Multiple sizes, sockets differentiate new Asus ROG mobos

Asus introduced a bunch of gaming-oriented ROG products at Computex today. We've already seen the funky-looking gaming systems and the G-Sync monitor. Now, it's time for the motherboards, starting with the Maximus VII Formula.

This Z97 beast will be available in July, and it probably won't be cheap. The board has plastic "armor" on the front and a stiffening plate on the back, elements borrowed from Asus' TUF series. It's loaded with next-gen storage interfaces, including dual SATA Express ports and a dual-lane M.2 socket. You also get 802.11ac Wi-Fi, the latest integrated audio upgrades, and a copper-laced VRM cooler that's been bored out for liquid cooling.

While the Formula is a full-sized ATX offering, the Maximus VII Impact has a much smaller Mini-ITX footprint.

We loved this board's Z87 predecessor, so expectations are high for the 9-series version. Asus has upgraded the old model's single-lane M.2 socket to a four-lane one with more bandwidth for PCIe SSDs. The audio and power modules have been tweaked, and there's another, optional add-on with two more four-pin fan connectors and an "LN2 header for ultra-low-temperature overclocking adventures." The bite-sized board is coming in August, and it should be cheaper than the Formula, at least.

Finally, there's the Crossblade Ranger, which is the first ROG board with an FM2+ socket.

I'm not sure what makes less sense: sub-zero overclocking on a Mini-ITX board or building a high-end gaming rig based on AMD's Kaveri APU. The Ranger completes the ROG set, though, and it probably won't be too expensive. The only perks Asus mentions are a couple of software utilities, upgraded audio, and, amusingly, an Intel networking chip. Expect this one to hit e-tail listings next month.

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