Asus shows us its Computex wares

Computex doesn't officially kick off until next week, but Asus very kindly invited us to have a look at what it will be showing at the trade show a few days beforehand.

The new goodies include Asus' first Lucid Hydra motherboard, a killer graphics card and a micro-ATX board for enthusiasts.

Asus also took the opportunity to confirm a few of the rumours that have been floating around about the company. For a start, Asus officially unveiled its Turbo Unlocker tool, which improves on AMD's Turbo Boost automatic overclocking technology. Asus says that Turbo Unlocker can also be enabled by just flipping the Turbo Key II switch on the motherboard.

Similarly, Asus' Core Unlocker technology, which can enable any latent cores on an AMD CPU, can also be enabled with a motherboard switch. Basically, by flipping a couple of switches, an Asus motherboard can automatically detect latent cores, determine whether they're faulty and enable any cores that can be used. It then also determines how far the CPU can be overclocked, and then boots up with the appropriate overclock and hopefully more CPU cores enabled.

As well as this, Asus also spilled the beans on its Crosshair IV Formula motherboard, which is the outfit's first board to use a Lucid Hydra chip. With space for four dual-slot graphics cards, Asus says that this is the first AM3 motherboard to support Nvidia's SLI technology.

Asus' technical PR manager Iain Bristow explained to THINQ that the motherboard supported SLI via the Hydra chip, but that it can run cards in native SLI mode (with full support from Nvidia drivers), or in Lucid mode, which can be quicker in some games. The board also enables you to mix and match Nvidia and ATI GPUs in 3D mode.

Next up came Asus' follow up to its monstrous Mars graphics card, which unites a pair of Radeon HD 5870 GPUs on one card. The Mars was named after the Roman god of war, so Asus decided to give its successor the moniker of Ares; the Olympian god of war.

Asus says that it looked back at the cooling system of its old EN7800GT Dual graphics card as inspiration for the design of the Ares' cooler. The result is a colossal cooling system, and we couldn't believe the weight of the graphics card when we were invited to hold it.

However, Asus makes some very big claims about the card's cooler, saying that it pushes out 119.21CFM (cubic feet per minute), compared with just 18CFM on a Radeon HD 5970 reference cooler. Despite this, Asus also claims that the cooler is much quieter, producing only 37dB compared with 44.5dB from the 5970 reference cooler.

This enables Asus to push up the card's clock speeds much further than those of a Radeon HD 5970. Although the 5970's GPUs feature all the 3,200 stream processors that you'd find in two 5870 GPUs, the clock speeds are in-line with those of a Radeon HD 5850.

Conversely, the Ares can run the two GPU cores at 850MHz, and the card also comes with 4GB of 1.2GHz (4.8GHz effective) GDDR5 memory, compared with just 2GB of 1GHz (4GHz effective) memory on a Radeon HD 5970. Like the Mars, Asus says that the Ares will be a limited edition run.

Finally, Asus then unveiled the successor to its Rampage II Gene micro-ATX motherboard. Its successor, the Rampage III Gene, is based on Intel's X58 chipset, and comes with two PCI-E graphics slots, eight SATA connectors and six DIMM slots, despite its diminutive dimensions. The motherboard also manages to squeeze in a standard PCI slot, and a single-lane PCI-E slot.