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ASUS Maximus VI Formula Motherboard Review

Overview of the ASUS Maximus VI Formula

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The packaging is ROG styled with the opening flap allowing a peep into the board itself and inside the flap comes some key details.

The rear offers a look at more detailed spec info along with an outline of the IO inputs you get with the  board. This is standard ROG packaging all the way, but now lets see what is inside that is what ultimately counts.

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Here we see the complete accessories included.
  • SATA Cables
  • WiFi Dual in one Antennae
  • Qconnect front panel connectors
  • IO Shield
  • SLI Ribbon Cable
  • ROG Door Hanger
  • Cable labeling Stickers
  • Installation disc
  • Owners Manual
  • Wifi/BT 4.0 combo card with mSATA(NGFF) Port

The accessories here are plentiful and offer lots of ways to connect wired and wireless.

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Here we see the actual layout of the board. The Armor in place blocks board components from view but overall you get a good idea of what you are dealing with as the connectors are exposed along with slots and all of those goodies. you can see that even the PCIe supplemental power connector is right angled at the bottom edge to offer good cable management and most every connector is placed at board edge for convenient cable routing and hiding for a clean and efficient board installation without the stray cable stealing the show.

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Looking at the IO it as well as the board is stuffed quite well with features.
  • mPCIe/mSATA combo card connector
  • USB BIOS Flashback Button
  • ROG Connect button
  • 4x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Intel Gigabit (10/100/1000) LAN Port
  • 6x USB 3.0 ports (4x Asmedia, 2x Intel Z87)
  • Optical S/PDIF Port
  • HDMI Connector
  • Displayport Connector
  • Intel Gigabit (10/100/1000) LAN Port
  • 8 channel SupremeFX powered audio connections

As you can see here there is plenty of connectivity here and the addition of WiFi capability along with plenty of USB 3.0 ports makes high speed connectivity a easy luxury, and I do like that two versative digital display options are available to fit pretty much any type of display with the option of using adapters for DVI or VGA.

 

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This board supports dual triple slot or dual slot GPUs which means that even with much thicker triple slot cards space was put in place for this. However as more common dual slot cards are used this gives you a sizable air gap to allow for much cooler running cards under heavy gaming loads. Also a 3rd slot running at PCIe Gen 2 speeds from the PCH allows for HBA or other add in cards for  a more complete gaming rig as needed based on your specific needs.
The memory interface uses T-Topology V2 as ASUS was the first to introduce the T-Topology memory trace layout design they improved it further for not only single DIMM but even Multi DIMM performance for up to 5% better performance under fully loaded scenarios. This goes back to what I said during Z77 and the new T-Topology at the time as we all knew Haswell was coming and with it extreme memory capabilities so ASUS simply used the memory performance of the Ivy Bridge components as a test bed to fine tune the trace layout for the upcoming and now here HJaswell lineup which now uses the optimized T-Topology V2. This is a more efficient trace layouyt design which overall help with optimized signaling for the memory and better overall performance from the system.
The SATA interface is 10 ports all capable of up to SATA 6G speeds, the primary being the Intel Z87 PCH supporting 6 full speed ports and also there are four more ports fed by ASMedia ASM1061 controller which cannot raid or communicate with the Z87 PCH ports so these would be for a standalone storage setup.

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The VRM uses a 8+4 pin CPU ATX power connectors to ensure plenty of power is available even under the most strenuous loads or heavy overclocks the board may see.
The VRM employs the new Extreme Engine Digi+ III components which we discussed before but as you can see it utilizes specially selected components to feed your critical components. First up and the most visible change   would be the BlackWing Chokes which have a very unique finned design. Also the black color caps make them much less noticeable when placed on the black PCB and the NexFET MOSFETs which are rated at over 90% efficiency during normal loading which means better power efficiency and less thermal dump.

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Here is the upper overclocker corner and much like the Maximus VI Extreme it is much cleaner as alot of the extreme overclocking tools has been moved to the accessory OC Panel tool which allows for more focused components on the main board PCB. Up top you find the MemOK button along with lighted power and Reset buttons and lets not forget the two digit LCD poster. Also here is a inconspicuous jumper taht is not labeled and I can only assume it is a LN2 jumper but I have not really had time to play with it yet as I like to ensure everything else is tested before I flip something that can disable protections on my chip and cause all kinds of issues very fast. Or even worse if it happens to be a debug jumper and causes some other kind of weird issues.
The lower left hand edge houses the audio solution which on the Formula is the newest SupremeFX solution which is in place to offer very high end audio solution including choice audio capacitors and components to ensure it meets the enthusiasts gamers needs.
The bottom edge of the board is what takes the Formula to the extreme with the ROG EXT header designed to allow the OC Panel to be plugged directly into the board and full OCPanel functionality including SubZero Sense and VGA hotwire functionality from the Formula board. This is a major plus as previously you had to have the extreme board to get such functionality, but now with the introduction of the OC Panel and ROG board on the 8 series can run these features with the separate purchase of the OC Panel.
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Here is what I promised the breakdown of the ROG Armor. as you can see there are multiple mounting points so the fact that this backplate assembly helps keep the board stiffened and avoids flexing definitely is a reasonable assumption. Upon holding the backplate it is a bulky piece for sure and does NOT bend so once mounted to the board it does make for a strong and HEAVY unit.
As you can see the backplate does indeed have thermal pads in place and they actually do take heat into the backplate from the VRM components on the rear of the board so the backplate works as a huge stiffening heatspreader.
the whole assembly after being pulled apart is laid out so you can get a scale of exactly the size of all fo this Armor and the fact that it truly does cover the entire board pretty much front and back and even offer some cool capabilities though the biggest I would say would be the stiffening of the board.
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Here you see the new VRM or CrossChill cooler which works perfectly well passive but if you want that extra cooling capability as you can see you can install liquid cooling fittings and have your VRM under water.
The internals as you can see are coated well so any concerns of material contamination I think can be put to rest but just to be safe I woudl run a anti corrosion additive as I have had fitting strip away their coating and cause corrosion issues so I always try to play it safe.

Software Overview

AISuiteIII

ASUS has completely redesigned the AISuite Software with the AISuite III software. A completely new user interface is now available and with that comes a much smoother function.

Overall the AISuite III software has been completely reworked for a cleaner looking interface. As you can see there is alot more information available in each section as the upper screen gives you the controls of the section you are in and the bottom area can be tabbed through and has a load of different monitoring areas to cycle through and help you see exactly how your board is behaving in real time. Also this is a significant change so it may take you a few minutes to figure out where everything is at but in the end it is quite easy once you get the hang of it as the system has changed from a selector bar or taskbar driven software to a larger screen driven software.

Mem TweakIt

 

 Mem TweakIt is a great program for extreme overclockers or tweakers as it allows real time adjustment and tweaking of the memory for the system which can make the difference between a high point run and a world record run.

TurboV Core

 Turbo VCore is a super lite program made for quick and easy board tuning within the OS. We have seen many companies starting to realize that their included software is a bit too much or a bit too heavy for users who need a super light easy to load program that also loads quickly as being on the ragged edge overclocking you cannot wait for a huge program to load just to make a quick change.

The Turbo VCore program is just this and it fits the bill nicely as it loads very fast and load or overhead on the system is very small which is exactly what you need when running in such extreme conditions.

BIOS Overview

 

The BIOS of the ASUS Z87′s still carries the same fluidity that the Z77 and Z68′s carried as ASUS has done very well on the overall UEFU/I code which means the only think they have really needed to add was updates based on features or tuning of the board. Well all of that aside ASUS did add some very interesting features which we think will help some users especially those who like to tweak their boards and try to squeeze a bit more performance from them. The ability to  take notes within the BIOS is very cool although I am old school and always keep pen and paper near by, we guess you could call this a “Green” alternative as you take notes on adjustments, although I would still keep a paper backup of any notes or at least a screenshot (F12) of the notes before flashing the BIOS as a bios update that goes deep enough could clear those notes and they would be gone forever.

Another neat feature would be the Last modified section which basically just logs any changes you made in the BIOS so that if you run into an issue you can go back and look at what your changes were all dated and with a timestamp so that you can revert changes and test again without starting over. This is a interesting feature and I am not saying everyone will use it but well for the target audience of this board (Extreme enthusiasts and overclockers) we think it could ultimately be very useful.

Another cool addition is the my favorites page which allows you to earmark certain settings within the bios to be placed on this page where you can go to and have access to your most commonly used settings without having to go through all of the other settings as there are quite a lot on this board.

As we have seen before the BIOS has a huge amount of memory presets for the optimal tuning pre-configured form the ROG engineers so that when overclocking you can get the absolute best or at least a great starting point on tuning your memory.

 

Overview of the ASUS Maximus VI Formula   Click Image For a Larger One The packaging is ROG styled with the opening flap allowing a peep into the board itself and inside the flap comes some key details. The rear offers a look at more detailed spec info along with an outline of the IO ...

Review Overview

Performance - 9
Value - 9
Quality - 10
Features - 9.5
Innovation - 10

9.5

Summary : The Maximus VI Formula comes jam packed with loads of great gaming enhancing features which earns it a rightful spot in the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award Category.

10
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