In lists: 2
No gradeASUS Crosshair IV Extreme: Running SLI With the Lucid Hydra Chip
When we first reviewed the ASUS Crosshair IV Extreme, we had our reservations about the Hydra CrossLinX 3 due to the fact that we did not have the right cards to fully test its capability. Now, armed with two GTX 470s, we can test the SLI performance on the ASUS Crosshair IV Extreme via the Hydra chip. While we do not see performance increases across the board (even when the game does support multi-GPU setups), for the most part, the supported games do show 30-100% performance gain with the second card. In our testing, the games do run without much issue, even at very high settings. We did encounter a couple of instances where the game shut down, but re-launching the game worked. Overall, there is no major issue. Multi-GPU setup is a complex business, and it took both AMD and Nvidia quite some time to really work out the kinks and produce a stable, and high-performance driver. The current Hydra driver seems to be stable enough, and offers a decent amount of performance gain for those who wish to run SLI. If Hydra can continue updating their drivers and add support for newer generations of cards and games, this could be a very valuable option. The lack of native SLI support is certainly a major blow for AMD. While having the Lucid Hydra chip may not be the best solution, it is nonetheless the best option available for AMD users who want a board with the latest technology such as SATA 6 Gbps and USB 3.0 in addition to SLI. It is also a much better option than the SLI hack that is floating around the web. The ASUS Crosshair IV Extreme is currently the only AMD motherboard on the market with native CrossFireX support and ability to run SLI with the CrossLinX 3 Hydra chip. We want to emphasize a couple things for those looking to run a multi-GPU setup with the Hydra chip. The most essential part is probably picking the right combination of cards. Also, users should not expect that the latest and greatest cards will be supported at launch, because the Hydra driver often needs to be updated in order to support them. In addition, users should stick with Hydraâ€™s recommended drivers for their graphics cards, and keep their Hydra driver up to date. With this in mind, AMD users may also be able to enjoy the power of SLI with their six-core Phenom II processor. No related posts.
No gradeASUS ROG Crosshair IV Extreme
- Very sexy looking board
- Excellent overclocking option
- Five PCI-E slots
- Having the ability to mix and match GPUs
- Low power consumption
- USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s
- Status LED
- Good build quality
- Switchable PCI-E
- EATX form factor
- Realtek Audio chip (we kind of expect a little better audio)
- Fan is a bit noisy
- Hydralogix performance still needs work
- Performance: 8
- Value: 7
- Quality: 10
- Features: 10
- Innovation: 9
While we like the ability to use any graphics card in a motherboard without having to worry about compatibility, we are not too certain yet as to the benefit of the Lucid chip. For one, our tests show that the performance gain is not always consistent. Furthermore, since Lucid relies on profiles, it may not recognize newer cards, like our HD6850, until an updated profile is provided. We think Lucid has potential if it can really get the driver/software working well, and offers support for latest generation of graphic cards. There are a few benefits to this chip, however: it allows a total of 5 PCI-E slots, more than most AMD based boards on the market. Also, while it may not be perfect, it does at least let AMD platforms run SLI with 2 or more Nvidia cards if they so choose. At the moment, we are not going to completely disregard the technology, but we are not yet ready to pronounce it as a winner. We will have to wait and see. Letâ€™s forget about the Lucid chip and consider just the board. While the Asus Crosshair IV Extreme is a good performer, its performance is not always consistent. We appreciate the extra features such as the ROG Connect and RC Bluetooth, but we think the biggest selling point on the Crosshair IV Extreme is actually the extensive and intuitive overclocking opportunity the board provides. The switchable PCI-E and voltage contact points are also something that tweakers would love. Ultimately, the board is designed for hardcore tweakers out there who like to push their systems. One of the real downers with the Crosshair IV Extreme is its price. Currently the board is selling at $299, which is $100 more expensive than a similar board without the Lucid chip. Boards such as the ASUS M4A89TD Pro, Crosshair IV Formula, or Gigabyte GA-890FA-UD4 are virtually identical to this board with the 890FX and SB850 chipsets, and perform equally well and overclock well without the additional cost. For users who do not require 5 PCI-E slots, we would suggest buying the other boards and running CrossFire rather than buying this one.
No gradeAsus – Crosshair IV Exteme
The Crosshair IV Extreme is a worthy addition to the RoG family of boards and although its price tag limits it to a niche market, it's worth taking a peek at if only to see what's possible in current motherboard design. Lucid's HydraLogix 200 chip certainly works better the second time around, allowing for a mix and match of graphics cards, and at the very least it offers SLI support on an AMD platform.
No gradeAsus Crosshair IV Extreme
In terms of performance, it would generally appear that we are onto a winner here. During our testing, we were able to reach a peak HTT of 350MHz and the CH4E's Lucid Hydra performance proved to be very competitive. This would have been brilliant news to us had the board have launched over two weeks ago, but alas we have also spent this month working on MSI's 870A Fuzion Power Edition.
It is unusual for us to start mentioning a motherboard that is almost £100 more affordable, but its performance almost suggests otherwise. While a maximum base HTT of ~350MHz would have been impressive to us in the past, our MSI 870A Fuzion rumbled its way to a stonking 400MHz. Of course a base HTT of 350MHz is unlikely to hold any current non black edition processor, but it really is food for thought that the range topping Crosshair IV Extreme can't match it.
Unlike MSI, Asus have implemented the highest specification Hydra module (LT24102), which offers three way and four way Multi GPU configurations. Our 3DMark Vantage benchmark showed the Crosshair IV Extreme gain a 1000 mark advantage over the MSI Fuzion. As a system orientated towards multiple graphics cards, it would most certainly appear that the Asus is the way to go.
Then there's the board's convenience features. Aside PCB mounted Power Toggle buttons, the board offers instant BIOS recovery, the ability to power, overclock or diagnose your system remotely and also determine graphics card faults with a switch panel. While you pay a lot for these conveniences, most of these are unique to the AMD platform.
One mustn't either forget that the Crosshair IV Extreme is in essence an AMD equivalent to the Rampage III Extreme. Despite offering an identical feature set, the Crosshair IV Extreme is set to cost substantially less, which goes a long way towards offering a (like for like) VFM advantage against Intel's Core i7 platform. For many however, the concept of spending upwards of £200 on a Socket AM3 motherboard is cringe worthy regardless.
The Crosshair IV Extreme was all set to blow us all away but unfortunately, the 870A Fuzion stole some of its thunder. To summarise, if you are in the market for the world's most feature rich Socket AM3 motherboard, then this is it. So long as you can find a use for all of its mod-cons you will never be disappointed. Our suggestion? If you have the money, then go for it; just prepare to budget some noise cancelling headphones to complement the purchase...