ASUS Crosshair V Formula AMD AM3+ Motherboard Review

The Crosshair V Formula is ASUS' ROG-based answer for the next generation AMD silicon, codenamed "Bulldozer." Built with all the bells and whistles you've come to expect from a Republic of Gamers' motherboard, the Crosshair V Formula looks to be the perfect companion for any AMD processor.

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BIOS

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ASUS chose to mate the Crosshair V Formula with a UEFI style AMI BIOS. The UEFI style BIOS allows for both keyboard and mouse based interaction for the most part. The BIOS version used in testing and shown below is version 0506.

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The Extreme Tweaker menu houses the BIOS performance and overclocking settings. The Load Extreme OC Profile setting loads factory configured overclocking settings. The Ai Overclock Tuner options configures the BIOS overclocking mod, with options for both system controlled and manual overclocking available. Setting this option to D.O.C.P. displays the DRAM O.C. Profile option. This option configures the BIOS voltage and bus speed settings based on a selected memory speed value.

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With the Ai Overclock Tuner option set to Manual, all performance settings become user configurable. The OC Tuner setting enables the automated overclocking engine, with immediate system restart and overclocking commenced when the option button is clicked. The CPU Ratio option configures the base CPU multiplier, with values available based on the in use processor. The AMD Turbo CORE Technology setting enables user access to the Turbo CORE Ratio setting. The setting allows for user configuration of the CPU ratio enforced when the processor logic enables Turbo mode. The CPU Bus/PEG Frequency setting controls the FSB value, with a maximum value of 600MHz allowable. Similarly, the PCIE Frequency setting configures the PCI-Express bus frequency for operation at up to 150MHz. The Memory Frequency setting configures the onboard memory speed, with run speeds displayed via preconfigured ratio based values. Note that the memory speed shown in the display list is the actual memory based on the configured FSB speed. The CPU/NB Frequency and HT Link Speed options show similar real-time speed values, with their displayed speeds dynamically adjusted based on the CPU Bus/PEG Frequency setting.

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The Extreme OV option enables the voltage upper limits for most BIOS voltage settings. Note that all voltage settings shown in the screen caps and discussed below are obtained with the Extreme OV setting enabled. The CPU & NB Voltage Mode setting configures how the voltage values are set for the CPU and memory controller voltage, with values for both offset or manual operation. The CPU Manual Voltage option controls the CPU voltage, allowing for operation at up to 2.30V. The CPU integrated memory controller voltage is configured via the CPU/NB Voltage setting, with 1.90V ceiling. The CPU VDDA Voltage option allows for up to 3.18750V to be applied to the CPU power regulation circuitry. The memory voltage can be set to a maximum of 2.90V via the DRAM Voltage option. The VDDR option configures the memory controller power regulation circuitry voltage, with a 1.802V maximum settable.

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Accessed via the DRAM Timing Control link from with the top level Extreme Tweaker menu, the DRAM Timing Control submenu houses the user configurable memory timing settings as follows: CAS latency; RAS to CAS delay; RAS precharge delay; active to precharge delay (DRAM RAS# ACT Time); read to precharge delay; RAS to RAS delay; write to read delay; CAS write latency; write recovery delay; row refresh cycle delay; row cycle time; read to write delay; write to read delay across DIMMs (DRAM WRITE To READ Delay(DD)); write to write delay; read to read delay; refresh rate; and command rate

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The DRAM Driving Control sub-menu is accessed through the DRAM Driving Control link on the top level menu. This memory houses settings for configuring the internal memory signal drive strength on a per channel basis.

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The GPU.DIMM Post submenu, accessed via the GPU.DIMM Post link from the top level menu, displays information concerning the video cards and memory plugged in to the system slots. The make and slot speed display for video cards, while the memory speed displays for active memory modules.

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The Digi+ VRM/Power Control sub-menu, accessed via the same named link on the upper level menu, houses configuration settings specific to the board's power regulation circuitry. The CPU Load-line Calibration option controls the BIOS oversight level for the CPU vDroop voltage, with the Extreme setting giving the tightest control. Similarly, the CPU/NB Load Line Calibration option configures the oversight for the memory controller vDroop voltage, with Extreme allowing for the tightest control. The CPU Voltage Over-Current Protection setting configures the maximum current load for the CPU, allowing for up to 140% over normal settings. The integrated memory controller current can be set to operation at up to a 130% current load using the CPU/NB Over-Current Protection setting. The power phase control for the CPU can be user configured with the CPU PWM Phase Control option set to Manual Adjustment. Configuring this option for the Ultra Fast value enables the most aggressive response time settings. Note that configuring the CPU PWM Phase Control option with the Extreme setting enables all CPU power phases. The CPU power regulation circuitry switch frequency can be user configure when the CPU Voltage Frequency option is set to Manual. The VRM Fixed Frequency Mode setting allows for a switch frequency to be set up to 550. The CPU PWM mode option controls BIOS oversight for the CPU VRM circuitry, with oversight configurable based on temperature or current monitoring. Current based monitoring is enabled with this option set to the Extreme value.

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The memory and internal memory controller reference voltages can be set to a 0.630x maximum ratio, with the actual voltage based on the configured memory voltage value. The DRAM Voltage Switching Frequency setting controls the memory power regulation circuitry switching frequency, with the maximum value of 2x allowed. The Northbridge chipset voltage, set via the NB Voltage option, and the HyperTransport bus voltage, set through the HT Voltage option, are both configurable for operation at up to 2.00V. The NB 1.8V Voltage setting configures the Northbridge chipset PCI bus voltage up to a 3.0075V maximum. The PCI-Express bus voltage regulation circuitry can be configured for operation at up to 2.0075V using the VDD PCIE option. The SB Voltage configures the voltage supplied to the Southbridge chipset, with a maximum of 1.802V. The switching frequency for the Northbridge component related power regulation circuitry can be configured for operation at 2x maximum through the NB Voltage, NB 1.8V, and VDD PCIE Switching Frequency settings.

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The Advanced menu contains various submenus for controlling the behavior of the integrated devices.

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The CPU Configuration submenu contains CPU specific specifications, as well as the following CPU specific configuration settings: Cool & Quiet support, C1E support, and secure VM mode (SVM).

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The North Bridge Configuration submenu, accessed via the North Bridge link from the upper level menu, displays information on the memory modules in use. The Memory Configuration link opens to the Memory Configuration submenu. This submenu contains additional memory settings not found in the DRAM Timing Control submenu. The DCT Unganged Mode setting configures the operational mode of the system memory, with the Enabled value ensuring Dual Channel memory mode with even multiples of memory modules installed.

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The SATA Configuration submenu displays the current active drive list for the AMD SB950 Southbridge controller. The SB SATA Configuration link opens to the SB SATA Configuration submenu, which contains configuration settings for the chipset controller. The port configuration is set via the SATA Port1 - Port4 and SATA Port5 - Port6 settings. Both port blocks can be configured independently for RAID or IDE operation. Setting them for mixed mode operation allows you to leave two of the ports open non-RAID drive usage. With either setting configured for RAID operation, the AMD RAID boot BIOS shows on system startup.

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The USB Configuration submenu houses the BIOS USB related configuration settings for both the USB 2.0 and 3.0 device ports. The Mass Storage Devices section displays when a USB drive type device is connected to the system at system startup. The per device settings that display controls device specific configuration of the emulation settings.

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The CPU Core On/Off Function submenu contains settings for configuring specific CPU per-core operation. The ASUS Core Unlocker setting attempts to enable factory disabled cores on the processor when enabled. Note that this setting does nothing if the current processor has no factory disabled cores. The CPU Core Activation settings allows for manual manipulation of the active core states, with per core settings shown when this option is set to Manual.

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The Onboard Devices Configuration submenu displays options for configuring the onboard devices: the ASMedia SATA III 6G controller, the USB 3.0 controller, and Intel GigE LAN controller. The configuration settings for the SupremeFX X-Fi 2 HD audio subsystem can be access from the SB HD Azalia Configuration submenu.

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The ROG Connect submenu configures the use of the ROG Connect function for controlling and monitoring BIOS settings from a remote system. The RC Post Mode option configures the display of BIOS post codes from within the ROG Connector interface on the remote system.

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The LED Control submenu contains options for configuring the onboard integrated diagnostic LED based displays. The Voltminder LED option controls the use of the onboard voltage status displays, with a total of 4 LED banks available for individual voltage monitoring configuration. This option must be set to the Enabled value in order to access the individual voltage monitoring options.

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The Monitor menu contains a series of submenus containing statistics on BIOS monitored devices settings, in addition to configuration settings for the device monitoring itself.

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The Voltage Monitor submenu, the Temperature Monitor submenu, and the Fan Speed Monitor submenu display real-time monitored values for the BIOS monitored devices contained in each submenu. The Temperature Monitor submenu also contains overheat protection settings with configurable temperature thresholds used to initiate automated system shutdown.

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The Fan Speed Controller submenu contains settings for controlling the fan speed on each of the onboard fan headers. Depending on the fan header selected, the user has the option of configuring the attached fan for BIOS or manual control.

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The Boot menu contains multiple access points for configuring system boot devices, all which are configured to use detected USB devices. From within the top-level menu itself, the user can configure the boot device access order using the Boot Option #1 to #3 settings. Also within the top-level menu is the Boot Override section, which allows for direct boot from the selected device. The Hard Drive BBS Priorities submenu allows for access to the hard drive access order list as well. For any of the above mentioned boot device access mechanisms, the USB device must be operational at startup time to be properly detected.

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The Tool menu houses all ASUS BIOS utilities, including the EZ Flash 2 BIOS update utility, a memory SPD information page, a BIOS profile storage mechanism, and the Go button setting configuration page. The ASUS SPD Information link opens to the ASUS SPD Information page, displaying memory related information for the module in the selected slot.

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Selecting the ASUS EZ Flash 2 Utility link spawns the ASUS EZ Flash 2 applet. This application supports storage or retrieval of BIOS files from connected devices. The utility supports storage and retrieval from all hard drive types, including attached USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 devices and NTFS style hard disk partitions.

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The ASUS O.C. Profile submenu contains slots for storage and retrieval of up to 8 full BIOS profiles. Note that the Save to Profile and Load from Profile options require keyboard interaction to save or load the desired BIOS profiles. The key must be pressed with the profile field selected to invoke the save or load operation.

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The Go Button File submenu stores additional BIOS settings information independent of the ASUS O.C. Profile submenu. The settings are specific to voltage and device frequency settings. The profile becomes active when the red colored GO button is depressed, which is located in close proximity to the onboard memory slots.