If you're considering some lakeside property on the java lagoon, you'll need a new motherboard to go with your fancy new six-core CPU. We've been carefully covering each vendor's Z370 boards over the last few days, and today we've got Asus' models up for discussion. The company is holding up no less than eleven cards in its deck of Z370 mobos. With models ranging from the LN2-friendly ROG Maximus X Apex through the ultra-durable TUF Z370-Pro and on down to the entry-level Prime Z370-P, Asus can probably serve your Z370 motherboard needs.
Starting at the top, then, we have the ROG Maximus X Apex. Rather than being a monument to excess like most range-topping motherboards, this model is aimed directly at overclockers who mean business. That means the board has two 8-pin EPS12V connectors to feed the CPU, and there's only a pair of RAM slots to ensure that folks can hit the highest memory clocks. The mobo also has four separate thermal sensor headers, two pump headers, a flow-monitor header, and a special bracket to mount a fan for blowing vapor off LN2 pots. The Maximus X Apex doesn't include Wi-Fi, but it does have an Aquantia 5 GbE controller alongside its standard Intel Gigabit Ethernet chip.
The ROG Maximus X Hero is more likely to appeal to most gerbils. This is a more typical high-end mainboard, with all four of its memory slots in place and an emphasis on useful features. The board can still take DDR4 DIMMs all the way up to 4133 MT/s and run dual-card SLI or triple-card Crossfire. You also get to sound emanating from a Realtek S1220A codec filtered through ESS Sabre DACs. There are also versions of the Maximus X Hero that will include an 802.11ac Wi-Fi card in the box. Both Maximus boards have Type-A and Type-C USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the rear panel, but the Hero also has a header to connect one of those ports to a case's front panel.
Moving down the ROG range, we step out of Maximus territory and into the Strix space. Asus is offering no less than five motherboards branded as ROG Strix models, and for the most part they vary in subtle ways. Rather than enumerate every difference between the boards we'll offer up this convenient chart highlighting the changes:
|Strix Z370-E||Strix Z370-F||Strix Z370-H||Strix Z370-G||Strix Z370-I|
|PCIe Slots||3 x16, 4 x1||3 x16, 4 x1||3 x16, 3 x1||2 x16, 2 x1||1 x16|
|USB 3.1 Gen2||1x Type-C,
|2x Type-A||2x Type-A||1 front|
All of the ROG Strix boards offer a pair of M.2 sockets, Intel Gigabit Ethernet, and SupremeFX audio. Notably, the ROG Strix Z370-I and ROG Strix Z370-G are the only smaller-than-ATX boards Asus is offering as part of this first wave of motherboards. If you're looking to build a compact Coffee Lake system using an Asus motherboard, those are your options for now.
I'm not sure what "The Ultimate Force" has to do with toughness, but TUF is Asus' brand for its most durable motherboards. The nameplate hasn't had the coverage that ROG has in recent years, but it's been nearly as long-running. Asus will be offering two TUF Z370 boards: the Z370-Pro Gaming and the Z370-Plus gaming. The two boards are nearly identical feature-wise, although the Z370-Plus has a dash of RGB LED lighting and an Aura Sync light strip header. Meanwhile, the Pro's no-nonsense design includes SLI support that its brother lacks. Both models get a five-year warranty.
Finally, Asus' most affordable motherboard family is the Prime series. There are Z370 motherboards in this series, the Prime Z370-A and Prime Z370-P. The Z370-A is the flashier of the two, and Asus says it is ready for budding overclockers. This board has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port, a welcome sight considering a number of its Strix cousins make do with Type-A connectors. Meanwhile, the Z370-P is Asus' most affordable Z370 motherboard. This model is pretty stripped-down, with a Realtek Ethernet controller and no USB 3.1 Gen2 or SLI support. However, the board still offers a pair of M.2 sockets and four DDR4 DIMM slots running at up to 3866 MT/s.
There's no product pages for any of these boards up yet, so click through to Asus' EdgeUp article if you want a more detailed analysis of each board. Asus says specific pricing and availability for these boards will be "available shortly."