Asus has a very solid lineup of products for the AM3+ platform and the current and upcoming Bulldozer CPUs from AMD. While Bulldozer certainly did not impress, it is the basis for all future AMD processors on the desktop and server markets. Obviously if a user is looking for integrated graphics, then the Llano based processors are now carrying that particular torch.
The power delivery circuitry on the Crosshair V. Impressive stuffs.
With the M5A97 we see Asus addressing the lower end space for both AM3 and AM3+ processors. If a user is looking for a very solid, yet feature complete motherboard for around $100, then the M5A97 is a great choice. It has excellent BIOS and overclocking features, and while it does not come with all the extras of the higher priced boards, it is more than adequate to get a user up and running with minimal fuss. In a pinch it can do CrossFire, but I would not suggest it. It has plenty of USB 3.0 ports available with the correct case, and the overall quality of build and layout are excellent for a board in this price class. I really found no issues whatsoever with this board, which is a good thing since the 970 chipset has been around essentially 1.5 years. UEFI BIOS support is excellent and it will make for a good foundation for an inexpensive AMD based machine.
The M5A99X is another gem from Asus. Just as its little brother, it offers a great amount of features for the price range it is aimed at. It does feature full CrossFire and SLI support, and if a user does want to go the multi-GPU route, this should be the entry level solution that should be considered. Support for both major multi-GPU architectures is key here. Full use of all six SATA 6G headers from the SB950 chip is a big plus, and the ability to run e-SATA with the ASMedia controller gives a little bit more flexibility. The addition of Firewire is nice as well, but happily we are seeing fewer and fewer new products supporting that connectivity option.
I really do like the Asus UEFI BIOS. Very clean and functional.
Finally we come to the big daddy of them all. The Crosshair V is without question the most impressive AM3+ board I have worked with to date. Installation was flawless, BIOS support was mature and quick, and the overwhelming amount of features integrated into this board is staggering. Not only are there a lot of features, but the design is so well thought out and implemented that there is no performance or stability degradation with all of the bells and whistles enabled and running. This is truly a fantastic board with about everything one could use (or imagine) actually being integrated on the motherboard.
Asus has again proven to me why they are the top selling motherboard manufacturer. These products just simply work as they are supposed to, they do not cost an arm and a leg, and they have very logical layouts and feature sets according to price and positioning. Every board here is great, and they complement the previously reviewed SABERTOOTH 990FX quite nicely. I know I sound like I am gushing here, but none of the boards gave me a lick of problems. All of them performed around the same and were competitive with other products. They all overclocked to a high level, reaching areas that previous generation boards could only dream about.
It is truly unfortunate that Bulldozer did not quite live up to expectations. This may not always be the case though, as a new revision of the CPU is expected in Q1 2012. Improvements in IPC and TDPs are expected, and we will see faster clocked parts that hopefully will more adequately compete against the Intel i5 and i7 “Sandy Bridge” based processors. For the time being, the Phenom II X6 1090T and 1100T are available at bargain prices. If a user is adamant about sticking with AMD products, then these motherboards would make for a tremendous foundation for such a build.
Asus M5A97 EVO Editor’s Choice
Asus M5A99X EVO Editor’s Choice
Asus Crosshair V Gold Award