Here at VR-Zone, we hold ASUS's Republic of Gamers branded motherboards in high regard not only for their use of premium components and attention to detail, but also we personally know of many exceptional individuals on the ROG team who toil on through cold Taiwanese nights and weekends, optimizing electrical traces on the PCB and fiddling with BIOS signal tweaks in a bid to deliver record breaking platforms for their users. Does the Maximus V Formula (Z77) deliver for the enthusiast who is willing to pay the premium over regular boards?
We'll begin this review by admitting that if you are the average value conscious buyer, then the US$279 (or $359 with ThunderFX) ROG Maximus V Formula probably isn't what you are looking for. Entry level boards for unlocked Ivy Bridge processors (e.g ASRock Z77 Pro3) can be found near the US$100 price point, and other more feature ladened offerings (e.g Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H) closer to US$200. In fact, we can confidently proclaim that most of them will perform identically out of the box and have adequate engineering to meet the demands of the average sub 5-GHz air/water overclocking enthusiast. Quite the zinger right?
So the target audience of this board, not neccessarily only the Über rich, habours the same aspirational instinct/lust that drives them to get:
- Intel Core-i7 over AMD Bulldozer
- 2800MHz memory kits over 1600MHz ValueRams
- Starbucks Frappuccino over instant black coffee
- Shell V-Power over 95 Octane Petrol
- Apple iPhone 5 over Samsung Galaxy S3
These are the discerning few who don't mind paying more for refinement and incremental performance, which could even be irrational or intangible. You get the sense that in the modern age that we live in, penny pinching accountants are the ones dictating the design of the things we have around us by trying to cut corners and release crap that fit into specific price segments, instead of making them as good as they should be.
Polemics aside, let us tell you why the Maximus V Formula is one of our all-time favourites…
As with the rest of the family, the box of the Maximus V Formula comes in trademark ROG red, boasting about its credentials for gamers (although we suspect Asus's definition of gamers actually refers to the "power user" community).
The usual set of documentation, dongles/cables and promotional material is included the package, along with a small SteelSeries Diablo 3 cloth mousepad.
The particular SKU that we are reviewing includes the ThunderFX external USB sound card. This nifty contraption allows the user to use a single headset with their PC or console (PS3 and Xbox 360) with the added benefits of a built-in headphone amplifier and noise cancelling technology
Inside, we see the use of elaborate EMI shielding and Nichicon FG Series capacitors typically found on Asus Xonar products to ensure a high quality audio experience.