Not so long ago, our website published a review of the Gigabyte X570 Aorus Xtreme, the first motherboard for Socket AM4 processors that came into our hands, which cost about $700. However, as it turned out, this is far from the only product of its kind. Motherboard developers were so inspired by the appearance of the third generation of Ryzen processors that, without saying a word, they significantly raised the upper bar for platforms based on the new X570 system logic. As a result, almost every self-respecting motherboard manufacturer now has $700 motherboards for mainstream AMD processors. And, as if reinforcing this thesis, following the Gigabyte premium board, ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula arrived in the 3DNews laboratory — another flagship platform with a price of the same scale.
It’s worth noting right away that the Socket AM4 board stuffed from the heart in the view of ASUS developers looks completely different from the way it is presented in Gigabyte. In other words, top-level products from different manufacturers turned out to be completely different. ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula loses a little in terms of its equipment and is not so perfect in terms of layout and design, but it has other trump cards in its hands. ASUS added to its flagship product the ability to include it in the liquid cooling circuit “out of the box”, did a good job on the BIOS and seasoned it all with a cocktail of several proprietary technologies that improve system stability during overclocking. The result is a very curious product that will surely attract the attention of enthusiasts and, no doubt, deserves a detailed review.
In addition, ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is interesting for another reason. This is ASUS’ first Formula-class motherboard for Ryzen processors. In today’s ROG hierarchy, products with Formula appear in their names are distinguished by two characteristic features. Firstly, their cooling system is developed in collaboration with EK Water Blocks and has an integrated water block. Secondly, they carry a special aesthetics: they use «armor» in their design, which almost completely hides the entire front surface of the board.
Until now, ASUS believed that releasing such motherboards for the Socket AM4 platform was pointless, since Ryzen owners are an unassuming audience that would not appreciate such design delights. But now the situation has changed, because high-level offers have appeared among AMD processors that can compete not only with the Core i9-9900K, but also with HEDT-class solutions. Obviously, enthusiasts who like processors like the Ryzen 7 3800X or Ryzen 9 3900X are targeted by ASUS: ROG Crosshair VIII Formula will be a solid setting for such “stones”.
However, there is a suspicion that the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is not yet the maximum version of the ASUS gaming platform, which will eventually be available in the product range of this manufacturer based on the X570 logic set. Although we have not yet heard anything about the Crosshair VIII Extreme, such a motherboard is also likely to be released, only this will happen a little later, when the uncompromising 16-core Ryzen 9 3950X comes to the market.
But while there is no «extreme» board on the horizon, let’s take a closer look at the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, the best ASUS platform for AMD Ryzen processors today.
At the moment, it is known that there are four models of motherboards in the ROG Crosshair VIII family, based on the new AMD X570 chipset. In addition to the flagship $700 Formula, ASUS intends to launch a Mini-ITX Impact platform soon, and two more full-sized boards, Hero (Wi-Fi) and Hero, are already shipping to stores. At the same time, it turned out that the recommended cost of the Hero (Wi-Fi) closest to Formula in terms of positioning is only $380, but in terms of characteristics it is very similar to it. Yes, the Hero (Wi-Fi) design does not provide for double-sided armor and the possibility of VRM liquid cooling, but in terms of most consumer properties, including the design of the processor power converter, it is not inferior to its older sister. Hence the conclusion: ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is a frankly premium offer, the high cost of which is largely determined not so much by technical “bells and whistles” as by status and elitism. However, this makes getting to know the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula even more interesting.
Here’s what the basic specs for such an expensive board look like:
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula|
|Supported processors||AMD Ryzen 2nd and 3rd Gen|
|Memory subsystem||4 × DDR4, up to 128 GB, up to DDR4-4800, dual channels|
|Expansion slots||2 × PCI Express 3.0/4.0 x16 (x16/x0 or x8/x8 modes);
1 x PCI Express 4.0 x16 (x4 mode);
1 x PCI Express 4.0 x1
|Drive interfaces||8 x SATA 6Gb/s;
2 × M.2 (PCI-E 4.0/3.0 x4/SATA 6Gb/s for 2242/2260/2280 devices)
|USB ports||4 × USB 3.2 Gen2/Gen1 on the rear panel (depending on the processor);
3 × USB 3.2 Gen2 on the back;
1 × USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C on the back;
1 × USB 3.2 Gen2 as an internal connector;
4 × USB 3.2 Gen1 on the back;
4 × USB 3.2 Gen1 as internal connectors;
4 × USB 2.0 as internal connectors
|Network controllers||1 × Intel WGI211AT (Ethernet 1 Gb/s);
1 × Aquantia AQtion AQC111C (Ethernet 5Gb/s);
1 × Intel Dual Band Wireless AX200NGW/CNVi (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4/5 GHz) + Bluetooth 5.0)
|Audio subsystem||1 × SupremeFX S1220 (7.1) + ESS Saber ES9023P DAC|
|Interfaces on the rear panel||1 x USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-C);
4 × USB 3.2 Gen2/1 (Type-A);
3 × USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A);
4 × USB 3.2 Gen1 (Type-A);
2 x RJ-45;
5 × mini-jack audio connectors;
1 × S/P-DIF (optical, output);
2 × antenna connectors;
BIOS FlashBack button
|Form Factor||ATX (305×244mm)|
In an ideal world, the highest priced motherboard should offer the most features. However, some characteristics of the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, as it turns out, are still not brought to the maximum. And this means that among Socket AM4 boards you can find products equipped with even richer features. You don’t have to go far for examples. The flagship ROG board is equipped with only two M.2 slots and does not have a 10-gigabit network controller, losing in these parameters to alternatives from other manufacturers. That is why it is very likely that ASUS will indeed soon offer an even more powerful board of the Extreme class. This should happen at least for the sake of everything falling into place.
However, it would be unfair to say that the capabilities of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula are not enough. This board will be an excellent basis for a high-performance computer based on older Ryzen 3000 processors. Moreover, a system with such a board and a processor like the Ryzen 9 3900X or Ryzen 9 3950X will be able to compete in terms of equipment and performance with real HEDT-class workstations. The platform based on ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula will lose only in terms of the number of memory channels and the number of supported PCIe devices. But here the limitations of the Ryzen 3000 processors themselves affect, besides, huge amounts of memory and multi-component arrays of video cards and NVMe drives are not used so often.
Speaking about the characteristics of the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, one cannot ignore one more fundamental point: this board will fit well into systems where custom liquid cooling is used. The fact is that in the standard configuration it can be included in the CBO circuit due to the special design of the VRM cooling system, which was developed with the participation of EK Water Blocks engineers. Socket AM4 motherboards that are liquid cooled out of the box are not unique, but there aren’t many of them, and each such example deserves a special mention.
⇡#Packaging and equipment
ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula comes in a large colorful box, designed in a standard style for ROG series boards. The name of the product contained inside is given on the top surface of the package. The reverse side contains a photo of the board with a description of the main features and technologies.
The ASUS marketing department considered it necessary to draw the attention of a potential buyer to the strong ROG Crosshair VIII Formula power system, LiveDash diagnostic OLED display, support for Wi-Fi 6 and wired network with a bandwidth of up to 5 Gb / s, as well as CrossChill EK III — a water block of a special design to remove heat from the processor power circuit.
The ROG Crosshair VIII Formula package is quite standard, given that this board belongs to the highest price range. In addition to the motherboard itself and a large amount of printing products, the box contained:
- six SATA cables;
- one cable for connecting addressable LED strips;
- one cable for connecting RGB LED strips;
- one dual-band, two-component Wi-Fi antenna;
- Q-Connector module for easy connection of LEDs and case buttons;
- a set of screws for mounting M.2 drives.
There are a couple of things to note here. First, two of the six SATA cables that come with the board have a woven braid, which gives this simple accessory a more noble appearance.
Secondly, ASUS replaced two antennas required for modern Wi-Fi adapters with one antenna operating in 2 × 2 mode. In addition, the manufacturer does not declare its gain anywhere.
It’s worth noting that the necessary drivers and software for ASUS motherboards are still included on CD-ROM, which, to be honest, looks like an anachronism in today’s conditions. However, if your system does not have an optical drive, Armory Crate technology will come to the rescue, which allows you to automatically download and install software over the Internet. It works in Windows 8 and 10 through the function of the Windows Platform Binary Table operating system, which automatically copies from UEFI and starts after loading a service utility previously prepared by the manufacturer.
After getting acquainted with the board, the package bundle leaves a feeling of slight disappointment: in its flagship board, ASUS was stingy even with remote temperature sensors. And the set of supplied cables for connecting RGB strips is inferior in composition to what other manufacturers put into the boxes of their boards.
⇡#Design and features
The first thing that catches your eye when you take the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula out of the box is its size. Manufacturers have taught us that if the board belongs to the upper price segment, then it must have an enlarged E-ATX format. But the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, on the contrary, is made in the more common and more compact standard ATX form factor, which significantly expands the number of cases in which it can comfortably fit.
True, because of this, ROG Crosshair VIII Formula has acquired a number of problems associated with the inability to place all the numerous components on its surface so that they are really convenient to use. During testing, two rather unpleasant moments were revealed.
The first is an acute shortage of free space around the processor socket. The first PCIe x16 slot is so close to Socket AM4 that tower coolers designed for 140mm fans have some problems getting on it. If the video card is equipped with a back plate that is not even too thick, a very narrow gap remains between it and the edge of the cooler heatsink, in which the fan mounting brackets do not fit well (to be honest, they do not fit at all). And this means that the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is much more comfortable to use with liquid cooling systems than with air supercoolers.
The second point concerns the placement of the last PCIe x16 slot directly at the bottom edge of the board. The problem with this arrangement is that installing any expansion card into it will block access to the controls located along the bottom edge, including the much-needed Safe Boot and Retry Button buttons.
All this can be clearly seen on the schematic image of the board. Even from it it is perfectly clear that all the significant components have “slid down” along the plane of the textolite.
But the main question for the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is not about the placement of slots and controls on it, but about the cooling of the chipset. The fact is that in the entire range of motherboards based on the X570, ASUS engineers decided to use separate cooling for the chipset and VRM. In this case, the chipset is always cooled by an air cooler. The same scheme is implemented in the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula. That is, despite the fact that this board assumes liquid cooling of the VRM, the heat from the chipset will still be removed by air anyway. And this is a very strange and irrational decision.
The cooler cooling the chipset microcircuit also raises certain questions related to its design. It uses a rather massive aluminum radiator with fins directed towards the rear side of the board. The fan drives the airflow along the fins, while the exhaust air is ejected from behind the PCIe slots through slots in the shroud that covers the surface of the board.
Although ASUS insists that the board uses a reliable Delta fan with bearings designed for seven years of continuous operation, you need to understand that we are talking about a centrifugal fan with a diameter of 40 mm and the ability to reach a fairly high speed. Although in its normal state it rotates at a frequency of about 2500 revolutions per minute, at which the noise level is minimal, its speed increases markedly with increasing temperature. The fact that the chipset cooler draws air to the right of the first PCIe x16 slot, that is, where many graphics cards throw hot air from their cooling systems, can play a negative role here.
In our test system, we used a GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition video card, and running, for example, a Furmark “donut” on it, even on an open bench, led to an increase in chipset temperature to 75 degrees and acceleration of the chipset fan to 3800 RPM, at which noise from it became clearly visible.
In other words, we expected more thoughtful cooling from the flagship board.
But as far as the cooling of the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula power converter is concerned, the engineers, on the contrary, have done their best.
The cooling system is a single massive l-shaped aluminum water block with a copper core, which, due to its size, can also work in passive mode — like a regular radiator.
It is firmly attached to the power elements of the board thanks to a powerful screw fastening, and in addition, the VRM zone is also cooled from the back of the board. The bottom surface of the board is covered with a galvanized steel plate, which not only protects it from damage, but also removes heat from under the power converter.
Although ASUS says that by connecting the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula to the liquid cooling circuit, the temperature of the VRM can be reduced by 29 degrees, you will not have to worry about the high temperature of the power circuit even if the cooling of the power converter works as it is — in a passive mode.
The fact is that this circuit itself is slightly heated: it is assembled on highly efficient elements that have a relatively low heat release. The maximum temperature of the CPU power converter, which we managed to fix during overclocking tests with VRM air cooling, was only 55 degrees. And this is natural: the heat dissipation of each of the 16 Infineon PowIRstage IR3555 power stages, on the basis of which the power circuit is assembled, at the currents required by the older Ryzen 3000, does not exceed 1.0-1.5 W even during overclocking.
It is curious that, despite the use of 16 sets of power stages, solid capacitors and MicroFine Alloy chokes in the VRM, the entire circuit is controlled by an eight-phase ASP 1405I PWM controller (Infineon IR35201). And this means that there are only eight “honest” channels in the power converter: seven on the CPU and one on the SoC. The double number of elements is used to parallel them in the channels, which allows the power converter to cope with higher loads. However, you need to understand that such a VRM is clearly redundant: its maximum power can reach 900 W, which none of the Ryzen 3000 processors can consume even in the most incredible overclocking.
In general, the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula was designed with a clear eye on overclockers and enthusiasts. And the colossal power of VRM is not the only sign that this is outstanding. The board is equipped with a set of convenient hardware buttons, including the branded Safe_Boot and Retry_Button, and the familiar Reset button can even be reassigned — for example, it can become an RGB backlight switch or a BIOS entry tool (DirectKey). Near all key components of the board are Q-Led LED indicators, with which you can quickly diagnose problems. In addition, the board is equipped with a LiveDash OLED screen located near the rear ports, which replaces the POST code indicator at system startup, and then can display selected hardware monitoring characteristics or just arbitrary custom animation.
However, perhaps the main advantage of the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is how the DIMM slots are implemented on this board. They use the Diasy Chain topology, which makes it possible to achieve better overclocking results when using a pair of DDR4 SDRAM modules, and a more powerful two-phase circuit is responsible for the memory power supply than on most other boards. ASUS calls all this, together with optimized track tracing, OptiMem III technology, promising that ROG Crosshair VIII Formula will achieve better results in memory overclocking. This is reflected in the specifications: the possibility of stable memory operation in DDR4-4800 mode is promised, however, only one specific type of module is recommended for this — the recently announced Corsair Vengeance LPX CMK16GX4M2Z4800C18 ver3.3.
In addition, much attention in the design of the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is given to hardware monitoring tools. The board is able to monitor the temperatures of the processor, chipset and VRM zone, and also has a connector for an external sensor. There are four points for connecting case fans. For the processor cooling system, there are two more special fan connectors, and a separate connector for turning on the factory CBO pump. If the user wants to assemble liquid cooling on their own, then in this case the board can provide connectors for turning on temperature and fluid flow sensors, as well as a dedicated socket for powering a pump that consumes current up to 3 A.
The ROG Crosshair VIII Formula has three full-length PCIe x16 slots and one PCIe x1 slot. At the same time, two PCIe x16 slots are connected to the processor and can work either in x16 / x0 mode or as x8 / x8, while the last PCIe x16 slot is connected only by four PCI Express 4.0 lines to the chipset.
The first PCIe x16 slot is far removed from the rest, so that the video card installed in it will feel quite at ease, even if it has a massive cooling system.
But with the placement of M.2 slots, ASUS developers went on an experiment, the results of which can hardly be called unambiguously positive. Firstly, only two M.2 drives can be installed in the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula — the engineers considered it unnecessary to add a third slot to the board. Secondly, both M.2 slots, one of which is responsible for the processor and the other for the chipset, are located under the second PCIe x16 slot and are located in a special “towards each other” compartment. This imposes certain restrictions on the size of M.2 drives, allowing you to install a pair of M.2 SSDs in the board only if they are 2280 or smaller.
At the same time, the drive compartment is closed with an aluminum cover, which also plays the role of a means of cooling the SSD, but this cover does not communicate with the chipset heatsink and removes heat only due to its own heat-dissipating capabilities.
The absence of a third M.2 slot on the board under consideration is compensated by an increased number of SATA ports — there are already eight of them on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula. All of them work through the X570 chipset, so the ASUS board should appeal to fans of multi-component RAID arrays.
In addition to the SATA ports, the board has an internal USB 3.2 Gen2 header and two USB 3.2 Gen1 ports.
Pleases with the abundance of connectors and the rear panel of the board. The number of external USB ports has been increased to 12, including one USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, seven USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports, and four USB 3.2 Gen1 ports. In addition, two network wired ports for gigabit and 5-gigabit connections and two connectors for Wi-Fi antennas are displayed on the rear panel. There are five analog audio jacks and an optical S/P-DIF output. There are also two buttons next to it — Clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback.
The list of external ports of the board makes you pay attention to its advanced network capabilities. In addition to the usual gigabit Intel i211-AT chip, the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula has another network controller — Aquantia AQtion AQC111C, which supports not only gigabit, but also 2.5- or 5-gigabit connections. Naturally, increased speeds require the support of appropriate functionality from the network infrastructure, which is probably why the developers did not put a 10-gigabit controller on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, although flagship boards from other manufacturers are often equipped with more powerful Aquantia AQtion AQC107 network chips.
As for the wireless network, the latest Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 module is responsible for its operation. It is compatible with the IEEE 802.11ax standard and in the 2T2R configuration is capable of providing data transfer rates of 2.4 Gbps. The AX200 module also implements support for the Bluetooth 5 standard.
The audio subsystem on this ASUS board uses a 10-channel Realtek SupremeFX S1220 codec with a signal-to-noise ratio of 113 dB in combination with a discrete ESS ES9023P DAC and Texas Instruments RC4580 operational amplifier. Naturally, at the same time, the engineers did not forget to isolate the sound circuit from the rest of the board and use high-quality Japanese Nichicon capacitors in it.
Nevertheless, summing up all that has been said, we have to state that the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula still does not impress with its capabilities. Premium X570-based motherboards offered by other manufacturers may look better and more interesting than the ASUS variant in certain properties. But where the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula definitely outshines all the alternatives is in its looks.
Combining strict chopped lines and monochrome colors with mirrored inserts, inside which RGB lighting is hidden, ASUS managed to ensure that the board does not look pretentious, but, on the contrary, is perceived as a high-tech and utilitarian, but at the same time elegant device.
For those who have dealt with Socket AM4 ROG boards, the UEFI BIOS environment of the new Crosshair VIII Formula will seem familiar. The appearance and internal logic remain the same as before, but the board based on the X570 logic set still has a number of additional settings. However, they are all rather secondary. There is only one important innovation — the ability to change the frequency of Infinity Fabric, which opens up when a Ryzen 3000 processor is installed on the board. However, this will not surprise anyone today — this option is implemented everywhere.
The facade of the UEFI BIOS is a simplified EZ-mode, in which novice users can activate XMP memory profiles, configure fan operation, and set boot device polling priority.
But since the board in question is aimed at enthusiasts, the starting BIOS section of the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, which opens by default, is Extreme Tweaker. This page contains all the settings related to overclocking and optimizing the operating modes of the processor and memory.
Basic things are brought to the fore: multipliers, frequencies, voltages. Separately, it is worth noting the presence of the Performance Enhancer option, by enabling which you can activate the Performance Boost Override function with one click. But this technology can be configured more finely: its detailed settings are removed in a submenu located nearby.
The voltage of the processor and SoC on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula can be set in two ways: both by absolute value and by adjusting the nominal value by a certain offset. The voltage adjustment range is very high. Details are in the table.
|Minimum, V||Maximum, V||Step, B|
|CPU Core (Override)||0.75||1.7||0.00625|
|CPU Core (Offset)||±0.00625||±0.45||0.00625|
|CPU SOC (Override)||0.75||1.8||0.00625|
|CPU SOC (Offset)||±0.00625||±0.7||0.00625|
|DRAM CTRL REF||0.395||0.63||0.005|
|CPU 3.3V AUX||2.4||4.5||0.02|
Another submenu contains settings for the memory subsystem.
From time immemorial, ready-made timing settings profiles have remained here. But, apparently, they have not been updated for a long time, and, most likely, they are completely irrelevant for Ryzen 3000 processors.
A special section contains settings for the power subsystems of the processor, SoC and memory. This is also where the Load-Line Calibration function is configured. It is worth noting that the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula has the ability to switch the voltage monitoring point: on the core or on the output of the VRM circuit. This allows you to more accurately counteract the decrease in the applied voltage with increasing current.
All this is accompanied by a large set of fine-tuning Tweaker’s Paradise, where the ASUS developers have transferred numerous options that are important for enthusiasts, but have no practical value for ordinary users.
The monitoring page in ROG Crosshair VIII Formula looks like this.
Fan speeds are adjustable for both 3-wire and 4-wire connection. The possibilities for programming the relationship between system temperature and fan speed are very rich. True, unfortunately, the board does not allow you to arbitrarily connect fans with different temperature sensors.
In general, we have almost no complaints about the set of options offered in the BIOS of the board under consideration. Almost — because we would not refuse to finally get control over the board’s RGB lighting not only through the Aura application, but also through the BIOS. In addition, I would like to be able to adjust the speed of rotation of the chipset fan.
It is necessary to note one more feature. The new AMD X570 ROG motherboard features Armory Crate technology, which automatically loads the BIOS-integrated ASUS service application every time the operating system is started. But the problem is that the Armory Crate option is enabled by default in the BIOS, despite the fact that installing something automatically carries certain dangers or undesirable consequences. And this must be borne in mind, especially since the Armory Crate utility is not entirely harmless. It not only updates drivers, but is also able to manage the functions of the motherboard and computer settings.
⇡ # Overclocking
The section on overclocking is the saddest part of the story about any motherboard for Ryzen 3000 processors. Despite the huge potential that manufacturers put into their platforms, it cannot be used due to the features of the latest generation of processors. AMD squeezed the maximum out of their frequency potential, so there is frankly nowhere to overclock the Ryzen 3000, they already work almost to the limit.
However, in order to formally test how the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula will behave with increasing frequencies and voltages, we tried to overclock the Ryzen 7 3800X processor. According to available statistics, this processor allows you to reach higher frequencies compared to its counterparts. However, we are still not talking about any records. In a review of this CPU, which used an ASRock X570 Taichi motherboard, we got 4.3 GHz with an AVX2 load on all cores (with a stability check in the Prime95 29.8 utility, which stresses the processor much more compared to LinX and other similar programs) . With ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, the result was the same — overclocking to 4.3 GHz at 1.25 V and turning on the maximum level of Load-Line Calibration.
As you can see, everything depends on the high temperature of the processor chip, which even top-class supercoolers, like the Noctua NH-D15 we used, cannot beat. The fee, of course, is not to blame here. Limited frequency potential is such a feature of the 7nm Zen 2 cores.
But the fact that the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is a well-designed product is manifested in another way. This board is great for overclocking memory.
True, you need to keep in mind that it makes sense to overclock DDR4 SDRAM in systems based on Ryzen 3000 exclusively synchronously with the Infinity Fabric frequency, and here there is also a limit in the region of 1866-1900 MHz. However, on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, the memory was still able to run consistently at slightly higher frequencies and slightly more aggressive timings than other X570-based boards we’ve seen in our lab. More specifically, on the ASUS board, memory overclocking to the DDR4-3800 state, synchronous with Infinity Fabric, has started.
So far, we have not been able to obtain such performance indicators for the memory subsystem with Ryzen 3000 processors. And this means that the Optimem III technology, which ASUS refers to, really has a certain effect.
The performance of the Ryzen 7 3800X processor on the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula motherboard was tested in three modes: at default settings, with manual overclocking to 4.3 GHz, and with automatic overclocking through the Performance Boost Override function. Intel’s flagship processor for the LGA1151v2 platform, Core i9-9900K, was chosen as an opponent for the older eight-core AMD.
The test system configuration looked like this:
- AMD Ryzen 7 3800X (Matisse, 8 cores + SMT, 3.9-4.5 GHz, 32 MB L3);
- Intel Core i9-9900K (Coffee Lake Refresh, 8 cores + HT, 3.6-5.0 GHz, 16 MB L3).
- CPU cooler: Noctua NH-D15.
- ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula (Socket AM4, AMD X570);
- ASRock Z390 Taichi (LGA1151v2, Intel Z390).
- Memory: 2×8 GB DDR4-3600 SDRAM, 16-16-16-36 (G.Skill Trident Z RGB F4-3600C16D-16GTZR).
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti (TU102, 1350/14000 MHz, 11 GB GDDR6 352-bit).
- Disk subsystem: Samsung 960 PRO 1TB (MZ-V6P1T0BW).
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower DPS G RGB 1000W Titanium (80 Plus Titanium, 1000W).
Testing was performed on the Microsoft Windows 10 Pro (v1903) Build 18362.175 operating system using the following driver set:
- AMD Chipset Driver 1.07.29.0115;
- Intel Chipset Driver 10.1.1.45;
- Intel Management Engine Interface Driver 188.8.131.527;
- NVIDIA GeForce 431.60 Driver.
Description of the tools used to measure computing performance:
- Futuremark 3DMark Professional Edition 2.8.6546 — testing in the Time Spy Extreme 1.0 scene.
- 7-zip 19.00 — archiving speed testing. The time taken by the archiver to compress a directory with various files with a total volume of 3.1 GB is measured. The LZMA2 algorithm and the maximum compression ratio are used.
- Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 20.0.4 — Graphics performance testing. The average execution time of the Puget Systems Adobe Photoshop CC Benchmark 18.10 test script, which simulates the typical processing of an image taken by a digital camera, is measured.
- V-Ray 4.10.03 — testing the performance of a popular rendering system using the standard V-Ray Benchmark Next application;
- x264 r2969 — testing the speed of video transcoding to H.264/AVC format. To evaluate performance, we use the original 2160p@24FPS AVC video file with a bitrate of about 42 Mbps.
- Assassin’s Creed Odyssey. Resolution 1920 × 1080: Graphics Quality = Ultra High. Resolution 2560 × 1440: Graphics Quality = Ultra High.
- Far Cry 5. Resolution 1920 × 1080: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On. Resolution 2560 × 1440: Graphics Quality = Ultra, HD Textures = On, Anti-Aliasing = TAA, Motion Blur = On.
- Hitman 2. 1920 × 1080 resolution: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High, Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra, Shadow Resolution = high. Resolution 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, Super Sampling = 1.0, Level of Detail = Ultra, Anti-Aliasing = FXAA, Texture Quality = High, Texture Filter = Anisotropic 16x, SSAO = On, Shadow Maps = Ultra, Shadow Resolution = High.
- Total War: Three Kingdoms. Resolution 1920 × 1080: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Unit Size = Extreme. Resolution 2560 × 1440: DirectX 12, Quality = Ultra, Unit Size = Extreme.
The performance of the Ryzen 7 3800X on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula board was just below the level we’ve seen on the ASRock and Gigabyte platforms. However, no far-reaching conclusions should be drawn. The fact is that AMD is currently correcting the turbo mode and the frequency formula of its Ryzen 3000 processors in general, so the situation can easily change. In addition, performance can always be tweaked by fine-tuning memory timings, so do not think that ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is inferior to competing products in terms of speed.
However, if we talk about the results in general, then we must admit that the older AMD eight-core processor still lags in performance from the older Intel eight-core mass processor. And although the gap in results cannot be called serious, overclocking the Ryzen 7 3800X, either in manual mode or using Performance Boost Override technology, does not allow this processor to catch up with the Core i9-9900K. However, we should not forget that the Ryzen 7 3800X is 15% cheaper, and this makes it a very competitive offer in terms of performance and price.
The reality of today is that the flagship boards for the Socket AM4 platform have begun to cost about $700. This only confirms the fact that Ryzen processors have grown very much, not only in the eyes of consumers, but also in the eyes of motherboard manufacturers, who are now ready to develop expensive and maximally stuffed motherboards for Ryzen 3000.
However, in the case of the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, one still cannot say about “full stuffing”. The designers of this board shifted their focus to the exterior, and they really managed to create a great-looking product with an EK Water Block VRM hybrid air-liquid cooling system, seasoned and appropriate RGB lighting, and an informative LiveDash OLED screen. But at the same time, despite its exorbitant cost, the resulting board somehow manages to be inferior in terms of characteristics to premium offers from other manufacturers. For example, the power converter on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula, although it has high power, works only in an eight-phase scheme. In addition, the ASUS flagship board has only two slots for M.2 drives, does not support a 10-gigabit network, and its bundle is completely standard and does not contain any interesting additions.
Finally, although the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is formally designed for liquid cooling, the chipset on it is cooled by a rather primitive heatsink with a small but high-speed fan. But it would be much more logical if a single cooling circuit extended to the chipset microcircuit.
However, all this does not mean that we were dissatisfied with the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula. This board is not without flaws, but all of them are easy to forgive if you get acquainted with the results of practical tests. Although the Ryzen 3000 processors are not among the components with a pronounced overclocking potential, the ASUS flagship board still manages to squeeze a little more out of them. The trump card of this motherboard is a streamlined and rich BIOS settings, as well as a special layout of DDR4 DIMM slots, thanks to which the memory on the ROG Crosshair VIII Formula is really able to work stably at higher frequencies.
Ultimately, ROG Crosshair VIII Formula deserves to be recommended for systems based on Ryzen 7 3800X, Ryzen 9 3900X or Ryzen 9 3950X processors, especially if such systems should impress others not only with performance, but also with their appearance . However, if the appearance of the motherboard and the possibility of VRM liquid cooling are not so important for you, we would still recommend paying attention to another ASUS board — ROG Crosshair VIII Hero (Wi-Fi). In terms of features, it will be able to offer almost the same thing, but at a significantly lower price.