ASUS ROG Maximus III Formula Reviewccokeman -
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ASUS has always been one of the companies that put together a substantial bundle to let the end user take advantage of all the features and technologies on its motherboards. For instance, on the last ROG motherboard I looked at the Striker II Extreme ASUS included the adapters to connect the Fusion Block cooling system to an existing water cooling loop. The bundle included with the Maximus III Formula is no less substantial. It includes everything you will need to get started and then some. You get everything from the manual and driver disc to the Q Connectors as well as an ROG decal for the side of your chassis.
Included is a sheet of labels so you can mark each of the SATA cables running through your case so that you know which cables go to which controller and you can differentiate between both the HDD and ODD. To add additional USB and eSATA connectivity you get this expansion bracket that connects to internal headers. It seems that you never have enough USB ports with mice, keyboards, game pads, headsets, joysticks, foot pedals and external hard drives.
The I/O panel is a spot where you can really do some damage when you connect external devices to the computer. How many of you have seen that spark when connecting a set of headphones up to the front panel connections or plugging in a new USB device to the rear panel? ASUS has the Q Shield to help prevent ESD from damaging you hardware while controlling the EMI into and out of the panel. The other neat feature of the Q Shield is the fact that it does not have the the little metal tabs that you have to fight with when installing the motherboard. I know I have forgotten to bend one or more of these tabs out of the way more than once and had a few choice words when I realized I had to do one of two things, bend it out of the way or remove the motherboard and bend them out of the way.
The Q Connectors are in my opinion one of the best accessories you can get with an ASUS motherboard. The inclusion of these connectors eliminates trying to fit Sasquatch sized hands into a case to hook up the front panel connections. Using the Q Connectors, all of the connections are made to the connector and then just one connection is made to the motherboard. No more squinting or hoping you got the polarity correct on the HDD and power LEDs. The Maximus III Formula supports both SLI and CrossFire multi GPU technologies but the bridge connections seem to be included with only ATI video cards with the SLI bridge connection supplied by the motherboard manufacturer. ASUS has included the SLI bridge connection. The white cable included looks like a USB cable but wait, the ends are the same! This is so you can connect to both the ROG Connect port as well as a USB port on your notebook or netbook. The SATA cables included feature a 90 degree end with both ends having locking clips to prevent the cable from pulling out.
The Supreme FX X-Fi discrete audio card is an eight channel HD audio solution that supports EAX 4.0 and is used in a x1 PCI-E expansion slot. You have both a coaxial and S/PDIF out puts on the bracket. The S/PDIF input is on the back side of the card. The top of the card has the Supreme FX X-Fi logo that lights up blue when the system is powered up.
All in all, a superior bundle to go with a motherboard of this lineage. Let's dive into the motherboard and see if it lives up to the ROG moniker!