ASUS Formula motherboards have always stood apart from the rest of the solutions in the ROG Maximus series. Not inferior in their overclocking capabilities to the older products of the Extreme series, they have their own unique features. For example, a heat sink is installed on the power elements of the processor power converter in such models for connection to the water cooling circuit. Or a plastic body kit that completely covers the entire board, which TUF series solutions could also boast of earlier. Although, such covers have already started to be used on Maximus Core boards (and even Rampage Extreme, which has never happened before), which makes the water block on the VRM module now the only exclusive feature of the Maximus Formula series.
In addition, over the past few generations of ROG products, the red and black color scheme of motherboards has smoothly transitioned to graphite black, and now to completely black with mirror elements that hide the RGB backlight that is now fashionable. Fortunately, unlike competing solutions, ROG boards do not glow like a Christmas tree, but only emphasize the style of the device.
Based on the latest Intel Z390 chipset and timed to coincide with the release of the Core 9000 series processors, the Maximus XI Formula board is one of the latest solutions from the ROG series. Encased in plastic “armor”, it is still equipped with a water block on power elements, while receiving some changes compared to models of previous generations.
We will find out which ones exactly below, but for now I suggest that you familiarize yourself with the main characteristics of the product in question.
|Model||ASUS ROG Maximus XI Formula|
|Official product page on the Web||asus.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i9, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron (Coffee Lake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400-4400*(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0, x8+x8)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4/x2)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel UHD 610/630|
|Video connectors||HDMI 1.4b|
|Number of connected fans||7x 4pin, 1x 5pin (Extension Fan connector)|
|The port is USB||5 x 3.1 Gen2 (4 connectors on the rear panel (one C), Z390)
8 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, Z390)
4 x 2.0 (Z390)
2 x 3.1 Gen1 (2 connectors on ASMedia ASM1042A rear panel)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z390)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z390)|
|Built-in sound||SupremeFX (7.1, HDA):
Codec — S1220 (Realtek ALC1220)
DAC — ESS Sabre ES9023P
Op Amp — Texas Instruments RC4580
|Networking||Intel I219-V (Gigabit Ethernet)
Aquantia AQC-111C (5Gb Ethernet)
Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz (802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2×2 MU-MIMO), Bluetooth 5.0)
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||EK CrossChill III water block, ROG RGB Armor (including protected back panel), ROG Water Cooling Zone (support for flow sensor and temperature pair), LiveDash OLED, support for AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2-Way SLI, Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED), POST indicator, buttons: Start, Reset, ClrCMOS, MemOK! switch; technologies: Lighting Control Center (ROG Aura lighting system, including a pair of Aura RGB Strip Header and Aura Addressable Strip Header), USB BIOS Flashback and others|
|Retail price, $||535|
Packaging and equipment
Maximus XI Formula comes in a large box of a standard design for the ROG series, only the color accents in the design have finally shifted towards dark shades. The back of the package lists the main features of the board, with particular attention to the heatsink for M.2 drives, OLED indicator, built-in 5Gb networking, and the CrossChill EK III water block.
The delivery set is approximately the same as that of the previous model of the Maximus Formula series:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- separate sticker with the ROG logo;
- a set of stickers with various images of the ROG series;
- cup holder also with ROG logo;
- coupon with a discount for the procedure of braiding wires (rounding);
- thank you card for purchasing a ROG product;
- four SATA 6Gb / s cables, two of which have an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- two braided SATA 6Gb / s cables, one of which has an L-shaped connector at one end;
- extension cord for connecting a controlled LED strip;
- extension cable for connecting RGB LED strip;
- an adapter for convenient connection of ASUS Q-Connector case connectors;
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI;
- remote antenna with the possibility of fixing only one position;
- adapter from interface USB 3.1 Gen1 to USB 2.0 for body cable.
Those who like to bring the system to mind on their own will be pleasantly surprised by the presence of two braided SATA cables, and they will only have to make the rounding of the loops from the power supply.
Appearance and functionality
As noted above, the design of the new Formula has changed, the board has become one-color. The plastic casing is now more strict, the number of edges on it is reduced to a minimum, but they still follow the direction of the lines located at an angle of 45 ° to each other. Mirror inserts emphasize the elegance of the device, and there is a feeling that the novelty is now designed for a more adult audience than past ROG extravagant solutions. Immediately striking is the absence of the middle mounting hole, which was replaced by an OLED display.
The layout of the elements has also undergone some changes. Compared to the Maximus X Formula, another four-pin processor power connector was added, a pair of PCI-E x1 was removed, one of which was replaced by an M.2 connector – previously it was vertical and required an additional metal rack to mount the drive. Part of the connectors for RGB tapes has moved to the top edge.
The protective plate on the reverse side now covers almost the entire board, only there is free space under the socket, while earlier it was also under the chipset.
The water block has become more massive and completely covers the chokes, now there are no additional ribs-slots that increase the heat dissipation area and improve ventilation of the near-socket space.
In addition to power transistors, it cools the inductors and the 5-gigabit network controller – each element uses its own thermal pads. For connection to the water cooling circuit, 1/4″ holes for fittings are provided, closed with plastic plugs.
If you do without CBO, then the heat dissipation area of such a radiator is not very large, since the top of the metal bar is covered with an acetal cover, which, in turn, is covered with the main casing. On the other hand, it copes well with its task – when overclocking the Core i7-9700K, the temperature of the radiator fin near the processor power connectors was about 50-60 ° C.
The processor CPU converter itself is made on the Digi + ASP1400CTB PWM controller, known to us from the available ASUS products discussed earlier. It controls 10 Vishay SiC639 (VRPower, aka DrMOS) power chips, consisting of a pair of field-effect transistors and a driver. Eight of these chips are designed to power the processor cores, two more are for the integrated GPU.
The reverse side of the board, in the area of power elements, is additionally cooled through thermal pads by a protective plate made of metal.
The heatsink for the Intel Z390 hub is an ordinary aluminum alloy plate with a small number of fins at the corners. Naturally, this cooler is hidden in the depths of the plastic casing.
Of the features that advanced users will appreciate, I note the presence of a POST indicator and Start / Reset buttons in the upper right corner of the board. In the same place, near the power connector of the motherboard, there are indicators for initializing devices during system startup. The DIMM slots in the place of the key are reinforced with a metal insert, thereby reminiscent of the Apex series solutions. In the same corner, you can find two combs (5- and 12-volt) for connecting RGB strips and connectors for two CPU cooler fans and one powerful propeller with a load current of up to 3 A. Near the socket, closer to the rear panel, there are another pair connectors – one for a case fan, and the second is already designed for a maintenance-free CBO pump.
On the bottom edge of the board, there was a place for one more connector for a case turntable and one for a full-fledged “dropsy” pump. Nearby are two RGB combs and a Retry_Button button, which allows you to get into UEFI with a problematic PC stratum after incorrect system settings. To the right is the Node connector for compatible equipment that can be controlled by the motherboard itself (for example, power supplies), and the MemOK! II, which replaced the button of the function of the same name, a little further – the contacts of an external thermosensor.
Another connector for the case fan is located right next to the SATA ports, and next to it are contacts for flow and liquid temperature sensors in the CBO. There is also a cable slot from the Fan Extension Card, which allows you to connect several additional fans and thermal sensors. Unfortunately, you will have to purchase this card yourself.
A separate discussion deserves a 2″ LiveDash OLED screen, capable of displaying not only the device initialization procedure at system startup, but also the processor temperature, and after setting it in the appropriate software, the CPU frequency, fan speed, pumps, etc.
You can go even further and in the same software choose to display a static image or even animation. There are ready-made options, but you can add your own. But when you install a large processor CO, all this beauty will disappear from your eyes, and in order to see it, you will have to switch to liquid cooling systems.
The backlight of the board does not irritate at all, the lines shimmering with all the colors of the rainbow will unobtrusively decorate the PC. The system start/reboot buttons, as well as the locations of the USB and SATA ports, are also highlighted. Glow modes and palette can be adjusted in the Aura utility.
True, why highlight the location of the connectors remained a mystery. Apparently, it’s so beautiful, because the LEDs do not even signal the connection of cables to a particular port. The last six pieces are SATA 6Gb / s and one USB 3.1 Gen1, located parallel to the board. Next to them, in a separate “armor” niche, there is another connector, USB 3.1 Gen2, which did not bother to hint at at least some kind of indication.
Continuing the topic of peripheral interfaces, let’s look at the bottom edge of the motherboard, where two regular USB 2.0 and another USB 3.1 Gen1 are installed. In a special recess of the plastic casing, you can place a pair of M.2 form factor drives with a maximum size of 2280 for one and 22110 for another connector, and if you install the largest SSD, then the second one can only be used in 2242 format. Both drives are eventually covered with a common aluminum a heatsink-plate on which thermal pads are pre-installed.
Installing a second M.2 connector between the last two PCI-E x16 and following the concept of the overall style of the device led to the fact that the board lost a couple of slots with one high-speed interface line. Now ROG Maximus XI Formula can offer the user two metal-reinforced PCI-E x16 connectors for installing video adapters, another of the same format, but completely plastic and with four lines from the Z390 hub for installing expansion cards, and one PCI-E x1. But when all SATA drives are connected, the PCI-E x16 chipset will have only two PCI Express lines active.
Taking into account the basically good sound part of the motherboard, this number of slots should be more than enough, especially if you install video cards with two or three-slot cooling systems, when you can’t install expansion cards in particular. The sound path of the novelty is based on a 7.1-channel Realtek ALC1220 codec using an ESS DAC and an operational amplifier manufactured by Texas Instruments. The audio part is separated from the main board by tracks etched in the textolite, and the codec is shielded, unlike the tenth version of Maximus Formula.
The remaining interfaces are already concentrated on the rear panel. These are six USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, four USB 3.1 Gen2, one of which is Type-C, HDMI, 1 and 5 Gb LAN ports, two antenna connectors, five audio connectors, S / PDIF, a UEFI reset button and button to activate USB BIOS Flashback technology.