Early Look: Asus Maximus III Formula

June 19, 2009 | 13:05

Tags: #3 #forumla #gamers #iii #maximus #mobo #motherboard #p55 #pics #pictures #republic #rog

Companies: #asus #intel

Tweaking IT like an F1 race engineer!

With the latest Silicon Image chipset, Asus "Speeding HDD" has been upgraded to SATA 6Gbps for two ports at the very base - not the most useful of spots we'd argue, especially as Asus has not only kept the IDE port, but put it in a prime position on the edge as well. Asus still includes the EPU² chipset in the top corner, but again we'll argue that surely power saving is a conflict of interest on a "premium overclockers board"?

Nestled between P55 heatsink and PCI-Express slots are the iRoG overclocking chips and at the very bottom are the lovely contoured power and reset buttons for bench testers. There's a backlit clear CMOS button, although we can't find the usual switch to turn this on and off, to prevent accidental presses when reaching around the back of a case to plug in USB devices, and in addition there's the usual desktop POST display pin-out as well.

Up the top, the 8-pin CPU EPS12V power socket and 24-pin ATX sockets are well placed around the edge, although Asus doesn't feel the need to go down EVGA's extreme route and include two 8-pin connectors.

Early Look: Asus Maximus III Formula Tweaking IT like an F1 race engineer! Early Look: Asus Maximus III Formula Tweaking IT like an F1 race engineer!
Click to enlarge

USB 3.0 also fails to make an appearance here too, although it is included on the latest Premium X58 Asus board, and the rear I/O looks somewhat normal with just one RJ45 Ethernet socket with Gigabit Ethernet, a single eSATA port (coming from a better Marvell chipset, compared to JMicron, that also supplies the IDE), eight USB 2.0, PS2 keyboard and two 6-pin Firewire sockets.

You'll notice the other button too - this is the brand new RoG Connect button. This is basically a patented application for connecting to a PC using another to directly access the BIOS over USB, like a race engineer plugging a notebook into an F1 car. It uses a direct channel to the iRoG chip for real-time hardware overclocking and system status updates - yes it's yet another way to access the TweakIT function, if the OC Palm, the OC Station and keyboard shortcuts weren't already enough!

Early Look: Asus Maximus III Formula Tweaking IT like an F1 race engineer! Early Look: Asus Maximus III Formula Tweaking IT like an F1 race engineer!
Click to enlarge

The advantage of taking your netbook (for example) to tune it is that you'll have a full keyboard and larger display to see more data at once, as the likelihood is you'll not be using the note/netbook, or it'll be doing menial tasks when you're playing with your desktop anyway. We like this solution the best to be honest and very much agree with Asus' point of view for several reasons:
  • USB is a simple everyday connection
  • From our reader survey we know most of our readers have at least one notebook and one PC
  • Netbooks are cheap
  • It offers more functions to a device you already own - rather than buying the OC Palm of OC Station for a single function, which doesn't offer value for money
Overall we're not entirely sure about Asus' Republic of Gamer series now. It used to be the pinnacle motherboard for overclocking with premium features, and it still is in part but some of the features like IDE and the EPU² confuse us, while the central heatsink does nothing but get in the way of the PCI-Express x1 slot. It certainly looks the part, but a bit of bling has often been deceptive, and do we really, really need 19 phases for a Lynnfield CPU?

If this is an extreme overclocking motherboard, then where is the second 8-pin EPS12V connector? Having recently sat down for a chat with overclocking legend Shamino, who now works for EVGA, in the company's Taipei offices, he told us that under very extreme conditions the second connector can help spread the power density. Moreover, while we'd say it's crazy on any other motherboard, we think the Asus RoG series represents the same thing, or is there extreme overclocking and extreme overclocking?

So, in conclusion: IDE, EPU² and silly heatsinks are a bad way to pander to the mass market, but unique kit like RoG Connect could take this board to a new level of awesome!
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