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ASUS ROG Maximus VII Formula Motherboard Review

11
Posted September 4, 2014 by Kenny in CPU & Motherboards

Overview

Hardware:
 
 
Price at time of Review: $349.99 on Newegg.com
 

WHAT WE LIKED:

Hybrid CrossChill Copper VRM Cooling Block, Armor Shield, Fantastic Aesthetics, Stable Overclocks
 

WHAT WE DISLIKED:

A bit Pricey, M.2 SATA Port Location
 
BOTTOM LINE:
If you take the overall performance for the Maximus VII Formula, and paired it with a set of nice graphics cards you will get a very nice set up that will last years with today's current games. Now, if you didn't need all the extra bells and whistles that the Maximus VII Formula board offers, we can see that the Hero is a very good alternative option. So when it comes to valuing the Formula, we found the board to be bit pricey for some users at $349.99 on newegg. But if you can use all the extras you get from the Maximus VII Formula, we say its worth every penny.
by Kenny
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Z97 Chipset

If you have already read our previous reviews, then you most likely have already seen this section. Feel free to skip ahead since the information for the Z97 chipset hasn’t changed. For our new readers, this briefly explains some of the changes from the Z87 to the Z97 chipset.

The Z97 chipset isn’t much different than its predecessor, the Z87. Most of the features remain pretty close in design with a few updates. This probably isn’t a surprise since its a “refresh.”

Taking a look at the block diagram below, you can see that the main (and most substantial) change is the SATA Express support. This will give users additional bandwidth to 10Gb/s, up from its previous 6Gb/s with the SATA III ports. While most SSDs today can’t saturate the existing lanes just yet, it appears that Intel is just thinking ahead of the curve. Probably in the next year or so we will start to see media devices that can take advantage of the available bandwidth.

The Z97 also brings the M.2 slot over (also known as NGFF). This essentially replaces the older mSATA platform and offers the additional bandwidth. The mSATA standard wasn’t all that popular to begin with in the Z87 chipset; however, as we start to see more and more SATA drives appear in the market in M.2 form factor, it comes as no surprise that Intel and motherboard manufacturers have taken a leap into this arena.

Today, the M.2 can be supported in multiple ways. Motherboard manufacturers can omit a few SATA ports to allow for the additional bandwidth, or they can use the PCIe Lanes that are available on the board. So, while every manufacturer can play this differently, it’s really up to the consumer to choose the right platform for their needs.

On one last note: we also are seeing better memory controls as the current generation of motherboards are maturing. While DDR3 is still the memory used with the current Haswell Processor, it wouldn’t surprise us if we see another revision down the line for DDR4 memory coming later next year.

Here is the Z97 vs the Z87 block diagram.

Z97

Z97

 

Z87 

Z87_diagram

 

With the overview of the Z97 Chipset complete, let’s move forward and take a look at the package and contents.

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11 Comments


  1.  
    Ron

    Hi Kenny, just found your review, which I found very interesting do to the fact my next build is based on the same motherboard.
    I was wondering if you could give me a little advice, I was going to use the Swiftech H220-X but after seeing your setup, I see no point in cutting into a closed loop system also I am not water cooling my graphics cards, so I was wondering if I can get away with one radiator 420m Top instead of two like your setup.
    I’m using the Phanteks Enthoo Luxe and a Intel i7-4790k.
    This will be my first time at water cooling so any help would be welcome also please take into account that when I was born hot & cold running water and inside toilets had not been invented, so whats the norm to you youngsters is another world to me.
    Thanks for a great in depth review which I understood……..Ron.




    •  
      Sandy Bruce

      Hey Ron,
      Kenny does some amazing work for us at PureOC. I am glad to hear you found his review interesting. The H220-X is a good start for those not ready to jump head first into custom water cooling (aka WACO). Since you do have the stones to go custom to heck with it! Custom offers better cooling hands down anyways. A 420mm rad is more than enough to cool a single cpu and the board block on the ROG M VII. Depending on thickness of rad it can also handle a single GPU in the loop. Personally I would make sure the rad is at least 45mm thick for future expansion. I am almost 100% sure you will change your mind about that adding the GPU to your loop. water cooling is addictive.

      Also you will blend in well with the rest of PureOC. We have a good mixture of “Seasoned Vets” and spring chickens. lol Trust me, you will feel right at home. Join the forums and ask any questions you may have for this project. We are glad to help.




      •  
        Ron

        Thanks for the quick reply and advice. Thanks also for throwing me a life-line, I’ll join the forums and keep you posted.




        •  
          Sandy Bruce

          No problem at all. That is why we are here. That and to drool over parts and other peoples systems. Look forward to checking it out.




  2.  
    Kenny

    Hi Ron,

    Thanks for reading the article and thanks Sandy!
    As Sandy already mentioned, if you are not afraid of jumping right into custom watercooling, that is the route I would take.

    While Sandy is correct that a single rad will be more than enough for CPU and MB, I don’t think a 420 will fit at the top of the Luxe case. I have one here and I believe the largest rad is a 360 at the top at 30-35mm thickness, any larger and you will run into possible issues with clearance of the motherboard heatsink once you add the fans.

    But even a 360mm with a 30-35mm thickness rad at the top will be enough for just the CPU and MB. However, that limits the expansion to possible future GPU added, but the Luxe does allow for a 240mm at the front which can be added later when the times comes to upgrade.

    As Sandy said, join the forums and we will be more than happy help you. Trust me, the group the guys we have here will make you feel right at home. In any case, hope you see you on the forums and possible future build in progress in our worklog section.

    Kenny




  3.  
    Ron

    Another question, from what I’ve read the on board sound system is very good so is it worth me using my Xonar D2X sound card, which I’m very happy with or is the on board one just as good. Thanks….Ron




    •  
      Sandy Bruce

      Sorry we never got back to you about the sound card question. A dedicated sound card will always produce better sound quality than an integrated solution. It also is determined by what sound system you will be using. If you are using a standard PC headset or speaker setup than integrated is fine. A really nice setup would be wasted on integrated, use the Xonar D2x.




  4.  
    Mike

    I actually purchased this board with the intent to run 2 titan x’s in sli and a 750 ti on the pci e x4 lane for physx. SLI works fine and the nvidia control panel does state that the 750 ti is set as dedicated physics. In the bios i disable the sata express ports and set the pci e lane to 4x for that slot. In windows GPU-z Reports the card is running at 2x instead of 4. I am also getting a similar physx score in 3d mark firestrike that i get while just running off my 4790k. Any idea why this would be because Asus’s techs cant seem to figure out their own technology.




    •  
      Sandy Bruce

      mike, Is it possible you are still short on PCIe lanes? Disable unused SATA ports or even a 2nd controller, SATA Express Controller(s), M.2 if there is a manual setting if not used(if used your screwed). If you are using any of the PCIEx1 slots it will effect the speed of the PCIe2.0x4 slot.

      Even at 2x there should be some gains in Phyx. Have you tried different benchmarks? you may also want to create a forum account and post your question there. We have a lot of helpful people that will enjoy this question.




      •  
        michael

        I have disable all unused data express ports as well as the m.2 controller. Using the 4790k as well as 2 gtx titan z’s in sli. According to the manual I should still be getting 4x out of the PCI 2.0 providing I have disabled the m.2 and data express. Which I have. I will definatley sign up and dearth the forums.




        •  
          Kenny

          Hi Michael,

          As Sandy said, with the M.2 SATA Ports and SATA Express unused, you should be seeing x4 speeds on the last lane.

          I still have the board installed in one of my system using 290s in Crossfire. I don’t have anything populated in the last PCIe slot right now.

          I’ll look into the issue you are having and update with any additional information I find.





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