Review: Asus ROG Z170 Maximus 8 Formula motherboard
Ah, the motherboard. For some reason I find that this is the most overlooked component when it comes to a new PC. Once the RAM, CPU and GPU have been selected, people tend to ignore the place that these components call home.
Here is ASUS’ Maximus VIII Formula, a Z170 board built for those who like to push their machines on their own terms. The Formula allows for both watercooling and air-cooling solutions, thanks to a built-in Crosschill EK: a waterblock from EKWB. This is great for those looking at getting into custom watercooling loops, but who might want to run on air for a while before spending on the other fittings.
The biggest issue I had when installing an air-cooling system was that the header for the CPU fan is really close to the CPU, making for a bit of an awkward installation of larger radiators. The BIOS does offer bypasses for this, but if you like having your devices connected properly you need to connect the fan to the header mid-radiator install, otherwise it is just too cramped a space to really get your fingers in.
I normally shrug when someone mentions RGB colours and lighting. Sure once I had coloured LED chassis fans and a cold cathode tube installed in my PC, but I was 17. Now I am, wow nearly double that age and the lighting inside my PC is as minimal as possible. That being said, the lighting on this motherboard doesn’t look gaudy at all. The lights are under the shielding that covers most of the motherboard, giving a understated lighting effect.
In general I was really impressed with the motherboard. The build quality is good with sturdy parts and a rigorous start up. Buttons on the motherboard are easy to see and use, without being placed where they can be bumped by mistake.
Sadly I have no custom watercooling loop to use for testing a board like this, which is where the real test data and analysis of the product would be done. Hopefully I can get someone who uses water and LN2 to test the board and give some numbers, but it seemed, from my tests, to be ready for anyone who wants to do a little more with their overclocks than hit a single button in an app.
If you are looking for something that can handle multi-GPU, and has all the extra bits like AC Wifi, shielding, good audio and the like, you don’t need to go to the Extreme to tick all those boxes and come out happy.
* Asus ROG series Z170 Maximus 8 (Viii) Formula
* All-in-one LGA1151(Skylake)
* With ROG ARMOR solid steel plate + CrossChill EK for air or liquid cooling
* Three-way RGB illumination, Aura 4-pin RGB-strip header & lighting control
* Dual intelligent processors5 ( for TPU+ EPU+ DiGi+ FanExpert3 )
* With 5-Way Optimization + 5X protection DiGi+ VRM digital power design + OCP + ESD guard
* 10K Black Metallic capacitors
* Stainless steel back I/O port
* BlueTooth + WiFi-Go , Q-code debug display
* Multi-color LED display on ROG logo heatsink + header for standard 5050 RGB LED strips
* ROG RAMDisk ( 10x faster than SSD )
* Sonic Radar II + GameFirst III intel LAN
* KeyBot II ( assign function/macro/shortcut to F1-F10 )
* TrueVolt 5V USB
* Dedicated ROG UEFi bios with SSD Secure Erase to recover lost performance
* DAEMON Tools Pro virtual discs (DVD/BD) utility
* Mem TweakIt + ROG CPU-Z + Mem!ok button
* USB BioS Flashback + DirectKey for direct BIOS access
* With FBT+ SRT+ SCT+ RRT+ SBA+ Rapid Storage + Rapid Start Technology
* Intel Z170 chipset
* 4x dual channel DDR4-3733(O.C)/2133 with XMP support upto 32GB
* 8x SATA6G ( 2x 10Gb/sec SATA-express ) + 1x U.2 ( 2.5″ NVMe )
* 32Gb/sec M.2/NGFF type22110 ( PCIe or SATA mode ) SSD socket with raid 0/1//0+1/5/10
* On-board dual-display VGA with dual-output ( DP + HDMi )
* SupremeFX-2015 DTS 7.1 audio
* With ESS ES9023P DAC + 2VRMS headphone output + NEC de-pop relay
* Dedicated clock gold-plated connectors + optical s/pdif out + Sonic SoundStage button
* Intel 219V gigabit lan
* 2.4/5GHz dual band 802.11AC 1300Mbps WiFi with 2T2R antenna
* 3x pci-e(1x) , 3x pci-e 3.0(16x) for Quad-GPU SLi/CrossfireX
* With 2x USB3.1 ( type-A + type-C + 6x USB3.0 , USB3.0 with UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol)
* With Thunderbolt2 header
* 1x PS2
* 3 Year warranty