ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard Review
Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of ASUS
- LGA1150 socket for 4th Generation Intel®Core™ i7 / i5 / i3 / Pentium® / Celeron® Processors
- Intel® Z87 Express Chipset
- CrossChill - Great on air. Cooler with water
- SupremeFX Formula - Amazing 120dB signal-to-noise ratio, 600ohm audio
- ROG Armor - Style, strength, and cooling in one
- Sonic Radar - Scan and detect to dominate
- mPCIe Combo II With Wi-Fi - Extra connections with new gen support
- Extreme Engine Digi+ III - Hardcore power delivery with premium components
- GameFirst II + Intel LAN - Put Your Frags First
- RAMDisk - Double up on speed with RAM
The ASUS Maximus VI Formula features a glossy black PCB with red highlights on the DIMM, PCI-Express, USB 3.0, and SATA ports. The ROG Armor overlay is also black colored, in keeping with the ROG black and red color scheme. All components have more than sufficient surrounding space which is a testament to ASUS' design prowess given the amount of board integrated features.
The board back is protected by an aluminum full-board back plate emblazoned with the ROG logo. There are cutouts provided in back of the board's chipset and CPU sockets. The area around the CPU socket is mostly component free with some small circuits to be aware of to the lower left of the socket.
ASUS includes the following ports in the Maximus VI Formula's rear panel: 4 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the Intel Z87 chipset (located below the GigE NIC port), 4 USB 3.0 ports controlled by the ASMedia controller (located to the right of the USB 2.0 ports), a BIOS reset button (upper button to left of USB 2.0 ports), a dual purpose BIOS FlashBack / ROG Connect button (lower button to left of USB 2.0 ports), an Intel GigE NIC port, an HDMI video port, a DisplayPort video port, an optical audio output port, and 6 analogue audio ports. With the mPCIe Combo II device plugged into the mPCIe slot, Intel-based 802.11ac dual-port Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ports are added to the rear panel.
The ROG Connect button can be used to connect the system to a remote system using a dual ended USB cable attached to the upper USB 2.0 port. Once the two systems are connected via USB and the ROG Connect button is pressed, you can change settings on the Maximus VI Formula board from the remote system using the ASUS TweakIt software. You must first install the ASUS TweakIt software on the remote system to change the settings on the Maximus VI Formula board.
The USB BIOS Flashback button can be used to re-flash the BIOS without having to boot the system into the UEFI BIOS interface or DOS. Simply plug in a USB drive containing the proper BIOS file in the root of the drive into the bottom USB 2.0 port(to the lower right of the button) and press the button for 3 seconds until the integrated LED begins to flash. As the BIOS is updated, the LED flashing frequency increases. Once the LED goes out, the flash operation is completed and the board can be booted. Note that if the BIOS Flashback LED flashes for 5 seconds and then glows solid, it means that something went wrong with the flashback operation. Check the USB drive for the the BIOS file in the root and make sure that the BIOS file is named correctly. BIOS Flashback looks for a specific filename and file format when attempting to replace the on-board BIOS. According to the user manual, the BIOS file in the root of the flash drive must be named M6F.CAP for the BIOS Flashback applet to successfully re-flash the board's BIOS.
The Maximus VI Formula motherboard has a total of six PCI-Express device ports - three PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1 slots. For the PCI-Express x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x8 bandwidth with cards in the primary and secondary slots with two cards populated, and x8 in the primary and x4 in the secondary and tertiary slots with three cards populated. Notice that ASUS designed the board's PCI-Express slot layout so with a PCI-Express x1 slot to the right of the primary x16 slot so that an x1 slot remain available. Additionally, there is sufficient space between the primary PCI-Express x16 slot and the secondary PCI-Express x1 slot to accommodate a dual slot cooler.
In the upper left corner of the board are the S/PDIF input header, the front panel audio header, a trusted platform module header, a thunderbolt header, and the EZ PLUG power port. The EZ Plug power connector accepts a female MOLEX power cable from the PSU. This port can be used for supplying additional power to the PCI-Express bus when using more than one video card.
Along the lower left of the tertiary PCI-Express x16 slot are the thunderbolt header, a USB 2.0 header, multiple system fan header, a temperature sensor header, and the OC Panel headers (labeled ROG_EXT). he bottom header in the ROG_EXT group can be used for two additional USB 2.0 ports if the OC Panel is not connected to the system. The OC Panel cable connects to the ROG_EXT ports, allowing the optional ROG OC Panel device to interact with the board.
The OPT_FAN1 header, OPT_TEMP1 temperature sensor header, front panel header, DirectKey button, and BIOS Switch button are located in the lower left corner of the board. The DirectKey button forces system shutdown or power on when pressed. With the DirectKey Enable setting enabled (located on the BIOS Boot page), the system goes directly into the BIOS after the DirectKey button is pressed with the system powered off. The BIOS Switch button allows for user switching between the primary and secondary BIOS chips, useful for system recovery.
The Intel Z87 Express chipset is covered by a large aluminum, low profile heat sink just below the PCI-Express x16 slots and underneath the plane of the ROG Armor overlay. The heat sink is flat black in color with an ASUS logo prominently displayed.
ASUS includes a total of 10 on-board SATA 6Gb/s ports located just under the chipset cooler. The six SATA ports on the right are tied to the Intel Z87 chipset controller. The 4 ports in the left of the port block are tied to the ASMedia controller. Note that SATA port 5 controlled by the Intel Z87 chipset controller is disabled when an M.2 SSD drive is placed in the NGFF slot in the ASUS mPCIe Combo II device seated in the board's rear panel.
The on-board DDR3 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules in slots 1 and 3 or slots 2 and 4 with slots 2 and 4 being the primary memory slots. The board supports up to 32GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3000MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. To the lower left of the memory slots are the Intel Z87 chipset controlled USB 3.0 header, and the 24-pin ATX power connector. ASUS also includes two dedicated power phases for use by the memory with the power phase chokes located to the left of the memory slots, covered by the ROG Armor overlay.
To the right of the DIMMM slots are a system fan header, the power, reset, and MemOK! buttons, the 2-digit diagnostic display, the Probelt voltage measurement points, the LN2 Mode jumper, dual CPU fan headers. The 2-digit diagnostic display can be used for debugging system issues during system initialization. The displayed debug codes can be decoded using the table from the motherboard manual. The Probelt voltage measurement points allow for direct board voltage measurement using a volt meter. The MemOK! button can be used to reset memory-related BIOS settings to defaults, useful when the system doesn't boot because of memory options set over-aggressively. The LN2 Mode jumper (unmarked jumper just above the Probelt voltage measurement points) enables a cold bug fix that can be encountered when attempting to boot a CPU at sub-zero temperatures.
The CPU socket is clear of obstructions with the power circuitry and VRM hybrid cooler located above the socket. ASUS designed the area around the socket carefully to avoid unnecessary obstructions with all components of a low profile design in close proximity to the socket.
Courtesy of ASUS
The CrossChill hybrid air and water cooling unit sits atop the CPU VRMs, to the top and upper right of the CPU socket. The unit can be used for air cooling the power circuitry or connected to a water cooling loop using the provide G1/4" threaded ports. The unit contains a sealed internal channel for liquid flow between the inlet and outlet ports.
To the upper left of the CPU socket and to the right of the primary PCI-Express x1 slot are two system fan headers and a temperature sensor port
ASUS designed the Maximus VI Formula with dual ATX12V power connectors, a 4-pin and an 8-pin connector, in the upper right quadrant of the board. Additionally, a system fan header and the mPCIe port are located in this board quadrant. The mPCIe port is used to seat the mPCIe Combo II card. Note that if you use an M.2 SSD drive in the Combo II device, SATA slot 5, tied to the Intel Z87 chipset controller, is automatically disabled.