The Apex model has not been represented among the products of the ROG Maximus series earlier. The specialists of the company considered the release of Kaby Lake-S processors as a good time for updating the assortment. Impact has been considered to be the best model for memory overclocking, and serious system loads has been carried out with the participation of senior representatives of the series like Extreme or Formula. In the novelty under consideration, these features are successfully united. It is worth noting, the price tag for such a product is quite humane, taking into accont the widest possible range of consumers is obvious.
Huge dimensions do not mean the presence of various kinds of auxiliary controllers. The design is more refined than complex. All the features are based on the Intel Z270, only two last-generation USB sockets on the rear panel are required due to the presence of a third-party adapter on the card.
Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium, Celeron (Skylake-S, Kaby Lake-S)
2 DIMMs DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2666 */2800*/3000*/3200*/3300*/3333*/3400*/3466*/3500*/3600*/3733*/3800*/3866*/4000*/4133*/4266 * (OC), a maximum of 32 GB
3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16 + x0 + x0, x8 + x8 + x0, x8 + x4 + x4)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)
2 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
2 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2242/2260/2280/22110) (Both on the proprietary DIMM.2 expansion card)
Built-in video core (in the processor):
Intel HD 510/530/610/630
DisplayPort 1.2, HDMI 1.4b
Number of connectable fans:
2 x 3.1 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel (A and C), ASM2142)
8 x 3.1 Gen1 (6 connectors on the rear panel, Z270)
6 x 2.0 (no rear connectors, Z270)
4 x SATA 6 Gb / s (Z270)
0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z270)
SupremeFX (7.1, HDA)
Codec — S1220 (Realtek ALC1220)
Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
305 x 272
ROG Water Cooling Zone, 3D Print ready, contacts for measuring voltage, support for AMD 4-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 2-Way SLI, Q- LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED), POST indicator;
Start, Reset, MemOK!, ClrCMOS, etc.;
Slow Mode, LN2 Mode, DRAM channel, PCI-E lines, etc.;
Lighting Control Center (ROG Aura backlighting system, including a pair of Aura RGB Strip Header), USB BIOS Flashback, etc.
Packing and Equipment
The box is not small, but there are no devices for transfer facilitation. All features are described on the reverse side of the box. The hinged lid allows seeing the product immediately.
In addition to the omnipresent backlighting, the accents are made on the site with the system controls, on the presence of an unusual DIMM.2 adapter and special overlays that make it easy to identify the owner by making your own logo, picture or simply a nickname.
The whole set looks like this:
- • user guide that details and illustrates the UEFI items (in English);
- • disk with drivers and firmware;
- • separate label with the ROG logo;
- • set of labels with various images of the ROG series;
- • another set of ROG labels – for cables;
- • discount coupon for carrying out wire rounding;
- • stand for a cup with the ROG logo;
- • proprietary plastic clip for the processor;
- • set of a pair of screws and racks – for the M.2 format devices;
- • adapter for convenient connection of ASUS Q-Connector case sockets;
- • double hard bridge for SLI organization;
- • extension cable for LED strip;
- • four SATA 6Gb/s cables, two of which have a L-shaped connector at one end;
- • case cover, supplemented with a sticker in black tones with a symbolic designation of all nests; its back part is covered with a noise-absorbing material;
- • plastic overlay with three dark bases for own creative expression.
With an elegant solution, two compact M.2 slots were placed on a small board resembling a RAM module. In addition to the spectacular view, this allows to cool the drives together with RAM by using branded coolers on the board. The LEDs are not forgotten as well, they are presented here as well.
An unusual outlook captures the glance. The fixing points are only nine, but the sizes exceed the usual ATX forma, although it is unlikely that such a device will function deep in the depths of the traditional system unit.
A lot of elements are placed on the back of the board, most are included in the scheme of voltage stabilization at the socket. Because working with it directly on the table will not be the best of the ideas.
A special style is emphasized by hexagonal bolts which are used for all additional elements. The PCH radiator is massive and has no finning, although it is unlikely to be a problem for the hub.
Instead of the omnipresent six, only four SATA nests are prepared. There is also a lengthwise slot for the external third-generation USB sockets.
There are three pads for simple USB sockets. One is included into the ROG_EXT group for OC Panel modules (not included in the proprietary kit).
The system management node is located at the top right. There are buttons for starting and restarting the system, combining both functions Retry button and a very convenient for experimenting Safe Button that loads the PC with basic settings without resetting the existing ones. Without dismantling the system, part of the DIMM or PCI-E ports can be disabled. Also there is a toolkit for experiments at negative temperatures.
A MemOK! Button is also here, as well as the contacts for direct voltage measurement and an indicator of the disk subsystem activity (soldered over the SATA slots).
From the bottom, there is a button that switches two firmware chips. To confirm the operation, two LEDs are soldered right here. The groups of contacts allow to deal with the backlights manually, there is a pair of contact groups for connecting the liquid cooling system flow sensors. It is allowed to use thermocouples (with fixing of values by the device).
Only two PCI-E x16 will be used to create SLI. The rest will be useful for the 4-Way CrossFireX scheme.
The organization of the network and sound is not heavily overloaded – there are only the main chips with no screens or any auxiliary components.
For power supply, two eight-pin sockets are soldered. The socket area is quite spacious to carry out a painless procedure of installing coolers.
The power scheme is borrowed from the previous generation, because it is just slightly different from the current models of the manufacturer. There is an ASP1405I PWM controller. Using four doublers (located on the front side) helps the processor find eight channels; the integrated video adapter voltage is formed by two channels. At the rear side the «8 + 2» control drivers IR3535 are located. Power assemblies are the Texas Instruments CSD87350Q5D ones.
For cooling a monolithic light-alloy bar of medium size is used, so special edges are not visible, and the heat pipe is not needed here.
The rear panel surprises with two PS/2 sockets. On other models of the series, this place is assigned to a wireless adapter (or it is already installed there). In general, the set of sockets is all-encompassing and does not raise any questions.
First and foremost, it is worth mentioning the proprietary mechanism Ez Flash. There is a simplified configuration mode, as in all ASUS products. The advanced mode is the main one for products of this class. All commonly used settings can be concentrated in one place.
The Extreme Tweaker section is provided for overclocking. The LLC profiles are eight now, in all likelihood, it is directly related to the model of the PWM controller used.
This model has got a VRM temperature sensor. The value from any temperature sensor can be used as a basis for the scenario of system coolers operation.
From the auxiliary mechanisms the forced transition to the unused firmware at a given time can be noted. Most likely, this method will overcome the cold start problem with extreme settings.
For quite a long time the maintenance of ROG series products is considered the most prestigious, that is, the boards are equipped with the maximum number of various utilities, both from the manufacturer and from other companies. This time there is a noticeable offset from this strategy, because there are no bonuses for the operation of the Network and Sound at all. There is even no application for assigning hot keys, a number of which previously allowed to influence many of the parameters including the PC performance.
The software provided is as follows:
- • Propriatory: AI Suite 3 (Ai Charger, Dual Intelligent Processors 5, EZ Update, File Transfer, PC Cleaner, System Information, USB BIOS Flashback), Boot Setting, Lighting Control (AURA), Mem TweakIt, Product Registration Program, RAMCache II, RAMDisk, ROG Connect Plus
- • Networking: Overwolf, WebStorage
- • Additional: Clone Drive, DAEMON Tools Pro, Intel XTU, ROG CPU-Z, WinZip
There is a standard set of functional utilities in Ai Suite 3, including the master for the DIP 5 initial configuration. The study of the product’s capabilities has determined the presence of two temperature sensors in the seats for M.2 drives.
Due to the unusual layout of the device, the AURA utility has special capabilities. There are five different nodes of RGB LEDs, they can be configured for joint or separate operation. It seems that in the current version the designation of the sections VRM and Light Bar has been confused.
The sound is absolutely satisfactory despite the absence of the OpAmp and all sorts of software packages, the playback quality is excellent (as for an integrated codec). If the owner prefers to listen to the materials in the primary, author’s idea, or is just too lazy to adjust the system, then such an option of use has the full right to life.
The ASUS Company has taken a certain risk offering new models in the ROG Maximus series and not abolishing the previous ones. The novelty has an unusual appearance, attracts attention to itself, so this step was quite successful for the vendor's specialists. When working in a normal mode, the system is fully ready for the most varied load scenarios, demonstrating excellent performance.
It turned out that the package does not include anything unusual. Even more surprising is the software support for ROG Maximus IX Apex, because many already familiar tools for this level of utilities are now not included in the list supported by this device. Overclocking direction is noticeable in the organization of network and sound systems as they are not paid much attention to, only the latest proven solutions from Intel and Realtek are used.
Of course, overclocking is the main focus of ROG Maximus IX Apex creating. For modern components, such a term increasingly means fine-tuning, selecting the right parameters, all that can be described by the word twisting.
Collection of bright and memorable systems also enjoys sufficient attention from the public. In the modes of the backlighting system there areno drawbacks, dividing the LEDs into five groups would make it possible to reveal many creative ideas of the most demanding users.
Ordinary buyers will only be interested in such a motherboard as a gift, but they should be vigilant, since the dimensions of the product go beyond the ATX format, so not every modern case is suitable for assembling a new modern system.