Let’s be honest, Asus has a whole product line full of good motherboards. So much that it really takes a special motherboard to stand out from the crowd. There has been one specific board that has stuck with me for the past year and a half though, back from when I took a visit to the Asus office and they pulled it out to show me. That motherboard would be the Maximus V Formula. I’m sure you are wondering what made it stand out, especially considering all of the motherboards we have in the office, including boards like the Rampage IV. Well I only have a limited amount of space in the opening; you will have to peek inside our review to find out.
Product Name: Asus Maximus V Formula
Review Sample Provided by: Asus
Written by: Wes
Pictures by: Wes
Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333/1066 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Integrated Graphics Processor
Supports NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4)
Intel® Z77 chipset :
Intel®, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Wireless Data Network
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
SupremeFX IV built-in 7.1-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Intel® Z77 chipset :
mPCIe Combo™ (mPCIe/mSATA combo card)
ASUS TurboV EVO :
Back I/O Ports
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Optical S/PDIF in
5 x Audio jack(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x ROG Connect On/ Off switch(es)
Internal I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
2 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
2 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
3 x Optional Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
8 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
3 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x LN2 Mode header(s)
1 x EZ Plug connector(s) (4-pin Molex power connector)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Go Button(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo header(s)
64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
WfM2.0, DMI2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
ASUS AI Suite II
Extended ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 10.1 inch ( 30.5 cm x 25.7 cm )
The Maximus V Formula packaging follows the traditional Republic of Gamers theme with a bright red color and the ROG abstract formation starting from the bottom right corner. This is just like what we have seen with other ROG products, including the focus being on the product name with the ROG and Asus branding being much smaller and pushed into the corners. The front also has all the branding that is expected like the SLI badge, Windows 8 ready, Intel’s chipset badges, etc. The front also opens up to give you full view of the Formula V and they also have a nice breakdown of a few of its key features on the back side of the door/cover. The back of the box is all business as well with a specification breakdown, a few photos of the board, and a line drawing of the rear IO panel. This is especially great because this is one of the few things you can’t see through the window.
Inside the board is wrapped up in a static free bag and placed in a removable tray with a plastic cover on it. Under that tray there are dividers that held the tray up and split up all of the Maximus V Formula’s accessories, and let me tell you there are a lot of them!
One of the things I love about Asus ROG boards is that they don’t skimp when it comes to accessories. The Formula V was no different. It came with four SATA 3 cables and two SATA 2 cables, all in black and the SATA 3 cables have white trim. You also get a white ROG Connect USB cable and two White magnetic wireless antennas. Along with them there are also two small cables that go from the wireless card to the rear I/O panel. Like every other Asus board you also get Asus Q-Connectors, small plugs that let you hook up all of the front panel connections out away from the motherboard and then plug them all in at once.
The odd looking adapter below is called the ThunderFX Xbox 360 AV + 3.5 mm to RCA cable and it took me a far longer to figure that out than it should have. The reason for the confusion was because it’s not listed on the included listing in our specifications, it is intended to be bundled with the ThunderFX version of the Formula V so this is a sneak peek at one of the other features of that model. You get an adapter to run the ThunderFX apart from your PC on your Xbox as a headphone amp.
I love that Asus bundled in a black flexible SLI bridge. Getting every part of a build to match can be difficult and in the past I have even gone as far as to order a black SLI bridge off eBay to finish a build. Although normally crossfire bridges are included with the video card, I wonder if it would be possible for Asus to include a black ROG version with their boards as well. The nasty copper color that that comes with most video cards doesn’t go with anything, it would be great to have one that matches your motherboard.
Some of you may be wondering what this little guy is, this is actually a combination device that we first saw on the Gene. It is a mPCIe Combo card with dual band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n module + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS. This combo card plugs in on the motherboard at the rear I/O panel and on one side you can install a MSATA drive. On the other side they have already installed the wireless card. As mentioned before the wireless card handles wireless a/b/g/n and the latest Bluetooth standards as well.
I love the black rear I/O panel, this is much better than what some companies provide and will blend into today’s build much better than a bright I/O panel. It’s a small touch, but it’s clear that Asus has given thought to their customers on every level of the design of their products.
For documentation you have a full user guide, something that is getting rare from some manufactures. Along with that you get a nice “I’m Gaming Do Not Disturb” door hanger with the ROG logo on it. Asus included a nice sticker sheet that helps you tag all of your SATA cables on each end to keep track what they lead to if you would like. You of course get a drive/software disk and in with the disk is a small ROG case badge. This time around they also included a larger, much nicer, ROG sticker as well. I can’t really call it a case badge but it would look amazing on your case. It is basically a stick on ROG metal sticker.
When it comes to good looking motherboards there is a fairly short list and as a whole I don’t think there is an Asus ROG board that wouldn’t be on that list. The Formula V is actually one of the best looking boards I have seen from Asus with the Rampage 4 and the Rampage 3 Black Edition also being up there. I love the way the new hybrid cooling looks in addition to the black and red theme throughout the entire board. We won’t cover the cooling until the next section, but in this section I will break down the board’s layout and touch on its hardware features. Here are a couple overall shots of the board, but the devil is in the details so make sure you scroll on down and check out what is going on in the more detailed photos.
To start things off let’s take a look at the Formula V’s PCI slot options. We have three PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, one PCI Express 2.0 x4 slot and three PCI Express 3.0 x1 slots. Being limited on PCI Lanes on the CPU there is no way that all three of those x16 slots are going to get full bandwidth when they are all filled. The way it breaks down is if you have two being used they both drop down to x8’s and if you use all three you have x8/x4/x4. This isn’t perfect, but in this case this is completely out of Asus’s hands. This is exactly why I still suggest X79 builds for anyone who is planning on running multiple video cards.
I love how Asus spaced out their PCIe slots on the Formula V. You have the x4 slot up top where you can put a PCIe SSD without it getting in the way of your video cards. Then the first x16 slot has two x1 slots below it to make sure that even with Asus’s three slot video cards you will be able to fit at least two cards. The other benefit to this is if you are running three video cards the top card that normally gets the hottest has room to stay a little cooler.
Starting up in the top left corner we can see the CPU power connections include a four pin and eight pin plug. Generally you only need the eight pin, but for more power when overclocking the additional power will come in handy. Here we can also see the mPCIe header that the mSATA/Wi-Fi combo attaches too.
Here is an overall shot of the top right corner of the board. The Formula V, like other Z77 boards has four DDR3 DIMM slots. Asus color coded them black and red to keep with the ROG theme. For hold downs there are only clips on the top, this does take some getting used to but does mean less to deal with when installing your RAM.
Up in the top right most corner we have a debug LED just above the DIMM slots; this is an interesting location as we normally see this down in the bottom right corner. Here it is less likely to be covered by a long video card though. Next to it there is a four pin PWM chassis fan header. Right next to the fan header we have an on and off switch labeled slow mode. Similar to the GO button in a way, slow mode will slow things down during boot to prevent booting issues while overclocking. Then of course we can’t ignore the two backlit buttons for start and reset. I really like that they are up in the top right corner over the bottom right corner, with multiple video cards installed they are much easier to get to.
In the area to the right of the RAM DIMM slots under the buttons we have a few things going on. First the small red button is the GO button. The first thing that comes to mind with this is the movie Men In Black where when they press the little red button the speed through traffic. In a way this is similar. In the UEFI you can configure a GO profile and when you press the button it will overclock your PC to those settings. This is great if you are trying to overclock and are having a hang up at boot for example. Just below the GO button you have nine small solder points called probelt voltage readout points that are all labeled and allow you to check all of the board’s voltages on the fly using a multi-meter. Tucked in just beside the probelt voltage readout points and above the 24 pin power connection is a small LN2 Mode jumper as well. This changes a few settings to allow you to boot when running at extreme settings that are generally associated with sub-zero cooling (LN2).
Also next to the RAM slots you will find the 24 pin power connection. Tucked in next to it is one four pin PWM fan header and a two pin optional sensor connection. The red plug below the power connection is the board’s only internal USB 3.0 header.
For SATA connections we have a total of 8. Six of those are red in color and two are black. The Two Black headers are SATA 2 ports running on the Z77 chipset while the red ports are SATA 3 ports. The two red ports under the black ports are also on the Z77 chipset while the other four run on the ASMedia PCIe SATA controller.
In the bottom right corner of the board we have what can only be described as a whole mess of headers packed into a small space. You have two USB 2.0 headers over on the left. Next we have the TB Header, or in other words the ThunderBolt header. This is for use if you want to add thunderbolt in the future. As you can see they didn’t even have room to fit the name of the header in that area. Next we have a four pin PWM fan header and directly next to it is a small two pin temperature sensor plug. Just above those headers is the TPM header. TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module and this can be used for things like disk encryption. Last but not least we have the front I/O header as well. Considering how many headers that are packed into this corner it is especially important that Asus included the Q-connectors that will make plugging everything into the front I/O panel simple.
Down under the PCI slot you can see another four pin PWM fan header and also a right angled Molex plug to feed more power to the PCIe if needed. If you have ever needed to plug one of these supplemental power connections in you will completely understand how great it is that this is Molex and it is at a right angle on the bottom edge of the board. Many times I have needed a 6 pin connection above the PCI slots. Not only is it hard to find an extra 6 pin plug when you are running enough video cards to need the extra power on the PCIe ports, but putting the plug in above the video cards makes cable management impossible.
Here are two four pin PWM fan headers tucked in behind the rear I/O panel. One is labeled chassis and the other is labeled optional.
Here are our last two PWM four pin fan headers. These are specifically for the CPU; I wish more manufactures would make a point to give two CPU specific fan headers. A lot of people use push-pull configurations and this is the best way to handle them while keeping the fans in sync. It’s worth noting that both of these ports and the motherboards six other fan headers are all four pin PWM headers, generally we are lucky to have one PWM fan header for the CPU, let alone 8!
Back on the rear I/O Panel starting from the left we start with the backlit CMOS reset and ROG connect buttons. In between is the header for the mPCIe combo that lets us have Wi-Fi antenna connections on the rear I/O. Next we have four USB 2.0 ports and the bottom port is white in color for use with the ROG connect and USB BIOS Flashback. Next we have two USB 3.0 ports and an eSATA connection, the eSATA is running off of the Z77 chipset while the two USB 3.0 ports run on the ASMedia USB 3.0 controller. Next we have an HDMI and a full size DisplayPort plug along with a S/PDIF (optical) output. The next stack has two more blue USB 3.0 ports but these are run on the Intel chipset unlike the other two. Along with it you are getting an Intel Gigabit LAN port. It is important to note that Intel NIC’s are fairly rare on motherboards because of their additional cost; Asus still goes with them despite their cost because they are considerably better than other solutions. The last stack is your typical grouping of audio ports including a S/PDIF (optical) input.
Last but not least, when we flip the Formula V over we can see its all black PCB much better. Of course there is also the bottom half of the CPU socket but what is more interesting is the large black support just above it. This is to support the weight of the combination cooling on the flips side. From this side we can see where the audio circuitry is divided up as well, If you look in the top right corner you can see through that one line. This shows once again that the audio circuitry is completely disconnected from the motherboards circuitry to avoid crosstalk and interference issues that onboard audio generally has.
The Formula V is packed full of features but there is one that stands out above the rest. Its Fusion Thermo System, as Asus calls, is both eye catching and very unique. What Asus has done is combine a water cooling and air cooling solution that doesn’t rely on both at the same time. In other words it has water cooling built in but you aren’t going to have problems if you don’t water cool it. This is unique because past designs like this would have trouble when you don’t use the built in water cooling. They managed to do this by creating a design that uses heat-pipes as well as the water cooling channel. That means that the heat will still be spread around the heatsink, even without water cooling.
The Fusion Thermo System is all in place to help keep the CPU VRM temperatures down and even without water cooling it does a good job of that. Having the water cooling option has a side benefit as well. When you water cool your CPU there is a downside that most people forget. Without a CPU fan/fans blowing over the area sometimes the motherboard itself can get warmer. Having the option to include the Formula V in your water cooling loop is a nice option, especially without having to throw down the additional money for a motherboard water block kit. I do have one complaint about the setup though. You are locked in with both fitting design and size with the Formula V. Please keep this in mind when picking up parts for your build, you will need 3/8” ID tubing. I personally like to run ½” ID tubing because I prefer the way it looks, for me this means ether changing down to 3/8” ID or running two different sized tubing. In addition you can’t run compression fittings. It would have been perfect if Asus went with G ¼” threads here and let people go with what worked better for their system.
By now you have to be curious about the rest of the cooling on the Formula V right? Well down below the CPU we have a small black heatsink that also doubles as the motherboards billboard with a light up Republic of Gamers logo on it.
Down next to the PCIe slots we have the chipset cooling as well. This one matches the Fusion Thermo heatsink perfectly with its angled vents and rough black finish. This is also where you will find the Asus logo. They kept the height down on this one for clearance with long video cards. There isn’t much to it but it did help keep the Z77 chipset cool during all of our testing so we can’t really complain.
UEFI/BIOS and Software
Software and a good BIOS is an investment that not every company is willing or able to make. Because of Asus’s size we have generally really enjoyed their software and BIOS’s, especially when it comes to a ROG motherboard like this one. There is just so much to show you guys that we just put everything together in two videos and show you what you would see by flipping through the UEFI and the software.
We start off in the UEFI right in Asus’s advanced mode. The first page you have is the Extreme Tweaker page where you will spend most of your time when overclocking and configuring both your CPU and memory. You will also know that the UEFI is themed out with the ROG colors and logo up top. Also if you haven’t gotten a new motherboard in a while, you may also be shocked to see a mouse cursor here. Being a UEFI Asus was able to include mouse support, my video mostly uses the keyboard but you have the option to use mouse or keyboard. Back on the Extreme Tweaker tab as we flip down we have clock speed and voltage options out the wazoo. I don’t have time to go through every option but to say the least Asus has made sure that you won’t be limited on your overclock by the lack of ability to tweak anything at all. To help with it all, when you select an option they also give you a small tidbit of information on it on the right side of the screen whenever possible.
On over onto the advanced tab you have everything broken down into 9 different sections, splitting up options for things like CPU configuration, SATA Configuration, even LED controls. Each has a wide selection of options to let you tune things to your liking. This is where you will find things like the ability to turn on your RAID or to configure how you want your USB ports to act or you can even go down to the port and turn off specific USB ports. I would highly recommend flipping through it all to get your build perfectly configured for yourself.
Next you have the Monitor page where we can check and watch all of our fan speeds and temperatures. Along with that we can go in and set up the minimum fan speeds for each fan and put them on different profiles for quiet or “turbo” use.
Once you are finished setting everything up, under the exit option there is one last option that you should take a look at. The ASUS EZ Mode will take you to a more graphical interface that shows you the time and your basic configuration including temperatures and voltage settings. This is made for people who aren’t comfortable with jumping into a BIOS but still need to change the boot priority for example, here all you have to do is drag them into the order you would like.
When compared to most other manufactures there aren’t many who can hold a candle next to the Asus Suite II that is included with every Asus motherboard. Just having everything you need all in one program is important and this makes running the software less of a hassle and more of a useful tool that you would actually put to use. With this being a ROG board the software starts up with that red and grey theming as well as the ROG logo up in the corner. The first option we are given is the CPU level up or TurboV EVO. You will notice that it says it is powered by the TPU up top, this is a small chip on the motherboard that helps with overclocking and underclocking for better power usage. I will talk more about the overclocking in our overclocking section though.
One of the most impressive things in the software is the DIGI+ II Power Control. This is a combination of the features of the Formula V as well as Asus’s software. Asus has been a leader in moving power control from analog to digital over the past few years on their entire product lineup. In the past they were able to fit all of their DIGI+II Power Control options onto one page but as you can see this time around we have three different pages all together, each with a wide selection of options/slider bars that you can adjust. The reason for the multiple pages is because they now support full DIGI+ on the CPU, iGPU, and DRAM. There is also a page called smart DIGI+ that lets you set it and forget it when it comes to all of the DIGI+ Power Control. There are options for overclocking and just as importantly there are wattage limitation settings that let you cap your power usage to keep your environmental footprint low. I love that on the right side of the page they have information that adjusts along with the settings that you set your power control to show you what you are doing.
Next we have the EPU page. The EPU is a power saving engine that is also built into the motherboard just like the TPU. Here we have more power saving options like various options on turning the vCore voltage down as well as when to turn off hard drives and the monitor. As enthusiasts we rarely think about power usage, but I love that Asus has included all of this to allow my PC to save money when I’m not using it. The money saved might help me put a little extra back for my next build or for a new game.
The FAN Xpert 2 option is where you can tweak and tune each fan in a much more in depth way than what we had in the UEFI. Here you can change the fan speed ramp up depending on temperatures individually. There is also an Auto Tuning option that will optimize your configuration based on the fans you have and how many you have. Once tuned you have Silent, Standard, and Turbo options as well as an option that will turn everything to 100%.
Next is the Probe II tool as well as the Sensor Recorder. Here you can check every single voltage, fan speed, and temperature on the Formula V. Using the Sensor Recorder you can also record any of those sensors over time and see how your pc reacts when gaming or benchmarking. This will come in handy in the future with troubleshooting as well. It puts together a nice easy to read graph where you will be able to see something overheating or where you might need to ramp up a fan or two.
The rest of the Asus Suite are things like the Ai Charger option that lets you push more charging power to your mobile devices . You also have the USB Charger+ option where using the white ROG connect port you can charge your device while your PC is off or in standby mode. Last is the USB 3.0 Boost page where we can turn on USB 3.0 boost and increase the USB 3.0 transfer speeds considerably. Check out our SATA 3 and USB 3 section to see what to expect from this option.
Another part of the software that wasn’t covered in our video is the GameFirst II program. Those of you who have used a Bigfoot Network card will see a few similarities. Basically Asus has included software that controls traffic shaping on the Formula V to help you get the best performance in game. It does this by splitting your traffic up into VoIP, Media Streaming, Games, and File Sharing. With that it can give each a priority allowing latency sensitive traffic through first and doing things like file sharing in the background. Asus gives examples of where they saw WoW latency drop from 100 to 12ms. This isn’t going to give you a major jump in performance in your everyday stuff, but what it will let you do is downloading while gaming or streaming. This is where you will see an improvement.
Another value added feature that Asus includes with the software on the Formula V that rarely gets talked about is the free Kaspersky Anti-Virus. This just another add in that Asus includes that adds to the value and to their costs that you don’t really think about. Kaspersky is one of the most popular Anti-Viruses and should help protect your new build. Also included is a ROG themed CPU-Z, it might be free but it is cool that you get more ROG themed products along with your purchase.
Interestingly enough, the fact that this board comes with Wifi GO! Isn’t really pushed all that much on the Asus website. For those of you who don’t know what WiFi GO! Is, the included WiFi/Bluetooth card along with Asus’s software lets you do a few things. For one, you can actually turn your PC into a wireless router if needed to stream DLNA content to a wireless enabled television or a stereo. Along with than you have WiFi GO! Apps on android and iOS. These programs allow you to remote desktop, control your PC via motion or remote keyboard and mouse, and even remotely overclock your pc. It’s not a feature that I personally need all that much, but I love that Asus has included it all. The more features the better!
Our Test Rig
Crucial Ballistix Tracer Ram 1600Mhz 2x2Gb
OCZ Agility 3 120Gb SSD
Our Testing Procedures
Breakdowns on each benchmark from AIDA64
CPU Queen – “This simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic "Queens problem" on a 10 by 10 sized chessboard. At the same clock speedtheoretically the processor with the shorter pipeline and smaller misprediction penalties will attain higher benchmark scores. For example -- with HyperThreading disabled -- the Intel Northwood core processors get higher scores than the Intel Prescott core based ones due to the 20-step vs 31-step long pipeline. CPU Queen test uses integer MMX, SSE2 and SSSE3 optimizations.”
CPU PhotoWorxx - It performs the following tasks on a very large RGB image:
-Rotate 90 degrees CW
-Rotate 90 degrees CCW
-Fill the image with random colored pixels
-Color to black & white conversion
This benchmark stresses the integer arithmetic and multiplication execution units of the CPU and also the memory subsystem. Due to the fact that this test performs high memory read/write traffic, it cannot effectively scale in situations where more than 2 processing threads used. For example, on a 8-way Pentium III Xeon system the 8 processing threads will be "fighting" over the memory, creating a serious bottleneck that would lead to as low scores as a 2-way or 4-way similar processor based system could achieve. CPU PhotoWorxx test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU ZLib - This integer benchmark measures combined CPU and memory subsystem performance through the public ZLib compression library. CPU ZLib test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU AES - This benchmark measures CPU performance using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) data encryption. In cryptography AES is a symmetric-key encryption standard. AES is used in several compression tools today, like 7z, RAR, WinZip, and also in disk encryption solutions like BitLocker, FileVault (Mac OS X), TrueCrypt.
CPU AES test uses only the basic x86 instructions, and it's hardware accelerated on VIA PadLock Security Engine capable VIA C3, VIA C7, VIA Nano and VIA QuadCore processors; and on Intel AES-NI instruction set extension capable processors. The test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
CPU Hash - This benchmark measures CPU performance using the SHA1 hashing algorithm defined in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication 180-3. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate MMX, MMX+/SSE, SSE2, SSSE3, AVX or XOP instruction set extension. CPU Hash benchmark is hardware accelerated on VIA PadLock Security Engine capable VIA C7, VIA Nano and VIA QuadCore processors.
FPU VP8 Benchmark -This benchmark measures video compression performance using the Google VP8 (WebM) video codec Version 0.9.5 (https://www.webmproject.org). FPU VP8 test encodes 1280x720 pixel ("HD ready") resolution video frames in 1-pass mode at 8192 kbps bitrate with best quality settings. The content of the frames are generated by the FPU Julia fractal module. The code behind this benchmark method utilizes the appropriate MMX, SSE2 or SSSE3 instruction set extension, and it is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU Julia Benchmark - This benchmark measures the single precision (also known as 32-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x87, 3DNow!, 3DNow!+, SSE, AVX or FMA4 instruction set extension. FPU Julia test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU Mandel Benchmark - This benchmark measures the double precision (also known as 64-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of several frames of the popular "Mandelbrot" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x87, SSE2, AVX or FMA4 instruction set extension. FPU Mandel test is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
FPU SinJulia Benchmark - This benchmark measures the extended precision (also known as 80-bit) floating-point performance through the computation of a single frame of a modified "Julia" fractal. The code behind this benchmark method is written in Assembly, and it is extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing trigonometric and exponential x87 instructions. FPU SinJulia is HyperThreading, multi-processor (SMP) and multi-core (CMP) aware.
Cinebench - CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. The test procedure consists of two main components - the graphics card performance test and the CPU performance test.
Main Processor Performance (CPU)
The test scenario uses all of your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores.
In fact, CINEBENCH can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. ThIS test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.
Graphics Card Performance (OpenGL)
This procedure uses a complex 3D scene depicting a car chase (by renderbaron) which measures the performance of your graphics card in OpenGL mode. The performance depends on various factors, such as the GPU processor on your hardware, but also on the drivers used. The graphics card has to display a huge amount of geometry (nearly 1 million polygons) and textures, as well as a variety of effects, such as environments, bump maps, transparency, lighting and more to evaluate the performance across different disciplines and give a good average overview of the capabilities of your graphics hardware. The result given is measured in frames per second (fps). The higher the number, the faster your graphics card.
Floating Point Math
Find Prime Numbers
Physics String Sorting
Whetstone testing is great to see how well a CPU can handle floating-point arithmetic. We also do Dhrystone that is similar but for integer and string operations.
A benchmark specifically designed to measure the efficiency of the different multi-core processors with their different architectures as well as compare their performance to traditional multi-processor (SMP) systems.
Performance measuring benchmarks do not show at-a-glance the differences between multi-core processors and how multi-threading programs should be designed to best take advantage of the underlying architecture while avoiding the "gotchas" .
This benchmark does not test processor unit computational performance, i.e. how fast the cores of the processors are; it tests how fast the connection between them is only.
Sandra's algorithm is multi-threaded on SMP/SMT systems. This works by splitting the arrays and letting each thread work on its own bit. Sandra creates a thread for each CPU in the system and assignes each thread to an individual CPU.
Another difference is the aggressive use of sheduling/overlapping of instructions in order to maximise memory throughput even on "slower" processors. The loops should always be memory bound rather than CPU bound on all modern processors.
The other major difference is the use of alignment. Sandra dynamically changes the alignment of streams until it finds the best combination, then it repeatedly tests it to estimate the maximum throughput of the system. You can change the alignment in STREAM and recompile - but generally it is set to 0 (i.e. no).
Designed by the guys behind PCWorld, Worldbench is a benchmark designed to use applications and utility’s that everyone uses day to day and benchmark their performance. This gives the most accurate REAL world results, something that no other benchmark does. Being fully automated, WorldBench 6's application tests are scripted to run consecutively, and those results are automatically combined and compared against a baseline system. Popular applications like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop and Mozilla Firefox are each used as they would be in real-world situations to comprise the final WorldBench score.
WPrime – Perfect for testing the multithreading of multiple core CPU’s. “wPrime uses a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sorting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum.”
X264 HD – X264 HD is a CPU encoding benchmark. Using the x264 codec this test encodes a video file and times its performance.
Overall Synthetic Benchmarks
We run the entire collection of Futuremark’s PC and 3D benchmarks. Although they are synthetic, they do run consistent benchmarks on both in game performance and PC performance. Their new PCMark 7 does an amazing job of testing real world programs including web page loading speed and other activities nearly everyone does on their PC daily.
3DMark Vantage Performance
3DMark Vantage High
3DMark Vantage 2011 Extreme
In Game Tests
Shogun2 (In game benchmark, 1080p on high setting)
Batman Arkham Asylum (In game benchmark, 1920 x 1080, all settings turned up to their highest settings including AA)
Super Street Fighter 4 Arcade Edition (in game benchmark, 1920 x 1080, highest settings)
f1 2011 (in game benchmark, 1920 x 1080, highest settings)
Metro 2033 DX11 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 11; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Metro 2033 DX10 test (built-in benchmark, 1920 x 1080; DirectX: DirectX 10; Quality: Very High; Antialiasing: MSAA 4X; Texture filtering: AF 4X; Advanced PhysX: Enabled; Tessellation: Enabled; DOF: Disabled)
Audio Testing is done using Rightmark Audio Analyzer
USB 3.0 and SATA 3 testing is done with Crystal Disc Mark with a Corsair Force GT 60 Gb. USB 3.0 testing is hooked up through a Thermaltake BlackX with USB 3.0 support
As a whole the stock clocked performance of any board compared to another board is rarely very different. The results in all of our tests are very dependent on the CPU, RAM, and Video card. Areas that a motherboard can make a difference are in things like data transfer on the SSD, network speed, audio, and other things that run on controllers on the motherboard. Because of that, even though we do a list of benchmarks, the benchmarks are fairly trivial and rarely very different. It is interesting though when we do a benchmark like 3DMark11 and see every single benchmark from a manufacture stand ahead of everyone else. Even more interesting is the fact that we saw the same results almost across the board in our testing. I can only account this to good power control and attention to detail on things like the motherboards trace routing but frankly even that is speculating. What we do know is that in benchmarks that no product should stand out, Asus has managed to stand out FIVE times in a row using different motherboards including the Formula V that we are talking about today. See the results below!
USB 3.0 and SATA 3
When it comes to motherboard performance one of the most important aspects is something that most people don’t even give any thought too. That is data transfer speeds both on the USB and SATA interfaces. We have put the Formula V to the test in both situations using a Corsair Force GT SSD to push the limits. Transfer speed is tested using Crystal Disc Mark on both the read and writes. As you can see from the results below, once again the USB 3.0 boost that Asus provides helps them dominate our tests well above what we saw from the Gigabyte and Intel motherboards. Write speed was slightly less and not boosted at all by their USB 3.0 Boost. I have also included results comparing the boost vs non-boost results. As you can see, the difference is staggering.
Interesting enough, The Formula V did just about as well on the SATA benchmarks. This was interesting considering they were all tested using the build in Intel Z77 chipset controller. Either way, we know that the Formula V is going to handle even the fastest SSD’s in your new monster PC build.
If you have been paying attention in our review up to this point this should be a fairly easy section. The UEFI that Asus included with the Formula V is nothing short of top notch with every option you could possibly imagine. On the power side we have their DIGI+ II Power Control that gives us complete control over the CPU, iGPU, and RAM’s power. Along with that we have the Fusion air and water cooling to keep things cool. It’s fairly obvious that this is a great board if you are looking to push the limits of your Ivy Bridge CPU. In fact I bet that your CPU will be the limitation not the motherboard at all. BUT what I’m curious is what kind of overclock can someone who knows nothing about overclocking get. These days overclocking has become more and more well-known but there are a lot of people know they want the extra performance but don’t have the knowledge to tweak and tune it themselves. That is why most motherboards come with an easy to use button or software to do this for you. Here are our results.
I mentioned this with our review of the Maximus V Gene, but It is very interesting that when using a ROG board there are just the three overclock options but when using a standard Asus board it will go through and test its way up for the overclock. One the plus side, this is easy and it’s nice to see Asus feel confident in the 4.6GHz cap that they put on the easy overclocks. But as you can also see this did put the ROG boards in a little lower than the regular boards. Having said that it did still come in above the results from the Gigabyte and Intel boards and 4.6GHz is extremely impressive in its own right!
All motherboards anymore have onboard audio but Asus has innovated in the integrated audio department for the last few years especially. Sure there have been a few companies who have tried, but in most cases they end up just being a normal onboard sound card with Creative Labs firmware and at best they are following in Asus’s footsteps as they finally see how important good audio quality is to enthusiasts. The Formula is using a similar design to what we saw on the Gene at the Z77 launch but they have made a few changes and moved away from the SupremeFX III name that the Gene had, to the SupremeFX IV.
Here you can see a few important features. The audio chip itself is protected under a metal cover to prevent interference, this cover also lights up with the SupremeFX logo as well to give the Formula V a little extra styling. Next you will see all of the capacitors; Asus went with top of the line ELNA premium audio capacitors for the best possible quality this is one of the key design differences from the Gene to the Formula. The ELNA capacitors should give an improved tonality. Down at the bottom most corner of the board you will see the build in 300ohm headphone amplifier for pushing the best audio right out the front of your pc to your headphones. A lot of people take for granted something like a headphone amplifier. More power isn’t just louder music from your headphones, it means more power to push crisper music and lower notes.
Last but not least is what Asus calls their Red Line Shielding. We saw this on the Gene as well and loved it. The best way to prevent interference with onboard is to not have onboard. Asus did the second best thing here by splitting the SupremeFX off of the rest of the board; you can see it by looking for the yellowish line across the PCB in our photos. When the motherboard is powered on the Red Line Shielding glows red via red LEDs. This shows you that the separation goes all the way up to the rear I/O panel to keep the full audio circuit separated from the rest of the motherboard.
If you were to take a look at any other board on the market, you are going to see the difference between this setup and everything else. We don’t see that many onboard controllers that include a 300ohm headphone amplifier let along ELNA caps or the separation of the red line shielding.
To put it all to use, we take two different things into account. For a numbers approach we use Rightmark’s audio analysis to get a pure numbers take on the onboard audio performance. To go along with that I also put the audio testing to the test with general use, something that is always a welcomed break when you are in the middle of long boring motherboard benchmarks. Audio isn’t something that always can be taken just from numbers, although they are still important. Things like the difference the new ELNA capacitors might make don’t show on numbers, they show with a warmness and tonality that you can only hear subjectively, similar to how people still love vinyl records when digital formats are still technically an improvement. Having said that, I was very impressed with the audio quality of the Formula V’s onboard in my testing. Not only did it test on par with the Gene, but it really did sound better than any other on board solution. That was something I didn’t really expect considering it was still on the motherboard, at least partially.
Overall and Final Verdict
Every single time I take a look at an Asus motherboard I walk away impressed. The Maximus V Formula is no different and frankly I expected nothing less. I came into this review excited about the built in water cooling and I left impressed by Asus’s attention to detail. A good example of Asus’s focus can be seen with its Rear I/O panel. The blacked out I/O panel doesn’t cost any more than a light colored panel, but it shows that Asus knows the customer for the Formula V pays attention to every detail of their build to make sure everything fits together perfectly. The inclusion of a black SLI bridge is another example of this and even though this is a small feature I personally have gone out of my way to order black bridges on eBay in the past, this will save me way more than it cost Asus to go black rather than an ugly color.
I did have a small issue with the built in water cooling. I would have liked it more if I wasn’t limited to one tubing size. My preferred tubing size isn’t supported so I would have to step down a size or run two different size tubes to use this. But this is still better than nothing; I can deal with the downside. Frankly even without using the water cooling the heatsink looks amazing.
I talked in depth about the Asus Suite II software and the UEFI. This is because it is packed full of features and is well laid out and easy to work with. You could easily tweak and tune almost everything just using the software although if you do jump into the UEFI you will be even more impressed by the level of adjustability Asus includes. As of right now, I haven’t seen any other motherboard manufacture come close to the software that Asus provides with all of their motherboards. Not to be cliché but this is what sets the men away from the boys so to speak.
So the question is should you go pick up your own Maximus V Formula. Without a doubt it is packed full of features and is an amazing board. The biggest downside really is its price. At $299 it’s not a cheap board. The problem with the price isn’t that it’s not worth it, because like I said it’s an amazing motherboard. Asus just has a lot of great motherboards. Most people could spend $100 less and pick up something like the P8Z77-V Pro and have most of the same features. You really have to figure out if the water cooling, upgraded audio, and ROG styling is worth the extra money to you. Having said that, without a doubt the Maximus V Formula will find a home in a PC in my house very soon. If your budget allows it, I don’t think you can find a better motherboard.