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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
NetworkingIntel 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
NetworkingIntel 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.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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?
    Reply
  • Gam3r01
    Not only do I want the Sabertooth because its awesome, just like I said in the MSI article.
    Its something different. Not black/red all the way round (LEDs dont change a thing). I have always wanted to do a build with that kind of board, liquid cooling to match, and the works.
    Reply
  • zodiacfml
    Finally, specs that I want in that B150I Pro.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    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.

    Even better, the m.2 slot's cover can be removed without having to take out your GPUs.

    I'm with you on the color schemes (looking at my red and black from 2011).
    Reply
  • JackNaylorPE
    Smart move to follow MSI's lead with the Sabertooth using Mil Spec components and the etching on the MoBo, Tho in the Sabertooth's case, the aesthetics looks a little busy. Hopefully, we will soon see wider adoption in this vein. Remembering the days when Asus GFX cards came with stickers where one could carry the color theme to other components, it would be nice to see vendors offer this option as well.

    Was kinda surprised to see the CrossChill water block continue in light of the Asus / EK partnership with MonoBlocks designed to fit various boards. As convenient as pre-instralled block is, I'd rather have a MonoBlock. At $399 though the Formula as is seems a bit overpriced as is, whereas paireded with an accompanying Monoblock, breaking $400 to say $425 would I think be an attractive option which would attract more buyers.
    Reply
  • nycalex
    i don't really know the purpose of asus sabertooth series.

    they are not even high end. they just look......gimmicky.

    i'm currently using a sabertooth z77 and it has less features than my first gen p8p67 pro as far as overclocking goes. i thought it would be an enthusiast board, but i was vastly mistaken.

    as far as color goes...........who cares? i mean do you show off the computer to everyone?
    does it make you feel more manly by changing the led colors on a board? never understood the color themed builds.
    i guess i'm old school, for me = as logn as it's fast and it works.
    if i ever show the inside of my builds, some of you will get a heart attack. as i don't even do cable management. screw that, i just put everything together, make sure air flow is ok, and call it a day.
    Reply
  • 10tacle
    17316517 said:
    i don't really know the purpose of asus sabertooth series.

    i'm currently using a sabertooth z77 and it has less features than my first gen p8p67 pro as far as overclocking goes. i thought it would be an enthusiast board, but i was vastly mistaken.

    I've been building overclocked gaming rigs since the late 1990s, with my first one being a Celeron 333 overclocked to 450MHz. Never needed a top-of-the-line motherboard to do any of my aggressively overclocked builds. Not sure what your needs are. I also have a P8P67 Pro running my 2500K but stepped "down" to an ASUS Z97-AR mobo for my 4690K overclock build. As you can see by my sig, it's doing it's job just fine.

    17316517 said:
    as far as color goes...........who cares? i mean do you show off the computer to everyone?

    I do. And my builds over the years have sparked passion in people who never built a PC in their lives and I taught them how to do it (and showed them forums like Tom's) and they became PC build enthusiasts. Even better considering there were some teens among them who I taught and some wound up studying I.T. in college.
    Reply
  • JackNaylorPE
    17316517 said:
    i don't really know the purpose of asus sabertooth series.

    they are not even high end. they just look......gimmicky.

    i'm currently using a sabertooth z77 and it has less features than my first gen p8p67 pro as far as overclocking goes. i thought it would be an enthusiast board, but i was vastly mistaken.

    as far as color goes...........who cares? i mean do you show off the computer to everyone?
    does it make you feel more manly by changing the led colors on a board? never understood the color themed builds.
    i guess i'm old school, for me = as logn as it's fast and it works.
    if i ever show the inside of my builds, some of you will get a heart attack. as i don't even do cable management. screw that, i just put everything together, make sure air flow is ok, and call it a day.

    The TUF series is designed primarily for workstation users who prioritize reliability over all other considerations. It also has gained a following among enthusiasts, despite it's lack of many OC / gaming features, due to the superior componentry and sometimes aesthetics.

    1. 5 year warranty.
    2. Higher quality components, the TUF series is designed for reliability.
    3. Additional cooling (when fan installed)
    4. Performance in Z97 on TUF series is oft better than RoG line

    http://www.overclock3d.net/reviews/cpu_mainboard/msi_z97_gaming_6_review/10

    The ranking is based on setting the board which recorded the highest combined fps in the gaming tests at 100% and ranking the others by fps as a % of the fastest one.

    MoBo % of Leader

    MSI Z97 Gaming 9 - 100.00%
    MSI Z97 Gaming 5 - 99.86%
    MSI Z97A Gaming 6 - 98.96%
    Asus Z97 TUF Sabranco - 96.13%Gigabyte Z97X Gaming 5 - 95.00%
    Gigabyte Z97X SOC Force - 94.95%
    Asus Z97 Maximus VII Hero - 93.67%
    Asus Z97 Maximus VII Formula - 93.58%
    Asus Z97 Maximus VII Gene - 91.69%
    Asus Z97-A - 89.57%
    MSI Z97 Mpower MAX AC - 88.20%
    MSI Z97S Krait SLI - 71.01%

    5. User Satisfaction

    The % listed below are the percent of Asus board owners from above list who posted highly negative (1 egg) user reviews.

    Asus Z97 TUF Sabranco - 9%
    Asus Z97 Maximus VII Gene - 10%
    Asus Z97 Maximus VII Hero - 19%
    Asus Z97 Maximus VII Formula - 26%
    Asus Z97-A - 26%
    Asus X99 Deluxe - 33%
    Rampage V Extreme - 35%

    6. Aesthetics .... Although performance and reliability are my primary concerns, I do take pride in my builds and the most important person who sees it is me. I have to look at it every day. I want to see the flow indicators when I look in the case window so as to confirm flow is satisfactory and also even in the parallel GFX card loops. I do want to be able to view the reservoir coolant level and see it is at the proper level. I so want to see that there are no leaks, dust buildups, stray cables, stopped fans and also read the Error Codes on the MoBo when system fails to boot.

    I also occasionally peek at the digital temperature display which monitors coolant temps at 4 points in the system as well as ambient and inside case air temp. For example, I recently noticed that the flow to the bottom GFX card was less then the top which is indicative that the lower card probably picked up a paint flake or other obstruction in the micro-channels. I'll probably take it down and clean when we have the holiday in February. I also log the temperature / flow data and use it when designing new systems for prepare user guides to peeps to size radiators, pumps and the like.

    However it also must be said that the machine does sit in my office and when potential clients come in and sit across the desk in my office, I think many see the box a reflection of the person / firm they are considering to hire. I am not into LEDs or other "bling" but, for example, water cooling using flexible tubing going every which way offends my sense or order.

    The box does generate a fair amount of inquiries and, in a sense ... with the pumps, tubing and fittings, is a reflection of what we do. We design water treatment facilities in which ownership costs are highly dependent upon efficiency in every system and subsystem. Even a small increase in efficiency can mean 6 figures in energy cost savings per year.

    In addition, one of the things we do is build CAD workstations, office machines and gaming builds for other engineers, friends, family, employees, colleagues, neighborhood kids, college buddies, whatever. Well .... better said .... we sit with those users, help them select components while understanding what the differences are and when parts arrive, guide them thru building those boxes, standing by thru each step of the assembly, OS install and configuration process.

    The most rewarding part of this is working with young kids and their parents and seeing them take pride in something they do together. Months of even years later, hearing back from those kids / parents as they go onto their next build, in between asking questions, it's rewarding hearing about the pride they took in building their own box and the bonding experience they had with their child / parent at the time. Give a kid a bike and it's left out in the weather, dropped on the ground and generally not well taken care of. But when a kid puts the effort into building a bike (or PC), it's something they have a sense of pride and ownership for. I find, I never get calls from these families asking me to clean out viruses, empty their too small SSD or whatever mishap they have run into. They tend to "take care" of the PC partly because they are now comfortable going inside it and cleaning out dust whatever but also what they put on it as they don't want to mess up "their build".
    Reply