New Intel Kaby Lake CPUs will work with most Z170 motherboards after a BIOS update. Resultantly, Z270 motherboards will have a hard time persuading existing Z170 owners to upgrade their motherboards. It will be owners of Z97 systems, released in 2014, or older who are the most likely to upgrade to the new Intel Z270 motherboards.
Despite the similarities between the Z270 and Z170 chipset and associated CPUs, motherboard vendors are focusing on ensuring their motherboards are as appealing as they can be. In this instance ASUS has made a significant number of improvements to the Maximus IX Formula, against the previous Maximus VIII Formula which was released only a year ago.
The new Maximus IX Formula takes up residence at the premium end of the motherboard market with an expected MSRP of £354, based on a leaked dealer price list. That price is a noticeable increase over the Maximus VIII Formula which launched at around £285 in January 2016, though that price did creep up towards the end of last year, to around £310, after the UK Pound depreciated because of Brexit.
Even with a wallet-lightening price to contend with the Maximus IX Formula has some tricks up its sleeves to get consumers excited. These include 3D Printing templates to enable advanced customisation options, a redesigned waterblock, improved watercooling features to help with flow and temperature monitoring and a sharp looking integrated rear I/O shield.
The front panel USB 3.1 header is an interesting move too, even if early adopters of this motherboard may have to wait some time to see cases trickle through to market which support it. ASUS could accelerate this process with an upgrade kit and by working with more case vendors than just Lian Li and InWin.
Many other aspects of the Maximus IX Formula deserve praise such as the intuitive and stable UEFI, excellent granular fan controls, solid all-round performance and extensive companion software, though the same praise applies to most other ASUS ROG motherboards, including those from the previous Z170 generation.
Despite all the positives of the Maximus IX Formula its high price point means prospective buyers should carefully consider whether they really need the Maximus IX Formula or if they would be better served by a Republic of Gamers motherboard lower down the ROG hierarchy.
It seems as if ASUS has already catered to this eventuality with the Maximus IX Code which is effectively the Maximus IX Formula, minus the EK waterblock for the CPU VRM and integrated I/O shield. The Maximus IX Code will cost £307, according to the same leaked dealer price list, making it a good bit cheaper for those buyers who will be using a closed-loop cooler, like a Corsair H100i v2, rather than a full-fat water cooling setup.
The ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula is available for £349.99 at Overclockers UK.
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- Stylish and customisable aesthetic – RGB and 3D Printing
- Extensive software suite
- Capable UEFI with sensible automatic voltages and LLC behaviour
- Novel integrated rear I/O shield
- Watercooling innovations
- Numerous onboard buttons and switches
- Excellent number of 3/4 pin fan headers with a high-level of control
- USB 3.1 front panel connection
- Improved audio system
- No RGB strips included
- M.2 slot has no measures to prevent thermal throttling
- Significant price jump over predecessor
- Less SATA ports than predecessor and no native U.2
KitGuru says: A watercooling-tailored motherboard with an innovative feature-set, the Maximus IX Formula is another well-executed Republic of Gamers product.