A Closer Look
The ROG Maximus IX Apex is quite striking. The unique X-shaped PCB is quite unique in the PC world, but it does follow the ATX standard in the EATX format. The Striking airplane inspired heatsinks stand-out with their heavy bolted down looking design. The memory slots make look the most off here, Three of them? Not quite, there are two standard DDR4 slots in an optimized one-slot-per-channel setup, and the black slot by itself is where the new Dimm.2 module connects providing your M.2 drives a convenient place to catch a breeze.
The rear of the board has a fair amount going on with many of the important headers silkscreened with a label on the rear. More than a few components of the VRM also find themselves hanging out back here. Small LED’s surround the cutout sections of the board.
Rear I/O is comprised of a CMOS reset and USB BIOS Flashback buttons sitting next to dedicated PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse both. Integrated GPU solutions can output to Display Port 1.2 and/or HDMI 1.4b connections on the rear. USB is plentiful with six USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.1 ports, one of which is a Type-C reversible connector. Audio is in the standard 8 channel configuration with gold plated jacks and an optical output. I would have liked to have seen a pair of USB 2.0 ports, as well as USB 3.0+ ports, often get disabled during overclocking record attempts, but the PS/2 ports are a better option for that anyway.
The top of the board is dominated by the large VRM heatsink covering a 10-phase VRM solution. Intel’s LGA 1151 socket sits square in the middle and the DDR4 and Dimm.2 slots to the right. A pile of OC controls sits in the top front corner of the board.
PCIe expansion is handled with four PCIe X16 slots, and a pair of PCIe x1 slots. Between the 2nd and 3rd PCIe x16 slot sits an area you can install one of the included covers similar to the one under the CPU that says “Republic of Gamers”. The lights are off by default, but you can use one of the LED enable jumpers to kick them on. Absent are M.2 slots as both M.2 sockets are routed to the M.2 daughterboard above.
Buttons and switches galore! All of the APEX’s controls are on this corner mostly, form the large power (start) button, reset, white retry button, red Safe Boot button, PCIe slot disable switches, to the Slow Mode and Pause Switches.
ASUS’s Mem OK! The button is down near the EZ Plug, and a whole smorgasbord of Voltage checkpoints are near the main 24-pin power connection. The Q-LED indicators are in the very corner near the 2-digit Q-code diagnostic readout, and new condensation detection lights are a bit lower.
The bottom edge of the board has the front panel audio header, a full speed only fan header, RGB connection, and TPM header.
The other side of the lower cutout has a pair of USB 2.0 headers, the ROG Extension connection, a 4-pin fan header, BIOS switch, and front panel I/O connections. Above these is the Speaker connection for diagnostic beeps, a high powered fan header for water pumps, a pair of temp probe connections and a water flow meter connection. Just below the SATA ports are some jumpers to hardware enable or disable the various LED lighting zones.
Going up the front of the board are a quartet of SATA ports, the missing 2 from normal are routed to the Dimm.2 Module, and a front panel USB 3.0 header.
The top of the board beyond what we already covered only has the pair of 8-pin CPU power connections, a full speed only fan header, and a normal 4-pin fan header.
The VRM heatsink wraps around 2 sides of the socket.
The lower heatsink angles right into the VRM heatsink.
Once power is applied, the board lights up in a rainbow of RGB lighting, even before you turn it on. All of the cutouts along the edges of the board glow, as does the ROG badge in the center, as well as the ROG eye on the chipset heatsink.
The cutout lighting is provided by over 2 dozen RGB LEDs.
The new Dimm.2 Module holds up to two M.2 Drives in either PCIe or SATA flavors, one on each side. There are RGB LED’s on the module that can be disabled with the jumpers, and thermal probes can be connected.
Be careful to install the Dimm.2 modules in only the black Dimm.2 sockets. The modules CAN be inserted into the DIMM slots, but the locking mechanism will not allow them to fasten down correctly in case you were wondering. We had to try (with the power off of course)!