The Formula has a more "traditional" RoG layout compared to the Extreme and it's actually quite similar to the Blitz, except it's now lost the PCI-Express splitter chip (given to the Extreme) and now features a massive northbridge heatsink. Being the Special Edition (SE) version, ours has the Fusion watercooling block all in copper too which makes it all look pretty damn smart. Generally the layout is superb, although one set of blue USB pin-out does find itself in the middle of PCI-Express country.
The same Asus EPU we originally looked at and loved on the Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi AP@n
finds its way onto this board as well - we found not only does the auto-overclocking work efficiently but it also clocks down the CPU below the normal power threshold of Intel's EIST, reducing the power usage even further when idle.
PCI & PCI-Express
Asus has kitted the board out with a pair of PCI-Express x16 slots with Gen-2.0 support for double bandwidth and power for video cards like the GeForce 8800 GT and Radeon HD 3850 and 3870 that can use it (the standard is also backward compatible to every other x16 card ever made). There is also pair of PCI-Express x1 slots and a pair of legacy PCI slots, so even if you use a pair of dual height cards in CrossFire there's still at least one slot of each you can freely use.
There's no CrossFireX support on the board, but honestly, who really cares?
SATA and IDE
Six SATA 3Gbps ports are provided for your storage needs, but when it comes to external peripherals it seems Asus thinks Formula users are too cheap to afford expensive eSATA drives and will prefer far slower USB or Firewire instead. The Extreme gets eSATA, and so has every other Intel RoG board this year, so what makes the Formula so much different?
Since Asus is already making users suffer with a JMicron chipset for its IDE port, is that 4cm square of a heatsink on the rear I/O so absolutely necessary that we need to forgo eSATA support entirely? If you never use eSATA anyway then fair enough, it won't concern you, but for those that do, it probably will be something that puts you off this board.
The internal ports are angled at 90 degrees to the board for cable tidiness, and they also shouldn't get in the way of long graphics cards either.