Meet the new Crosshair V Formula-Z
Z-day* is here for AMD fans looking for their 2012 upgrade. Instead of just listing all the new stuff, this preview aims to inform you that the -Z is more than just a small upgrade to the already popular Crosshair V Formula.
*(no, not zombies
Crosshair V Formula-Z (2012) vs Crosshair V Formula (2011)
The Crosshair remains on its 5th edition, packing the same AMD 990FX and SB950 under those meaty ROG heatsinks. Of course this means all AM3+ CPUs are still supported, but a year's worth of R&D tweaks for the FX architecture - including enhancements for upcoming Piledriver
- have been put into the new Crosshair V Formula-Z.
Let's take a side-by-side look at the differences between the two Crosshair Vs.
Upgraded & New: Extreme Engine DIGI+ II & T-Topology Memory
The Extreme Engine DIGI+ II has replaced version I, with upgrades to the MOSFET ICs (under the heatsink, shown below) and the addition of a DIGI+ VRM controller to the four DDR3 DIMM slots. The number of phases remains the same between the two boards as the upcoming CPU architecture is an evolutionary upgrade.
Underneath the skin the tracing between CPU socket and DIMM slots has been given a tweak to include the new T-Topology design
. This allows not only faster attainable memory frequencies, but also better 4-DIMM performance too. Please note for maximum stability and attainable frequency we recommend buying a single DDR3 kit, and preferably one that has been QVL'd for AMD FX CPUs.
The GO button (for launching pre-saved BIOS OC Profiles on the fly) and ProbeIt voltage readouts remain in the same area, however the entire corner around it has been re-arranged, with the power and reset switches relocated up here. For LN2 overclockers there's also a Slow Mode switch nestled in there too!
More: SATA 6Gbps!
Beneath the ATX socket the front panel USB 3 port is still in the same place, however there are now eight SATA 6Gbps ports all lined in a row on the 2012 Crosshair V Formula-Z, versus the 6+1 style on the 2011 Crosshair V Formla. Six ports are native to the AMD SB950 southbridge, while the extra two (in addition to a further two more eSATA 6Gbps ports on the rear I/O), are powered by a pair of ASMedia ASW1061 chips. Thus, in total the 2012 Crosshair V Formula-Z has 10 SATA 6Gbps ports.
If you're struggling to tell the difference from afar, you can see the most obvious change in southbridge heatsink styling.
New: Windows 8 Updates
New to the base of the board is a DirectKey button and Fast Boot switch, which is specifically designed for Windows 8 'Fast Boot' support. Further along the TB_Header adds support for the upcoming ASUS ThunderboltEX card.
The only change to the slot layout is the substitution of the PCI slot for PCIe 1x, while the board still supports four PCI-Express 16x ports (full bandwidth 8x8x8x8x) at Gen 2.0 spec. Please note that the board is still fully compatible with PCI-Express 3.0 graphics cards.
Upgraded: SupremeFX III
The SupremeFX X-Fi 2 has been upgraded to SupremeFX III
, with all its goodies including the Redline PCB separation, a full EMI shielded codec and 1500uF buffer cap.
Upgraded: GameFirst II & Intel Gigabit Ethernet
Intel Gigabit Ethernet is again included, with the addition of GameFirst II
this time around.
New: BIOS Flashback!
The rear I/O has changed order, with four USB 3.0 ports (2x ASMedia ASM1042), six USB 2.0 ports, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet socket, PS2 keyboard and mouse, six 3.5mm audio jacks providing the 7.1 channel surround sound, optical S/PDIF TOSLINK out and two eSATA 6Gbps ports (up from one on the 2011 Crosshair V Formula). The 2012 Crosshair V Formula-Z sits the Clear CMOS button stacked up with the BIOS Flashback button
, which replaces ROG Connect on the white USB port. Once the PC has booted this USB port turns into a normal USB 2.0 port.
The Crosshair V Formula-Z will be available very soon!