A few months ago, we reviewed a handful of budget AM3 motherboards and were surprised at the quality offered by sub-$100 products. Since AMD owns the entry-level CPU market, it only makes sense that there are plenty of affordable motherboards, but with the Phenom II X6 range gaining popularity, users are once again looking to invest big in the AM3 platform.
The Asus Crosshair IV Extreme is set to sell for $300, easily making it the most expensive AM3 product around and costing considerably more than the already opulent Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD7. With most high-end AM3 motherboards priced below $200, you have to wonder what is so special about Asus' offering.
Without beating around the bush, what separates the Crosshair IV Extreme apart from the pack is Asus' CrossLinx 3 technology. This allows users to mix and match multiple graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia, including models of different GPU generations. CrossLinx 3 uses the Lucid HydraLogix engine, which bridges various graphics cards to enable their simultaneous usage.
The HydraLogix engine accomplishes this by removing the numerous compatibility hurdles making it possible to experiment with different configurations of graphics cards for maximum performance. At least that is the theory, and today we plan to put this new technology to the test in order to see how well it fares compared to a traditional CrossFireX setup.
The Crosshair IV Extreme implementation features a unique layout design that boasts a total of five PCI Express x16 expansion slots. Two of these provide dedicated native graphics card support for either a single GPU or CrossFire configuration. The other three are connected to the HydraLogix controller and support a mixture of graphics cards from different vendors and generations.
It goes without saying that while the Asus Crosshair IV Extreme supports a number of new features, such as USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s, it is the CrossLinx 3 technology that has piqued our interest and everybody else's, let's not forget this motherboard was showcased back in May and it just became available for purchase late September. With that in mind, we will focus primarily on testing CrossLinx 3 to see how well it works, but you can expect us to run our typical battery of tests as well.