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ASUS Maximus III Formula LGA1156 Motherboard Review‏

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MAC

Associate Review Editor
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ASUS Maximus III Formula
LGA1156 Motherboard Review‏





Manufacturer's Part Number: Maximus III Formula
Price: $265CDN+ Price Comparison
Manufacturer's Product Page: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Warranty: 3 year limited warranty (with 1st year advanced RMA service)



With the launch of the Intel Lynnfield LGA1156 processors and P55 chipset, motherboard manufacturers have been given a new opportunity to woo those who viewed the Bloomfield/X58 platform as too pricey. And boy have they stepped up to the plate with a wide range of offerings. From $110CDN to over $390CDN, there are P55 motherboards for every taste and budget with over three dozen models released and another dozen on the way.

With 11 different models available at the time of this writing, ASUS is obviously fully invested in this new platform, and they certainly aren't only aiming at the budget and mainstream crowd. They have seven models above $200CDN, one of which is the ASUS P7P55D Deluxe that we reviewed last month. It won us over with its rich features list, polished execution, and impressive overclocking capabilities.

Today, we are reviewing the Maximus III Formula, a Republic of Gamers model which has been designed for even greater overclocking feats. Established as the spearhead of ASUS' enthusiast arsenal, the Republic of Gamers series motherboards have historically been one step above the rest, so we are anxious to find out whether the MIIIF can truly distinguish itself from the pack. From a specifications standpoint, this model sports a new 16+3 phase power design, DDR3-2200 capable DDR3 memory slots, 2-way CrossFireX & SLI support, a SupremeFX X-Fi 8-channel HD audio card, onboard voltage read points, a new TurboV EVO real-time overclocking processor, and a jargon-rich list of features that are designed to help you in your overclocking endeavours.

At $265, it's certainly not a cheap motherboard, but given the healthy number of P55 models in the $200-270 range, there's obviously a demand for these higher-end models.

 
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MAC

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Specifications

Specifications



Intel's new P55 Express 'Ibex Peak' chipset is a true break from their traditional chipset design. Unlike all previous Intel chipsets which featured both a northbridge and a southbridge (eg. X58 Express + ICH10R), the P55 is a one-chip solution. As such, it has been given the new designation of Platform Controller Hub (PCH). When it comes to PCI-Express 2.0 connectivity things get a little complicated with this chipset since in the past, the northbridge supplied the graphics-related PCI-E lanes. However, Lynnfield processors feature an industry-first: an integrated PCI-E controller that supports 16 PCI-E 2.0 lanes supplying two mechanical PCI-E x16 slots. If only one graphics card is installed it will operate at the full electrical x16 speed, but if two graphics cards are installed the PCI-E lanes are divided between both PCI-E x16 slots and they will operate at x8 each. On motherboards with three mechanical PCI-E x16 slots, the first two slots will each operate at x8 while the third slot will operate at x4. How is this possible if we have already established that the integrated PCI-E controller only supports 16 PCI-E lanes? The additional 4 PCI-E lanes come from the P55 PCH itself, which can supply up to 8 PCI-E 1.0 lanes in total.

On the connectivity front, the P55 supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and 6 SATA II ports with Matrix Storage Technology. Naturally, it also supports Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) and Native Command Queuing (NCQ). The PCH also features one Gigabit LAN port and HD Audio Technology. The one omission is support for Intel's Trusted Execution Technology (TXT), formerly known as LaGrande, which provides hardware-level protection against malicious software.

The P55 PCH communicates to the processor via the Direct Media Interface (DMI), which is a 2 GB/s point-to-point connection, which is roughly equivalent to a PCI-E x4 1.0 link. By the way, the DMI is by no means new, it has long been used as the link between the northbridge and southbridge.

Much like the P45 Express and X58 Express chipsets, the P55 PCH is manufactured on the venerable 65nm process, and it has a low default voltage of 1.0V. As a result of this low voltage, and the simple fact that the P55 does not actually do much, it does run quite cool. Did we mention that it is also quite tiny? The P55's package size is just 27mm x 27mm, and the actual die is a minuscule 8mm x 8mm.


That's about all there is to know about the chipset itself, so let's move on to the motherboard itself. Despite being a mainstream platform, higher-end P55 motherboards like this ASUS model are definitely outfitted with just about anything you could want on a motherboard.


This motherboard's specifications list is impressive enough to go head-to-head against almost any X58 motherboard on the market right now, which says a lot about the faith ASUS has in this new platform.

Of particular interest to us though are the new 'Special' and 'Overclocking' features built-into this model, so let's check that out next.
 

MAC

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Features

Features




With the relocation of the memory controller and PCI-Express controller from the chipset to the CPU the performance differences between two competing P55 motherboards are now going to be infinitesimally small. As a result, manufacturer-specific features and overclocking capabilities are going to be the deciding factors when choosing between two similarly-priced P55 motherboards. ASUS is obviously aware of this reality, and since the Maximus III Formula is part of the exclusive Republic of Gamers product line, they have truly outfitted this model with quite a few interesting features.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these standout features:
<table align="center" bgcolor="#666666" cellpadding="5" cellspacing="1" width="90%"><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>ROG Connect</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features1.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />Monitor the status of your desktop PC and tweak its parameters in real-time via a notebook—just like a race car engineer—with ROG Connect. ROG Connect links your main system to a notebook through a USB cable, allowing you to view real-time POST code and hardware status readouts on your notebook, as well as make on-the-fly parameter adjustments at a purely hardware level.
</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>GameFirst</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features2.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />Low Internet latency allows you to frag more, and get fragged less. That´s why ROG has introduced GameFirst, a feature that manages the flow of traffic according to your needs so that you can still listen to online music, download and upload files, and engage in Internet chats without sacrificing the low ping times you need to pwn your opponents.</td></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>MemPerfect</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features3.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px;" />Why risk crippling your system with poorly tuned memory? Now, with ROG´s exclusive MemPerfect optimizing your memory performance is a simple matter of selecting the frequency you desire, and letting MemPerfect do the rest! MemPerfect quickly checks your memory settings for errors and automatically fixes them—ensuring system stability and maximum efficiency.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Speeding HDD</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features4.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px;" />Double your hard disk drive performance easily and affordably with Speeding HDD, a remarkable ROG feature that utilizes a dual channel design to enhance HDD transfer rates. Wait less, play more!</td></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>iROG</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features5.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />The iROG is a special IC which enables several ROG highlitghted functions that gives users full disposal of the motherboard at any stage! This design allows advanced user control and management to be processed purely at a hardware level. iROG greatly increases fun during overclocking for PC enthusiasts and it offers system maintainence and management with more control and efficiency.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>CPU Level Up</b></center><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features6.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />Ever wish that you could have a more expansive CPU? Upgrade your CPU at no additional cost with ROG´s CPU Level Up! Simply pick the processor you wanted to OC to, and the motherboard will do the rest! See the new CPU speed and enjoy that performance instantly. Overclocking is never as easy as this.</td></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>MemOK!</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features7.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px;" />Memory compatibility is among the top concerns when it comes to computer upgrades. Worry no more, MemOK! is the fastest memory booting solution today. This remarkable memory rescue tool requires nothing but a push of a button to patch memory issues and get your system up and running in no time. The technology is able to determine failsafe settings that can dramatically improve system booting success.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Extreme Tweaker</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features8.jpg" style="float: right; margin: 4px 0 0 5px;" />Extreme Tweakers is the one stop shop to fine-tune your system to optimal performance. No matter if you´re looking for frequency adjustment, over-voltage options, or memory timing settings, they´re all here!</td></tr><tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>ProbeIt</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features9.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />ProbeIt takes the guesswork out of locating the motherboard´s measurement points, identifying them clearly in the form of 5 sets of detection points so you´ll know exactly where to get quick yet accurate readings using a multitester.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Voltiminder LED</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features10.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />In the pursuit of extreme performance, overvoltage adjustment is critical but risky. Acting as the "red zone" of a tachometer, the Voltiminder LED displays the voltage status for CPU, PCH, and Memory in a intuitive color-coded fashion. The voltiminder LED allows quick voltage monitoring for overclockers.</td></tr>
<tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>COP EX</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features11.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />The COP EX allows overclockers to increase chipset voltages without the worries of overheating. It can also be used to monitor and save an overheating GPU. The COP EX allows more freedom and less constraint for maximum performance achievement.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Loadline Calibration</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features12.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />Maintaining ample voltage support for the CPU is critical during overclocking. The Loadline Calibration ensures stable and optimal CPU voltage under heavy loading. It helps overclockers enjoy the motherboard´s ultimate OC capabilities and benchmark scores.</td></tr>
<tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Onboard Switch</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features13.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />With an easy press during overclock, this exclusive onboard switch allows gamer to effortlessly fine-tune the performance without having to short the pins or moving jumpers!
</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>Q-Fan Plus</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features14.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />The Q-Fan function automatically detects temperature and adjusts fan speed accordingly to achieve quiet and efficient cooling.
</td></tr>
<tr><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>ASUS Q-Connector</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features15.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />The Q-Connector allows you to connect or disconnect chassis front panel cables in one easy step with one complete module. This unique adapter eliminates the trouble of plugging in one cable at a time, making connection quick and accurate.</td><td align="justify" valign="top" bgcolor="#ececec" width="50%"><center><b>ASUS EPU Engine</b></center>
<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/mac/reviews/asus/MaximusIIIFormula/features16.jpg" style="float: left; margin: 4px 5px 0 0;" />The Maximus III Formula features the EPU-6 engine, which provides improved power savings by detecting load status and dynamically moderating voltage to the CPU, VGA card, memory, chipset, hard drives and CPU cooler/system fans. </td></tr></table>

As you can see, ASUS have gone to great lengths to outfit the Maximus III Formula with some new and innovative features, and in doing so they have designed one of the few true overclocking-focused P55 models. The essential question is, do all these features work as they should, and do they help improve the general computing experience? That is what we are determined to find out.
 

MAC

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Package & Accessories

Package & Accessories


Now that we have examined the Maximus III Formula's standout features, it is time to take a look at the packaging and the included accessories. Since the MIIIF is part of the Republic of Gamers (RoG) product line we are expecting big things...



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The packaging is the usual Republic of Gamers fare, nearly identical to what we saw with the Rampage II Extreme. It definitely stands out among the sea of bland white packaging that most companies use. The packaging also comes with a top flap, which details some of this model's various features, and a window revealing the motherboard in all its glory.


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When you open the box, you are greeted with two seperate inner sections. The first obviously holds the motherboard itself, while the bottom half contains all the accessories.


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When you open the accessories box you are greeted by a fairly impressive array of items. There are six SATA cables with locking clips at both ends, three of which also have 90 degree connectors on one end. There's the always useful Q Connectors, which simplify the processor of connect the front-panel connections to the motherboard. A 2-port USB & 1-port eSATA PCI expansion bracket. Some zip ties to help keep your case nice and tidy. The RoG Connect cable, which is effectively just a USB cable. The RoG-themed I/O panel. The SupremeFX X-Fi audio card, and an SLI bridge. Why no CrossFire bridge? Well CF bridges come with every CrossFire-capable Radeon graphics card, whereas most GeForce cards don't come with an SLI bridge.



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Let's take a closer look at a few accessories. First, we have the SupremeFX X-Fi audio card, which is based on the new VIA VT2020 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC, and which supports Creative EAX versions up to 4.0 Next, we have the sturdy SATA cables and the robust clips that prevent any accidental disconnections. Last, we have the RoG Connect cable, which attaches from the back of the Maximus III Formula to a netbook/notebook, and which allows for impressive control over the MIIIF's system frequencies and voltages.
 

MAC

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A Closer Look at the Maximus III Formula

A Closer Look at the Maximus III Formula




As we have come to expect, ASUS has pretty much nailed the overall layout. The 8-pin CPU power connector and 24-pin ATX power connector are placed right on the edge of the motherboard, all the other connectors and headers are ideally located on the edges. As always, we're a fan of the red & black RoG theme, but that large southbridge heatsink has a rather uninspired design.


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Obviously, the centerpiece of this CPU socket area is the mighty looking PWM design. With 16 phases for the CPU and 3 phases for the VTT/Uncore, this is the same design as on P7P55D Deluxe. The MOSFETs are cooled by very low profile heatsinks and connected to each other by a thick, flattened heatpipe. As you can see, ASUS have put a small army of solid state capacitors in and around the CPU socket, which might be a little problematic for those who need insulate the socket for extreme cooling sessions. However, this is par for the course on every P55 motherboard that we have come across thus far.


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Proving their superior attention to detail, ASUS have wisely put a small piece of plastic right under the retention lever. This is important because with the new LGA1156 mounting design, that little lever can be pushed down far enough to actually scratch the PCB and potentially damage an electrical trace. For those who are curious, the Maximus III Formula is outfitted with a Foxconn socket and retention module. Despite all that you may have heard, there is no reason to be concerned with Foxconn sockets. There were a few incidents with this socket across several brands, but the likelyhood of it happening to you (even under extreme OC'ing conditions) is not any greater than having a capacitor rupture or MOSFET fail, which is to say very, very unlikely.


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The DDR3 memory slots feature a 3-phase power design, and support overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR3-2133. The Q-DIMM memory slot design, which is clip-less on one end, has wisely been implemented on this model. The reason for this innovative design is to prevent the clips from coming into contact with the back of the graphics card. However, on the MIIIF the gap is so large that this would never be an issue.


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Those of you familiar with ASUS motherboards might mistake the little red knob as the MemOk! button, but it is in fact the new Go Button which serves two functions. When you press the button before posting it will enable the MemOk! feature, but if you press it while in Windows, it will overclock the system based on a preset profile that can be set in the BIOS.

ProbeIt is a series of 5 voltage read points on the motherboard, which is obviously a must-have feature on a enthusiast-oriented model. To be honest though, while read points are nice, we would have liked to see a secondary design whereby voltmeter leads could be attached directly to the motherboard via cables, like on the Rampage II Extreme or even the MSI P55-GD80.



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Here we have the huge, rather boring looking southbridge cooler. Frankly, it's very much overkill for the tiny and cool-running P55 PCH. The MIIIF features six right-angle SATA II (3Gb/s) ports, which are supplied by the P55 chipset, support RAID 0/1/5/10. The two red SATA ports are provided by the JMicron JMB322 controller, and are used for Speeding HDD RAID-0 feature. The two JMicron JMB363 controllers supply the two white SATA ports, which are there to plug your optical disk drives (ODD) into. This motherboard features a socket BIOS chip, which is great, but we would definitely like to see a two chip design for redundancy purposes.
 

MAC

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A Closer Look at the Maximus III Formula pt.2

A Closer Look at the Maximus III Formula pt.2




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The overall expansion slot layout and assortment is excellent. There are three full-sized PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots and two legacy PCI slots. In a single graphics card configuration, the top PCI-E x16 slot will operate at the full x16 speed while the bottom slot will run at x4. When two graphics cards are installed in the top and middle x16 slots, they will operate at x8 each with the bottom slot once again operating at x4. This motherboard does support Quad-GPU CrossFireX and Quad-GPU SLI with two dual-GPU graphics cards. Attempting to run three graphics cards would be pointless for gaming purposes since the third card would run at x4 and thus be a huge bottleneck. However, if you partake in [email protected] or would like a card to run PhysX, you could can utilize three graphics cards on this motherboard without issue.

The race car-like START button has become of a staple of the RoG models, and it has found its way onto the Maximus III Formula as well. Under the reset button, you may notice the "GP OC Station" label and the black header to the right of it. That is where you can plug in the unique OC Station, hardware-level overclocking console that installs into two 5.25" case bays.


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Starting from left to right, we have the VIA VT6308P IEEE1394/FireWire controller, the Winbond W83667HG-A Super I/O & hardware monitoring controller, and the Realtek 8110SC Gigabit LAN PCI-Express controller. The audio CODEC is obviously located on the aforementioned SupremeFX X-Fi audio card.


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The 'northbridge' heatsink has an attractive design, but it's really mostly there for show since there is no northbridge. At most, it absorbs some of the heat load produced by the MOSFETs and transfered by the heatpipe. The center logo on the cooler also has a neat backlight, which looks pretty decent.

In the image on the right, you can the flattened heatpipe, and the PCI-E x1 slot that is used to house the SupremeFX X-Fi audio card. Also, you can spot two fan headers. Above the lowermost fan header, there is a black 2-pin header. That is a thermal sensor header, of which there are 3 on this motherboard. This would be quite impressive, but for some reason ASUS have decided to skimp out and have not included any thermal sensors cables.


Starting from left to right, the rear I/O panel features a PS/2 keyboard port, a CMOS reset button, 8 USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit LAN port, a FireWire port, an eSATA port, the RoG Connect On/Off switch, and the RoG Connect port, which is where you plug the RoG Connect cable into.


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When we turned over the MIIIF, we were very surprised that it was not outfitted with heatsinks for the back-mounted MOSFETs, since this is a design feature found on the P7P55D Deluxe. Nevertheless, we are glad to see that all the heatsinks are held in place with proper mounting screws.
 

MAC

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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation



In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.


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When installed in the traditional North-South orientation, our Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme CPU cooler had no clearance issues on this motherboard, easily clearing the low-profile MOSFET heatsinks. While the clearance between the 120MM fan and the first DIMM slot is very minimal, there shouldn't any issues unless the heatspreaders on your modules are unusually thick.


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However, as always, when we rotated the cooler to the East-West orientation things get a little more tricky. As you can see, in this orientation the CPU cooler overhangs the first DIMM slot completely, which means that you can't use memory modules with heatspreaders taller than 5CM. Clearance is also problematic with the second DIMM slot, but we were able to slowly put the module in place.


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The 24-pin ATX power connector and 8-pin CPU power connector are both placed in ideal locations, so there are no issues to report.


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Thanks to the expansion slot layout, there is a nice gap between the memory clips and the back of the graphics card.


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No matter what orientation the CPU cooler is installed in, there is plenty of clearance between it and the back of the graphics card, which means easy access to the PCI-E x16 slot clip.


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Thanks to a well thought out expansion slot layout, when you install two dual-slot graphics cards on this motherboard you will not lose access to the precious PCI slot.


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What if you're a Folder and you want to make use of the third PCI-E x16 slot? Well you definitely can, but you will lose access to the Start and Reset buttons, as well as the two upward-facing red SATA ports. You will also lose access to the all the USB and FireWire headers at the bottom of the motherboard. More importantly though, if you install a dual-slot graphics card in the third PCI-E x16 slot, it will overhang the motherboard, so keep that in mind if you have a shorter case.


The six 90-degree SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed.


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There is really nothing on the back of the motherboard that would give us cause for concern regarding clearance issues with an aftermarket CPU cooler mounting bracket.
 

MAC

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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown



A well designed, feature-rich motherboard can easily be rendered mediocre by a subpar BIOS. Thankfully, as we have become accustomed to on Republic of Gamers series motherboard, ASUS has outfitted the Maximus III Formula with an intuitive, user-friendly BIOS.


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Here we have full screen logo that appears everytime the system is powered on. Thankfully, it can be disabled for those who want to shave some seconds from the bootup time.


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Upon entering the BIOS we are automatically presented with the Extreme Tweaker section, which is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier, BLCK frequency, PCI-E frequency, memory frequency, QPI frequency, OC Tuner utility, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.



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The CPU Level Up and Memory Level Up menus allow novice users to automatically overclock those components without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. These two features do work, but they do tend to set voltages a bit higher than what would otherwise be needed.




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Unlike most other motherboard brands, you can disable SpeedStep with ASUS P55 motherboards and retain access to the unlockable CPU multiplier(s). You will want to disable Turbo Mode if you're overclocking, because the constantly varying CPU multiplier adds an extra level of difficulty in determining your's core clock ceiling.


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Once you select the DRAM Timing Control option, you enter a seperate sub-menu where the abundant primary and secondy memory timings are revealed. There's no option missing to our eyes.


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Continuing down the Extreme Tweaker page, we reach the clock amplitude and clock skew settings. the CPU Clock Amplitude is particularly useful when attempting to reach a high BLCK, you can set it to 1000mV without worry.


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As we have come to expect, this motherboard has Load-Line Calibration (LLC), which is a terrific feature that eliminates droopage on the CPU vCORE, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.

We like the fact that ASUS have given users an option when it comes to changing the CPU vCore. You can either manually enter the vCore directly (1.20V, 1.30V, 1.40V, etc) or simply use an offset mode (+0.10V, +0.20V, +0.30V, etc) depending on your personal preference.

All the main system voltages are present and accounted for: vCore, CPU PLL, IMC, PCH, DRAM, and even DRAM Reference.


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The ASUS O.C Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other Maximus III Formula owners.


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The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed.
 

MAC

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BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2




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The Advanced Tab is where you can enable/disable all the CPU-specific features like C1E, SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-STATE, as well as all the onboard devices like audio, LAN, FireWire, eSATA, RAID controllers, etc.

You can also enable/disable the numerous LEDs placed across the motherboard and even the RoG logo embedded into the central chipset cooler. You can enable or disable the RoG Connect feature too, but frankly even if you're aren't using the feature, having it enabled doesn't have any effects whatsoever on the system.


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The Power section contains the power management settings linked to the power-saving sleep modes, it allows you to enable/disable the new EuP standard, and it leads to the Hardware Monitor. Since this is Republic of Series model, the Hardware Monitor section is quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, and good fan control functionality.


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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, where you can set supervisor and user passwords, and also disable the full screen logo.


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The Tools section contains the Speeding HDD settings, which allow you to select between RAID mode for the two red SATA ports. The ASUS O.C Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other MIIIF owners. With the MemPerfect feature, you to set whatever memory frequency you wish, and it will check your memory settings for errors and automatically fix them.


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ASUS EZ-Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s), USB flash drive(s), or even a CD. It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.


In summary, this BIOS has everything that we have come to expect from a Republic of Gamers model. The level of tweakability and functionality is perfect. Having said that, aside from the feature-rich Hardware Monitor, it's not really much different than the BIOS found on the P7P55D Deluxe.
 

MAC

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Included Software

Included Software


Now that we have the motherboard unpacked and installed, it is time to take a look at some of the software utilities that ASUS has included with the Maximus III Formula.


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Here we have the familiar setup screens for the included software CD. It contains all the drivers or ASUS-specific utilities that you will need to get your system up & running. However, we obviously recommend that you visit the ASUS website to get the very latest software revisions.


PC Probe II


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PC Probe II is a system monitoring utility that displays information regarding fan speeds, component temperatures and voltages, as well as alerting users once preset thresholds have been surpassed. Like on all RoG models, ASUS have really gone to town with the voltage and temperature readouts, definitely a pleasant sight. As always, we wouldn't mind seeing some integration with Vista's sidebar, just to help clean up the desktop area a bit.


AI Suite


The AI Suite provides basic system information, but its main function is to host shortcuts to five other ASUS utilities and features, namely the EPU-6 Engine, AI NAP, CPU Level Up, Fan Xpert, and TurboV. The AI NAP is an advanced sleep feature that allows users to put their computers to sleep without terminating any tasks. Fan Xpert allows users to select from 7 fan speed profiles that can be individually applied to any fan.


TurboV EVO


For their P55 lineup, ASUS have unveiled TurboV EVO, a new version of their popular overclocking utility. This application allows users to adjust all essential system parameters from within Windows, namely the base clock frequency, CPU voltage, VTT/IMC voltage, memory voltage, and even then CPU voltage and PCH voltage when you click on 'more settings'. All these settings can be tweaked without the need to reboot. This program also allows users to also save profiles and load them from within Windows. As usual, we had a good experience with the program, and we have come to rely on it to make quick on-the-fly adjustments in order to find stable overclock settings in various benchmarking applications.

TurboV EVO also contains the Auto Tuning feature, which will automatically overclock your system by going through five tweaking and stability testing phases. As you will see in our Auto Overclocking Results section, Auto Tuning proved to be quite competent, and since ASUS are continually improving this feature, it will get better and better at safely squeezing extra performance from the available components.

This utility allows you to program some functions for Turbo Key, which can turn the PC power button (or selected keyboard keys) into a physical overclocking button, very much like the Turbo buttons of 386/486-era. This provides novice users a one-touch solution to boost system performance whenever they need it.


EPU-6 Engine


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First showcased on the P5Q series, the EPU-6 Engine has been one of ASUS's most highly touted features. This utility works in coordination with the EPU (Energy Processing Unit) controller in order to minimize your system's energy consumption. It does this by continuously monitoring and altering the speeds and voltages of the CPU, VGA card, hard drives and fans. There are four manually selectable modes and an automatic mode that varies settings according to system load. Regrettably, unlike Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver (DES) technology, EPU-6 will not work when your system is overclocked, which obviously makes it a less attractive proposition from our power user point-of-view.


Speeding HDD


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The Speeding HDD utility allows you to configure and monitor the RAID configuration that you setup on the two Speeding HDD red SATA ports.


ROG GameFirst


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RoG GameFirst is a new traffic shapping utility. The idea is that upon completion of a "calibration and learning phase" that can last several days depending on your connection usage, the utility will be able to optimally manage the flow of traffic to ensure that you can multi-task on your internet connection without it hampering your ping while gaming.


RC TweakIt


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The RC in RC TweakIt stands for ROG Connect. This is the utility that you must install on your netbook/notebook/other system in order to control the Maximus III Formula through the ROG Connect feature through a USB cable. It allows you see the POST code, hardware readouts, and even make on-the-fly frequency and voltage adjustments in real-time. This utility and the ROG Connect feature in general does work, and it works well. However, it begs the question of who will actually ever use this feature, other than once or twice out of novelty.
 
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