As you might expect, the Crosshair V Formula gets the giant box treatment.
Inside is an equally large array of accessories:
- 2-way flexible SLI bridge
- 3-way SLI bridge
- 6 x SATA 6Gbps cables (L-shaped)
- USB cable for ROG Connect
- Q-Connectors (front panel & USB)
- Rear I/O shield
- User guide
- Driver DVD
- ASUS decal
- ROG decal
- SATA cable labels
ASUS decided to omit a USB 3.0 bracket, which we would prefer to see until such time as the majority of casings have USB 3.0 ports. The SATA cables are supposedly optimized for 6Gbps speed but there's really nothing to it.
The PCIe slots on the Crosshair V Formula are arranged in the same way as on the Crosshair IV Formula. The first three x16 slots have a flexible configuration (x16/x16 or x16/x8/x8), while the bottommost slot is fixed at x4 speed.
Three ASMedia ASM1042 controllers provide six USB 3.0 ports, two of which are available via a header placed in the middle of the motherboard. According to ASUS, this location is preferable to the more typical location along the bottom edge. This might help cable routing, but a decent casing should have a sufficiently long header cable to reach the bottom regardless.
The full list of I/O ports is as follows:
- PS/2 combo
- 4 x USB 3.0
- 8 x USB 2.0 (1 reserved for ROG Connect)
- 1 x eSATA 6Gbps
- Gigabit Ethernet (Intel 82
- 7.1 HD Audio
- Digital S/PDIF
- Clear CMOS button
The Crosshair V Formula uses a 10-phase power delivery system for the CPU. The heatsink is quite sizeable but we didn't encounter any compatibility issues with large heatsinks.
ASUS' much-advertised EPU chip is actually a PWM controller by CHiL that can reduce the number of active phases on-the-fly.
The Crosshair V Formula has not one, but two, ATX 12V power connectors. The manual states that both must be connected, but we managed to get away with just plugging in the 8-pin. ASUS has generously sprinkled eight fan headers around the Crosshair V Formula, all of which are 4-pin.
ASUS has also placed several sets of LEDs around the motherboard, each of which indicates the level of a certain voltage (e.g. Vdimm). However each set of LEDs only has three levels (green = normal voltage, yellow = high voltage, red = crazy voltage) so they aren't of that much use.
The familiar voltage measurement points have returned. Unfortunately, connectors which would allow for easier measurement are absent. Next to these is the GO Button, which activates a user-defined set of overclocking parameters instantly. During POST, this button functions as the MemOK! button instead.
The MemOK! function is supposed to help resolve any no-POST situations caused by incompatible memory, even though such occurences are few and far between. In our experience this function ended up choosing the most conservative memory settings (i.e. DDR3-1333 at CL9) even when we were using much higher-rated DIMMs. If you ask us, this function is rather superfluous on an enthusiast-oriented motherboard.
An ASmedia ASM1061 controller is used to provide two additional SATA 6Gbps ports, one of which you saw earlier on the rear I/O panel. There is an onboard disk activity LED just north of the SATA ports, a thoughtful addition for overclockers who prefer to run things caseless.
ASUS has opted to use the Realtek ALC889 codec instead of the more common ALC892. A quick check with Realtek's website shows that the ALC889 has a higher signal-to-noise ratio than the ALC892 (108dB versus 95dB), but bear in mind that audio quality is also dependent on the quality of other components.
Just above the expansion slots, there is an optional 4-pin Molex connector which supposedly helps with graphics card overclocking.
The OC button automatically overclocks your CPU, if that's the way you prefer things.