Motherboard Guide

ASUS Blitz Formula Special Edition (Intel P35) review

ASUS Blitz Formula Special Edition (Intel P35)

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Standard Features and Design

Features

If you haven't already figured out, the ASUS Blitz Formula Special Edition motherboard is one incredibly souped up product, but the essential features are pretty straight forward. At the core of things, the Blitz Formula is based on the Intel P35/ICH9R chipset combination. This board will only feature DDR2, with native DDR2-1066 support. If you are looking for DDR3 support instead, you can check out the Blitz Formula's twin, the ASUS Blitz Extreme.

In terms of storage, the board has six SATA 3.0Gbps ports controlled by the ICH9R Southbridge. They all feature Intel's Matrix Storage Technology features including various RAID modes, AHCI and NCQ. A JMicron JMB368 controller provides the necessary IDE port, but eSATA support is missing from its repertoire. There are two Gigabit LAN controllers on the board, though the board mixes a PCI-based Marvell 88E8001 with a PCIe Marvell 88E8053 controller. FireWire-400 is also available through the commonly found 2-port VIA VT6308P controller and you can always count on the massive 12 USB 2.0 ports supported by the Southbridge, eight of which can be used right out of the box through the rear panel and bundled bracket.

Among the standard features, the one that really stands out is a new implementation of the SupremeFX audio card, aptly called SupremeFX II. Since this is a bundled product, there isn't any proper specifications for it, but looking at what is available, the SupremeFX II is still based on the same Analog Devices ADI 1988B HD Audio CODEC that is used for the first generation SupremeFX as well as most of the onboard audio solution for ASUS motherboards. What's interesting about this card is that it comes with a regular PCIe interface, but will only work when plugged into the special Black colored PCIe x1 slot. There are no BIOS options to toggle this and the card works just like any normal external sound card, but in our tests, Windows would only detect it when plugged in this special slot. ASUS also claims exclusive audio features like 3D position detection as well as voice amplification technology, but besides the regular SoundMAX driver package, we didn't find any other accompanying software for the sound card.

Layout

Try as we might, we couldn't find any fault with the layout and design of the Blitz Formula. The board comes close to being perfect in terms of component placement, user friendliness and spacing. The low profile heat-pipe system did not pose as an obstruction during installation, power connectors were easily reached and the angled storage ports (and bundled cables) ensure that users will not face cable issues even with large add-on cards and a cramped chassis. Component placement is impeccable, maximizing available space on a standard ATX PCB without crowding the board.