Board Layout and Features Continued
The upper right section of almost any motherboard is typically dedicated to all things related to overclocking and the Apex is no exception. In fact there is a lot going on here and I’m likely going to miss something so, let’s break it down.
Dual channel memory comes standard on the Kaby Lake processor and the ASUS Maximus IX Apex supports standard speed DDR4 modules at 2133Mhz with overclocking support up to 4266Mhz. A maximum of 32GB is addressable due to there only being two memory slots. This feature is key for running memory modules in excess of 4000Mhz+
In the location normally occupied by the other two memory sockets you will find a long slot called “DIMM 2” and is a dedicated slot designed to support two M.2 SSD drives using a special expansion card.
Below DIMM 2 you will find the majority of benchtop controls from the standard power and reset to more complex features like ReTry that is beneficial during overclocking when the reset button isn’t working.
We have all seen PCI Express disable switches before but, what about switches for the memory sockets? Next to the bank of four PCI Express disable switches you’ll find two jumpers that each control a channel of memory. Honestly, there is nothing more annoying than having a memory module go bad after fixing a LN2 container only to have to tear everything apart to troubleshoot. With these jumpers you can test each module individually or use it to bin memoy modules. The same goes for graphics cards where you can test each card individually or have a system setup for 4-Way benchmarking and disable the slots for running up the ladder (3-Way, 2-Way, Single Card).
Voltage test points, debug LED can help the overclocking effort while the LN2 switch can eliminate the cold bug present in Kaby Lake processors by allowing more CPU PLL voltage to be fed to the processor.
Lastly there are fan headers scattered across the entire motherboard, 10 in total. One in particular caught my attention called W_PUMP+ located at the bottom of the board. This header supports 3A of current and 36W making it perfect for DIY watercooling installs using a D5.
Next to the memory sockets is the DIMM 2 slot which is a dedicated slot for M.2 drives. The riser card supporting these drives is pictured below.
Of course for those of you not yet on the M.2 train a total of four SATA connections is available along with a USB 3.0 header and four pin MOLEX power plug for extra PCI Express power.
DIMM 2 is double sided and supports a variety of M-Key M.2 drives up to 22110 in length. While the DIMM 2 card is very creative is has a side benefit of removing the drives from being between the PCI Express slots where they can be exposed to frost and condensation when overclocking and also opens the area up for custom LED lighting effects.
You may have noticed the “Light Bar” outline shown on the back of the motherboard. Well, on the front you’ll find a cover that currently says “Republic of Gamers” and held in place with two screws. This is the Light Bar and, for those with some talent on a 3D printer or Vinyl cutter, you can create your own screens and further customize your builds.