All Of Asus' New Motherboards At CES

Asus debuted four new motherboards at CES: the TUF Sabertooth Z170 S, the ROG Maximus VIII Formula, the 970 Pro Gaming/Aura and the B150I Pro Gaming/Wi-Fi/Aura. Here's what we know about the motherboards.

TUF Sabertooth Z170 S

Let’s start with the motherboard that doesn’t quite look like it fits in with the rest of the bunch – the Asus TUF Sabertooth Z170 S. This board stands out from the other ROG and Pro Gaming offerings we saw in the company’s CES suite with its arctic camouflage color theme on a white/blue/grey accented PCB. The board looks unique, but it also sports much of the same Sabertooth-series reliability-oriented features the line has become known for.

CPU/ChipsetIntel LGA 1151 6th Generation Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors, Intel Z170 Chipset
Form FactorATX
Memory Capacity4x DIMMs, Up to 64 GB Dual-Channel DDR4-2400/2133 Non-ECC Memory
Storage Interfaces-2x SATA Express Ports
-1x M.2 Socket 3 (PCI-e 3.0 x4)
-6x SATA 6 Gb/s with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
Video Outputs-1x DisplayPort
-1x HDMI Port
GPU Support-Nvidia Quad-GPU SLI, Nvidia 2-Way SLI
-AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX
Expansion Slots-2x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
-1x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x16 (at x4 mode)
-3x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x1
Internal USB And I/O Connectors-2x USB 3.0 connectors
-2x USB 2.0 Connectors
-1x S/PDIF, 1x Thunderbolt header
Fan and Cooling Options-1x CPU Fan
-1x CPU OPT Fan
-6x Chassis Fan
-2x Assistant Fan
-1x Water Pump Headers
Networking Intel i219V Gigabit LAN Controller
AudioRealtek ALC1150
USB Ports-6x USB 3.0
-8x USB 2.0 ports (Z170 Chipset)
-2x USB 3.1 ports (One Type-A, One Type-C [Asmedia USB 3.1 Controller])

The Asus TUF Sabertooth Z170 S is engineered with military-grade components, including TUF ESD Guards 2, which protects against electrostatic discharge. The motherboard even comes with a 5-year warranty.

Although there isn’t an official price or release date, we should expect to see the TUF Sabertooth Z170 S appear at retailers early this year.

ROG Maximus VIII Formula

The newest member of the ROG motherboard family is the Maximus VIII Formula, which features an all-new Aura LED illumination and a laser-engraved armor that "protects" most of the PCB.

CPU/ChipsetIntel LGA 1151 6th Generation Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors, Intel Z170 Chipset
Form FactorATX
Memory Capacity4x DIMMs, Up to 64 GB Dual-Channel DDR4-3733(OC) Non-ECC Memory
Storage Interfaces-2x SATA Express Ports
-1x U.2 port (PCI-e 3.0 x4 NVMe Storage)
-1x M.2 Socket 3 (PCI-e 3.0 x4)
-6x SATA 6 Gb/s with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (Intel Z170 Chipset)
-2x SATA 6 Gb/s (ASMedia ASM1061 Controller)
Video Outputs-1x DisplayPort,
-1x HDMI Port
GPU SupportNvidia Quad-GPU SLI, Nvidia 2-Way SLI
-AMD 3-Way CrossFireX
Expansion Slots-2x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
-1x PCI-e 3.0/2.0 x16 (at
-x4 mode)
3x PCI-e 2.0 x1
Internal USB And I/O Connectors-2x USB 3.0 Connectors
-2x USB 2.0 Connectors
-1x Aura RGB Strip Header
-1x System Panel Connector
Fan and Cooling Options-1x CPU Fan
-1x CPU OPT Fan
-4x Chassis Fan
-1x Water Pump
-1x ROG Extension Headers
Networking -Intel I219V Gigabit LAN Controller
-Dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support
AudioROG SupremeFX 2015
USB Ports-6x USB 3.0
-4x USB 2.0 ports (Z170 Chipset)
-2x USB 3.1 ports (One Type-A, One Type-C [Intel Controller])
-2x USB 3.0 ports (ASMedia Controller)

The ROG Maximus VIII Formula offers ROG-exclusive features such as ROG Armor, RAMCache, Extreme Engine Digi+, Mem Tweakit, Keybot II and an EK Water Blocks-designed CrossChill EK cooling block that uses high-conductivity copper plates to decrease MOSFET temperatures by up to 23 -degrees when used with a custom-water loop configuration. The board also features an LN2 Mode jumper, for extreme liquid nitrogen cooling setups.

The Aura LED lights have been seen on a slew of different budget-oriented Pro Gaming-series motherboards that Asus has released recently (including two new ones we will get to in a moment), and the RGB illumination feature seems to have finally made its high-end ROG debut on the Maximus VIII Formula.

The Maximus VIII Formula’s Aura LED lights (on the motherboard), along with external LED strips plugged into the built-in RGB header, can be programmed to match any system color theme, and it features effects such as breathing, color-strobe, or color-cycling modes. The addition of RGB color features is something we haven’t seen on Formula-series Maximus motherboards until now, and it offers enthusiasts more than just the usual red and black ROG theme.

The ROG Maximus VIII Formula also features Bluetooth 4.1, a 2-way and 3-way SLI bridge, and a pair of Asus 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi antennas. The U.2 port (not to be confused with U2, the band) and the M.2 slot share bandwidth, but the option of a U.2 interface (again, to be completely clear, not the band) is a fairly enticing feature for PC enthusiasts to consider.

The ROG Maximus VIII Formula is available for preorder now at Newegg and Amazon for a price of $399, and it officially arrives tomorrow (January 14).

970 Pro Gaming/Aura Motherboard

It was only a matter of time before Asus released a Pro Gaming/Aura motherboard for AMD chipsets, and we finally got to see just that at CES. The 970 Pro Gaming/Aura features the AMD 970 and SB950 chipsets, and Asus claimed that this is the first AMD 970 motherboard to offer official Nvidia SLI support.

CPU/ChipsetAMD Socket AM3+, AMD 970 + SB950 Chipset with support for FX/Phenom II/Athlon II/Sempron 100-Series Processors
Form FactorATX
Memory Capacity4x DIMMs, Up to 32 GB Dual-Channel DDR3-2133(OC) Non-ECC Memory
Storage Interfaces-1x M.2 Socket 3 (PCI-e 2.0x4)
-6x SATA 6 Gb/s with support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
GPU Support-Nvidia Quad-GPU SLI, Nvidia 2-Way SLI
-AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX, AMD 2-Way CrossFireX
Expansion Slots-2x PCI-e 2.0x16 (x16 or dual x8)
-2x PCI-e 2.0 x1
-2x PCI Slots
Internal USB And I/O Connectors-1x USB 3.0 connector
-3x USB 2.0 Connectors
-1x COM Header
-1x TPM Header
Fan and Cooling Options-1x CPU Fan
-1x CPU OPT Fan
-3x Chassis Fan Headers
Networking Intel I211 Gigabit LAN Controller
AudioSupremeFX High Definition Audio
USB Ports-2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports
-8x USB 2.0 ports

As with most AMD AM3+ motherboards, the graphics cards slots operate at PCIe 2.0, as does the M.2 slot (PCIe 2.0 x4). However, the 970 Pro Gaming/Aura supports 2-way Nvidia SLI graphics configurations, a feature we cannot confirm we have seen on an AMD 970 chipset motherboard before this. Additionally, the board sports two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, something you also would not expect to see on the aging AMD 970 platform.

Asus appears to be offering AMD enthusiasts a budget-friendly yet SLI-capable motherboard with the added bonus of the Aura illumination feature for some flare. You can preorder the Asus 970 Pro Gaming/Aura motherboard at Newegg for $119.99, and it will officially ship January 19.

B150I Pro Gaming/Wi-Fi/Aura

The B150I is yet another budget-friendly board that features the Aura LED illumination feature, but this motherboard also happens to be a mini-ITX motherboard with built-in Wi-Fi. The B150I uses Intel’s B150 chipset, and is decidedly minimalistic with its features.

Official specs, pricing and availability aren’t yet known, but we can confirm (between photos and press releases) that the B150I will support the latest 6th generation (Skylake) Intel Core-series, Pentium and Celeron processors and up to 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) of DDR4-2133. There are four SATA 6 Gb/s ports. We also know that in addition to Intel gigabit Ethernet, the B150I will also feature 802.11ac Wi-Fi with an external 2 x 2 dual-band 2.5 GHz/5 GHz antenna and MU MIMO technology.

In addition, the B150I Pro Gaming/Wi-Fi/Aura features an M.2 slot with four PCI-e 3.0 lanes, enabling users to configure high-speed SATA, PCI-e and NVMe SSDs in a small form factor chassis without using much space.

The B150I Pro Gaming/Wi-Fi/Aura mini-ITX motherboard seems like a decent choice for a budget SFF PC, and we should see it available sometime in Q1.

Bright Lights, Big Hotel Room

It was quite a site to see all the pretty lights in Las Vegas, but Asus’s CES suite was lit up just as vibrantly with all the new Aura RGB LED illuminated motherboards and a Sabertooth as white as snow.

Derek Forrest is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s IT Pro. Follow Derek Forrest on Twitter. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.

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  • RazberyBandit
    The 970 Pro Gaming board isn't the first AMD 970 Chipset board to support nVIDIA SLI. It may be ASUS's first SLI-capable AMD 970 board, but it's not the first of its kind.

    The MSI 970A-G46 did so and it was released roughly three years ago. Another such board would be MSI's 970A SLI Krait Edition.
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  • 10tacle
    Still love the Arctic camo theme on the Sabertooth. My next build is going to be white themed. So tired of the run of the mill black/red and black/blue builds with black case.

    But regarding the Maximus, I've never been a fan of the completely closed up "protection" of the PCB cover. Sure it looks cool, but it looks like it would be a PITA to deal with when going through dust blowout maintenance. I assume that cover can be removed for cleaning the motherboard PCB.
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  • why_wolf
    In regards to the TUF series have they said if they are going to make a Z170 Gryphon, the mATX version of the Sabertooth?
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