Joined on 09/19/09
Pros: Arrived on schedule. Packaging wasn't bad and included lots of extras such as SATA2 and SATA3 cables. No problems mounting the processor or the stock cooler that came with my Phenom II X4 965. Lots of features for overclocking (haven't attempted to overclock with it yet). MemOK is a cool feature in case a memory incapatability crashes your system, and the mobo supports my 2 year old 2X2GB Crucial Ballistix so it seems to have good support for even older RAM. Included a lot of extra software (other than the necessary drivers) on the included CD-ROM. No crashes thus far. The reasons I didn't give it 5 eggs are in my cons (obviously).
Cons: The most annoying and frustrating issue I've had is with the audio drivers. The documentation states that the mobo has integrated Sound Blaster X-Fi audio codecs and hardware (or at least that's what it implies), but the actual hardware is VIA manufactured, which is not only unnerving from a consumer point-of-view, but when I have the VIA drivers installed, I have problems with sound. These aren't severe issues but they are beyond annoying and it's not what you'd expect from a high-end ASUS board. Issues are as follows and go on the assumption that I've installed the VIA drivers: 1. Before ANY Windows sound (such as the startup tune, UI sounds while navigating, etc) plays there is an almost inaudible pop, and then a short pause that occurs before the sound actually plays. This also occurs when playing music from mp3. I don't experience the pops while playing games (New Vegas, for example) but the DELAY is there, which is simply unacceptable for a gamer.
Overall Review: Cons continued: 2. The advertised Sound Blaster X-Fi codecs are not built-in to the motherboard at the hardware level, but simply come included on the CD. I can't stress this enough: This motherboard DOES NOT have any Sound Blaster hardware "built-in" and I am certain (after troubleshooting for 2 or 3 hours) that the VIA DRIVERS are what is causing those annoying pops and audio delays. The solution the audio problem was to completely Uninstall all audio devices in Device Manager, then either restart the PC or "Scan For Hardware Changes" which SHOULD cause Windows (I'm using Win 7 x64) to install generic drivers for the sound hardware. Windows DOES recognize the audio bus as high-definition, and the pops and delays are completely gone. The only downside to this is that I cannot use the Sound Blaster software (which has some pretty neat features) unless the VIA drivers are installed. I just hope VIA and/or ASUS releases some better drivers for this VIA hardware.
Poor VIA Drivers
Pros: *Almost* everything about this board is great. I bought in Feb 2011 and have not had the NB overheating problem, even after hours of gaming. The layout of the board is to my liking (although I prefer top-facing SATA ports) and the packaging was sufficient to protect the board in transit to your house. Cons :\
Cons: The one thing that is very upsetting about this board is that the onboard sound chip is advertised as Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi, BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT IT IS! ***IT'S ACTUALLY A VIA CHIP WITH A SOUND BLASTER X-FI STICKER ON TOP, WITH EXTREMELY CRUMMY AUDIO DRIVERS FOR WIN 7 64-BIT*** I've spent hours attempting to get the sound to work properly, and it's not that it doesn't play, but there is a popping sound with every "new" sound that plays, and in-game there is a delay between an action and the resulting sound. EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING. ASUS email support actually told me this: "In this situation, if you have another OS CD, please use that OS CD for a try. May be the VIA driver is not well compatible with your current OS." This is a $200+ motherboard from a (usually) respectable manufacturer and you're telling me that the drivers for a FALSELY ADVERTISED onboard sound chip may not be compatible with Windows 7?!? Give me a break!
Overall Review: If you have your own sound card or intend on getting one, then you'll love this motherboard as far as I can tell.
Pros: Upgraded to this 6970 from a 3-yr-old Radeon HD 4870 1GB that was also made by Sapphire. It worked wonders (and is still a working, awesome video card), and so far this 6970 does too. It runs everything I want to play on ultra settings with solid, if not exceptional frame rates. The power connectors are mounted facing the side (toward the door of the case) instead of facing front intake! It more than made up for the extra length of the 6970 because you almost ALWAYS have more room between the card and the door/window! My old 4870 had power connections facing the front of the case and with a Mid ATX case it bothered me that I had to wedge the power cables in odd angles. Not a problem anymore! Packaging was done well, very thick/durable anti-static bag protecting the card inside the box. Current build: AMD R6970 2GB ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition 4GB X 2 Ripjaws 1600 7-8-7-24 WD 150GB 10,000rpm Velociraptor HDD 750W power supply
Cons: The card is huge, maybe 2 inches longer than my old 4870, but I knew when purchasing how big it would be (it's in the specs lol), so this is less of a con and more of a warning to buyers with Mid ATX cases. Measure the amount of space you have in your case and compare it to the provided measurements in the specs for this card to ensure you've got enough room. Also, remember the power connectors are side-facing so you don't have to worry about the "extra length" the power cables will add to the actual installation. The only other con (which is actually common with a lot of different video cards these days) is that the default fan settings don't seem to increase past ~30% full fan speed, so even if the card gets up around 70C (which is the highest I saw it after hours of gaming using the "default" fan settings) the fan is still running at around 30% it's maximum. To remedy this I downloaded MSI Afterburner which lets you set a temp/fan speed "curve" - must have!
Overall Review: The power connectors (one 6-pin and one 8-pin) are a little unusual to me (my 4870 was 6-pin/6-pin) so the card came with a molex adapter for both plugs (which are required) which was pretty cool from Sapphire. I didn't need them, but please make sure your power supply is beefy enough to support this card. With this build I scored in the high 4,000 range with 3DMark11 with no overclocking. Very solid score for not using a Crossfire configuration or having a SSD. I completely recommend a full tower ATX case when using a card this size. I bought a CoolerMaster HAF-X and case temps are awesome with stock fans.