Features and Motherboard Layout


Courtesy of ASUS

  • LGA1151 socket for 6th-gen Intel® Core™ desktop processors.
  • Dual DDR4 3733 (OC) support
  • Best gaming cooling – CrossChill EK for both air and liquid cooling
  • Best gaming lighting – Three-way RGB illumination, Aura 4-pin RGB-strip header & lighting control
  • Best gaming audio – Reinvented SupremeFX 2015 with intuitive Sonic Studio II
  • Best gaming performance – 5-Way Optimization with Auto-Tuning, second-gen T-Topology, and OC-friendly design
  • Best gaming networking – Best-in-class Intel® Gigabit Ethernet, LANGuard and GameFirst technologies
  • Best gaming protection – ROG Amor plus carefully-selected premium components for maximum durability
  • Best gaming connectivity – 2×2 802.11ac MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, U.2 and M.2, plus Intel-powered USB 3.1 Type A+C
  • ROG gives you more – More gaming-oriented utilities, all free!

Motherboard Layout

The Maximus VIII Formula combines the newest ROG aesthetics with the armor overlay common to the Formula board series. The PCB and armor are black colored without any red accents present on the board's surface. The board name is stamped into the rear panel cover with thr ROG login integrated into the Z170 chipset heat aink The board was designed with an ATX form factor to easily fit into most consumer enclosures, while providing more than enough surface area for its integrated components.

The back of the board has the armored plate, protecting any exposed circuitry on the back of the PCB. This also gives the board extra rigidity (flex protection) as well as a secondary heat dispersal path. The area surrounding the CPU is completely free of components, so there should be no issues with any using any cooler back plates with this board.

The Maximus VIII Formula motherboard includes the following ports integrated into its rear panel assembly: a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, six USB 3.0 ports, two USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C), one RJ-45 port tied to the Intel I219-V controller, ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module featuring two ports tied 802.11ac Wi-Fi controller, a DisplayPort video port, an HDMI video port, a BIOS reset button, the USB BIOS Flashback button, an optical audio port, and five analogue audio ports. All blue colored USB 3.0 ports are controlled by the Intel Z170 controller. The USB 3.1 ports directly underneath the RJ-45 port are controlled by the Intel Thunderbolt 3 controller. For the USB 3.0 ports underneath the PS/2 port, the top port is used in conjunction with the ASUS Keybot II software with the bottom used in conjunction with the USB BIOS Flashback functionality.

The USB BIOS Flashback button can be used to re-flash the BIOS without having to boot the system into the UEFI BIOS interface or a command-line mode interface. Simply plug in a USB drive containing the proper BIOS file in the root of the drive into the lower USB 3.0 port (blue colored) located beneath the PS/2 port and power on the system. As the BIOS is updated, the LED flashing frequency increases. Once the LED goes out, the flash operation is completed and the board can be booted. Note that if the BIOS Flashback LED flashes for 5 seconds and then glows solid, it means that something went wrong with the flashback operation. Check the USB drive for the the BIOS file in the root and make sure that the BIOS file is named correctly. BIOS Flashback looks for a specific filename and file format when attempting to replace the on-board BIOS. According to the user manual, the BIOS file in the root of the flash drive must be named M8F.CAP for the BIOS Flashback applet to successfully re-flash the board's BIOS.

The Maximus VIII Formula motherboard has a total of six PCI-Express device ports – three PCI-Express x16 slots and three PCI-Express x1 slots. For the PCI-Express x16 slots, the board supports full x16 bandwidth with a single card, x8 / x8 bandwidth with dual cards, and x8 / x8 / x4 with three cards.

The board's integrated audio components are covered by a plastic overlay just above the PCIe ports with the SupremeFX logo stamped into its surface in chrome lettering. The audio subsystem lives on an isolated PCB to minimize line-noise and distortion caused by other integrated components. The PCB separator line illuminates according to the color scheme configured through the UEFI or the AURA applet in Windows. ASUS included the following audio components into the sound systems design: an ESS ES9023P DAC (digital-to-analogue converter), Nichicon audio capacitors, a 2 Vrms headphone amplifier, Sonic SenseAmp for automatic headphone impedance detection, and a NEC de-pop relay to prevent popping when audio components are connected and/or disconnected from the board. The audio output header is located to the lower left of the overlay along the board's edge.

In the upper left corner of the board (and along the outer edge of the PCIe x16 slot 4) are the front panel audio header, a 12V RGB LED header, and a 4-pin chassis fan header. The RGB LED header can be used to power and synchronize a connect LED strip with the board-integrated LEDs.

With an RGB LED strip connected to the 12V RGB header, it becomes possible to sync the LED strip color and activity with that of the motherboard's integrated LEDs.

A 4-pin chassis fan header, the MemOK! button, and a USB 3.0 headers are located to the lower left of the PCIe x16 slot 4. The MemOK! button can be used to reset memory-related BIOS settings to defaults, useful when the system doesn't boot because of memory options set over-aggressively.

A USB 2.0 header, the OC Panel headers (labeled ROG_EXT), a 4-pin chassis fan header, the front panel header, a temperature sensor header, and the external fan device header are located to the lower left of the PCIe x16 slot 4. The lower header in the ROG_EXT group can be used for two additional USB 2.0 ports if the OC Panel II device is not connected to the system. The OC Panel cable (bundled in with the ROG OC Panel device) connects to the ROG_EXT ports, allowing the ROG OC Panel II device to interact with the board. The external fan device header can be used to add additional fan and temperature ports by connecting the external fan board to the header using the included cable. Note that both the OC Panel II device and the external fan board are available for purchase from ASUS.

The Intel Z170 chipset is cooled by a low-profile black chromed heat sink with an embedded ROG logo in its center. Laying directly underneath the logo is an RGB led that can be configured for color and mode using the ASUS Ambient LED applet. To the lower right of the chipset are a chassis fan header and temperature sensor header.

The chipset heat sink, M.2 PCIe x4 slot, and CMOS battery are located beneath the chipset cover plate. The cover plate snaps in place over the chipset section, screwing into a threaded upright just under the third PCIE x1 slot.

The PCIe x4 M.2 slot sits just under the third PCIe x1 slot with the M.2 device sitting in between the second and third PCIe x16 slots when engaged. The M.2 port supports M-Key style M.2 SSDs with PCIe or SATA interfaces with length of up to 110mm. Note that the M.2 slot shares bandwidth with the U.2 and upper SATA-Express slot ports. The U.2 port is automatically disabled and the SATA-Express slot operates in PCIe mode with an M.2 device seated in the board.

ASUS designed the Maximus VIII Formula board with a total of four SATA 6 Gb/s ports, two SATA-Express 10 Gb/s ports, and a PCI x4 NVMe capable U.2 device port. To the right of the SATA port block is a USB 3.0 header. The SATA-Express ports house two SATA 6 Gb/s ports each that can be used as stand alone ports as well, adding an additional four SATA 6 Gb/s ports to the board. The two SATA-Express ports and outer SATA ports are tied to the Z170 controller with the inner SATA ports (black colored) tied to the ASMedia controller. Note that the U.2 slot and upper SATA-Express port share bandwidth with the M.2 slot. The M.2 port is automatically disabled and the SATA-Express slot operates in SATA mode with a U.2 device seated in the board.

The four on-board DDR4 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. Dual Channel memory mode is enabled by seating memory modules in like colored slots with slots 2 and 4 (the gray colored slots) being the primary memory slots. The board supports up to 64GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3800MHz. Note that memory speeds above 2133MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. Directly below the memory port block is the 24-pin ATX power connector.

To the lower right of the DIMM slots are the Power and Reset buttons, the 2-digit diagnostic display, and a 4-pin chassis fan header and temperature sensor. The 2-digit diagnostic display can be used for debugging system issues during system initialization. The displayed debug codes can be decoded using the table from the motherboard manual.

To the upper right of the DIMM slots are CPU primary (CPU_FAN), CPU secondary (CPU_OPT), and water pump (W_PUMP) 4-pin fan / power headers. The 4-pin water pump header can be used to power and monitor a standard 12V water pump – an AIO cooler's integrated coolant pump or a pump integrated into a DIY loop.

The CPU socket area is mostly clear of obstructions allowing for use of most coolers without issue with the board. While we didn't run into issues in testing the board, the capacitors just above the CPU socket may pose problems for coolers not tightly complying with the Intel specs. The board was designed with 10 power phases for CPU and integrated GPU power delivery requirements, providing more than enough power for any overclocking. The VRMs are cooled by large hybrid copper heat sinks to the upper and right sides of the CPU socket, hidden beneath the armor overlay.

Courtesy of ASUS

The integrated CPU VRM cooler is a hybrid copper-based block custom designed by EK for the Maximus VIII Formula motherboard and capable of both air and water cooling. The cooler has two G1/4" threaded ports in its acetyl top plate with rubber port covers included for air use. Internally, the blocks feature copper fins and channels to increase the heat transfer area when using cooler with a liquid cooling medium.

To the upper left of the CPU socket (and to the left of the upper VRM block port) is 4-pin chassis fan header and temperature sensor header.

A single 8-pin ATX12V power connector is included for CPU power, positioned to the upper right of the CPU socket and VRM block.

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