ASUS Outs First Windows 8-Ready Sockets AM3+, FM1 Motherboards
ASUS released the industry's first AMD platform motherboards that are ready for Windows 8. Readiness for the new operating system is a little more than sticking the label if the motherboard meets some criteria, with the introduction of a few new ACPI and low-level features that need some redesigning. Hence, the company launched revisions of its current sockets AM3+ and FM1 motherboards designated by "R 2.0" in the model names.
Often, Windows [insert new version] certification labels don't mean squat to PC enthusiasts. With Windows Vista labels, it meant that the integrated graphics could handle DirectX 9-accelerated Aero UI; Windows 7, not so much over that. Windows 8 readiness adds quite a few little hardware requirements, to support new OS features such as Fast Boot (start PC in under 2 seconds, different from S3 resume). While a few motherboard vendors announced Windows 8 readiness for their motherboards, ASUS claims to be the first with motherboards in the AMD platform that will feature the Windows 8 readiness logo. Hardware redesigns meant that ASUS launches revisions of existing products. These revisions are designated by "R 2.0" suffixed to the model names.
ASUS released revisions of most of its M5A99 (AMD 990FX, 990X), M5A97 (AMD 970), F1A75/A55 (AMD A75, A55) series motherboards, TUF Sabertooth 990FX, and its flagship AMD platform motherboard, the ROG Crosshair V Formula. The revision of the latter is named Crosshair V Formula-Z. Features common to all these revisions include support for Fast Boot, ASUS Boot Settings, which lets you fine-tune system startup processes, and DirectKey, a button that loads up the BIOS setup program, similar to the Back2BIOS button found on Intel Desktop Boards Extreme series.
Apart from Windows 8-specific feature updates, ASUS took the opportunity to update the feature sets of several of its motherboards in the above mentioned revisions. Features such as Smart Digi+ Key, which are found on P8Z77-V series, are ported over. The ASUS-exclusive feature-set also includes 802.11 b/g/n netowork interfaces with Remote Wi-Fi Go!, a feature based on Wi-Fi Go!, that provides media streaming and remote desktop capabilities to smartphones and tablets.
ASUS' ROG Crosshair V Formula-Z gets all the new features of its R 2.0 mates, plus Extreme Engine Digi+ II (a VRM design found on Maximus V series). The audio is also updated, SupremeFX III audio with "Red Line shielding." The portion of the motherboard that holds the HD audio CODEC and its anciliary AMP components is isolated from the ground-layer of the rest of the motherboard, minimizing EMI from other power-hungry components, which typically produce a faint buzzing noise in the output channels of onboard audio. Apart from ground-layer isolation, a bulk of the audio portion, including the CODEC, is covered by a metallic EMI shield. The Crosshair V Formula-Z also features GameFirst II, a network prioritization tool with an intuitive new user interface (EZ Mode).
Lastly, there's the F1A75/A55 R 2.0 series motherboards for first-generation A-series "Llano" APUs. The revised motherboards feature LucidLogix Virtu MVP (load-balancing GPU virtualization between onboard and discrete graphics adapters), DIP 2 with Digi+ VRM, Network iControl (prioritization, diagnostics), and AI Suite II.
Apart from the features mentioned above, the models are largely similar to the motherboards they are revisions of.