There is a single PS/2 port for the keyboard, one Firewire port, six USB ports and Gigabit LAN – this is a Formula model rather than an Extreme Edition so extra bells and whistles such as a second LAN ports are absent. The I/O panel also carries an eSATA port that is connected to the SB750 Southbridge rather than a separate controller, with the result that there are five SATA ports on the board rather than the usual six. Integrated audio is handled by the SupremeFX card which plugs into a dedicated PCI Express x1 slot and which carries six audio mini jacks along with coaxial and optical S/PDIF outputs.
Asus includes a bracket that carries two more USB ports and a second Firewire port and there are headers for four more USB ports on board.
As this is a Republic Of Gamers board you naturally get a few extras such as the external Reset button on the I/O panel and at the foot of the board there are three more micro buttons for Power, Reset and Clear CMOS.
There’s a new feature that is included with all new Republic Of Gamers models i.e. Rampage II (Core i7 on X58), Maximus II (Core 2 on P45) and Crosshair III which is a connector on the board that is compatible with the new Republic Of Gamers OC Station. OC Station allows you to adjust voltage and clock settings using the control knob and pin-sharp LCD screen without any need to dive into the BIOS. It is fairly expensive at £125 and requires a pair of external five and a quarter inch drive bays in your PC case for installation. The OC Station also acts as a fan control unit but it seems like an expensive way to avoid navigating round the BIOS screen.
Asus includes another goodie in the package in the shape of its External LCD Poster which we have covered in previous reviews. The short version is that it is a small LCD gizmo that displays POST debug messages in English instead of the usual numeric code.
The passive coolers on the chipset and power regulation hardware have been given a cosmetic makeover and look very smart in their gunmetal grey finish. Asus claims that its Pin Fin Thermal Module technology increases the surface area of each heatsink to help the efficiency of each cooler.
The BIOS contains the usual Republic Of Gamers features including CPU Level Up where you can select a preset profile to automatically overclock your processor. Our 2.6GHz Phenom II 810 offered three options which were 2.8GHz, 3.0GHz and 3.2GHz and they worked perfectly well however we had no trouble manually overclocking to 3.41GHz.
In essence the new Crosshair III is an M4A79T Deluxe with some useful extra features that are essentially free of charge. Brilliant!
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