The most powerful ASUS motherboards have long been registered in the older ROG series and are proudly called Extreme. And if earlier such products were primarily adapted for the most desperate overclocking experiments, including the use of non-trivial cooling methods, then over time, new functions gradually began to prevail over overclocking, and today they completely relegated it to the background. For professional benching, the company has released several generations of Apex boards, where the best achievements were at the forefront with the involvement of nitrogen, special memory kits and other measures. It turns out that models with a memorable name are now destined for the role of demonstrative products, according to which they will draw conclusions about the potential of the vendor. Consider what the latest version with the Intel Z390 hub for Coffee Lake-S processors can offer.
Since it is impossible to describe all the features in one paragraph, I would single out the most interesting way to work with drives (and other devices) in M.2 format, here you can immediately use them among four pieces, a pair will work by interacting with the hub, two more pieces — with a processor, for this the kit includes a special module, by the way, equipped with a two-sided heatsink. You also need to remind the reader about the total sixteen PCI-E lanes implemented in the «desktop» segment of the latest generation of CPUs, because some of them will be «taken away» from the video subsystem if you still use the connection via an adapter. The general list of features is collected in the table, we will gradually get acquainted with them in the course of the review.
|Model||ASUS ROG Maximus XI Extreme|
|Official product page on the Web||asus.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i9, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium Gold, Celeron (Coffee Lake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2666/2800*/3000*/3200*/3300*/3333*/3400*/3466*/3600*/3733*/3866*/4000*/4133*/4266*/4400 *(OC), 64 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0, x8+x8)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110, CPU; both on bundled DIMM.2 expansion card)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110, Z390)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2242/2260/2280, Z390)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel UHD 610/630|
|Video connectors||HDMI 1.4b|
|Number of connected fans||(6+8)x 4pin, 1x 5pin (Extension Fan connector)|
|The port is USB||5 x 3.1 Gen2 (4 connectors on the rear panel (1x C), Z390)
2 x 3.1 Gen1 (2 connectors on the rear panel, ASM1042)
8 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, Z390 + ASM1074)
4 x 2.0 (no connectors on the rear panel, Z390)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z390)|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z390)|
|Built-in sound||SupremeFX (7.1, HDA):
Codec — S1220 (Realtek ALC1220)
DAC — ESS ES9023P
Op Amp — Texas Instruments RC4580
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
Aquantia AQC111C (5 Gigabit Ethernet)
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 9560 (Wi-Fi 2.4/5GHz (802.11a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5)
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 277|
|Additional features||ROG Water Cooling Zone (flow sensor and temperature pair support), Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED), POST indicator, OLED info panel, voltage measurement pins, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2 support -Way SLI, equipment: external Wi-Fi antenna, three remote temperature sensors; buttons: Start, Reset, Retry, Safe Mode, BIOS switch, ClrCMOS and others; status switches: Slow Mode, LN2 Mode, MemOK! II and others; pads: Asus Node, Thermal sensor, Thunderbolt; technologies: Lighting Control Center (ROG Aura lighting system, including a pair of Aura RGB Strip Header and a pair of Aura Addressable Strip Header), Armory Crate, USB BIOS Flashback and others|
|Retail price, $||618|
Packaging and equipment
The rejection of the branded red shades of color in the design of products took place a long time ago, and now they are getting rid of them even in the design, preferring different options for a monochrome range in a futuristic style. The box is huge, but there is no handle for easy transport. The board is placed in a separate compartment, covered with a plastic transparent screen, accessories are located in the lower section.
The description of the details is carried out with an emphasis on the «iron» component, there are no hints of software bonuses (and this is strange).
The set is as follows:
- user manual, which illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English);
- a set of stickers with various images of the ROG series, including those for cables;
- coupon with a discount for the procedure of braiding wires (rounding);
- instructions for Fan Extension Card;
- separate sticker with the ROG logo;
- flash drive with drivers and proprietary software (8 GB);
- cup holder also with ROG logo;
The free space of the drive is allocated to a separate Disk, it can be used as a tool for writing files with settings, for storing screenshots and other small files.
- six SATA 6Gb / s cables, three of which have an L-shaped connector at one end;
- three remote thermocouples;
- extension cord for connecting a controlled LED strip;
- extension cable for connecting RGB LED strip;
- a set of interface cable and fasteners (two corners and four screws) for the Fan Extension Card expansion module;
- an adapter for convenient connection of ASUS Q-Connector case connectors;
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI;
- remote antenna with the possibility of fixing only one position;
- a set of three screws and stands — for M.2 format devices;
- DIMM.2 adapter rack for a pair of M.2 format devices, resembling a RAM module in appearance;
- Fan Extension Card.
The delivery set is much more extensive than that of conventional boards, but this is by no means an extreme set! After all, we still remember equipping a remote panel for overclocking, but now it is not even supported by the device itself. There are no pin contacts on the board, but UEFI support is present, which only adds to the spice of the situation.
The focus is on innovation, the detachable adapter for M.2 devices is equipped with a double-sided cooler.
Each side contains a pre-installed thermal interface, let everyone judge for himself the sufficiency of its area.
There are LEDs on the board so that the product does not look unnecessary in a modern system unit.
In addition to them, the connection of two thermocouples is provided. It is difficult to explain why it is here, but there is only one place for connection on the board itself, and in the delivery set there are three of them.
Two keys from the bottom will not allow you to confuse the correct installation location on the board
Backlight! Yes, there is a lot of it and it is now everywhere. Here it is equipped with: a decorative visor, in places above the I / O ports of the rear panel and in the codec soldering zone, the hub area, otherwise this sector cannot be called, as well as the entire right side — due to a diffuser hidden under a protective element on the reverse side. Non-standard are also: dimensions, format — E-ATX, a pair of power sockets for the CPU, a pair of microcircuits with firmware (soldered a little below the battery), the active one is illuminated by its own LED, an additional four-pin socket that reinforces the PCI-E lines for reliable operation of bundles from video cards. To fix the board in the case, nine holes were provided.
On the reverse side of the board, nothing will interfere with the installation of CPU cooling systems, because there are no electronic components.
The PCH desoldering section is ennobled with a huge cooler. He is composite. Through a window that looks like the emblem of the series, multi-color illumination will be visible.
So, the hub has its own, noticeably smaller cooler, on which a small scarf with LEDs is screwed. Along the starboard side, it is allowed to mount the first of the supported adapters with the M.2 interface type. The maximum length here is 80 mm.
Along the bottom edge is placed the second of the possible devices to be installed on the board with an M.2 slot. And there are no restrictions on its length.
The first seat is covered completely and there is a thermal substance of the required area, the second is only partially, therefore there are no questions with the heat conductor. It would be good to use models where the controller is closer to the edge, so that it gets additional cooling.
There are six SATA outputs, all of them are longitudinal. There is no U.2 port, and the board is a flagship, it looks like this type of interface in the desktop segment of products has finally given up under the onslaught of M.2.
For USB body cables there are: two 2.0-type pads, two — 3.1 Gen1 (one is longitudinal), one more — USB 3.1 Gen2, for the most modern symmetrical type outputs.
The abundance of classic PCI-E ports is a thing of the past. There are a couple of shielded, SLI ready, backed up by CPU lanes. The other two, which do without reinforcement, interact with the Intel Z390.
In addition to the backlight, there is an information display of a small area in the visor, where, using proprietary software, you can organize the output of useful information about the system in real time. Before the OS works, it duplicates the functions of the POST code indicator.
The sound codec is located under the screen; an ESS DAC with an independent oscillator and one op amp were brought in to help it. The idea of building is not new and has been seen before in ROG series products.
A special socket for ROG equipment has appeared, now its role is associated only with branded PSUs, but time will tell what new things ASUS will come up with. A pair of pads for external LED equipment is located below and another pair is on top of the board.
The lower right corner acts as a hub for a large number of cooling devices and sensors. In particular, it is proposed to use four sockets under the start of a single algorithm for one of the radiators in the LSS circuit (four more are soldered in the upper corner — for the needs of the second radiator), there is a pair of pins for a temperature sensor, a socket for a cable from a separate controller for additional fan sockets (including three pieces), the ROG Water Cooling Zone is highlighted in white, and a couple of areas higher, for pumps, support devices with high power consumption.
The area on top of the board is highlighted by a group of contact pads, where you can make sure that the basic voltage settings are correct. The power and reset buttons are highlighted in red, just below are Safe and Retry, which are very convenient when experimenting with overclocking. The POST code indicator is adjacent to the Q-LED complex, dialed with multi-color LEDs, they will help users with initial knowledge in diagnosis. Slow Mode and MemOK! II will improve rapport with the system through deep experimentation. RSVD is undocumented and seems to be required to work with a frozen system (after experimenting with liquid nitrogen). Do you still remember independent switches for memory channels and PCI-E slots? Now they are gone, you need to follow them to the store shelf with the Apex model.
At first, one gets the impression that in the VRM block there are only a pair of radiators connected by a heat pipe. They are heavy, massive and equipped with multiple cuts. In short, the implementation is the best possible. In addition, they are not particularly high, they tried to minimize compatibility problems with coolers.
The voltage regulator here is more powerful than that of the ASUS ROG Rampage VI Extreme. The same PWM controller — ASP1405I, the same power assemblies — IR3555, only their number has now reached twelve. The organization of work can be described as «5 + 2» phases, dual channels for CPU voltage, and independent channels for iGPU operation. Highly efficient chokes and capacitors with extended life are used.
There are no comments on the area of thermal pads anywhere. All radiators use a reliable screw mounting method.
An inconspicuous, third radiator in the vicinity of the power circuits is necessary for the operation of the latest generation of high-speed wired network adapters. Next to it, we can note the third socket for the needs of a full-coverage water block from a third manufacturer (it will be difficult to surprise anyone with close cooperation between ASUS and EK Water Blocks), the first goal is to implement the backlight in it. Two similar sockets are used for illumination, already built into the decorative overlay.
The audio outputs are gold-plated and are illuminated with the desired shades of color (green, red, etc.) during operation, there is only one video output, and it is more like a tribute to the presence of the iGPU in modern processors, there is S / PDIF, symmetrical USB of the latest generation, buttons for working with firmware , it is convenient to use them in work when the system is assembled (in the case). There are no comments on the total number of USB sockets, there may be problems due to close proximity, but these are just nitpicks. In view of the popularization of CNVi, a wireless network adapter from Intel is installed.