X38 Comparison Part 1: DDR2 Motherboards

Asus Maximus Formula (Special Edition): Overachiever, Continued

Asus turned all six of its Serial ATA and the single Ultra ATA connector 90 degrees to face forward at the front edge, allowing cable connectors to slide easily under the leading edge of extra-long graphics cards. Unfortunately, this could prevent the board from being easily used in some ATX cases, since any nearby drive bays would interfere with connector insertion.

Moving further away from tradition is Asus' SupremeFX II audio riser card, which is designed to isolate analog audio circuits from electromagnetic interference. An added benefit of placing the audio solution on the system's top slot is that its front panel connector is easily reached by the cables of cases with top-mounted "front panel" ports.

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Asus Maximus Formula Special Edition (Revision 1.02G)
NorthbridgeIntel X38 Express MCH
SouthbridgeIntel ICH9R
Voltage RegulatorEight Phases
BIOS0205 (09/11/2007)
333.3 MHz (FSB1333)334.0 MHz (+0.2%)
Connectors and Interfaces
Onboard2x PCIe x163x PCIe x12x PCI3x USB 2.0 (2 ports per connector)1x IEEE-1394 FireWire1x Floppy1x Ultra ATA (2 drives)6x Serial ATA 3.0Gb/s1x S/P-DIF Out1x Fan 4 pins (CPU)7x Fan 3 pins (System)3x thermal sensor connector1x Internal Power Switch1x Internal Reset Switch1x LCD Diagnostics Display Module connector
IO panel1x PS2 (keyboard )2x RJ-45 Network6x USB 2.01x Clear CMOS Switch2x Digital Audio Out (S/P-DIF optical + coaxial)1x IEEE-1394 FireWire
Mass Storage Controllers
Intel ICH9R6x SATA 3.0Gb/s (RAID 0,1,5,10)
JMicron JMB3681x Ultra ATA-100 (2-drives)
2x Marvell 88E8056-NNC1 PCI-E2x Gigabit LAN Connection
HDA (Azalia) Controller InterfaceADI 1988B 8-channel riser card
VIA VT6308P2x IEEE-1394a (400 Mb/s)

Onboard device highlights include two PCI-Express Gigabit Ethernet controllers and the high-quality ADI 1988B audio chip. The PCI-Express interface is required for gigabit controllers to operate at full speed, as the old-fashioned 32-bit PCI interface used by certain competitors can only handle gigabit-speed traffic in one direction at a time.

Also featured are connectors for several internal thermal resistors, which can be connected to a variety of front panel temperature display devices.

Asus relieves the rear panel of several connectors, ostensibly for better ventilation to the Maximus Formula's silver-colored sink. Remaining are a single PS/2 keyboard port, two digital audio ports (coaxial and optical), six USB 2.0 ports an IEEE-1394 FireWire port and two network ports. Asus adds a "CLR CMOS" button for resetting BIOS, but users who worry about depressing it accidentally can disable this by using an internal switch.

Noticeably absent from the Maximus Formula rear panel port section are any External SATA ports, which have come to be expected of any high-end motherboard. In fact, Asus doesn't even have an extra SATA controller with internal connectors for breaking out to the front-panel eSATA ports of some cases, instead forcing builders to use one of the six chipset-supported ports.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • firesteel
    What happened to this motherboard? I don't see it for sale at places like tigerdirect. Newegg say it's discontinued. Has it been replaced by a newer model or something?