In this section we take the Crosshair and install it in a standard, very popular ATX case in order to see if any of the design decisions made by the Asus engineers will affect the installation process or accessory usage. This section was started with my Asus A8R32-MVP motherboard review and received a lot of positive feedback.
Initial motherboard installation into the case was simple and straight forward. You’ll notice that the EL-lighted back panel power connector isn’t attached in these images, though obviously it needs to be attached to the board after board installation.
Routing the SATA, IDE and power connectors from the power supply to the motherboard shows no immediate issues.
I have mentioned it before, the Asus Q-Connector is still one of my favorite new additions to Asus’ motherboard line. This allows you to easily setup your case button connections and then place the single white piece on the motherboard at once.
In this image we have installed the USB and FireWire headers on the board and into some slot locations on the case. You can see that if you use these headers, you will be taking up a lot of your additional slot space. The audio riser card is also installed here, taking up the top-most slot on the case.
Here come the beasts! The dual NVIDIA 7900 GTX cards here are installed (using another Asus SLI bridge connector than what comes with the board). You’ll notice that I moved the bottom most FireWire header to between the two video cards, as we needed the bottom PCI slot for an additional sound card. If you don’t use the on-board audio, this is where it will have to go.
Here is a close up of the SATA connections that sit between the two graphis cards; all six of the SATA connectors are actually accessible even with dual slot cards installed. You probably don’t WANT to install or remove SATA connections here, but it can be done.
The back of the case after installation of all the components shows what you can expect in similarly-sized cases with the Asus Crosshair motherboard.
Here is the cool picture that you have been waiting for! The EL-back panel at work shows the mouse, keyboard, USB and other connection icons are lit up quite well with the lights off in the office. The bright LCD panel that reports POST errors is showing “CPU INIT” that indicates that we are having a problem with the processor. (In fact, there isn’t even one installed on the board during this photo!) The brigher light bulb icon on the back panel is the button that turns the motherboard LEDs on and off.
This image shows the bottom of the Crosshair motherboard around the power and reset buttons. You can see that near each component connection (like the USB headers and SATA channels) is a bright blue LED light. This is actually very useful for installing a new hard drive or USB header after the case and system are already installed, as the LEDs are bright enough to illuminate the immediate area around them.