ASUS ROG Z370 Maximus X Apex

Also in the stack is the heavily overclocking focused ASUS ROG Maximus X Apex. The most insane of enthusiasts and performance connoisseurs will be happy to know that the Z370 Maximus X Apex picks up exactly from where the Z270 variant left off. The main reason for selecting an Apex doesn’t exactly stop at extreme overclockers, but for the Z370 chipset, ASUS Republic of Gamers has gone all-out in cramming many key and feature rich performance components.

The Apex won't be available immediately at launch, but should hit the shelves in late October. In the overclocking theme, this is the only ROG board to feature dual 8pin EPS12V inputs out of the entire range. The Apex only supports one memory stick per channel, leaving it with a maximum support of 32GB, but this maximizes the memory overclocking capabilities as the slots have shorter tracks than regular E-ATX/ATX sized motherboards to ensure maximum performance and lower latencies between the CPU and memory.

A plethora of full-length PCIe 3.0 ports are featured, with the first three supporting an x16, x8/x8 and x8/x4/x4 configurations, with an additional full-length PCIe slot at the bottom taking lanes directly from the chipset and running at x4. This means support for 2-way SLI (x8/x8) and up to 4-way Crossfire (x8/x4/x4 + x4).

A single DIMM.2 slot is located directly to the right of the dual memory slots, and allows for installation of up to two M.2 NVMe x4 high-speed SSDs connected via the chipset. The DIMM.2 feature is designed to save physical space on the motherboard by mounting the drives vertically. On the storage side, along with the DIMM.2 slot, only four SATA 6Gbps ports are included as opposed to the regular six you would find on a full-sized option. If that wasn’t enough, the overall form factor of the board is Extended ATX (EATX) rather than ATX. For design, the E-ATX layout has the same X-shaped PCB as the previous generation of Apex motherboard (Maximus IX Z270).

Touching on aesthetics, the board has a grey and black contrasting look with RGB hailing from the chipset heatsink and the central placed ROG plate, to which ASUS included an additional plate for name customization (as shown above). The customizable RGB lighting also runs down the left-hand size of the tracks from the SupremeFX S1220A audio codec, all the way up and under the large metal power delivery heat sink.

As you would expect with any premium performance board, there are cooling options aplenty. Five regular 4-pin headers, two pump headers, and a flow header (including one specifically for AIO coolers) have been included. A total of three full speed fan headers have been implemented allowing the use of high-speed fans for directing nitrogen vapor away from the PCB (during extreme overclocking) as well as helping to cool secondary components such as chipset and memory. A combination of thermal sensor headers are also present, with two regular headers and two specific to liquid cooling.

To the direct right of the memory is a DIMM.2 slot which allows the use of dual M.2 SSDs and has support to mount a cooling fan, which in turn should lower temperatures on NVMe x4 drives. Staying in the same area at the top right hand of the board, ASUS has included something they like to call the Overclockers Toolkit. What this consists of is a range of switches, buttons and even a very handy Q-Core for debugging. Switches for slow mode, one for enabling LN2 mode, and one for an RSVD (cold boot bug) have been included making this a strong contender for one of the most capable overclocking boards available on Intel's 8th Gen/Coffee Lake CPUs. Probably the most sophisticated feature of all is the integrated condensation detection within the PCB which enables overclockers using extreme methods such as Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) to debug runs and prevent component death due to condensation or water which could be sitting and waiting to short the components.

An interesting addition, and one to satisfy enthusiasts, is the inclusion of two ethernet ports. One of these is the standard Intel I219-V gigabit Ethernet, but ASUS also added an Aquantia AQC-108 high-end 5G port. Also included is a SupremeFX S1220A audio codec based on Realtek’s ALC1220 codec, although on this board it does not come covered with EMI shielding, but does have a wave of gold Nichon gold Japanese capacitors and PCB separation.

The rear I/O is stacked, with six USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) ports and an ASMedia controlled USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) Type-A and Type-C present. There are no USB 2.0 ports present on the back, but the inclusion of three front panel headers offer up to six USB 2.0 ports in total. Overclockers will be happy thanks to two PS/2 ports nestled on the I/O with a separate port for mouse AND keyboard. It wouldn’t be an overclocking focused board without a clear CMOS button and BIOS Flashback button which can come in handy, especially with one of the USB 3.1 (5 Gbps) ports being dedicated to this job. Finishing off is a set of 3.5mm audio jacks and single HDMI port for the processor integrated graphics.

The ASUS ROG Z370 Maximus X Apex aims to be a premium option for power users that want to maximise their memory performance. This board is going to pique the interest from enthusiasts and gamers due to the included features, but extreme overclockers may take an issue to all these unnecessary non-OC features.

ASUS ROG Z370 Maximus X Hero and Hero AC ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-E & Z370-F Gaming
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  • rocky12345 - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    Great article and a lot of work put in to get it out for us to read thank you.

    My only issue is and it is nit your fault is why these companies feel the need to totally blanket the market with basically the same boards just a different model number and basically a few tiny changes and spray paint it a different color and use the word gaming and put something x or x1 or k,k3 etc etc. For crap sakes just release three models not 7-10 models of the same crap it is pretty much just greed I guess.

    The whole market is like this now with anything computer related of and if it has the words GAMING or RGB in it's got to be good for sure. My fav is that gaming mouse pad next it will have RGB lighting in it...lol
    Reply
  • CitizenZer0 - Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - link

    Agreed Reply
  • carldon - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    Excellent summary and table in the last page. Good work!!! Reply
  • imaheadcase - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    I got a few questions:
    1. Why do they put USB 2.0 ports if USB 3.0 is backward compatible anyways? Why not just all USB 3.0 ports..it can't be price.
    2. Why do they have such a vary in memory timings? For %99 of people memory timings are not really a big deal right? Maybe in old PC days it was.
    3. Mini-ITX vs Micro-ITX..isn't it silly both exist in first place? Any reason for this..the diminsions are really close to the same. In fact, most Micro-ITX is simply removing lots of stuff from mobo that you really want to begin with.
    Reply
  • lordsutch - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    I'd imagine they want to offer as many ports as they can without taking away too many PCIe lanes. The other option would be to embed a USB 3.x switch (or a PCIe switch) but of course now each port wouldn't simultaneously be able to operate at peak speed and 3.x switches are probably more expensive than USB 2 controllers. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Sunday, October 22, 2017 - link

    Ahh didn't think about that aspect. Reply
  • DanNeely - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    Some USB audio and 2.4ghz wifi/bluetooth devices have had interference problems in 3.0 sockets. Dunno if they're fixed on new hardware (supposedly onboard hubs were a lot worse than chipset ports in this regard so room for QC to make it better); but even if they are there's going to be problems with once burned customers not trusting them.

    As pointed out elsewhere USB3 competes with PCIe lanes/SATA ports on the southbridge. Especially on full ATX boards if you go to max out the number of PCIe lanes to expansion slots and m.2 ports in addition to the lanes used on board for networking and audio you can get down to only a half dozen or so 3.0 lanes left from the chipset; but still able to hit 14 USB ports total by going USB2 with the rest.

    People using older OSes (Windows 7 says hi) can't use USB3 ports to install the OS without jumping through a lot of hoops (the OS sees them as not USB2 and can't talk to them).

    If any board size is at risk of going away it's probably full ATX; although for enthusiast sales I suspect it'll hold on better than mini ATX due to bigger is better irrationality.

    MiniITX still has a decent capability gap vs mini ATX; but it's much smaller than it was a half dozen years ago when it only made sense if you were making a tiny box and were willing to accept major performance compromises to do so. Now as Mini ITX's capability continues to goes up and the need for expansion cards other than a single GPU goes down it's eating into an increasing chunk of Mini ATX's marketshare.

    On the high side mainstream chips don't really have enough PCIe lanes to make good use of the extra 3 cards of space possible on the bigger boards/ Meanwhile multi-GPU gaming - the main reason an enthusiast would need a full size mobo is steadily going away (fewer games supporting it each year, no support for 3/4way at all in the newest cards from either company); and unless you need 2 GPUs + something else or extra space around the CPU for crazy OCing Mini ATX does almost everything that could be needed.
    Reply
  • MadAd - Sunday, October 22, 2017 - link

    > If any board size is at risk of going away it's probably full ATX; although for enthusiast sales I suspect it'll hold on better than mini ATX due to bigger is better irrationality.

    Irrationality indeed. I would have thought by now instead of a measly 5 mATX choices out of 50+ that it would be instead maybe 5 fullsize ATX with the main battleground being the two slot mATX market.

    Its just laziness on the manufacturers side, with nobody steering the market to innovate on size. Theres nobody driving form factors, the CPU companies are present on all form factors so they dont need to drive change, the board partners are all set in their ways just slapping new images on mildly reworked designs so they dont have any need to innovate, weve seen video card manufacturers can shrink designs to better fit smaller factors but we still get chunky easy to produce cards for mainstream use as retooling would be an added cost, its just rolling train of new but nothing new generation after generation.

    PC design is falling into mediocrity and I just wish the main players (intel+amd/board partners/nvidia+amd) would all get together to drive SFX/ITX and force retire ATX to the strictly enthusiast market, and maybe appeal to a more contemporary home user community (rather than just gamers which is where the marketing all seems to be these days) again too.
    Reply
  • Liltorp - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    It is really true that the MSI PC Pro has a legacy PCI connector? I could use this for my TV tuner. But I thought PCI was not supported by newer boatds/CPU`s? Reply
  • Morawka - Saturday, October 21, 2017 - link

    Has anyone noticed how cheap these new Z370 motherboards are? Most are under $180 and there are several sub $130. Reply

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