AMD Enthusiast Gaming PC Buying Guide
You’ll probably ignore those ‘high-end boards’ out there in the market once you’ve tried a Republic of Gamers (RoG) board from ASUS. All RoG boards offer the best levels of hardware engineering, tip-top performance, and a whole slew of features for durability, overclockability, or even ease of use.
In today’s guide, we will be using the Crosshair III Formula motherboard from ASUS, which retails at $389 (in Singapore Dollars).
Pin Fin Thermal Module
ASUS believes that the new generation design of ‘pin-fin’ made up of individual ‘pins’ would result in better cooling performance. This can be attributed to increased heat dissipation area over conventional ‘stacked fin’ solutions.
ASUS Xtreme Phase
The Crosshair III Formula board features ASUS’ Xtreme Phase design with a 8+2 phase PWM circuitry design. Benefits of Xtreme Phase include higher power efficiency, stable operation, extended durability, and effective heat dissipation.
- Xtra Performance
With the highest power efficiency ensured at all times under any amount of processor load, the board allows for more headroom when it comes to overclocking. Good efficiency means less energy loss and being more environmental-friendly.
- Xtra Stability
Ripple voltage is said to be unhealthy for processors in the long run. The power design of ASUS’ PWM provides lower ripple voltage than the rest of the competition.
Furthermore, then load is suddenly applied, boards with Xtreme Phase are able to control the voltage droop better and limit the droop to a smaller range.
- Xtra Cool
The many phases of the ASUS PWM design allows workload to be split evenly among the phases present, so as to maintain a lower average temperature.
The layout of the PWM components on the board are such that they are spaced more uniformly to allow airflow around the components area for better heat dissipation. By lowering temperatures, lifespan of components are generally lengthened.
Perhaps at this point, we would like to remind that ASUS has launched its Xtreme Design series of motherboards very recently. Xtreme Design is a refresh of Xtreme Phase and will feature items such as Xtreme Reliability, Xtreme Performance, and Xtreme Safety.
Improvising on the original Stack Cool, ASUS Xtreme Design boards will come with Stack Cool 3+, a re-engineered cooling method using copper for the PCB. With thermals in check, Xtreme Phase and TurboV work hand in hand to provide clean and stable power, while allowing real-life performance boosts when needed. Pains have been taken to ensure up low EMI radiation too, even though much emphasis has been placed in motherboard durability and performance.
Do watch out for upcoming (which should be real soon) retail high-end ASUS motherboards with Xtreme Design.
With the help Crosshair III Formula’s beefy CPU power circuitry, the loadline calibration function found on this board ensures a stable and ideal voltage supply to the processor. Overclocking puts high emphasis on proper voltage, and this is something the Crosshair III Formula can offer to enthusiasts.
The Voltiminder LEDs on the motherboard serves as a quick way for overclockers to monitor voltage levels set by them, and also reminds them if voltage have been set too high. There are three colors – green for normal, yellow for high voltage, and red for extremely high voltage (also known as ‘crazy voltage’ as noted on the motherboard itself).
Onboard switches and MemOK!
Forget about fumbling with that screwdriver of yours to short pins just to start-up that open-air rig of yours. With large buttons on the motherboard, powering on the system or resetting it is just one press away.
See that small red button to the right of the start/reset buttons? That’s the MemOK! button. What it does is to patch memory issues and allow the system to boot up.
Consider this scenario: You plug in your memories (which assuming have some incompatibility issues), and then you realise the system fails to boot. With MemOK!, simply press and hold the MemOK button down for three seconds and the motherboard will load some fail-safe settings, and volia! The system will almost-magically boot after that.
ASUS is the only motherboard manufacturer in the world at this time to offer such a solution to tackle memory-related problems, rapidly detecting and resolving issues, even if bad or unstable memory is used.
Instead of having on-board sound, ASUS has isolated audio to a PCI Express x1 card. The SupremeFX delivers excellent high definition audio experience, and with Creative’s X-Fi technology aboard, gamers are immersed in the world of 3D surround during game play. Some features of Creative’s powerful X-Fi solution include:
1) EAX Advanced HD – which brings realism and life to gaming
2) Alchemy – turns DirectSound 3D games into OpenAL games
3) 24-bit Crystalizer – cleans and restores your MP3s, making them sound just like original CDs or even better
4) CMSS-3D – the best virtual surround solution you can find for headphones
Unlike other manufacturers which may just include a separate card for audio, ASUS has gone one step further on their RoG line by mounting a shield to reduce electromagnetic noise. Not only that, all the audio jacks are gold-plated to bring out every extra sound detail, be it in games, or in your music and movies.
The AMD 790FX Chipset
Aboard the Crosshair III Formula is the AMD 790FX chipset. The 790FX chipset supports up to 5200 MT/s HyperTransport 3.0 interface speed and quad PCI Express 2.0 x16 graphics.
However on the Crosshair III Formula, we only have two PCI Express 2.0 x16 graphics, but that won’t stop us, or any enthusiast from running quad CrossFire using two ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 cards.