro surround sound audio processing to go with the 7.1 analogue audio outputs and optical S/PDIF port on the board.
The motherboard has eight USB and four USB3 ports at the back, and onboard headers for two more USB3 and four more USB2 ports. There's also an eSATA3 port on the back panel and a token PS/2 port for legacy keyboard or mouse connections.
Buying a high-performance AM3+ motherboard to go with AMD's eight-core Bulldozer processor is, in some ways, a bit of an odd choice because neither its performance nor its overclocking potential can match that of Intel's Core i5, unless you use it for specialised tasks that take advantage of the CPU's multiple cores. If you do want to push Bulldozer to its limits, however, then the Crosshair V Formula is definitely the board to use, thanks to its easy-to-use UEFI interface and more or less every feature you're ever likely to need. It’s also worth noting that the MSI 990FXA-GD65 costs much less and has better performance out of the box.
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