AMD's Vishera FX is certainly not a front-runner when it comes to raw performance and power efficiency, but many enthusiasts feel that it is a more interesting animal than Ivy Bridge to handle when it comes to extreme overclocking. To advantage of the numerous fine grained controls and knobs for the CPU and memory, you'll need a motherboard, such as the ROG Crosshair V Formula-Z we are reviewing here, that won't literally set itself on fire or come unstuck when pushed hard at subzero temperatures.
The ASUS ROG Crossfire V Formula-Z is an updated version of the original award winning Crosshair V Formula that came out more than a year ago. Notably, the ROG team has opted to only release a single model for the AMD enthusiast platform (as opposed to the usual three on Intel – Extreme, Formula, Gene). The no-show of mATX/ITX SFF offerings could be attributed to the lack of real estate needed to integrate a 990FX Northbridge and SB950 Southbridge chipset (Intel only has one PCH) and the large array of VRMs to feed the infamous power consumption of the Bulldozer/Piledriver based CPUs. Both motherboards will work optimally with the latest Vishera FX processors after BIOS updates but the newer offering has a few tricks and tweaks to make life easier for those chasing the benchmark records.
A very long time ago when I was new to VR-Zone I learnt a painful lesson not to disturb top overclockers when they are in the zone, because they will react like a provoked honey badger especially when things are not going well. Included in the accessories box is an informative sign for the user to hang on the door knob and an assortment of other cables and connectors to help everything get connected.
Over at the rear I/O Panel area, we find a re-arranged layout and an additional eSATA port. Overclockers will appreciate the inclusion of PS/2 port and handy CMOS reset button.
Over at the other end of the motherboard, ASUS integrated an extra ASMedia SATA controller to bring the total number of onboard 6Gb/s SATA ports to eight, which should cater for the storage aficionados.
In addition to the Windows 8 centric UEFI fast boot switch and DirectKey (one touch access to BIOS screen), there is also the cheeky inclusion of an Intel Thunderbolt header, which can be hooked up to the optional ThunderboltEX expansion card.
The onboard Realtek audio solution also received an upgrade (ASUS calls the package SupremeFX III), with choice capacitors, noise isolation and improved EMI shielding to improve the sonic fidelity.