Welcome to the performance review of the new 890FX chipset and more specifically, the Asus Crosshair IV Formula motherboard.
We have already done an extensive pictorial preview of the board and today we are going to concentrate more on the performance of this board. We are going to compare the board to the MSI GD 70 790FX board. As many of you know, the MSI GD70 was one of the best 790FX based boards and was regularly considered amongst the big boys.
The main focus of this review is to take both of these boards and put them through a series of tests to figure out whether or not the 890FX offers any measurable performance advantages over the 790FX.
The tests that we will be reviewing with today are as follows:
1. 3D Mark 06
2. 3D Mark Vantage
3. PC Mark Vantage
4. Crystal Mark
5. Everest Memory Tests
Apart from this we will also take a look at the overclocking potential of this board.
AMD 965 BE @ 3.4Ghz (1.25V) and 4.0Ghz (1.525V)]
Memory: OCZ 1600Mhz Platinum @ 1333Mhz 1.65V
Thermal Paste: Arctic Cooling MX-3
Motherboards: Asys Crosshair IV Formula 890FX, MSI GD70 790FX
CPU Cooler: Thermalright Venomous X
So without ado, let’s head in to the first of our tests.
We’ll kick things off with 3D Mark 06. 3D Mark 06 is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX9 performance of your graphics card.
A 3DMark score is an overall measure of your system’s 3D gaming capabilities, based on comprehensive real-time 3D graphics and processor tests. By comparing your score with those submitted by millions of other gamers, you can see how your gaming rig performs, making it easier to choose the most effective upgrades or finding other ways to optimize your system.
Let’s first take a look at the benchmark at stock settings and then move on to the overclocked settings.
As we can see from the chart above, both of the boards are fairly similar in performance and none of them beats the other by a large margin in any of the three tests. Let’s take a look at the overclocked settings.
With the overclocks in place, the Asus Crosshair IV beats the MSI by around 4% in the final score, taking a huge advantage in the graphics tests.
Moving on to the next set of tests…
3DMark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed to test the DirectX10 performance of your graphics card. 3DMark is widely used by the PC industry, press and media as well as individual users and gamers, for comparing performance levels between whole systems or even specific components.
Lets start off with the stock settings again.
The difference between the two boards is again negligible. This is to be expected as the CPU and GPU are a constant in these tests and we are only trying to see if the implementation is better in any one of these boards. Moving on to the overclocked settings, we can see that the Asus again has the upper hand, but by a margin of around 2%.
Lets now move on to the third of our tests, PC Mark Vantage.
PC Mark Vantage is a PC benchmark suite designed for Windows offering one-click simplicity for casual users and detailed, professional grade testing for industry, press and enthusiasts. A PC Mark score is a measure of your computer’s performance across a variety of common tasks such as viewing and editing photos, video, music and other media, gaming, communications, productivity and security.
From desktops and laptops, to workstations and gaming rigs, by comparing your PC Mark Vantage score with other similar systems you can find the hardware and software bottlenecks that stop you getting more from your PC.
For the tests going ahead, we took only the stock settings into account, as we did not find a significant difference between the two boards with overclocked settings.
Again the Asus is just a small step ahead of the MSI and the difference can actually be put down to changes in the setup environment. There is practically no difference in scores between the two boards. The Asus takes the lead in the gaming, music and productivity suits, while the MSI manages to win on the other four.
Moving on we come to our second to last test for the day, Everest Ultimate Edition.
EVEREST Ultimate Edition is a complete PC diagnostics software utility that assists you while installing, optimizing or troubleshooting your computer by providing all of the information you can think of about your system – from hardware devices and installed drivers, to operating system security and stability metrics.
More than just system information, EVEREST also offers comprehensive benchmarking and hardware monitoring capabilities with real-time reporting.
Let’s take a quick look at the results.
Again, the difference between the two boards is minimal. The Asus takes the read and copy rounds, while the MSI makes up by getting slightly better scores in the latency and write tests.
So for the first time I am at the last test of the session, with absolutely no clear winner in sight.
CrystalMark is a benchmarking suite that tests each and every component of the system. The benchmark works to give a comprehensive view of the system performance on every front. Let’s take a quick look at the scores here.
The Asus Crosshair IV manages to narrowly beat the GD 70, but the difference again is around 2.4%.
Taking into account all the testing we have done at various levels, the stock or overclocked performance does not differ between the two boards. This was to be expected, taking into account that other than the board, the rest of the core components remained the same. Over a period of time, better BIOS’s may help to improve the overall performance of the chipset, but as of now, the difference is negligible.
At the end of all that testing, it was time to take the gloves off and work on some overclocking. We started off with the best boot into windows that we could achieve, while concentrating only on the CPU clocks. What we managed to achieve was a boot of 4.2 Ghz. This was pretty much the limit that we got from here on and it was very stable. We managed to run a couple of benchmarks and also play a half hour of games before we had to give up due to the CPU heating up. You must remember that we are currently at around 30C ambient temperatures and to keep the CPU cool at those voltages and clocks on air cooling is next to impossible.
We then started off with bus clocking. Now a lot of you may wonder why we looked at this aspect, especially since a lot of the AMD line up is made up of BE processors with unlocked multipliers. The reason we did this test was to see if we could overclock a processor like the 1050T (which by the way costs somewhere in the region of $200) significantly, only using the HT bus. Overclocking the HTT is also a good way to see how good the implementation of software and hardware is on a board. I could not go above 285MHz with my MSI GD70 and the same setup, so I started off with an HTT frequency of 286MHz on the Crosshair to kick things off. To test stability, we ran IBT for ten runs with each jump in HTT speed.
Moving on to 300.
Going for more at 325.
At this point I tried for 350, but unfortunately that was a no go. I hope bios improvements will help this board to reach even better HTT clocks. The best that we could get with stability was an HTT speed of 335MHz. Impressive!
I would also like to add that this board was a breeze to overclock with and it comes with a lot of features to help. The clear CMOS button on the rear panel really helps closed-case overclockers like myself. The motherboard itself managed to keep temperatures in check and I did not have any trouble with the NB and PWM area.
The one aspect that really troubled me was the constant shifting of the HTT frequency within the OS, as well as a slight movement in CPU voltages under load. I don’t know if this was because of load line calibration, but I would think that there needs to be some bios updates to keep this in check. The hardware should be more than capable of keeping voltages stable. This also may have just been a glitch in the software that I was reading from.
I thought that since this was more of a performance review I would leave the pictures out, but what review is really complete without a lot of pictures? So in the interest of all fellow AMD overclockers, here is a small set of pictures for your enjoyment.
Well, what can I say that we have not already covered in the review? Performance wise, under similar clocks, the 890FX chipset is not going to give you anything extra over the older 790 FX boards. Every single test that we did gave us equal or similar performance results. There was practically no difference between the two boards.
Taking that into account, Crosshair IV does manage to bring a lot to the table. To start with, the package and accessories as a whole is a lot more than we have seen from most high-end performance boards. There is absolutely nothing that has been left out, save the really handy LCD poster. Secondly, the Crosshair IV has the capability to really help with overclocking and that’s exactly why people would want to buy this board. Thirdly and most importantly, the board just looks sexy. I mean, who doesn’t love red and black?
Finally, looking at the pros and cons:
To sum it up, if you are looking for a new AM3 board and like to overclock, then this board has it all. But if you are planning to move up from an existing 790FX board, depending on the current board that you have, you may want to hold off as your upgrade cash may be better spent elsewhere. No question about it though, if you’re in need of a quality board for some extreme overclocking, Asus has it here in spades.
The Asus Crosshair IV Formula 890FX achieves the TechREACTION.net Gold Silicon Award!
We will look at retesting this board with a hexacore processor in the near future, and we may see some differences between the two contestants at that time. Thank you for reading!