REVIEW ASUS RoG MAXIMUS IX APEX

Discussion in 'Overclocking & Hardware' started by headin2001, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    ASUS RoG MAXIMUS IX APEX – User Experience​


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    Introduction

    Hey everyone, back this time with, in my opinion, the Z270 Series Motherboard to have for the Enthusiast Overclocker.

    ASUS Republic of Gamers have gone back to some of their roots on this new board. Taking out a bit of the "normal' and spinning it all into the extra-ordinary for the extreme overclockers around the world. Looking past the oddly shaped PCB and extensive RGB lighting arrays, we have, in what one could describe the love child of Maximus Extreme and Maximus Impact. For Game of Thrones fans, it's like the Mountain and Oberyn Martell got smashed together, combining their brute strength, agility and looks to produce something that the world has never seen, yet it will always remember.

    Looks wise, everything matches the rest of the ROG IX Lineup, albeit the PCB reshape to a more X shaped appearance. There is a very good explanation for this which I will discuss later. All around the PCB, you will find RGB LED's everywhere from the Rear of the PCB, to the PCH, VRM Heatsink and the Illuminated Nameplates. All of this is customizable with the included AURA SYNC Software. Obviously these are features that you wouldn't expect on a full-out OC focused motherboard, but man, they are so worth it.

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    Going back to the fusion I mentioned earlier, the Apex may have the power delivery available from the Extreme series of board, but it also has the cut-down features of the smaller Impact boards. This means, less SATA connections available, less DIMM slots for memory, and well, less shrouds and fancy covers.

    Don't despair, it's all been balanced to give the best of all worlds. We have an extra DIMM slot, which Asus have aptly named a DIMM.2 slot, allowing support for their add-in M.2 card in a convenient position. Watercooling support has not been missed, and we now have connections for your waterpump, rated up to 3A, an abundance of fan headers, all 1A rated, a waterflow sensor as well as two further water temperature sensors.

    So far, this board is a machine. In the hands of renowned overclocker Dancorp, on release allowed for 8 new World Records and 18 Global First places to be attributed to it. Most notably reaching a sky high 7328Mhz using one special 7700K CPU and some extremely expensive Liquid Helium for cooling. Adding to that, it has also managed memory frequency in excess of 5Ghz. This is all a testament to the engineering and quality circuitry components the ASUS have installed. Yes, Republic of Gamers have their focus back on the overclocking scene once again.





    Now, I have a Plan! ​

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    Moving forward, this time around I would like to do the review a little different. Below, you will find my usual ramble and photo's galore. But, this time around, instead of comparing to other boards, I would like to share with you a blog of using this board and it's functions.

    When I write these reviews for you all, I usually setup the products and use them for a period to give a proper perspective of how it performs. This means hooking on a daily drive, testing out the overclockability, stability, all of the functions, the lighting and the supplied software. Then playing some music whilst perusing my favourite local overclockers forum, followed getting into some gaming for my own personal all round experience. Usually followed up by some more benching due to gaming frustrations, then the cycle continues between the 2.

    So, if there is anything that interests you about this spectacular piece of hardware, comment below. I'll see what I can find and share it back with you all.
     
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    headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
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    headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    Specifications​

    CPU Support
    Intel® 7th or 6th Gen Socket 1151 Processors
    Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0

    Chipset
    Intel® Z270

    Memory
    2x DDR4 DIMM Slots, DDR4-2133, Up to 32GB (2x 16GB)
    Supports DDR4 OC speeds up to 4,266MHz
    Integrated Graphics
    (w/ compatible CPUs) DisplayPort v1.2 port: up to 4,096 x 2,160 @ 24Hz
    HDMI v2 port: up to 4096 x 2,304 @ 60Hz
    Maximum Shared RAM: 1GB
    Expansion Slots
    1x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 slot
    1x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x8 slot
    2x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1 slots
    2x PCIe 3.0 x4 slots
    Multi-GPU Support
    Supports 2 Way (up to Quad GPU) NVIDIA® SLI™
    Supports Up to 4-Way AMD CrossFireX™
    (All Multi GPU modes support x16 & x8/x8 Video Card configs)

    Storage
    4x SATA III 6Gb/s ports
    1x DIMM.2 slot (PCIe 3.0 x4) up to 22110 long
    1x DIMM.2 slot (PCIe 3.0 x4 + SATA) up to 22110 long
    DIMM.2 Slots support Intel® Optane™ Memory via 7th Gen Intel® Processors

    Intel® I219V Chipset:
    1x Gigabit LAN port
    Dual interconnect between the integrated Media Access Controller (MAC) and physical layer (PHY)
    Anti-surge LANGuard

    Audio
    ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel HD Audio CODEC S1220A w/ ESS® ES9023P DAC
    Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
    Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking

    Audio Features:
    SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
    Optical S/PDIF out port at back panel

    USB ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller:
    1x USB 3.1 Type-C port
    1x USB 3.1 Type-A port
    Intel® Z270 Chipset:
    8x USB 3.0 ports
    6x USB 2.0 ports via 3x main board connectors

    Back Panel I/O Ports
    1x USB 3.1 Type-C port
    1x USB 3.1 Type-A port
    6x USB 3.0 ports
    1x DisplayPort port
    1x HDMI port
    1x LAN (RJ45) port
    1x PS/2 keyboard port (purple)
    1x PS/2 mouse port (green)
    1x Clear CMOS Button
    1x USB BIOS Flashback Button
    1x Optical S/PDIF out port
    5x 3.5mm Gold Plated Audio jacks

    Internal I/O Connectors
    1x AAFP connector
    2x RGB Headers
    1x USB 3.0 connector supports 2x USB 3.0 ports
    3x USB 2.0 connectors supports 6x USB 2.0 ports
    4x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
    1x CPU Fan connector
    1x CPU OPT Fan connector
    3x Chassis Fan connectors
    1x W_PUMP+ connector
    1x AIO_PUMP connector
    1x 24-pin EATX Power connector
    2x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connectors
    1x Slow Mode switch
    1x EZ Plug connector (4-pin Molex Power Port)
    1x LN2 Mode switch
    1x LN2 Mode jumper
    1x 14-1 pin TPM connector
    1x Slow Mode jumper
    1x W_Pump+ Header
    1x AIO PUMP Header
    1x 3D Mount screw port
    1x W_IN header
    1x W_OUT header
    1x W_FLOW header
    2x Thermal sensor connectors
    1x BIOS Switch Button
    1x Clear CMOS Button
    1x Safe Boot Button
    1x ReTry Button
    1x Reset Button
    1x Start Button

    RoG Exclusive Features
    CMOS button
    Extreme Engine Digi+:
    - MicroFine Alloy Chokes
    - NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET
    - 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
    LN2 Mode
    Mem TweakIt
    MemOK! Button
    Overwolf
    Reset Button
    ReTry Button
    ROG Aura:
    - Aura Lighting Control
    - Aura RGB Strip Headers
    ROG CloneDrive
    ROG CPU-Z
    ROG RAMCache II
    Safe Boot Button
    Slow Mode
    Start Button
    UEFI BIOS


    Special Features
    5-Way Optimization by Dual Intelligent Processors 5
    SafeDIMM slot
    AURA:
    - Aura Lighting Control
    - Aura RGB Strip Headers
    - Aura Lighting Effects Sync w/ external ASUS ROG Hardware Devices

    ASUS Exclusive Features:
    - MemOK!
    - AI Suite 3
    - Anti-Surge
    ASUS EZ DIY:
    - ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
    - ASUS EZ Flash 3
    - ASUS USB BIOS Flashback
    - ASUS UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
    ASUS Q-Design:
    - ASUS Q-Shield
    - ASUS Q-Code
    - ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
    - ASUS Q-Slot
    - ASUS Q-Connector
    Gaming Aesthetics:
    - 3D printing friendly
    - AURA-RGB Lighting
    Performance Optimization:
    - Fan Xpert 4 featuring Fan Auto Tuning function
    and multiple thermistors selection for optimized
    system cooling control

    Operating Systems
    Windows® 10, 8.x or 7 (64 bit versions only)

    Form Factor
    E_ATX Form Factor

    Dimensions (LxW)
    305 x 272mm (12.0 x 10.7")
     
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    headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    Unboxing and Photos​

    On to what we are all here for.

    The Asus RoG Maximus IX Apex is packaged in line with the rest of the Maximus IX lineup. The box is of sturdy quality and features the same hinged top of the Maximus IX Formula I previously reviewed here http://forums.overclockers.com.au/showthread.php?t=1216815. On the rear of the package, we find all of the usual specifications and features.

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    Opening the hinged lid, we see the motherboard securely packaged in its own section under a clear plastic viewing window.

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    Moving the motherboard and box tray out, we can see below where the accessories and manuals are stored.

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    With all of the accessories removed from the package, you can see the volume of added extras that Asus have allowed. Inside we find the usual comprehensive manual, software DVD, RoG case label, 4x SATA 3 cables, cable labels, RoG drink coaster, Q-Connector, CPU installation tool, M.2 screws, IO shield, AURA RGB Lighting cable, all sorts of RoG stickers, naming placard labels, 2 slot SLI high-bandwidth bridge and to finish, the DIMM.2 addin card. I will discuss the DIMM.2 card a bit more in-depth later.

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    And now I introduce you to the RoG Maximus IX Apex.

    On first impression, I'm sure most will be thinking, what on Earth is with the shape of this thing. Well, I have a few theories behind the unusual shape. First up, aesthetics. In the intro, I mentioned the amount of RGB LED's this thing packs. On the rear of the board is so many I lost count. What does this have to do with the cost of bread I hear you ask. Its about letting the glow show! Why have this huge array of lighting if you cant add some more and show it off, and having the sides and top recessed in is a perfect way to do so.

    The other part to my theory is the board is deceptively huge. It looks like any other motherboard, but this is an E-ATX board. With that in mind, fitting this to most tower cases can be an issue due to the extra width and case 24pin cable placement. This is where the recess works well and allows access to the grommets as usual for the power and SATA connectors in an non-EAXT compliant chassis. If this wasn't ASUS intentions, it certain worked out to be an accidental case of brilliance. I tried mounting it in my Thermaltake Core P3 chassis to confirm my theory and boom! Fitted like a glove.

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    On the backside of the board, we don't have anything special. We can see the PCB separation for the integrated soundcard area that is on most gaming board these days, zoom in and you can see all of the RGB LED's around the edge I mentioned previously, aaaaaaaand..........................that's about it.

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    Here is a close-up of the RGB LEDs you can find surrounding the backside of the board.

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    Business area number 1. The CPU socket and power delivery. The CPU is fed through the usual 24 pin ATX power supply, as well as not one, but the potential for 2x 8pin 12V power connections located right where they are needed. This works fine with only one 8 pin connected, so those that dont have a power supply with two can still play away to their hearts content.

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    The power is then fed through through the an 8+2 phase setup. These are cooled by a fairly generously weighted heatsink which kind of looks like a B-2 Stealth Bomber if you squint enough. Asus have continued on the same line as their other premium products, utilizing their NexFET Mosfets, MicroFine Alloy Chokes and some quality 10K Japanese caps for some consistent power supply even under extreme heat loads.

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    Part Two of the business end is what this board is going to be know the most for. The memory setup. ASUS have basically taken the memory topology from the previous Impact VIII motherboard, giving it some light caressing and implemented it into this beast to make it one of the best memory overclocking and tweaking boards available. Straight off the bat it has support for 2x DDR4 memory modules at 4266+ memory speeds, but also the ability to easily tighten these up to speeds and timings in excess of 4133-1t at CAS12 timings. For anyone that loves to tweak RAM, the Apex is "the" best of the Z200 series boards, by a very long margin.

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    What is that extra slot I hear you ask? That my friends, is the DIMM.2 slot for the M.2 Addin card. I will get a little more in-depth on this later, but basically it lets you do something along the lines of this:

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    There is plenty of IO connections available. Not as many USB connections as the larger Maximus IX Formula, but with the inclusion of 2 PS2 connectors, anyone looking to run legacy benchmarks on the older Operating Systems should have far less trouble on this motherboard. We also have the Bios reset switch handily located here, along with the Bios Flashback switch. Both very handy additions when things go wrong.

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    Network needs are taken care of with the current spec Intel I219V, with further surge protection provided through the included LanGuard. This is located just below the VRM heatsink.

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    SATA connections on the Maximus IX Apex are probably a lot less than we are used to seeing on current boards. Lets face it though, most of the people that will be buying this board are probably more interested in go than storage needs. Adjacent the 4x 6Gbs SATA3 ports is the front panel USB3.0 connector and an extra Molex power connector which can be used to supplement the power supply to the PCIe slots.

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    The top right corner of the board contains a myriad of switches, jumpers, the voltage belt for those pushing the limits, and also one of the AURA RGB lighting headers. Included is the obligatory On/Off and Reset switches, Debug LED, SafeBoot and ReTry switches as well as RSVD, Slow Mode and Pause switches. Jumpers are available for LN2 mode, which will help unlock the limits to the voltages in bios, and below the PCIe X16 Lane Switches is a set of jumpers that allows you to turn off one or the other DRAM channel if needed for troubleshooting a dodgy DIMM. There is also a bunch of onboard LEDs for diagnostics, complemented by some extra LED's to cover the Pause, Slow Mode, RSVD and condensation sensors that are located around the board.

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    The lower corner contains an easily accessible battery, to go along side the Dual BIOS. There is the Front Panel headers which is usable with the now infamous Asus QConnect, a Bios switch for changing between, case speaker connection, RoG extension connector for those that want to use the OC Panel 2 and a further 2x USB front panel headers. Directly adjacent the battery is a 3Amp rated Water Pump Header, 2x 2 Pin thermal sensor connectors and some water flow in, out and overall headers. Rounding off the corner is jumpers to control the on-board lighting, which helps alleviate the need to change in BIOS or the supplied software.

    [​IMG]


    The PCH is covered by RGB LED backlit heatsink. It features a cast metal finish to compliment the other heatsinks. With the heatsink removed, we find the Z270 along side the RGB LED's and AURA control chipset.

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    The expansion slots are well catered for on the Maximus IX Apex, with options allowing upto 4 graphics cards. Lane choices are at PCIe x16 for single GPU, x8/x0/x8 for dual GPU, x8/x4/x4 for triple GPU with i believe the possibility of a 4-way at x8/x4/x4/x4 on the last PCIe slot. The top three main slots feature Asus latest SafeSlot design for extra reinforcing and support in all directions.

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    Finally, onto the onb-oard sound. Asus have provided the updated ALC1220 sound chipset in-line with the rest of the Maximus IX range, granted not as extreme as the implementation on the higher end boards. Honestly, this isn't going to be a problem for most, and with my ears it is impossible to tell the difference in sound between this and the Asus Maximus IX Formula. There is no fancy shouds to cover this area, but this is a balls out overclockers board after all. Few Nichicon Gold Series Caps and some physical PCB separation and there we have it. Asus rates the output to 120dB SNR with their little tweaks to the base codec.

    [​IMG]
     
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    headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    Reserved for DIMM.2 guide
     
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    headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    Reserved for OC Results

    Here are some quick ones to get off the mark.


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  7. FatBoyNotSoSlim

    FatBoyNotSoSlim Member

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    Lovely board the apex, a total beast for overclocking. Looks nice in orange as well. :lol:

    [​IMG]
     
  8. sskmercer

    sskmercer Member

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    Great work again Daryl.
     
  9. Paulie_AU

    Paulie_AU Member

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    Great review. Looks like a killer board.

    Those photos would have to be the best on the net of any motherboard review. Fantastic detail and clarity.
     
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    headin2001

    headin2001 Member

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    Preset Testing



    Thought I would start testing out some of the presets today. Knowing the capabilities of my CPU, I thought I would start from the top and see how well things are set up from the factory to work on any random chip.

    First up is the 5G OC Profile

    With this profile, it appears to be a very basic setup. It didn't even appear to load XMP (or offer an option to) which was a bit of a disappoint. None the less, enabling XMP is a simple task anyway.

    Below are Screenshots from the bios with the Profile Enabled. You can see it pretty much just sets the CPU Core ratio, and leaves the board to set the rest. Seems CPU VCore went to a high, yet acceptable 1.44v.

    All up, I found this one quite easy. But, if your CPU is not Delidded like mine, you may find that temperatures could quickly get out of hand at the voltages provided. So, your results may vary.

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    All LLC and power settings all remained on auto also.

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    And finally, here we are in windows. Spent a bit of time with a short game in Battlefield 4 to see how temperatures and voltages fared. All worked well without issue.

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    MORE TO COME SOON
     
  11. nCrypt

    nCrypt Member

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    Is a great board, great review too.

    Thanks for your help clocking too.
     

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