ASUS Maximus Formula @ [H]

FrgMstr

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ASUS Maximus Formula - ASUS brings us Intel’s X38 chipset in the form of the ASUS Maximus Formula. This is also ASUS’ latest in the Republic of Gamers lineup. ASUS touts the Maximus Formula as “The Top of Game Board Today.”

The ASUS Maximus Formula is an extremely powerful tweaking and overclocking DDR2 motherboard that has exhibited tremendous stability for us. While it is part of the “Republic of Gamers” line from ASUS, it would be better branded part of the “Republic of Hardware Enthusiasts.” At $250 it is far from cheap (Newegg / ZipZoomFly), but this is a motherboard that could easily be part of an long upgrade path and probably fit into your current upgrade path much more economically than a DDR3 motherboard. And this board does support Yorkfield processors and AMD’s ATI CrossFireX which has recently become that much more inviting.
 

Digital Viper-X-

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most likely my next board! now I can know for sure :) thx

ok well if i Stay intel, which i 99% chance will be :p this is my board, my only question is, how does the ADI sound card compare to the realtek ones? Last time I had one it wasn't so great.
 

FrgMstr

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most likely my next board! now I can know for sure :) thx

ok well if i Stay intel, which i 99% chance will be :p this is my board, my only question is, how does the ADI sound card compare to the realtek ones? Last time I had one it wasn't so great.

I would not hesitate to use the onboard sound. But I think this comes back to be a personal issue with many. I have not used a sound card for years now, but I am not an "audiophile" either. So in short I think I can say it is surely worth a try and if you don't like how it performs then invest in a sound card.
 

Dan_D

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most likely my next board! now I can know for sure :) thx

ok well if i Stay intel, which i 99% chance will be :p this is my board, my only question is, how does the ADI sound card compare to the realtek ones? Last time I had one it wasn't so great.
I think the ADI and Realtek solutions are similar in quality, but I do generally prefer the Realtek drivers. In any case I had no problems with the ADI sound and if the sound hardware ASUS chose for the Maximus Formula, you could always get a Sound Blaster or some other card that's better for very little cash out of pocket.
 

AthlonXP

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i love my board, as you can see this is what I am using it with:



 

FrgMstr

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i love my board, as you can see this is what I am using it with:
Kind of hard to argue with a Yorkfield quad at 4GHz churning along stable. Just does not get much better than that.
 

Dan_D

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I think my 680i SLI would explode if I tried to run a quad core at 4GHz on it. :eek:
 

raynman68

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A positive [H] review just confirms that my decision to buy the Maximus Formula SE was a good one.:D
 

Dan_D

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A positive [H] review just confirms that my decision to buy the Maximus Formula SE was a good one.:D
It absolutely is. I would have one in my rig if it wasn't for the Intel chipsets lack of SLI support.
 

qdemn7

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Kyle I think you need to fix some things.

First, you're reviewing the Formula SE edition of the board, but the article header and picture shows the non-SE version of the board.

Second, you're linking to the non-SE version of the board to the Egg and ZZF.

Other than that good review.
 

Croak

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I made the switch from an Asus A8R-32 MVP 939 board to the Maximus Forumula.

While the 989 AMD board was a solid performer and rock solid reliable, the 4400+ was getting long in the tooth, and my choice was to move to AM2/AM2+ or defect to Intel.

After some soul searching, I made the jump, picking up a Q6600 (B3, alas) and 4Gb (2x2Gb) of PC-800 Patriot, and the MF SE (heh, he said MF!).

My first shock is how much hotter the overall system runs compared to my old AMD setup. One thing ANYBODY that buys this board should do is take a look at what your various voltages are when left on "Auto". I've posted my results and tweaks here. The most dangerous one was the VDIMM settings, on auto it overvolted my RAM so high that I couldn't stay stable even at stock speeds. Asus really should take a look at that in future BIOS updates.

I pretty much had to retire my Crossfire X1900 setup, with both cards and the Q6600 running at 3.2-3.4Ghz, there's just too much heat on air-cooling, we're talking 65-70c Northbridge and Motherboard temps after an hour or so of gaming, and resultant stability issues. Seems like you need to keep that Northbridge under 60c to insure system stability. Not entirely the board's fault, the PWM's on those X1900s put out a lot of heat, but I never had any heat-related stability issues with my 2.8Ghz OC'd AMD system. Switching to the much cooler 3850's made it all better, a 15-20c drop in case temps.

There's a few other little complaints:

I too have the cold-boot problem at times, even with the latest release BIOS, and I find that the supplied Asus utilities are pretty much useless. Even simple things like adjusting fan speeds from Windows requires a reboot. Then again, I was spoiled by using an Abit 989 board before I moved over to the Asus 989, which does fan control and Windows overclocking SO much better.

I tried using the Q-Fan controls on my Antec P180 120mm, intake, top exhaust, and the little chipset fan that Asus supplies. The fans ramp up to full speed when the temp thresholds are reached, but they then tend to STAY full speed even after you're several degrees below the threshold, and the only way to get them back down is to reboot. It especially annoying since the Antec fans are loud at full speed, so until there's a BIOS update to fix this, I'm just using the 120mm fans at a pre-set PWM speed. I may pick up some quieter Scythe fans to replace the Antecs in the meantime.

There should be a way to disable or hide the J-Micro IDE and Intel Matrix POST screens, if you're doing a lot of rebooting while dialing in your overclock, the time those two take adds up. I'm picking up a SATA DVD-RW soon, so I should be able to ditch the J-Micro screen at least.

Now that the bitching is out of the way, it's a really nice board overall.

The LCD Poster is handy, the onboard audio is more than adequate (I SPDIF out to a real reciever)

Crossfire works great, both with the older X1900's and the new 3850 (temporary) setup.

Performance is awesome, I can actually see gaming and real-world usage improvements compared to my 989 rig.

Once you have everything dialed in (and don't have two thermonuclear video cards) it's also very stable, despite running hotter than I'm used to.

I'll probably make the move to water cooling when I get my hands on a pair of 3870X2 cards...I suspect that 4 GPU's and a Q6600 will be even hotter than my X1900's. When I do, it's nice that the Northbridge is ready to be added to the loop.

I bought this board with the long view in mind, hoping it'll last me a couple years, and I think it'll fit that bill.
 

rennyf77

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too bad you guys didn't test the liquid-cooling ready north/south bridge block.
 

Menelmarar

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You guys pinged it on a couple issues. But brushed them off.
  • ASUS's software is unstable and buggy.
    (I don't ever use it, prefer over clocking and tweaking via BIOS, so not all that significant. But a large part of that is because the software is very poor. By principal if they are going to provide software, it should work with very little flaw.)
  • ASUS's support and web infrastruture is very poor.
Those two things I would really liked to see ASUS dinged harder on by review sites so maybe they will be motivated to get their shit in gear.
  • The board's cold boot annoyance.
This alone would make me seriously question their engineering practices, especially for a $250 mobo. At this point, I would be looking at similar offerings from Gigabye or abit.

Gold award seems a bit forgiving to me for [H] standards.
 

Dan_D

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too bad you guys didn't test the liquid-cooling ready north/south bridge block.
I did actually. It doesn't really seem to help with overclocking, but it certainly does reduce the NB temperature.

hmm. I just realized it has no e-sata =( sucks for a $250 board
Yeah, it kind of does. The Maximus Extreme does have the eSATA ports though, but requires DDR3 memory.

Both of my esata external enclosures came with adapters to bring onboard sata to PCI bracket for esata. Seems like a non-issue to me.
I agree. There are ways around the eSATA issue and though annoying, it isn't a deal breaker for me.

hmm. I just realized it has no e-sata =( sucks for a $250 board
Both of my esata external enclosures came with adapters to bring onboard sata to PCI bracket for esata. Seems like a non-issue to me.
You guys pinged it on a couple issues. But brushed them off.
  • ASUS's software is unstable and buggy.
(I don't ever use it, prefer over clocking and tweaking via BIOS, so not all that significant. But a large part of that is because the software is very poor. By principal if they are going to provide software, it should work with very little flaw.)
I didn't have any problems with the AI Suite beyond what was mentioned in the review. I mentioned that I had to download a newer version because the one the board shipped with wouldn't run and always crashed when I attempted to do so. Other than that I've never had any problem with the included ASUS AI Suite. I've never had a problem with the My Logo 2 software either. Actually the only thing I've ever had a problem with is the ASUS Update software which usually can't seem to reach the FTP site and annoys the user with requests to update itself anytime the program is used and a new BIOS version is released. I too prefer tweaking by BIOS and I think most enthusiasts do, so the poor software isn't a huge issue but an annoyance at best.

  • ASUS's support and web infrastruture is very poor.
Yes it is. I've had a number of issues with ASUS' website, their forums are so slow they are basically useless downloading drivers and updates is often a pain in the ass due to the poor performance of the download servers. (Most likely due to capacity.)

Those two things I would really liked to see ASUS dinged harder on by review sites so maybe they will be motivated to get their shit in gear.
  • The board's cold boot annoyance.
This alone would make me seriously question their engineering practices, especially for a $250 mobo. At this point, I would be looking at similar offerings from Gigabye or abit.

Gold award seems a bit forgiving to me for [H] standards.
The cold boot issue isn't necessarily present on all samples of the board. First off there has been several BIOS revisions since the board review was actually written. I don't know if the cold boot issue still exists and it only happened a handful of times.
 

Xilikon

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Also, on Kyle's conclusion :

"I did however try my best to kill the board off in our stress tests though. Below is a picture of the board after running an Intel Core 2 QX6850 for 14 hours fully stressed while paging into 4GB of Corsair RAM timed at 4-4-4-12. Don’t even start to think you will be stressing any DDR3 board like that with DDR3 at tremendously right timings with a 4-up RAM configuration. "

Shouldn't we be talking about DDR2 since we're not testing a Maximus Extreme ??

 

cnealjr

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Mine should be delivered today. After upgrading to a quad Q6700, I've had to RMA 3 EVGA 680SLI's in 3 months, so I am making the switch. I never did buy a second 8800GTX video card, so the need for SLI looked smaller and smaller. I have a 1/2" cooling loop in my rig, but I'll try the fusion in my loop with the included adaptors and see what happens.
 

AthlonXP

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post some results when you get it setup, I am going to try and push higher on this setup.
 

Digital Viper-X-

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Also, on Kyle's conclusion :

"I did however try my best to kill the board off in our stress tests though. Below is a picture of the board after running an Intel Core 2 QX6850 for 14 hours fully stressed while paging into 4GB of Corsair RAM timed at 4-4-4-12. Don’t even start to think you will be stressing any DDR3 board like that with DDR3 at tremendously right timings with a 4-up RAM configuration. "

Shouldn't we be talking about DDR2 since we're not testing a Maximus Extreme ??


i think he was saying that ddr3 boards can't be pushed that hard with aggressive timings and 4 x 1 gb ram config
 

ZippZopp

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i love my board, as you can see this is what I am using it with:



http://img253.imageshack.us/img253/4784/qx9650oc1su8rb9.jpg
sweet, i'm running the same thing, maximus formula with the qx9650. let me ask you something. i've overclocked mine to 3.66 just by upping the multiplier to 11. i want to shoot for 4 ghz... would it be better to just up my multiplier to 12 or go the route of 10 x 400 fsb.what are the advantages of either one here?
 

AthlonXP

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try for 10x400, slap in about 1.35 volts, but also make sure to turn on the load balancing feature in the bios, if you have 0902 bios i know this feature is there, once I turned that one the vdroop issue seemed to go away for me. Right now i am at 1.3625 volts, but I will try for 1.35 when i get back from work.
 

Xilikon

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Thanks for clarifying about the DDR3 mention, I reread it a few times and it make sense in the end. English isn't my first language so excuse me for not getting the point ;)

 

ZippZopp

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i'll give that a go tonight when i get home, thanks for the help... i'm currently running 3.6ghz with these settings....those are idle temps too. now obviously there are risks with overclocking, but what sort of voltages can this proc handle safely for extended periods? is 1.35 or 1.4 pushing it? i'm kinda happy with 1.27v @ 3.6 ghz.

 
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First I want to address the overclock by CPU level function. I have to say that this function worked fantastically on the board I tested. I set this setting for E6850 (at the time of this writing the highest level offered in the overclock by CPU level feature) and the system booted without issue and ran for several hours without any problems. This is a great feature and “n00b” overclockers can certainly use something like this to get started. You won’t set any records overclocking like this but for people who want an easy introduction to overclocking without hassles, this is as easy as it gets

First off,the review kicked ass ! As usual :)

Question,given the above qoute,of the two recently looked at (this or AOD),which is 'easier' and more noob proof ? Given my own use,and twiddling with the softs,I would
say AOD,imho.And speaking of which,I so wish Intel would come out with something like it.AOD has soo much potential it nuts.Oh and great to see [H] hold Asus's feet
to the fire over thier crappy website.

If I was building an Intel based system today,it would without any doubt center around this mobo.
 

Dan_D

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First off,the review kicked ass ! As usual :)

Question,given the above qoute,of the two recently looked at (this or AOD),which is 'easier' and more noob proof ? Given my own use,and twiddling with the softs,I would
say AOD,imho.And speaking of which,I so wish Intel would come out with something like it.AOD has soo much potential it nuts.Oh and great to see [H] hold Asus's feet
to the fire over thier crappy website.

If I was building an Intel based system today,it would without any doubt center around this mobo.
AOD is the best Windows overclocking utility I've had the pleasure of using. The overclock by CPU level function is a BIOS implementation on the ASUS Maximus Formula/Formula SE/Extreme boards. As the AOD and Overclock by CPU level are two totally different things they don't compare easily.

However if you've got a Maximus Formula or Extreme and you've got a E6400, and you want E6700 level performance, just set the option and the BIOS will do the rest. I was able to take my E6300 test CPU and go straight for X6800 performance levels with the one setting.

AOD on the other hand has an autoclock feature, but I haven't had good luck with it as of yet. After the Spider platform matures, this may change. With manual settings AOD rocks.
 

M'ichal

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"...this is a motherboard that could easily be part of an long upgrade path and probably fit into your current upgrade path much more economically than a DDR3 motherboard."

doesn't 775 die in less than a year? From what I read, Intel's Nehalem is coming out end of 2008 and it will have a new socket. Will they still make procs for 775?
 

Jailer

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Thanks for the review. I've been eyeballing this board for a bit now but was waiting to see if you guys were going to review it first. I really want a Blitz Fomula but they seem to have disapeared from the face of the earth.

I've been holding out on upgrading from my current 939 platform since it performs so well, but Crysis just brings it to it's knees so it's time to upgrade.

Thanks again!
 

Dan_D

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"...this is a motherboard that could easily be part of an long upgrade path and probably fit into your current upgrade path much more economically than a DDR3 motherboard."

doesn't 775 die in less than a year? From what I read, Intel's Nehalem is coming out end of 2008 and it will have a new socket. Will they still make procs for 775?
I hadn't heard that, but even if that were true, socket LGA775 processors will be available for some time after a new socket comes out. Granted at some point you will only see new budget models being made for the socket and eventually nothing after that. LGA775 processor availability will also largely depend on Intel's inventory at the time the new socket and processors become available.
 

sbuckler

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You should have compared it to a Asus P5E which is basically the same board with slightly less bells and whistles but a much lower price then asked yourself which board most users should buy?
 

bullen

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this board really looks good, it's between this one and the Dq6 X38.
gonna slap a Qx9650 on the one i choose and put it under phase :D
 

Dan_D

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You should have compared it to a Asus P5E which is basically the same board with slightly less bells and whistles but a much lower price then asked yourself which board most users should buy?
I've never looked at the P5E. :cool:
 

Ockie

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The moment intel gets sli on board, I'm dumping nvidia chipset boards. This looks like a nice board.
 

Dan_D

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The moment intel gets sli on board, I'm dumping nvidia chipset boards. This looks like a nice board.
You won't get SLI on Intel chipset based motherboards unless you want to shell out the cash for Skulltrail.
 

Arvig

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try for 10x400, slap in about 1.35 volts, but also make sure to turn on the load balancing feature in the bios, if you have 0902 bios i know this feature is there, once I turned that one the vdroop issue seemed to go away for me. Right now i am at 1.3625 volts, but I will try for 1.35 when i get back from work.
I'm sure you can hit 1.35 volts, I'm at 10*400 at 1.35 volts, and it's perfectly stable. I've done that on BIOS 0802 also, I only just checked for a newer BIOS yesterday, and then went to 0903.

As for the cold boot issue, I've never seen this at all. It does look like they tested with a pretty early BIOS in the article.
 

Arvig

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You should have compared it to a Asus P5E which is basically the same board with slightly less bells and whistles but a much lower price then asked yourself which board most users should buy?

Not knocking the P5E, but the price between the Maximus Formula "normal" and the P5E is only 20 dollars on Newegg as of the time stamp of this post. To be fair, Newegg only has the Formula listed and in stock, no SE's, and this article was technically about the SE. When I bought my Maximus Formula SE, it was when both the Maximus SE and the P5E first came out, and again there was only a 20 to 30 dollar difference. Guess one would have to look at the "slightly less" on the P5E and decide if it's worth a 20 to 30 dollar savings. That would be up to each individual.
 

FrgMstr

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You won't get SLI on Intel chipset based motherboards unless you want to shell out the cash for Skulltrail.

And to my knowledge that is a platform that has yet to reach market, and quite frankly I don't think it ever will with the last known hardware configuration.
 
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