AMD Bulldozer - FX 8150 Performance Review



Product: AMD FX 8150 / Asus Crosshair V
Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: October 11th, 2011

ASUS Crosshair V Formula

The ASUS Republic of Gamers Crosshair V Formula board provided for testing the FX-8150 is an E-ATX mainboard, just slightly bigger than full-ATX, and uses AMD's 990FX/SB950 chipset with socket AM3+. It's priced at ~$230USD with an optional Thunderbolt variant ~$310, which has a headphone amp and gaming optimized NIC card bundled with it. We've got the non-Thunderbolt model here.

First glance at this board tells you that, like its predecessors, it's for serious performance. The board features the standard ATX 24-pin power input and an 8-pin EPS12v input, plus an additional optional 4-pin ATX power input. Above the first PCI-Express Graphics (PEG) slot is another 4-pin power input.

The coolers for the multiple VRMs and chokes that surround the socket on two sides provide the many phases of power for the CPU socket. The board supports CPUs up to 140W, as it is compatible with AM3+ and AM3 processors - the full line up of FX, Phenom II, Athlon II and Semprons from recent years. Existing AM3 coolers will work fine, as the mount points are unchanged.

The Crosshair V is fitted with four PEG slots, a PCI-E x1 slot, all PCI-E version 2.0 naturally, and a PCI v2.3 slot. The spacing of the PEG slots allows three double-height graphics cards to be used, and the board supports both CrossfireX and SLI. The slots run at x16 and x16 mode for two cards, but drop to x8 and x8 for the bottom two when used concurrently. The lowest slot, while physically x16 in size, is electrically x4.

Wherever an upgrade to standard functionality can be made, ASUS has done it. The standard integrated LAN from AMD goes unused, replaced by an Intel 82583V GbE controller. The Azalia HD audio is provided by Realtek, but supplemented by Creative's X-Fi MB2 software. The six SATA-3 6Gbps ports provided by the SB950 chipset are supplemented by an additional dual port SATA 3 controller, providing the backplane eSATA port and another internal port. This controller is by Asmedia, and is a PCI-Express controller connected via a PCI-E x1/5Gbps link back to the chipset restricting bandwidth available to the two 6Gbps ports. Asmedia also provides the six USB 3.0 ports, again connected via PCI-Express to the chipset, offering four rear USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports and a 2-port internal header.

The SB950 chipset provides six SATA 3 ports which can operate in AHCI/RAID and IDE mode. Under RAID it is possible to set the first four ports as RAID and the last two as IDE. Hotplug can be enabled per port when operating in AHCI/RAID mode. RAID modes 0/1/5 and 10 are offered, which are implemented as software via the driver.

The rear backplane features four USB 3.0 ports with battery charger support for high current devices, and 8 USB 2.0 ports, one of which is used for RoG Connect. 6 retaskable jacks and an optical connection take care of audio. Rounding out the backplane are the eSATA, RJ45 LAN and clear CMOS button.

The overwhelming impression from the physical board is one of attention to detail. Lots of little touches make this board very well suited for the enthusiast PC builder, even if you're not an extreme enough overclocker to value the voltage pad points. The LED diagnostic lights and onboard power/reset/clear CMOS buttons make bench testing and troubleshooting incredibly easy. It has great looks and the black and red color scheme, becoming very popular these days, works great for an all AMD system.

The BIOS is a thing of beauty, mouse driven courtesy of the EFI firmware this board uses. The resolution is much higher than with traditional BIOS firmware and features great graphics and simple, easy to read text. It is well laid out and features simple navigation by both mouse and keyboard. The features are very comprehensive with more tunable options that you'll likely need, very much full control over the board and it's settings. Below we've got a video of navigating the EFI BIOS:

The included driver DVD incorporates a simple driver install button, where all needed drivers are updated with a single click. Similarly, the optional ASUS AI Suite software can be installed in one go, providing a wealth of options for controlling the hardware. From the desktop you can adjust voltages, frequencies and clock speeds, but not turbo core operation. Several power saving options can be adjusted as well as real time monitoring of voltages and temperature with customizable alerts for fan speed and temperature.

ASUS AI Suite & CPUZ

Our verdict? Great features and a nice price - if it hold up under the strain of FX processors it'll be be a strong platform to build upon.