The motherboard market is tough – the enthusiast user would like a motherboard that does everything but is cheap, and the system integrator would like a stripped out motherboard that is even cheaper. An overclocker would like a minimalist setup that can push the limits of stability, and the gamer would like an all singing, all dancing everything. The ASUS Maximus V Formula is designed to cater mainly to the gamer, but also to the enthusiast and the overclocker, for an all-in-one product with a distinct ROG feel. With the combination air/water VRM cooling system, a mini-PCIe combo card with dual band WiFi and an mSATA port, one of the best on-board audio solutions and the regular array of easy-to-use BIOS/Software, ASUS may be onto a winner – and all they ask for is $270-300.
Overclocking for Z77 – Why Focus on Extreme Overclockers?
The motherboard market shrank in 2012, with reports suggesting that from the 80 million motherboards sold in 2011, this was down to 77 million worldwide in 2012. In order to get market share, each company had to take it from someone else, or find a new niche in an already swollen industry. To this extent, after the success of the ROG range, the top four motherboard manufacturers now all have weapons when it comes to hitting the enthusiast or power user with an overclocking platform. These weapons are (with prices correct as of 3/7):
$400 – Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 (our review)
$379 – ASUS Maximus V Extreme
$290 – ASUS Maximus V Formula
$225 – ASRock Z77 OC Formula (our review, Silver Award)
$200 – ASUS Maximus V Gene
$190 – MSI Z77 MPower (our review)
There are two main differentiators between the low (<$300) and the high (>$350) end. The first is the inclusion of PLX PEX 8747 chip, to allow 3-way or 4-way GPU setups. We covered how the PLX chip works in our 4-board review here, but this functionality can add $30-$80 onto the board (depending on the bulk purchase order of the manufacturer and the profit margins wanted). The second is usually attributed to the functionality and power delivery – the 32x IR3550s used on the Gigabyte Z77X-UP7 costs them a pretty penny, and the extensive feature list of the ASUS ROG boards usually filters through.