The best AM3 overclocker motherboard?
Every time we get ASUS Republic of Gamers hardware at the Tbreak office, everybody gets excited, and for good reason too. Not once has an RoG hardware failed to impress us, and surely the Crosshair IV Extreme would be no less than its predecessors.
Based on the AMD 890FX/SB850 chipset, the ASUS Crosshair IV Extreme will support any AM3 based Phenom II, Athlon II and Sempron 100 series CPU. Since this is a Republic of Gamers enthusiast motherboard, packed in along with the instruction manual and the drivers CD is an extra eSATA expansion bracket, 3x SATA 6.0GBps cables, 1x SATA 3 cable, 1x USB cable, rear i/o panel cover and an RoG sticker for your case. There’s also a set of voltage reading cables and three additional temperature sensors for the CPU along with a CrossFire cable added in for good measure.
Speaking of CrossFire, the Crosshair IV Extreme has 5x PCIe x16 slots. In a 3-way SLi or CrossFire, 3 of the slots will run at x16 speeds, otherwise in a 4-way SLi or CF setup, 2 slots run at x16 speeds while the remaining 2 run at x8 speeds. Moving up the board we see the sharp looking heatsink on the Southbridge controller as well as the Lucid HYDRA chip. The latter is especially interesting as the Hydra chip allows multiple GPUs from different manufacturers to be run on the Crosshair IV Extreme, i.e. you can run a GTX 580 along with an HD 6870 if you wish. Sadly the HYDRALogiX drivers failed to install (both the one’s supplied with the motherboard and the latest v1.7.102 from their website) so we couldn’t test this feature.
Moving to the top right we see the PCIe switches and the Probelt voltage plugs for simple readings, a process made easier thanks to the included voltage dongles. The 5 PCIe switches turn the corresponding PCIe slots on and off. This greatly helps if you have a multi-GPU setup and want to remove one card for whatever reason (whether it failed or you want to not run an AMD or Nvidia card) then this is far easier than shutting down the PC and unplug the whole card. We always welcome onboard Reset and Start buttons, but the enthusiast nature of the Crosshair IV Extreme shows when there’s an additional CPU core unlocker button on the motherboard itself (right of the Start button).
Just near the CPU plug you can see the Northbridge controller with a mini 40mm fan. Don’t let this little sucker fool you though, it can scream real loud when temperatures start going above 50C.