We took a look at the Blitz Formula and Extreme boards from ASUS just over two months ago, and now we have the X38 version of those boards on the bench today. In addition to featuring a Northbridge waterblock, it also has “extreme” overclocking ability and a great bundle.
Most motherboards will handle overclocking to some degree, but the Maximus Formula is a board that caters directly to the enthusiast crowd, so we should be able to expect one of the best experiences available. Luckily, we were not disappointed.
I didn’t delve too much into the water-cooling aspect of the Maximus, but it’s the method I used during all testing. As seen in our performance results, water-cooling the NB will not drastically improve scores, but does help temperatures all around. If you want a deeper look at water-cooling the board, you can read a page from our Blitz Formula review. That board’s water-cooling process and results are identical to this one.
I do highly recommend, however, using water on the Northbridge if you care about overall system temperatures, even if it won’t improve an overclock. At one setting, the NB had hit 53°C without the water, but once plugged in, it dropped straight to 36°C, which I consider to be a huge decrease.
Don’t fall into the belief that adding water to the Northbridge only helps the Northbridge, because that’s not true at all. It helps bring the overall CPU temperature down (in my case it was close to 4°C on a high-voltage Quad-Core overclock) and it will also bring ambient temperatures down. For a smooth, cool-running machine, it’s a great addition.
As far as Quad-Core overclocking goes, we managed to amp up the FSB to 470MHz with 1.73v on the Northbridge. This is a hefty amount, but temperatures were well within reason. This is the highest I’ve been able to go FSB-wise with this processor on any board.
Moving on over to a dual-core processor, our E6750, the FSB was bumped up to 490FSB using the same voltage.
While we didn’t hit the magic 500, the overclocks we did achieve can’t be scoffed at.
The Maximus Formula is another great offering from ASUS that comes recommended. Though, it’s still not for everyone. At $280USD, it’s going to appeal to either hardcore overclockers or those who don’t mind spending extra money on quality equipment.
Besides the board itself, you will find yourself with a copy of STALKER and 3DMark 2006, in addition to other random bling such as the LED BIOS poster that sits atop your PC. As far as I am aware, the Formula is still the only motherboard on the market with a built-in Northbridge waterblock, which is one of the largest benefits of the board. Even though it didn’t help us achieve a higher FSB overclock, seeing lower temperatures around the entire system was fantastic.
At this point in time, all X38-based motherboards I’ve seen are expensive, with the Maximus Formula being one of the least expensive. Yes, seriously. The feature-rich P5E3 Deluxe board sits at $350 at popular e-tailers, making it even more exclusive. It’s a great board as well. Though I haven’t managed to overclock it as high as the Maximus (yet), it features many more additions that would better please casual computer users, thanks to it’s n-based WiFi card and ExpressGate on-board Linux.
After taking all things into consideration, I am awarding this board an 8 out of 10 along with our Editor’s Choice. This is the same rating I gave the Blitz boards back in July, and really, the Maximus is not that much different… it’s the Blitz with X38 perks. If you don’t require the X38 bonuses but can find a Blitz Formula for much cheaper (although I am finding them difficult to track down), you might want to save the premium and go with it instead.
If you have a comment you wish to make on this review, feel free to head on into our forums! There is no need to register in order to reply to such threads.