Maximus Formula Design
Motherboard designs have changed in appearance over the past year, primarily due to the widespread use of the heatpipe cooling. Almost every mid-range to high-end Intel P35 and now X38 motherboard uses some form of heatpipe cooling, and the Maximus Formula is no exception. However ASUS has also included a water-block on the north bridge chip to further improve cooling efficiency.
The copper heatpipes connect the north and south bridge chips to the larger copper heatsinks designed to cool the power phase. Not only these copper heatpipes look impressive but they also work exceptionally well. While water-cooling will improve cooling and is made easy on the Maximus, it is not necessary as the board still works perfectly without the aid of water.
As you would expect from ASUS, the design of the Maximus Formula is very neat and everything is placed well. For example, the PCI Express x16 graphics card ports are clear of the four DDR DIMM slots, making for an easy installation of graphics cards or memory when the former is already installed. The floppy disk port is easy to access along the right side of the motherboard should you want to use it, while the IDE port is located directly below it. The six SATAII ports are placed together in the bottom right hand corner where they are easy to access.
The I/O panel is a little different to the usual configurations for a few good reasons. There are six USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit LAN ports, a single Firewire port, one PS/2 port, a Coaxial audio and S/PDIF port. Apart from the single PS/2 port, there are no other legacy ports found on the Maximus Formula I/O panel. There is also a large heatsink in the middle on the I/O panel along with a small Clear CMOS button that will no doubt come in handy for those willing to tinker around with your PC hardware.
The board features dual PCI Express x16 slots (both work at x16 speeds) along with two PCI Express x1, and two conventional PCI slots. We liked the overall layout of the ASUS Maximus Formula, rather than place two hot graphics cards virtually on top of each other, ASUS has cleverly placed the two PCIe ports between them.
This design will not only improve air flow, but will also prevent dual graphics cards from breathing in each others hot air. The CPU socket is also clear of any other heated components and can accommodate for much larger heatsinks. Overall, the Maximus Formula board design is exceptional and I cannot imagine anyone running into any obvious problems with it.