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ASUS Maximus VIII Formula Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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The Maximus VIII Formula is the latest board in the ROG (Republic of Gamer) board line, featuring the Armor overlay common to the Formula and Sabertooth boards, integrated RGB LEDs throughout the board's surface, and support for the Intel Z170 chipset. The base board aesthetics feature the ROG standard black and red in an ATX form factor. The board's integrated Intel Z170 chipset gives the board support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. The Maximus VIII Formula can be found in the wild for an MSRP of $399, making it more expensive than most offerings but justified in light of the integrated features and design quality of the board.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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ASUS integrated the following features into the Maximus VIII Formula board: four SATA 3 ports; two SATA-Express ports; one U.2 32Gbps port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; 2x2 802.11ac WiFI adapter; three PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; on-board power, reset, MemOK!, Clear CMOS, and USB BIOS Flashback buttons; LN2 Mode jumper; Aura LED 12V power header; 2-digit Q-Code LED diagnostic display; Q-LED support; ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI video ports; and USB 3.0 and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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The Maximus VIII Formula features an impressive 10 phase digital power system in an 8+2 configuration, providing more than enough power to the CPU/GPU for whatever you choose to throw at it. The power delivery system itself consists of Texas Instruments NexFET MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10k-rated Japanese-sourced black-metallic capacitors.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS Maximus VIII Formula motherboard!

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The Maximus VIII Formula integrates the latest version of ASUS' ROG Armor overlay into its design. The ROG Armor consists of an ABS plastic overlay on top of the board with a steel plate covering its bottom. The overlay on top of the board is plastic, offering protection to the top mounted components as well as an optimized cooling path. The ROG Armor bottom plate is constructed of steel with thermal padding in key areas to give the board more rigidity, to protect the sensitive underbelly of the board, and to further aid with board heat dissipation.

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For CPU VRM cooling, ASUS integrated a hybrid copper-based cooling solution, capable of air or water cooling for those critical power components. The liquid-capable blocks were custom-developed by EK for ASUS' use with the Maximus VIII Formula. Internally, the blocks feature copper fins and channels to increase the heat transfer area when using a liquid cooling medium.

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Courtesy of ASUS

For board aesthetic configurability, ASUS integrated RGB LEDs throughout the upper surface of the board, including into the chipset heat sink, teh PCIe slots and armor overlay area, and into the rear panel cover. These LEDs can be configured to display any color desired as well as operating in one of six modes: Static, Breathing, Strobing, Color Cycle, Music Effect, and CPU temperature. LED operation can be easily configured using the AURA RGB LED applet included on the driver disc.

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Technical Specifications (taken from the ASUS website)

CPU Intel® Socket 1151 for 6th Generation Core™ i7 / Core™ i5 / Core™ i3 / Pentium® / Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 14 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list

Chipset Intel® Z170
Memory 4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3733(O.C.) / 3600(O.C.) / 3500(O.C.) / 3466(O.C.) / 3400(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)

** Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.

Graphics Integrated Graphics Processor
Multi-VGA output support: HDMI/DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2304 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8, gray)
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x4 mode, black)
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 (black)
Storage Intel® Z170 chipset:
1 x U.2 port, support PCIe 3.0 x4 NVM Express storage *1
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242 / 2260 / 2280 / 22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode) *1
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s)
2 x SATA Express port,
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology supports *2
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology *2

*1 The The M.2 slot shares bandwidth with U.2 slot and SATA Express 1 slot.
*2 This function will work depending on the CPU installed.

ASMedia® ASM1061 controller: *3
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black,

*3 These SATA ports are for data hard drives only. ATAPI devices are not supported.

LAN Intel® I219V, Dual interconnect between the Integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and Physical Layer (PHY)
GameFirst technology
Anti-surge LANGuard
Wireless Data Network Wi-Fi 802.11 a / b / g / n / ac
Supports dual band frequency 2.4 / 5 GHz
Supports MU-MIMO
Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.1
Audio ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports: Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel MIC Jack-retasking
- SupremeFX Shielding Technology
- ESS® ES9023P
- 2VRMS Headphone Amp into (32-600Ohms)

Audio Feature:
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
- Sonic SenseAmp
- Sonic Studio II
- Sonic Radar II

USB Ports Intel® Z170 chipset:
8 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at mid-board)

Intel® Z170 chipset: *4
4 x USB 2.0 port(s)

*4 2 x USB2.0 ports at mid-board shares with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port.
Intel® USB 3.1 controller:
2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, Type-A + Type-C)

ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller:
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)

ROG Exclusive Features CrossChill EK (Hybrid air and liquid cooling)
ROG Armor (including top cover and SECC steel backplate)
ROG RAMCache
Start Button
Reset Button
ROG Aura
- Aura Lighting Control
- Aura RGB Strip Headers
Extreme Engine Digi+:
- MicroFine Alloy Chokes
- NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET
- 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
Mem TweakIt
KeyBot II
- One-click Overclocking
- X.M.P.
- DirectKey
- ClrCMOS
- Power On
UEFI BIOS features:
- O.C. Profile
- GPU.DIMM Post
- Tweakers' Paradise
- ROG SSD Secure Erase
- Graphic Card Information Preview
ROG RAMDisk
Special Features OC Design - ASUS PRO Clock Technology
- Full BCLK range for extreme overclocking performance
5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
- 5-Way Optimization tuning key perfectly consolidates TPU, EPU, DIGI+ VRM, Fan Xpert 3, and Turbo App
ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
- Wi-Fi GO! Function: Cloud GO!, Media Streaming Hub, Smart Sensor Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send
- Wi-Fi GO! & NFC Remote app for portable smartphone/tablet, supporting iOS 7 & Android 4.0 systems
ASUS Exclusive Features:
- MemOK!
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger+
- Anti-Surge
- USB 3.1 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
- Mobo Connect
- PC Cleaner
Remote Entertainment
- Media Streamer
- HyStream
ASUS Quiet Thermal Solution:
- ASUS Fan Xpert 3
ASUS EZ DIY:
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 3
- ASUS USB BIOS Flashback
- ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
- Multi-language BIOS
- Push Notice
- Media Streamer
ASUS Q-Design:
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
RAMCache
Operating System Support Windows® 10, 64bit
Windows® 8.1, 64bit
Windows® 7, 32bit / 64bit
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
1 x USB 3.1 (red)Type-A
1 x USB 3.1 (black)Type-C
8 x USB 3.0 (blue)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jack(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
2 x Wi-Fi antenna port(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x U.2 port
1 x Aura RGB Strip Headers
2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
2 x SATA Express connector: , Compatible with 4 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIE SSD)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
3 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Water Pump header (4-pin)
1 x LN2 Mode jumper(s)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x System panel connector
Accessories User's manual
I/O Shield
8 x SATA power cable
1 x ASUS 2-Way/3-Way SLI bridge
1 x M.2 Screw Package
1 x CPU installation tool
1 x Supporting DVD
1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n compliant)
1 x Q-connector(s) (1 in 1)
1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
ROG Fan Label
1 x ROG Door Hanger(s)
1 x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm)
BIOS 1 x 128 Mb Flash ROM, UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI3.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 3.0, ACPI 5.0, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 3, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, F9 Quick Note, Last Modified log, F12 PrintScreen, F3 Shortcut functions and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information.
Manageability WfM2.0, DMI3.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc Drivers
ROG GameFirst technology
ROG RAMDisk
ROG RAMCache
ROG CPU-Z
ROG Mem TweakIt
Overwolf
ROG Keybot II
ROG Aura (Lighting Control)
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
ASUS WebStorage
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

September 9, 2016 | 10:25 AM - Posted by funandjam

It needs ground effects.

September 9, 2016 | 10:56 AM - Posted by Codo (not verified)

I have the V formula. I wouldn't buy again, no matter how much this seems to be upgraded. Poor build quality and I dont trust ASUS' software.

September 9, 2016 | 11:20 AM - Posted by Christopher D Knoll (not verified)

$400 for a motherboard??? no thanks

September 9, 2016 | 12:34 PM - Posted by ahmed_djent (not verified)

Just completed a build for a customer and he was very satisfied with the performance and aesthetics of the MB especially the Aura. Personally i'm a fan of Asus products even though software sometimes buggy and all but overall good.

September 9, 2016 | 04:19 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I've had this board for a few months and I will probably never buy another "gaming" motherboard again. Here are my impressions:
- The included software is lackluster and clunky. All of it has a "tacked-on" feel. Fan Xpert is all I ever really use.
- The onboard audio is really not very good (I ended up using the optical output to connect to an external DAC).
- Overclocking performance (6700k on custom water with Dominator Platinum RAM) hasn't been terrible, but also hasn't been great. The silicon lottery strikes again, perhaps.
- Overall system stability was not very good at first, though it seems much better after the last couple of UEFI updates. Kudos to ASUS for the continued support.
- The onboard LED lighting is not very even at all. The armor does look super nice, though.
- The start-up status LEDs are covered by the 24-pin power supply cable and thus unreadable.
- No Thunderbolt? At this price point?

Honestly, my next build will probably be based around a workstation board. Going into the purchase, I was expecting the gaming features to be useful. Not really.

September 20, 2016 | 07:09 PM - Posted by Dr_b_

Agree with the AISuite software, the only really useful feature that works is the fanxpert, but this can all be set in UEFI. AISuite is buggy, support on it is very bad. some features dont work well, and had issues with anniversary update and compatibility. It also pings IP addresses in taiwan, probably update feature.

Agree with onboard audio, its "OK" but dedicated sound card to same crappy speakers, you can hear the difference, big time

Had the previous gen formula, no stability issues, but didnt overclock much with it, had it on water as well

Agree that Asus does a great job with keeping UEFI updates for their products

Their workstation motherboards are less gimmicky, and there really isnt a performance delta at all

September 29, 2016 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Even FanXpert is rather spotty sometimes. What I'd REALLY love to see is the CPU/VRM/PCH sensor voltages tied directly to headers so that you could skip all the flaky software altogether!

If there's not a performance delta between the gaming boards and the workstation boards, I wonder if there's a stability/longevity delta. If not, the extra cost of the workstation parts might not be justifiable.

Maybe the Sabertooth boards are a good compromise between the gaming and workstation lines?

September 9, 2016 | 04:49 PM - Posted by Argent

Couple general questions about your motherboard tests.
1. How do you go about testing the audio?
2. Do you test the board to see if the claims of the PCB isolation are true?
3. Are all the ports checked to see if they were grounded properly?
4. What amount of noise do you normally see on a board?

Thanks.

September 9, 2016 | 09:10 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

audio testing is done using a 5.1 speaker system and headphones with MP3 tracks through Media Player for output tests and the headphone microphone for input tests. Testing is normally done using the ports integrated in to the rear panel.

September 10, 2016 | 05:00 PM - Posted by Argent

Thanks for the reply. I wanted to check to see if Pcper had any other way of validating the manufacturers claims after I recently discovered that ASRock had a defect in at least one of their board designs from a few years ago.

September 11, 2016 | 10:56 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

For most users (gamers and otherwise), the integrated sound stuff is good enough or better. For the super audio-philes though, probably should go the add-in PCIe card route...

September 14, 2016 | 01:04 AM - Posted by Argent

Sure, if someone wants higher fidelity audio a sound card or external DAC is always an option. However, as you said, if the motherboard manufacturers have done things right, the onboard sound should be good enough for the average user. When things aren't done right, manufacturers end up with problems like noise on the ground because they cut corners and don't have any tests in place to catch these problems.

This was the case with ASRock, and why I'm looking into how much scrutiny reviewers give onboard audio.

September 11, 2016 | 09:05 PM - Posted by ApoC (not verified)

$360 uhhhh no thank you

September 12, 2016 | 09:29 AM - Posted by patty cakes (not verified)

I like Asus MoBos but the current one I have the is IV Gene with z68 chipset. The thermal sensors that FanXpert uses were terrible. Way off the mark. I use HWMonitor to check temps and the UEFI's fan profiles to set fan speed.

My question is this: Do the latest Asus boards use the more accurate temp sensors nowadays or the same old outdated ones like on my board?

September 12, 2016 | 10:31 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Who pays 400 dollars for an AMD motherboard right now? Why?

September 12, 2016 | 10:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Intel*

September 15, 2016 | 04:10 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The same people who buy any overpriced sh!t made by Foxconn thanks to marketing pro from Apple.

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