We've just got word about Asus latest additions to its Republic of Gamers series of motherboards, the Blitz Extreme and Blitz Formula. This is the first time Asus has launched two boards at the same time in the Republic of Gamer series, but there's only a couple of small difference between the two, but more on that soon. First of all, both of these boards are based on the new P35 chipset and this brings with it certain features and limitations. However, Asus has come up with some really interesting solutions to some of the chipset limitations, rather unexpected stuff at times.
This is when the first apparent difference between the two boards shows up, as the Blitz Extreme uses DDR3 while the Blitz Formula is for DDR2. This is a sensible approach by Asus considering the extra price premium DDR3 has over DDR2 memory and this gives potential customers a choice. Both boards have two PCI slots, two PCIe x1 slots, two PCIe x16 slots and a special connector for Asus audio riser card. The Blitz boards features a new sound module, the SupremeFX II, which has been given shielding to remove potential interference from the system. Asus claims this will improve the sound quality, although the ADI 1988B HD audio codec is unlikely to be as good as a dedicated sound card.
However, the real innovation of these two boards is the little chip located between the two PCIe x16 slots, something Asus calls Crosslinx technology. What this little chip does is something Intel should've done a long time ago, it allows for the bandwidth from the x16 slot to be split between the two physical x16 slots so they both get x8 bandwidth, just like some SLI chipsets from Nvidia. This is the first time this has been done on a chipset that doesn't offer native support for bandwidth splitting and hopefully Asus will implement this on mother motherboards in the future. Asus claims that this will offer up to 10% performance advantage over a normal P35 chipset configuration where one card has 16 lanes and the other 4 lanes. We'll let you know how well this performs as soon as we get our hands on one of these two boards.
The other major difference between these two boards is that the Blitz Extreme come pre-fitted with a waterblock on the MCH, although you don't need to use water cooling with the motherboard, as the copper heatpipes will still provide sufficient cooling in combination with the multitude of heatsinks fitted to the board. Asus claims that the MCH will run 12% cooler with water cooling fitted and presumably the water cooling will help cool the copper heatpipe as well. Asus has even integrated overheating protection into the MCH and you'll get a warning message on the post screen if the chipset is running too hot.
The boards also come with a small external POST display which can be placed on your desk or wherever it's convenient. This will display any error messages during post, even if your monitor isn't coming on. The details are scarce on exactly how this works and how it's connected, but we'll try to find out more information about this for you. You can see the LCD Poster as Asus calls it on the big version of the picture of the Blitz Extreme.
Both boards have a fair few more features, but I'll let our reviewer cover them once we get a review sample and I don't want to spoil all the fun for him. Expect this board to be on display at Computex next week, but you saw it here first.