Early Look: Asus Maximus III FormulaManufacturer: Asus
Asus' latest edition to its Republic of Gamer line of motherboards has popped its head above the clouds, in the form of the third revision of the Maximus. Having first launched on X38 with some dodgy mishmashed blue heatsinks
, the revised Maximus II Formula
on P45 was very much loved here at bit-tech
The P55-based Maximus III Formula is the newest model in the Republic of Gamers line and follows on from the Maximus II Formula quite closely in design. As we can see from the pictures, the red and black heatsinks make a welcome return.
The southbridge gets a nice fat heatsink, even though the P55 needs next to no cooling (we've seen it running without any cooling at all), and the MOSFET heatsinks surrounding the CPU socket are particularly low profile, with a fat, flat heatpipe circling two sides of the CPU socket into a larger central heatsink where the northbridge on other boards would traditionally be. In this case though, nothing is cooled underneath it - we expect some backlit bling to illuminate the RoG logo like usual.
The heatpipe doesn't cover the top heatsink, although both heatsinks can be unscrewed and replaced at the discretion of the end user. We'd probably expect to see the whole lot go if people do want to replace it to be honest - the central heatsink will do little but get in the way for more elaborate cooling setups.
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The four DDR3 DIMMs for dual channel memory get three phases of power regulation, while the CPU has an odd number at 19; although we've yet to confirm either is a "real" phase count. Instead of a single fat Fujitsu capacitor like on a few previous RoG boards (Rampage Extreme for example), Asus has gone for many, many
smaller capacitors to smooth out the current flow.
This is especially important considering the tax PCI-Express (including multi-GPU), a memory controller and four CPU cores could potentially have on the area. We can only anticipate what capacitors will be used, but we expect the usual 50k hr Fujitsu solid aluminium capped, like on previous RoG boards.
There's space for the Intel Braidwood NAND Flash socket under the memory slots - we expect the Maximus III Extreme based on P57 to have that, but its usefulness has yet to be determined. Since the two (P55 and P57) are socket compatible with only this feature differentiating them, it makes sense to have just one PCB design for each.
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Despite three PCI-Express slots, the two red ones are either a single x16 or dual x8 at PCIe 2.0 bandwidth and will be suitable for both SLI and CrossFire multi-GPU setups. With Intel continuing to be stingy on the P55, referred to as "ICH10.5R" by some motherboard manufacturers, with PCI-Express, the bottom slot is only an x4 and we expect will disable the two PCI-Express x1 slots above if used.
Of those PCI-Express x1 slots, the upper most one is both the most useful above the primary graphics slot, and also the most useless as it backs right into the central heatsink. In this respect, we see the central heatsink being removed - sod the heatpipe. Although, with that said, this slot will also be used by Asus' (supplied) add-in audio card, which we've no details on at all yet - we can only guess for similar support to the last: software X-Fi and an ADI chipset perhaps. Finally, two PCI slots still get squeezed between as well, making an impressive total of seven expansion slots.
See the above MemOK button? Well, Asus can't test every perceivable memory module kit out there and sometimes you can try a new kit six months down the line and it just won't boot. The MemOK function is Asus' proprietary way to force the board to try all sorts of different memory configurations to force a successful POST. It'll sit and cycle through for a while as it goes through a set of iterative steps, then finally should kick in with compatible settings - it's a welcome fail safe feature.