Of the ASUS motherboards I have used, tested and reviewed my favorites, by far, are the Rebuplic of Gamers Maximus editions as they tend to offer the most flexibility and offer some amazing performance potential
In this review we looked at the ASUS ROG Maximus XII Formula motherboard. Early in this review I called the Maximus XII Formula the Luxury edition in the Maximus lineup and given the performance and feature set I would hope you agree. In terms of position the Formula sits above the Apex (and Hero) and below the Extreme both in features and cost. In my review of the Maximus XII Hero I found it to be a high quality motherboard and a great entry into the Maximus lineup. The board didn’t come with as many covers or graphics and borrowed a VRM design from the Strix line but, brought everything together nicely to maintain the Maximus image.
The Maximus XII Formula takes things in a different direction and builds a product designed for the custom system builder. These builders often experiment with exotic watercooling loops so ASUS added the CrossChill EK III VRM cooler. This allows the VRM to be watercooled along with the rest of the system and looks pretty good. Watercoling is not required to run this motherboard and me doing this entire review with only an AIO is testament to that.
In addition to watercooling the Formula comes with the ASUS LiveDash which is a built-in 2” OELD panel that can display helpful information and custom graphics. If you are looking for that feature to make your build truly unique the LiveDash is it.
The final feature that really sets the Maximus XII Formula apart is the ample use of coverings over the entire motherboard. You will be hard pressed to see any part of the motherboard PCB and that can be a great feature when putting a custom builds together. And, don’t forget the metal backplate that not only protects the backside of the PCB but helps to reinforce the entire board and hides all those ugly metal solder joints.
The UEFI layout is quite good and displays exactly what you need to see. This is an important feature given that many manufacturers tend to overcomplicate the interface by trying to show "everything" or do the opposite and hide everything in a list of complex menus. The ASUS UEFI is very straight forward showing you the current state of your system while giving you appropriate menus to make adjustments.
As expected from a performance standpoint the new Z490 and Intel Core i9 10900k were pretty amazing. The new CPU comes with 10-cores and while my Core i9 7900X can match the core count it could not match the performance except for when it came to multimedia performance and memory throughput.
Of course the board is not without some strangeness including a single M.2 drive slot on the back of the motherboard. In a recent Hardware Asylum Podcast episode I talked about this and how it seems to be a perfect location for an Optane memory drive given that accessing that location once the build is completed will be virtually impossible.
Then again, the same could be said for accessing ANY M.2 drive once the build has been finalized so, while it seems strange I don’t find it bothersome at all.
There are very few motherboards on the market that I would consider luxurious and my overall impression is that the Maximus XII Formula is precisely that. The board comes with plenty of options for the enthusiast system builder along with a number of cool aftermarket watercooling support from EK. Combine that with 10G Ethernet and one of the best onboard sound solutions you can get and you have a solid base for any custom build.
Black Color Scheme
Hybrid Watercooled VRM Heatsinks
Excellent UEFI Menus
Flexible PCI Express Layout
Super Clean Audio
LED Strip Header
Would be nice to have the debug LED show temps all the time
The M.2 on the back of the motherboard can be tricky to access