ASUS ROG Z390 Maximus XI Formula Preview

ASUS ROG Z390 Maximus XI Formula Preview

Z390 Introduction

We’ve barely recovered from the launch of the nVidia RTX range of graphics cards than the new Intel 9th Generation CPUs are due to appear. If you’ve been following the market for any length of time at all you’ll understand that a new CPU always comes with a new chipset to go alongside it, and as the newest Intel CPUs are even beefier than their 8th Generation forebears the Z390 is the very thing. 

As you can gather from the fact that the Z390 is similarly labelled to the Z370 that is currently supporting the Coffee Lake CPUs, this is more of an evolution of the already excellent Z370, than a full on rejig. The Z370 motherboards haven’t been around all that long and in the time between that launch and this one the market hasn’t seen any major new technological additions. The cynical might suggest that the Z370 was only ever intended as a stop gap product, hence its brief moment in the sun. However, the Z370 had a strong enough feature set that the Z390 should be a refinement of the current motherboards and should see a stronger commitment to those features that have proven their worth. That’s the best thing about market forces, ideas which prove untenable get left by the wayside whilst those which prove useful are retained.

The primary changes to the Z390 chipset are; the addition of support for 2nd Gen USB 3.1 at a chipset level. We’ve seen the 10Gbps USB continue the rapid adoption rate that USB has always managed, so much so that most people forget how complicated it used to be to connect any peripheral at all. Secondly Intel have their own WiFi AC dual support. The World is swiftly going wireless, and being able to easily have all our devices centrally connected is a boon. Those of you who prefer the reliability and speed of hard wired networking still have a RJ45 connector. It’s nice that Intel aren’t going down the Apple “we’ve removed it, deal with it” idea that has plagued iPhones.

Maximus XI Formula

The Maximus VI was the first model which introduced the TUF Armor we first saw all the way back on the P67 Sabertooth, and it has remained a feature of the subsequent models until the recent Maximus X. With the Maximus XI ASUS have taken the opportunity to redesign the Armor to better take advantage of the feature set of modern motherboards. To this end the NVCM indium-coated armour includes a large LiveDash panel, shown at the top of this preview, and a wider selection of RGB areas so that you can show off your aesthetic choices to the world.

What will unquestionably catch your attention when we look at it in a moment is the hybrid VRM cooling. Utilising a larger copper section and water channel, the CrossChill III should ensure that your VRMs remain cool under even the harshest of loadings, whilst still having enough passive cooling that those of us who run with air cooled chassis aren’t at a disadvantage.

Elsewhere the Maximus XI Formula has improved automatic overclocking for those of you who don’t wish to spend the time in pushing their hardware, whilst this can also be used as a baseline from which to launch your own manual overclocking efforts. The voltage sensors have been improved to more accurately report your CPU VCore so that you can have more precise control over it, and the pathways for the DDR4 have been routed in such a manner that the Z390 can be validated all the way up to DDR4-4400.

There are a few other improvements but those are best discussed with pictures, so read on.