Layout and Features (cont’d)
The Asus Crosshair supports four DDR2 memory modules, with the two memory channels being seperated slightly on the board. You’ll first want to install two modules into the blue slots to get dual channel memory support set correctly. The DIMM slots are high enough up on the motherboard that they are not interfering with the video card installations at all and also provide enough room for ample airflow of hotter, overclocked chips.
The Crosshair expansion configuration starts out with a small, proprietary PCIe x1 look-alike slot at the middle of the board, just behind the north bridge heatsink. This is not actually a PCI Express slot, but instead is the opening for the Asus audio riser card, dubbed SupremeFX. Immediately below it we have the first of three legacy PCI slots, two of which are accessible even with two dual-slot cooled graphics cards installed. Two x16 PCI Express slots, both colored blue, provide support for SLI graphics cards and the lone x4 PCIe slot rounds out the expansion options.
Directly under the last PCI slot you can see the floppy drive connector and USB headers for extra USB ports should you need them.
The south bridge heatsink, and the start of the heatpipe configuration, is highly reflective with a polished aluminum look and the logo of the latest Asus branding, Republic of Gamers.
Looking at the rest of the bottom of the motherboard, we see that Asus has integrated the six SATA connections that NVIDIA has designed into the nForce 590 SLI chipset only. Six is probably more than enough for just about every type of user, so no marks down for that here. Some other board vendors have implemented additional storage logic for even more SATA channels on the interior of motherboards, but in most cases they are rarely used. Asus’ Crosshair design keeps the board clean and organized as well.
A new addition to the Asus suite of on-board features are dedicated power and reset buttons integrated on the motherboard. These allow you tweakers to boot and play around with the motherboard without the need to install it in a case or use any external switches. Anyone who has done any kind of motherboard testing or trouble shooting will tell you these are a big plus. Even better, Asus has illuminated them with red (power) and green (reset) lights for easy locating in a dark area.
Finally, we come to the ellusive back panel configuration on the Asus Crosshair. The most noticeable feature is the small LCD screen that is seen above the Firewire and eSATA connections. When powered up, this LCD is a bright blue in color and is mainly used to display full-text POST diagnostic messages. This is in stark contrast to the dual-digit POST displays that other motherboards have that require the referencing of manuals for code translations. If the system is running fine, you even have the option in the BIOS to put your own custom text there.
Asus has also included both optical and coaxial audio connections, one FireWire and four USB 2.0 connections, dual Gigabit Ethernet connections and dual external SATA connections powered by a Silicon Image 3132 controller. The button located next to the FireWire connection is used to turn on and off internal motherboard LEDs that illuminate the board for easy installation of connections like SATA and USB. We’ll show you how that works in our board installation section.