Board Design & Layout
Upon first glance, the Asus Crosshair III Formula makes prominent use of an advanced cooling setup (not the huge heatsink below, but the rest). Copper heatpipes have been used to connect the north and south bridge chips to larger copper heatsinks designed to cool the power phase.
The chipset heatsinks use what Asus calls their pin-fin thermal module, which they say offer better thermal performance compared to traditional stacked-fin heatpipe solutions. Asus adds that this design enlarges the heat-exchange surface area and breaks the "boundary-layer" phenomenon for effective airflow.
As you would expect from Asus at this stage, the design of the Crosshair III Formula is very neat and everything seems to be placed well. For example, the PCI Express x16 graphics card ports are clear of the four DIMM slots. The SATA ports are placed together in the bottom right corner where they are easy to access and are also mounted on a 90-degree angle to avoid interfering with long graphics cards.
We noticed there's a large amount of fan headers on this motherboard, in total there are eight fan headers which is twice as many as we are used to seeing. Each fan header features 4-pins for PWM fan control and better monitoring. The large amount of quality fan headers is a nice feature of the Crosshair III Formula and it will likely eliminate the need for an add-in fan speed controller.
The I/O panel is a little different to the usual configurations. There is an eSATA port, Gigabit LAN port, Firewire port, PS/2 port and six USB 2.0 ports. There is also a small “Clear CMOS” button that will no doubt come in handy for those willing to tinker around with their PC hardware.
As covered before, the board features dual PCI Express x16 slots, three PCI Express x1 ports (the black port is meant to be used with the bundled sound card), and one conventional PCI slot. We liked the overall layout of the Crosshair III Formula, and rather than placing two hot graphics cards virtually on top of each other, Asus has placed the designated slots far apart.