One thing that is certain about ASUS; they do know how to build them pretty. The Crosshair IV is a nice looking board. ASUS has gone the extra mile to put in features like rounded LED lit buttons, contoured heatsinks, as well as red and black slots. The effect is quite nice to look at.
The CPU and memory area is clean (to a certain degree). There is a small problem, though. We found that with our Hyper 212 and the extra fan, getting our Kingston RAM into the first slot was a tight fit. We were able to get it in there, but we were concerned about the fan blades rubbing the memory cooling fins. The one armed RAM slots on the Crosshair appear to only be for style as the first PCI-E x16 slot is low enough that there would be no contact.
We do have one complaint in this section (you knew there would be one). The 8-pin 12V Aux connector is right up against the heatsink. We found this made it a little bit of a pain to plug in (and then to remove). Other than that, the area is pretty well laid out.
The lower half of the Crosshair IV looks very nice. It is a little cluttered, but the way the solid metal caps are arranged combined with the red and black slots just makes this look so cool. Of course, the clutter is annoying, but as this is a higher end product you are getting more than just a bunch of slots on the board. The four x16 mechanical slots are capable of 2x x16 Crossfire or three at 1 x16 + 2 x8. The last slot is only a x4 slot even though it is a x16 mechanically.
Along the bottom edge you see a row of four buttons. These are the power, reset, core unlocker and Turbo Key II switches.
The right side of the lower half has a nice pretty row of SATA III ports. AMD is the only company that has a full SATA III SB on the market. This is great news if you A. have all SATA III HDDs, or B. you are willing to foot the bill for SATA III SSDs. But when you consider the cost savings, the second option could be viable.
The ports on the Crosshair IV Formula are roughly what you would expect from a modern ATX style board with a few exceptions (and one ASUS Only). There is a new trend to put the BIOS reset button on the I/O panel; this is a nice idea and will save you a ton of time, again if you are overclocking with this built into a case. If you are testing on a bench (like we did) then it is nice, but not a show stopper.
The one item that I have come to love on the ASUS ROG boards is the ROG connect. This nice little feature is represented by the vertical USB port (it will be horizontal in a case). Here you connect another PC to overclock your AMD CPU and Motherboard.
One item that we also have to touch on is the inclusion of a Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi audio codec. This will add some very high quality audio to your gaming as well as (in a very small way) reduce some of the CPU overhead found with many other audio CODECs.