ASUS ROG Maximus V Formula Motherboard Review

 

A Closer Look - Topology and I/O

Let us flip the motherboard over to discuss something that ASUS really prides themselves on, called T-topology. Nearly 40% of a motherboard's trace layout is centered around the CPU and DRAM area, so improvements in the efficiency of this layout can pay big dividends. ASUS has decided to do away with the old-school method of serial "daisy chain" reads between memory and the CPU. To counter the inherent latency in this type of setup, ASUS has introduced T-Topology to essentially perform the memory reads in parallel thanks to a modified trace layout. This could theoretically result in a 15% boost in performance, but only in the case of 4 DIMMs being populated. It does nothing clock-for-clock, but rather increases the overclocking envelope when all slots are populated. While only real performance geeks will see improvements by using 4 DIMMs, you have to hand it to ASUS for making the effort to model the transmission line impedances and trace layout themselves as opposed to using Intel's stock layout.

A real bonus item that is included with every motherboard of the Maximus V Series is the mPCIe Combo card. The gizmo comes bundled with a dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth v4.0 module for lots of wireless connectivity options. An adapter cable for the two included Wi-Fi antennas snaps onto the card at two tiny points, but the whole assembly actually feels quite robust. Once you thread the antennas into the adapter, they can mount to the outside panels of your case magnetically. The combo card supports SATA 3Gb/s per the Z77 chipset, so for an extra sum of money you can pick up either a full-sized or half-sized mSATA SSD to take advantage of Intel's Rapid Storage Technology.

IO

We will conclude our journey around the Maximus V Formula at the rear I/O panel. It's easy to spot the buttons for CMOS clear and USB BIOS Flashback straddling the pins for the mPCIe network adapter at the top of the board. A row of four USB 2.0 ports lie just below. One of these ports is reserved exclusively for use with the ROG Connect cable, which allows you to monitor system stats and accomplish real-time overclocking from a separate computer running the ROG Connect software. Next up are two USB 3.0 ports managed by the ASMedia controller with support for the ASUS USB 3.0 Boost UASP Mode. As it turns out, not all implementations of USB 3.0 are the same, and most use the same BOT protocol that was first implemented back in the days of USB 1.1. The bandwidth demands of the modern PC owner could use a boost from the new UASP (USB Attached SCSI Protocol) that executes high-speed sequential file transfers. But you will need to  pair a UASP enabled client controller (the one on your external drive) with the host controller (the one on the motherboard) in order to reap the full benefits. Those stuck with traditional BOT protocol devices can still benefit from a Turbo mode that collects file transfer commands into batches to be sent out all at once, giving the impression of lower latency. The other two of the four available USB 3.0 ports on the rear I/O are Intel ports that use the Turbo mode. And just when you thought that these ports couldn't have any additional functionality attached to them, ASUS goes the extra length to enable faster charging of your phone, tablet, or E-reader with a feature they call USB Charger+. When enabled, the utility let's the ports draw more power to charge your mobile device more quickly. The Ethernet port is in fact an Intel LAN port that supports Gigabit Ethernet and the ROG GameFirst II utility. Besides the handy 3Gb/s eSATA port to compliment the six 6Gb/s and two 3Gb/s SATA ports on the other end of the board, everything else on the rear I/O is standard faire.

 

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