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ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 890FX Motherboard Review

Author: raxen
Date: August 24, 2010
Product Name: ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 890FX Motherboard
 
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Specifications




The 890FX/SB850 chipset combo featured on the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula is AMD's most advanced and most expensive northbridge/southbridge pair. It is part of the newly introduced "Leo" platform, and it natively supports CrossFireX technology through its 38 PCI-E 2.0 lanes. AMD has given sole discretion to motherboard manufacturers to choose how to distribute the lanes. Theoretically, the 890FX can support up to four 8x PCI-E 2.0 slots for quad-CrossfireX technology. However, fitting four dual-slot video cards onto the motherboard essentially requires space for eight PCI slots, resulting in a very long motherboard outside of ATX size specifications. The GIGABYTE 890FXA-UD7 is a prime example of such a motherboard.

The engineers at ASUS decided to keep the Crosshair IV Formula within ATX size specifications. As a result, the C4F supports only tri-CrossfireX technology with the PCI-E 2.0 slots running in 16x/8x/8x configuration. For users who are satisfied with running only two video cards, the PCI-E slots will automatically switch to a 16x/16x format, ensuring that the PCI-E lane is not the bottleneck in data transfer between the video card and the 890FX.


In terms of connectivity, the new SB850 southbridge provides the Crosshair IV Formula with SATA 6.0Gbps support. While the SB850 does not support the new USB3.0 specification, all manufacturers have implemented this new technology by utilizing a third party USB3.0 controller connected to the 890FX through a PCI-E 1x lane. The PCI-E 1x lane has a theoretical bandwidth of 500MB/s, which is more than enough to support this new technology.

To be honest, the differences between AMD’s previous flagship chipset, the 790FX, and the 890FX are not great. Both are manufactured under the 65nm process, and the main noticeable difference between the two platforms is the lack of support for DDR2. In other words, you won’t be able to find an 890FX/SB850 motherboard supporting DDR2 on the market. Furthermore, the TDP of the 890FX was raised to 19.8W versus 10W for the 790FX. This is due the implementation of IOMMU into the 890FX which benefits virtualization. As a result, for users who never use virtualization, the TDP between the chipsets remains relatively the same.

Anyway, let us now dive into the specifications for the Crosshair IV Formula. For an in-depth look at the 890FX/SB850 chipset combo, venture over to "AMD’s 890FX Chipset: An Evolution for the AM3 Platform" where we discuss the finer details of the combo and its capabilities.

The following specifications were taken from the ASUS Crosshair IV Formula Product Page:

 
 
 

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