ASUS ROG Z270 Maximus IX Formula Motherboard Review: Page 4 of 9
Posted by Paul Malfy on Tuesday, January 3, 2017 - 12:00pm
A Closer Look
The Maximus IX Formula has RGB lighting in various different zones including over the IO, over the chipset, the PCIe x16 lanes, on the start and reset buttons and in the center of the board where the Republic of Gamers wording is located.
On the top you have the 4+4 CPU connection here on the right. To the left is a fan header labeled H_AMP. This is for a High Amperage Fan, which usually have better cooling capability.
The Maximus IX Formula comes with Intel’s all new Z270 chipset on their LGA 1151 Socket. The LGA 1151 socket not only supports the all new line up of 7th generation Core processors from Intel. It also supports the previous 6th generation Core processors. So if you have a 6700K, and love the look and feature set of this board, you can keep your CPU and still get some of the improvements that the Z270 chipset offers.
As mentioned before, there is RGB lighting on the chipset heatsink.
Intel’s Z270 chipset supports the same LGA 1151 socket that the Z170 chipset did. Making the 6th and 7th generation processors interchangeable with each chipset.
It goes with out saying the Maximus IX Formula is a gorgeous motherboard. Especially with the RGB lighting this board offers in a number of places. Some of these include the ROG logo in the middle of the board and on the chipset to name a few. The first thing that caught my eye is something exclusive to the new, higher tier boards from ASUS. That being the built in IO shield. Owners of the Rampage V Extreme Edition 10 will know what I’m talking about. The IO consists of a Clear CMOS button and a Bios Flash button. Nest you have the MU-MIMO Wifi, HDMI 1.4b and DisplayPort 1.2. Moving on we see 4 USB 2.0, 4 USB 3.0 and 2 USB 3.1. One of which is type A and the other type C. Above the USB 3.1 there is a Gigabit LAN. Lastly, you have an SPDIF optical connection and 5, 3.5mm audio jacks for headphones and or surround sound.
The pre-installed IO shield was a long time coming and looks great.
As you see in this picture, the built-in IO shield looks great installed in a case. It sits flush with the outside of the case and just looks so natural.
The IO cover and CrossChill II have the Maximus IX Formula product branding inscribed on them.
The built in CrossChill II water block on the power delivery was developed in collaboration with EK Waterblocks. Its uses standard G ¼ fittings.
The next feature to really jump out at me was the built in CrossChill EK II water block from EK. The Maximus IX Formula has a water block built in to keep the 8+2+2 Phase Digital power design that features 10K black metallic capacitors, MicroFine Alloy Chokes, NexFET PW Power block MOSFET and DIGI+ Power Control Utility cool, even during extreme overclocking. The CrossChill II was developed in collaboration with EK Waterblocks. This newly system features a new, thin fin design to increase water flow and contact surface area. This allows for up to 4°c decrease in temperature over the previous design. The board also has dedicated headers for water cooling setups that can provide water flow sensor and temp sensor. The block uses the standard G ¼ fittings.
The 4 DIMM slots support up to 64GB of 288 pin DDR4 4000 MHZ, or 4133 MHz overclocked.
The armor surrounding the expansion slots help to reinforce the slots.
The Maximus IX Formula features four DDR4 DIMM slots that can support up to 64 GB of memory with amazing speeds of up to 4133 MHZ (O.C+). Expansion slots on the motherboard include three 2 x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots (supports x16 or x8/x8), 1 x PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot (max at x4 mode), 3 x PCI-E 3.0 x1 slots and dual M.2 Socket 3 Type M (PCIe 3.0 x4 + SATA). The expansion slots are covered by the boards armor that reinforces the slot for durability and extra strength. This, in theory, help to prevent graphics cards from sagging.
The top right corner of the board has the post code display, the start and reset buttons. These buttons are RGB back lit.
After the start and reset buttons are the 20+4 pin connector, Front USB 3.1 header and Front USB 3.0 header. I love the addition of the front USB 3.1 header.
The Maximus IX Formula can support up to 6 SATA 6 Gb/s devices.
This board also has headers for both flow and temperature sensors for a water cooling loop. It also has a dedicated PWM header for a pump. Below the top fan header are the LN2 Jumpers to enable and disable LN2 mode.
On the opposite side of the board, starting at the top, you first see the post code display. The codes can all be found in the user manual. Below that are the power and reset buttons, both are illuminated by RGB LEDs. As we make our way down the board, we see the standard 20+4 pin connector for the power supply connection. The nest feature isn’t standard, but I hope it becomes standard in the future. That being the front USB 3.1 header which is located next to the from USB 3.0 header. Right next to the front USB 3.0 header are 6, SATA 6 ports. Lastly are a single fan header, LN2 mode Jumper, temperature and flow sensor header for liquid cooling systems, speaker header, and the front panel headers.
The first of the boards M.2 slots are located under the armor, below the chipset. It supports PCI3 3.0 x4 M Key designed, type 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110 PCIe storage devices, as well as SATA storage devices. When is SATA mode, the SATA 6 Gb/s port one is disabled.
To access the first M.2 slot, remove this screw just above the bottom expansion slot.
This entire armor segment is removed to access the first M.2 slot. However, be careful, the long skinny piece felt fragile when removing.
This adapter is included to make use of the second M.2 slot which only supports PCIe 3.0 x4 M Key designed, type 2242, 2260, and 2280 PCIe storage devices.
When its first installed, a message will pop up upon booting recommending you to set this port to x4 in the BIOS to improve performance.
Next to the second M.2, from right to left, there is another fan header, the slow mode button, a USB 2.0 header, and a connection for the ROG OC panel.
There is a Memory OK button, Safe Boot and Retry buttons next to the headers for the OC Panel. Next to the buttons is a header for the TPM, or Trusted Platform Module connector. This is a system that allows you to store passwords, product keys and other secure data.
The last few headers on the bottom of the board are another fan header, an RGB header and the HB Audio header.
Along the bottom, from right to left, we first see a second M.2 socket. This M.2 Socket 3 port supports PCI3 3.0 x4 M Key designed, type 2242, 2260, and 2280 PCIe storage devices. The first M.2 is located below the chipset, a little to the left, under the armor. This M.2 Socket 3 port supports PCI3 3.0 x4 M Key designed, type 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110 PCIe storage devices, as well as SATA storage devices. Just to the left of the second M.2 post is another fan header. Next, we see the Slow Mode button. Before flipping this switch to on, you must first enable LN2 mode. The Slow mode instantly drops the processor frequency down while you increase or decrease the temperature of the system. It’s designed for use in extreme overclocking. Going down the board we have the ROG extension kit for the OC panel, the Memory OK, safe boot, and retry buttons, front USB 2.0 headers, and the TPM, or Trusted Platform Module connector. This is a system that allows you to store passwords, product keys and other secure data. The bottom row also includes one of 2 RGB headers. The other is located to the left of the DIMM slots. There are also 2 LED strip connections on the Maximus IX Formula. The RGB lighting can be controlled using the AURA Lighting software. This can be downloaded from the Asus support page. In the AURA software, you can set the lighting on the board, on you ASUS Graphics Card as well as any Aura certified RGB lighting strips that are plugged into the RGB headers on the board. Using the AURA software, you can set the specific color and effect of the lighting. You can also set the speed and direction of the lighting effect. These are located just above the top PCIe x1 slot. The last port on the bottom of the board is the front panel HD Audio.
The Maximus IX Formula features SupremeFX S1220 8-channel CODEC for 7.1 surround sound.
The Maximus IX Formula has an 8+2+2 phase power delivery that can optionally be cooled by a built in water block, co-designed with EK Waterblocks.
The Maximus IX Formula, and all other Z270 chipset motherboards support both 6th and 7th generation Intel Core processors.
The entire front of the board is covered by a protective armor. It not only looks great, but it protects the board from damage.
The rear of the motherboard also has a protective armor.
Although it will be hidden most of its life, the armor on the back of the board also has the ROG logo.
As I mentioned before, the front of the board is covered by a protective armor. This is a great feature as it protects against water cooling leaks, scratches, shorts and any other unwanted damage. The back of the Maximus IX Formula is also covered by this same armor. This not only offers the same protection to the rear of the motherboard, but it also greatly improves the overall aesthetic of the board. It leaves the rear of the socket open. This allows heat to dissipate better. Near the bottom of the armor on the rear of the boar, you find the ROG logo. This also improves the look of the board.
I used Intel’s 7th Generation Core I7 7700K CPU overclocked at 5.0 GHz for all testing and benchmarking.
Skylake and Kaby Lake are interchangeable due to the LGA 1151 socket on the Maximus IX Formula.
Here is a shot of the RGB Lighting on the Maximus IX Formula and Asus Strix 1070 in effect.
This picture, courtesy of ASUS, shows off the RGB zones on the Maximus IX Formula. The motherboard has 2 RGB headers on the bottom of the board, and 2 LED strip headers near the top PCIe slot.