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ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Formula (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Mar 2, 2016 2:19 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASUS

Packaging and Overview

 

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The Maximus VIII Formula's box is very similar to that of the Maximus VIII Extreme. Packaging reveals that the motherboard and all the accessories are well protected from the elements.

 

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There are plenty of accessories: 8x SATA 6Gb/s cables, SLI bridge, IO shield, 12-in-1 ROG cable-labels, Q-connector, ROG door hanger, CPU installation tool, ROG fan label, m.2 screws, 2T2R Wi-Fi antennas, 80cm RGB extension cable, and software DVD/user manuals.

 

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The ASUS Maximus VIII Formula has seven fan header circled in red, and a fan extension header circled in blue. All fan headers are PWM or DC mode and can be configured in the UEFI or through Windows. ASUS's fan control is top notch, and you can choose which temperature sensors control which fans.

 

The sleek gray/black shield covers most of the Maximus VIII Formula, and some hints of silver are present, but they vanish when the motherboard is installed in a case. A strip of translucent plastic near the VRM, the area with "FORMULA" on the center of the motherboard, and the ROG logo on the PCH are all lit by RGB LEDs, and the effect is quite magnificent.

 

I was surprised to find that ASUS provides a metal back shield like they did on their TUF series motherboards. The backside shield helps strengthen the PCB and cools the back of the CPU VRM with some heat pads.

 

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The IO panel on the Maximus VIII Formula carries six USB 3.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB 3.1 Type-A, USB 3.1 Type-C, a 1Gbit NIC port, clear CMOS, BIOS flashback, two Wi-Fi antenna connectors, and S/PDIF with gold plated TOSLINK for audio output.

 

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The PCI-E layout is quite simple. The first two gray PCI-E 16x slots are wired to the CPU and operate at 16x/0x or 8x/8x for SLI/CrossFireX. The last PCI-E 16x slot is hard wired 4x to the PCH and shared bandwidth with SATA ports 5/6. All the PCI-E 1x slots are PCI-E 2.0 and get their bandwidth from an ASMedia PCI-E bridge.

 

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The U.2, M.2, and SATAExpress1 connectors all share bandwidth, priority is given to the M.2 slot so you might need to configure the BIOS if you are going to use the other connections. The two SATA6Gb/s ports that are part of a darker colored connector come from an ASMedia controller while the remaining gray ones originate from the PCH. I like what ASUS has done with the right angled USB 3.0 header. To install an M.2 drive, you must remove a single screw and then you just pop the cover, revealing the extra-long M.2 slot.

 

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I was very happy to see a POST code display as well as power and reset buttons at the top of the motherboard.

 

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ASUS also provides a MemOK button, a second USB 3.0 internal header, and many other headers at the bottom of the motherboard. The most interesting of which is an RGB LED strip header. Users can control this header and the rest of the RGBs through software in Windows.

 

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ASUS provided a CableMod premium LED lighting strip, and it works very well with the header. I do not think that the retail package comes with the LED strip; it was provided so that reviewers can test the feature.

 

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I did remove the shield from the motherboard.

 

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The heat sink on the VRM is no joke, and the PCH LED is revealed when everything is removed. The back of the PCB is quite bare, and I was very surprised to find that the audio divide is not illuminated.

 

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The VRM heat sink is no joke. At close to $400, the Maximus VIII Formula is an expensive motherboard, but I would think some of that cost has gone into collaboration with EKWB. The VRM block isn't your typical motherboard manufacturer VRM water block with a hollowed out heat pipe. Instead, there are microchannels, o-rings, and proper fittings. Even if you don't put water in there, it will still cool the VRM quite well.

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