The ASUS Maximus X Formula, for the most part, lives up to the reputation of the Formula model and high expectations of the Republic of Gamers brand. The Formula excels the most in the areas of styling and customisation where the unique ROG Armor and extensive lighting options give DIY system builders full flexibility.
The CPU VRM is increasingly important for high-end motherboards and the Maximus X Formula is strong in this area with a strong-performing hybrid air or water cooling heatsink as well as an 8+2 phase VRM solution using high quality components. The potency of that hardware VRM is partially let down by the inconsistency between the UEFI vCore settings and actual vCore behaviour within Windows under load, something we hope ASUS will take another look into.
Connectivity is a fairly typical of a mid-range motherboard with USB being well furnished for all standards (2.0, 3.0, 3.1), enough SATA and M.2 provisioned for most users’ needs and competent wired and wireless networking options. The ASUS ROG Strix Z370-E Gaming, for example, is just as well equipped in terms of USB, storage and networking as the Maximus X Formula at nearly half the cost.
Where the Maximus X Formula sets itself ahead of the competition is in its range of overclocking and diagnostic utilities including numerous buttons (power, reset, retry, safe, memOK, etc.), diagnostic LEDs and a code reader. The Formula also cements its niche as a tailored watercooling motherboard with an integrated CPU waterblock, eight fan headers, two of which can easily provision enough power to support high-end water pumps (up to 36-watts), and water flow sensors.
Some of the improvements on the Formula are more subtle such as a Digital to Analogue Converter (DAC) and a dedicated hardware IC to offer the ROG Keybot functions. Most motherboard vendors offer Keybot-equivalent functionality as software-only which lacks perks like being able to wake the system from S5 sleep and interact directly with the UEFI from the keyboard.
The innovative feature of the day is the integrated LiveDash OLED display that provides a novel way of visualising hardware monitoring parameters or custom images and animations, perfect for adding that finishing touch to any customised system build.
It is within those main areas – customisation, watercooling and overclocking/diagnostics – that the Maximus X Formula cements itself as a premium offering in a demanding but niche market segment.
However, its steep price and mid-range connectivity may well discourage a number of prospective buyers in favour of more affordable or “better connected” motherboard options. It is also worth noting that the Maximus X Code is virtually identical to the Maximus X Formula, minus the waterblock and LiveDash display, for those with a limited interest in configuring a watercooled system and on a tighter budget.
The ASUS Maximus X Formula has a retail price of £379.99 from Overclockers UK and is sold with a 3 year warranty as standard.
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- Stylish design
- Effective M.2 cooling and dual M.2
- Quality VRM implementation with CPU VRM waterblock
- Excellent audio system
- Abundant overclocking and diagnostic tools
- Extensive RGB and LED lighting options
- Dual USB 3.1 controllers and generally ample USB connectivity
- Plentiful fan headers with granular controls
- Innovative OLED “LiveDash” display
- Onboard WiFi and Bluetooth
- UEFI behaviour prevents specified vCore voltages being achieved under load
- Exuberant price tag
- Vertically positioned M.2 slot is awkward
- No dual or 5/10G LAN
- OLED “LiveDash” display is only monochrome
KitGuru says: The Maximus X Formula is a worthy foundation for custom and prestige builds involving watercooling.