Holy mother of heatsinks and SATA ports, we thank you for this motherboard we're about to cover. Asus has unleashed another Republic of Gamers motherboard it's calling the Maximus VIII Formula. This Z170 board is built for DDR4 memory and Skylake CPUs, but it also has enough cowbell to get Walken to groove and then some.
The first thing everybody will notice is the board's massive VRM heatsink, which contains a liquid cooling circuit courtesy of EK Waterblocks. Asus says the liquid-cooling circuit can reduce MOSFET temperatures by 23°C when it's hooked up. Liquid-cooling loops can hook in with standard G¼" fittings. Asus also wraps this board in its "ROG Armor" front and back plates.
Three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots and three PCIe 2.0 x1 slots are available for add-in cards. Should your GPU setup be as extreme as the board, you'll be happy to know that support for SLI and CrossFireX is on the menu, too.
The Formula's storage section is equally impressive. You get a total of eight SATA ports, four of them from a pair of SATA Express connectors. If that's not enough, you also get an M.2 slot and a U.2 connector. The analog audio section is graced with an ESS ES9023P DAC, an "ultra-low-jitter" clock generator, and Nichicon capacitors. There's also a 2V RMS headphone amp thrown in, too.
The Formula also ticks the right boxes when it comes to networking. An Intel I219-V controller handles wired networking duties, while the radio waves are filled by a 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter with MIMO technology.
Last but not least, the board comes with Asus' Aura LED lighting system. This setup combines some onboard RGB LEDs with a header that can control any standard 12V RGB LED strip. Asus hasn't announced pricing for the Formula, but we're betting it falls in the "if you have to ask..." category.