ASUS Z77 Chipset Motherboard Preview: Formula, Gene, mini-ITX
Maximus V Formula and Gene
By far the most exciting motherboards we were shown were the pair of Maximus V models - the Formula and the Gene. ASUS wouldn't confirm if an Extreme model would be released, but I can see no reason why they would stop that trend now.
ASUS Maximus V Gene
The infamous red and black color combination continues and the Gene board brings a level of overclocking performance we aren't used to see on mATX offerings. It supports SLI and CrossFire with properly spaced PCIe slots, has integrated power and reset buttons for out-of-case testing and more.
The external configuration reveals the array of USB connections, eSATA, gold plated audio connections and an odd thing standing up there on the left hand side.
The mPCIe Combo card has BOTH an mPCIe slot on it and an mSATA slot to allow you to connect devices for WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, GPS or an SSD directly to system. Now you can enable SSD caching without having to have a specific case or even a 2.5-in SSD in your system. This kind of flexibility is really sweet to see in a high powered board like the Maximus V Gene.
ASUS Maximus V Formula
The Formula model looks very similar though it expands on the feature set in some interesting ways. Obviously this board will support 3-Way SLI and CrossFire though there is more to it than that.
The external configuration is basically the same including the mPCIe Combo card.
The audio solution wasn't revealed yet, ASUS is claiming that the audio solution on the Formula model will be "better than most discrete options" thanks to a feature called SupremeFX Shielding. They are claiming to have complete PCB isolation from the rest of the motherboard to allow for reduced EMI. Oh, and it lights up too.
The PLX chip seen here is responsible for making sure that the connected devices (USB 3.0 controllers, SATA controllers, etc) have enough bandwidth so that you aren't forced to disable any features on the motherboard - you can run everything at full speed.
Finally, the return of the integrated water cooled chipset is here! The Fusion Thermo System is half heat-pipe and half water block to allow for combination cooling if you want to integrate it.