Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Formula Review: Hybrid cooling and high-end hardware

An excess of USB ports, and premium audio as well

Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Formula
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Asus’ BIOS on the Z790 Formula remains unchanged. The BIOS sports the familiar black, red, and yellow ROG theme that’s easy to read. Asus starts in an Easy Mode that displays high-level information, including CPU and memory clock speeds, temperatures, fan speeds, storage information, etc. Advanced Mode has several headers across the top that drop down additional options. The BIOS is one of my favorites, as almost everything you need isn’t buried deep within menus.

There is, though, also an integrated Memtest functionality. As the name implies, Memtest86, a memory testing application, is in the BIOS and ready to use. This is most useful to the tweaker and overclocker, but even those who ‘just’ set XMP can find it useful for making sure their RAM settings are stable and their DIMMs are functioning properly.


Armory Crate for the Formula is the same as other ROG-based boards and follows the ROG-inspired theme. Several applications exist for various functions, ranging from RGB lighting control, audio, system monitoring, overclocking, etc. We’ve captured several screenshots of the applications below. Here’s a look at Ai Suite 3, Armoury Crate, Sonic Studio, and the Realtek Audio application.

When buying Asus motherboards, you also get a year of AV software (not a trial), as well as a full 1-year license of AIDA64 - a good application for stress and performance testing.

Test System / Comparison Products

We’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied as of mid-October 2023. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 video card from our previous testing platforms but have updated the driver to the latest, keeping our games, F1 22 and Far Cry 6, the same. Unless otherwise noted, we use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public using ‘optimized default’ settings, except for the memory (XMP). The hardware and drivers we used are as follows:

Test System Components

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CPUIntel Core i9-14900K
MemoryKingston Fury Beast DDR5-6000 CL36 (KF560C36BBEAK2-32)
Row 2 - Cell 0 Teamgroup T-Force Delta RGB DDR5- 7200 CL34 (FF3D516G7200HC34ABK)
GPUAsus TUF RTX 3070
CoolingCoolermaster MasterLiquid PL360 Flux
PSUEVGA Supernova 850W P6
SoftwareWindows 11 64-bit (22H2)
GraphicsNVIDIA Driver 537.42

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and SettingsRow 0 - Cell 1
ProcyonVersion 2.6.848 64
Row 2 - Cell 0 Office Suite (Office 365), Video Editing (Premiere Pro 23.6), Photo Editing (Photoshop 25.0, Lightroom Classic 12.5)
3DMarkVersion 2.27.8177 64
Row 4 - Cell 0 Firestrike Extreme (v1.1) and Time Spy (v1.2) Default Presets
Cinebench R24Version ‘build unknown’
Row 6 - Cell 0 Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
BlenderVersion 3.6.0
Row 8 - Cell 0 Full benchmark (all 3 tests)
Application Tests and SettingsRow 9 - Cell 1
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
Row 11 - Cell 0 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
Row 13 - Cell 0 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX)
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
Row 15 - Cell 0 Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 21.03-beta
Row 17 - Cell 0 Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and SettingsRow 18 - Cell 1
Far Cry 6Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2022Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, Ultra High (default) Bahrain (Clear/Dry), FPS Counter ON

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • 8086
    High end hardware should come with zero compromises and yet I see a board full of compromise.
  • coromonadalix
    same toughts, unacceptable ... and the price meh
  • CmdrShepard
    But note that M2_1 shares bandwidth PCIEX16(G5)_2. When M.2_1 is enabled, the lower PCIe slot is disabled and the primary slot (PCIEX16(G5)_1) runs at x8 only. With bandwidth the same between 5.0 x8 and 4.0 x16, you won’t lose performance on existing graphics cards. Finally, the x4 slot at the bottom connects through the chipset with PCIe 4.0 x4 lanes available.

    Like, who cares if you won't lose performance with current generation cards?!?

    Slot is rated at 5.0 x16, and should keep working like that at all times unless I plug a x8, x4, or x1 card into it.

    Not only you lose bandwidth on the PRIMARY slot, you also lose the whole other x4 slot, and for what?

    Most likely on all the extra USB ports whose enumeration at boot time just slows down the booting process.

    Stupid board, idiotic compromises, horrible design.

    This here crap is why I stopped buying desktop and switched to workstation mainboards.

    And even though ASUS also makes workstation boards and I had X299 board before I had to switch brands because this "gazillion ports" cancer has spread to them as well along with some other weird design decisions.

    Take a look at their Pro WS W790-ACE board for example -- 8x USB 2.0, just... why? Total waste. Also M.2 slots are PCI-e 4.0, not 5.0. Why? You literally have 64 PCI-e 5.0 lanes on even lowest of Xeon CPUs, and if you weren't an idiot and if you haven't slapped 5 PCI-e slots on the board where most won't be accessible because of hefty GPUs but went with just 3 x16 slots instead, you could have had all 3 slots be capable of PCI-e 5.0 x16 simultaneously (total 48 lanes) and remaining 16 lanes would allow for 2x PCI-e 5.0 M.2 slots and 8 lanes to spare for other onboard devices.

    It's ok to compromise when you don't have a choice. This isn't compromise, it's "designed for obsolescence".