ASUS Maximus IX Formula LGA 1151 Motherboard Review

ASUS is nothing like Hollywood. ASUS can actually turn out sequels which not only match the originals, but surpass them. ASUS Republic of Gamers Maximus IX Formula is another sequel in the long line of Maximus motherboards. Can ASUS continue its long history of awesome sequels? One things for certain, it’s no Robocop 3.

Introduction

ASUS is one of the most recognized brands in the industry, ASUS offers a wide variety of products in its portfolio including graphics cards, workstations, laptops, desktops, servers, motherboards, mobile phones, wireless network equipment, monitors, and various computer peripherals. Indeed, ASUS continues to expand its market presence with more and more diverse offerings each year. 10 years ago, ASUS created the Republic of Gamers brand to specifically target the gaming enthusiast. These motherboards, and later other products represent the pinnacle of technology and often set the bar which all manufacturers aspire to achieve. Many innovations that ASUS uses across all its products begin with ROG branded products first. Some design elements, such as the audio design common to all enthusiast class motherboards are now started with ASUS’ ROG motherboards first and are now copied by the entire industry.

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ROG Maximus IX Formula is the ninth motherboard to use the Maximus Formula name. We’ve been huge fans of these motherboards over the years. I’ve found that these often represent not only the pinnacle of what ASUS has to offer, but many times these motherboards are the very best available at the time these motherboards are released. In many ways, ASUS Maximus Formula represents the sweet spot for the high-end enthusiast. The Formula motherboards aren’t geared towards the high-end benchmark crowd the way the "Extreme" series usually does. Usually the Formula is designed for water cooling and has better audio than the Extreme series does. In this case, the Maximus IX Formula has provisions for LN2 cooling as it supports the LN2 slow mode. I’ve told ASUS for years that the Extreme and the Formula should be combined and this motherboard seems to feature the bulk of what either model generally has to offer.

The Maximus IX Formula is based off the Z270 Express chipset and supports all current LGA 1151 CPUs. The motherboard supports up to 64GB of DDR4 memory at speeds of 4133MHz with overclocking. The Maximus IX Formula features an all-digital, 8+2 phase power design. CrossChill EK II water blocks were developed in conjunction with EKWB and are used to cool the MOSFETs. These are designed to use either air cooling or water cooling. The design supports ¼", 3/8", and ½" barbs. ASUS claims a 23c degree improvement in temperatures and a 4C improvement over the previous design. Water temperature headers have been added to monitor the water flow and water temperature of the system. Dedicated water pump headers are also part of the package. There is a single high amp fan connector, 1x water pump header and a dedicated AIO water pump header. ASUS has industry leading fan control and automated overclocking. BIOS Flashback, Mem OK, safe boot, retry, and other features are included as well. These features are again all designed around the gaming enthusiast. The latest technologies are supported, ranging from SATA 6Gb/s, Gigabit Ethernet, M.2, USB 3.0, USB 3.1, PCI-Express 3.0, SLI, Crossfire, KeyBot II, and more.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The packaging is quite different from the previous generations. The box art is a lot more subdued than it has been in previous years. This is not to say that ASUS was ever as crazy about this as its competitors. The box opens almost like a presentation case. As usual, the back of the box has product information and specifications listed on the back of it. Our sample arrived intact with the following accessories: User's manual, 3x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1x M.2 Screw Package, 1x CPU installation tool, 1x Supporting DVD, 1x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant), 1x SLI HB BRIDGE(2-WAY-M), 1x ROG big sticker, 1x Q-Connector, 1x 10-in-1 ROG cable label, 1x M.2 bracket, 1x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm), and 1x ROG coaster.

Board Layout

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The layout of the Maximus IX Formula is excellent. There are no sticking points with the layout that I can see. There are multiple fan headers all over the motherboard’s surface. The location of all the ports and expansion slots are excellent. ASUS uses its ROG armor to encase the Maximus IX Formula. This prevents the motherboard from flexing and adds to the aesthetic qualities of the motherboard. ASUS often claims that it reduces motherboard temperatures, although I’ve never found that to be the case. Typically, the temperatures aren’t any worse than they would be without the armor.

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The CPU socket is clear of any major obstructions. Despite the large MOSFET coolers, there is plenty of room for mounting most cooling solutions. As usual the DIMM slots are a bit close to the CPU socket, but this is a result of Intel’s design and not ASUS’ fault.

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There are four 288-pin DDR4 slots which use single sided locking tabs and are color coded to denote proper dual-channel memory mode operation. Directly in front of the memory slots is one of the new style USB 3.1 front panel headers as well as the 24-pin ATX front panel connector. ASUS uses its T-Topology technology to optimize trace paths for maximum signal strength and crosstalk elimination.

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The chipset itself is cooled with a flat, passive heat sink that has a removable cover over it. This hides the horizontal type 22110 M.2 slot. There is also RGB lighting inside the heat sink. There are six SATA 6Gb/s ports in front of the chipset. To the left of that you’ll find a vertical M.2 port. Officially, this only supports 2280 type drives and has no retention hardware for longer drives.

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The expansion slot area is superbly designed for dual-GPU systems. The Maximus IX Formula supports the following PCIe configurations: x16, 8x8, and 8x8x4. There are also 3x PCIe x1 3.0 slots. Underneath the secondary GPU you’ll find a plastic cover. Once this is removed, you can access the clear CMOS battery and the primary M.2 slot. This slot supports 22110 type devices. Like the vertical M.2 slot, it supports SATA and PCIe type M.2 devices.

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The I/O panel is a thing of beauty. I’ve often complained about crappy stamped tin I/O shields that make the board feel low rent. ASUS integrates the I/O shield into the motherboard. This increases the premium feel of the motherboard and looks a lot nicer. The ports feel more solid and are nicely marked. On the back panel, you’ll find a clear CMOS button, BIOS flashback button, 2x WiFi antennas, 1x HDMI port, 1x DisplayPort port, 4x USB 2.0 ports, 4x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 type-A port, 1x USB 3.1 type-C port, 1x RJ-45 port, 5x mini-stereo jacks, and 1x optical output port. The mini-stereo jacks are gold plated with color coded plastic surrounds.