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Motherboard: Asus Maximus III Formula

Tom's Hardware's 2009 Gift Guide: Part 1, For System Builders
By: Devin Connors

Like the Maximus Formula (X38) and Maximus II Formula (P45) before it, the Maximus III Formula is geared towards PC enthusiasts who demand the best and the most fully-featured motherboards available. Asus likes to say, “the Republic of Gamers consists only of the best of the best. We offer the best hardware engineering, the fastest performance, and the most innovative ideas.”

Asus designed the Maximus III for performance junkies, but that doesn’t mean looks aren’t important. As soon as you open the box, the Maximus catches your eye with its stand-out black and red paint job, sharp logos, and sleek-looking heatsinks surrounding its LGA 1156 interface. If the Maximus III finds its way into a case with a window, you will definitely get some envy from your gamer buddies at the next LAN party.

Asus includes its Extreme Engine Power Design on this board, which consists of 16 phase power for the CPU, three phase power for memory and three phase VTT power. Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Maximus III Formula is its ROG Connect capabilities. ROG Connect allows you tether a laptop to your Maximus III Formula-equipped desktop via USB. Once connected, you can monitor post code and hardware status in real time, as well as tweak OC settings with the click of the mouse, much like a mechanic using a laptop on a performance coupe. If you do go the overclocking route, the COP EX feature on the Maximus III will help you increase chipset voltages without the risk of overheating. Also usable on your GPU, COP EX should keep your hardware within safe parameters while your get the most performance for your money.

The Maximus III Formula also comes with CPU Level Up, which allows you to “pick a CPU” to upgrade to. This is an intriguing feature for the OC-timid; a quick trip to Level Up and you can OC that Core i5-750 to the equivalent of an i7-870 (just don’t expect Level Up to add things like Hyper-Threading); all it really changes is the base operating frequency.

Don’t feel like shelling out $100+ on a Killer Xeno Pro Network Card? The Maximus III Formula has you covered with its built-in GameFirst technology. GameFirst localizes network traffic management, allowing the user to prioritize connections to game servers ahead of VoIP, downloading, or streaming media. Other RoG board exclusives include iROG, Extreme Tweaker, Probelt, Loadline Calibration, and a Voltminder LED.

The Maximus III Formula includes a pretty generous I/O suite, including nine USB 2.0 ports (one is reserved for ROG Connect), 6-pin FireWire, eSATA, PS/2, Gigabit Ethernet, and a SupremeFX X-Fi 7.1 discrete sound card. An additional rear bracket provides two USB ports and an additional eSATA port. Expansion slots on the Maximus III Formula include two PCI Express 2.0 (single x16 or dual x8), one PCIe x16/x4, two PCIe x1, and two older PCI slots. The Maximus III also comes with ten SATA 3Gbps ports.

Other features include memory support up to 16GB with speeds up to DDR3-2133, SLI and CrossFireX support, MemOK!, and MemPerfect.

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