Asus Crosshair III Formula vs DFI DK 790FXB M3H5 Face-Off

Test Setup & Overclocking

Test Setup
To ensure that all reviews on Overclock3D are fair, consistent and unbiased, a standard set of hardware and software is used whenever possible during the comparative testing of two or more products. The configuration used in this review can be seen below: 
Processor: AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black edition
Motherboard: Asus Crosshair III Formula, DFI Lanparty 790FXB DX M3H5
Memory: 4GB Corsair DDR3 @ 8-8-8-24 1333Mhz
Graphics Card: NVidia GTX280
Power Supply: Gigabyte Odin 1200W
CPU Cooling: OCZ Gladiator
Hard Disk: Hitachi Deskstar 7K160 7200rpm 80GB
Graphics Drivers: Geforce 180.60 CUDA
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate x64 SP1
During the testing of the setup above, special care was taken to ensure that the BIOS settings used matched whenever possible. A fresh install of Windows Vista was also used before the benchmarking began, with a full defrag of the hard drive once all the drivers and software were installed, preventing any possible performance issues due to leftover drivers from the previous motherboard installations. For the 3DMark and gaming tests a single card configuration was used.
rog debug 

The DFI board tends to lend it's aesthetics in darkness to the UV plastic slots which shine up very brightly. The debug LED is very useful once you get to grips with what the readouts actually mean and can help identify where exactly the problems lay. Other than a standby LED though, the DFI board has no other lights. The Asus board on the other hand has the ROG emblem which lights up white upon powering up. The board does not have an on board LED diagnostic readout though, instead a separate LED Poster which scrolls through the post details using phrases instead of codes which is much easier to decipher.
To guarantee a broad range of results to best evaluate the motherboards performance, the following benchmark utilities were used:
Synthetic CPU Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• PassMark CPU test
• SuperPI 1m, 8m, 32m

Memory Test
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• Everest 4.60

File Compression & Encoding
• Sisoft Sandra 2009
• 7-Zip File Compression
• River Past ViMark

Disk I/O Performance
• HDTach
• Sisoft Sandra 2009

3D / Rendering Benchmarks
• Cinebench 10
• 3DMark 05
• 3DMark 06
• 3DMark Vantage

3D Games

• Crysis
• Far Cry 2
• Call of Duty 4

Overall System Performance
• PCMark Vantage
Power Consumption

Power consumption is an aspect often forgotten when it comes to enthusiast motherboards but in today's climate, with rising utility bills special consideration needs to be taken when choosing you components as over a period of time, one components can prove to be much more expensive than another over its lifetime. Power consumption was measured at the socket using a plug-in mains power and energy monitor. Idle readings were taken after 5 minutes in Windows. Load readings were taken during a run of 3DMark Vantage.
The AMD motherboards consume much less power than the Intel board when in idle with the DFI coming out in top if only by a few watts. When placed under full load, all boards were a lot more evenly placed.

Here's a few of the obligatory CPU-Z screenshots at stock:
Asus Crosshair III Formula:
 stock asus mem asus
 DFI DK 790FXB M3H5:
stock memory
Overclocking the Asus motherboard was a relatively simple affair. Using the CPU Level Up feature gained me an instant 3.8GHz. I did try pushing this further and I managed to post at 4GHz. This wouldn't boot into Windows though despite various voltage increases. So I dropped it back down to 3.9 but again I encountered stability problems so I was forced to settle for the 3.8GHz clockspeed. In stark contrast, I spent hours trying to get the max out of the DFI motherboard. The amount of features made things more difficult than easy and on numerous occasions I had to reset the CMOS in order to get the motherboard to boot. Sometimes the board would still refuse to POST despite a CMOS clear and needed the old battery removal trick to get things back to some form of normality. After numerous frustrating attempts the most I could get out of the DFI was 3.88GHz. This was obtained with a lower HT link speed and bus speed but using a higher Multiplier. No mean feat I guess but I felt there was more to gain, I just didn't have the time (nor patience) to continue with the constant CMOS resets.
oc asus overclock
The two boards behaved totally different in the fact that overclocking the Asus was a pleasurable affair where the DFI was a trial of my patience. That said the DFI did give an inkling that I was 'getting there' whereby the Asus either booted or it didn't. Overall I think I have shown that the DFI to be the better board for overclocking but you will need bags of patience if you plan on getting the absolute maximum out of your CPU. Whereby the Asus was either rock solid stable or simply refused to boot and then reset itself which was again, slightly frustrating in itself however it was predictable. The DFI just seemed to tease and one minute it appeared to be stable then it would throw a wobbly and refuse to boot with the same settings should you dare to reboot Windows.
After resetting the boards to their default values I ran our standard suite of benchmarks. Special consideration needs to be given to the fact that, even though I have included the Gigabyte i7 motherboard different settings were used due to the nature of the two technologies. The Gigabyte was happy to run the DDR3 at it's native 1600MHz speed whereby both the Asus and DFI AMD boards struggled to run the DDR3 at this speed with any degree of stability. You should also consider that the Gigabyte was run with triple channel DDR3 whereby the AMD boards had just dual channel so care should be taken when comparing the two setups, especially with regard to the memory benchmark where the i7 obviously has the upper hand. You may also want to take into account the Asus board overclocked the Phenom II at stock speed if that makes sense, albeit by just 10MHz.
Let's see how they all got on...
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Most Recent Comments

26-07-2009, 20:29:16

Jeez I'm quite surprized tbh.

Excellent review.

Shame on DFI with some of their onboard choices ALC885 and Marvell ? c'mon - throw in the jumper and I'd expect the mobo to be cheaper.

The ASUS tho, even as the DFI kept up with it (and it can be assumed better with the model up), very very nice figures for the gamer.

Things are looking green whilst blue seems to want to confuse. Weird that cos in other respects AMD would be ... red Quote

26-07-2009, 20:37:36

Asus calling that a top of the range bord ...

If i was paying that much id expect 6 sata and water cooling blocks for the chip set and so much more ...

Is it relay worth that much ...

Excellent review.Quote

26-07-2009, 20:39:45

Compared to the cost of i7 motherboards its a freakin bargain!Quote

26-07-2009, 20:41:55

yeh i7 is just extortion ...

What happened to our lovely sub £100 boards that used to perform like "some thing off a stick" ..

Now there filled with useless rubbish and fancy packaging that costs more than half the bit's inside the box.

I would like my £100 Sub boards that performed back .... This is a recession were in ...

God if i was a reviewer id be the most hated reviewer out there because im so critical or half the gear they stuff inside these things.

Reviews all say yeah you get 6 sata leads and a LCD and loads of fancy this and that. Me i say remove that and drop the price by £50 / £60 quid and ill be happy.

Half the Gimmicks are just that "Pure Gimmicks" nothing more.

Im trying to avoid this coming out as a rant more trying to point out facts.

Bling is just chav.....

Don't forget im a little old fashioned as well.Quote

26-07-2009, 21:08:18

I totally agree. However I do like a well rounded product. Packaging is a major plus point with me and they score highly if its done right.

Prices have rocketted though I do agree and yeah they could cut out half the crap but when you compare the Asus vs the DFI here, both costing more or less the same the Asus wins hands down for the bling and accessories alone, let alone performance.Quote

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