A Closer Look
While aesthetics and ports have changed, the ATX layout really hasn’t in the almost quarter-century it been around and ASUS’s ROG Maximus XI Formula follows along faithfully. All of the major components are right where you expect them to be. The mirrored area’s light up similar to how last year’s ROG Rampage VI Extreme did.
ASUS covers up most of the board making the PCB itself only visible around the CPU socket and along a few edges of the board. The LGA 1151 sits mostly in the middle of the top with 4 DDR4 DIMM slots to the right. In the Formula fashion, the VRM heatsink is mostly replaced with an integrated water block system designed by the cooling experts at EK Water Blocks. The ROG armor goes over this and almost everything else.
The bottom half of the board is mostly I/O slots with a pair of armored PCIe x16, a normal PCIe x16 (x4 electrical), and a PCIe x1 slot. Under the cover on the bottom hides a pair of M.2 ports. The very edge of the board is not covered due to the plethora of headers, ports, buttons, and switches ASUS has used here.
Not much can be seen of the back of the board, it is mostly covered by ASUS backplate. It does have quite a bit of attractive design so hopefully, you have a case that shows it off to some extent. There is a large cutout for cooler backplates if needed.
The Rear I/O area has an integrated shield and includes the usual ROG oriented features such as BIOS flashback and Clear CMOS buttons. An Intel-powered gigabit Ethernet port and Aquantia 5Gbe port sits over four USB 3.1 gen2 ports and next to six USB 3.0 ports in blue. An HDMI port is included for utilizing graphics options built into most compatible CPU’s. Dual WiFi antenna connections, 8-channel audio, and an optical audio output port round out the rear I/O.
The edges of the board are very busy and packed with connectivity. The bottom left edge has two RGB headers, an analog version, and a digital /addressable version. Your typical front panel audio headers are here along with two 4-pin fan headers, one of which is high powered for pumps, the retry and button, the new NODE header and a pair of USB 2.0 front panel headers.
Towards the front is the MemOK! switch, the CMOS battery, a USB 3.0 header and the usual front panel I/O connections.
Going up the front edge, you have the speaker connection for POST code beeps and similar, fan extension header, water in and out temp probe headers, another 4-pin fan header, six SATA 6Gbps ports, a front panel USB 3.0 header, and front USB 3.1 header.
The edge of the chipset cover lights up and shows the SATA and USB header labels.
On up from there we find the main 24-pin power with diagnostic LED’s next to it. The built-in power and reset buttons and 2-digit readout occupies the top right corner. With an RGB header and 4-pin fan header.
The top edge of the board doesn’t have much to see, only a fan header and the 8-pin EPS connection for CPU power.
Two screws hold the M.2 heatsink and cover down. The M.2 below can support up to 110mm drives in the left slot and up to 80mm in the right slot. The cover itself has a pre-installed thermal pad to help remove heat from high-performance M.2 drives for maximum performance without all that pesky thermal throttling business.