Asus Maximus IX Code
This is just a couple of steps down from Asus’s most expensive Z270 motherboards and as such it’s packed with features and performance. The most striking thing about it, however, is that it’s covered head to toe in plastic armour.
4This protects the board and makes it look better too. On the flipside, it can be quite an inconvenience if you drop a screw and get it stuck under that lot.
There are also several RGB-lit zones, including a Republic of Gamers logo in the middle of the board. RGB lighting is getting a little out of hand at the moment but the balance here is about right and it can all be controlled from the desktop software.
It’s a top-tier board, so you get masses of features including 2x USB 3.1 and 6x USB 3.0 ports on the backplate, with support for several more via headers. There are also two M.2 SSD slots, though their positioning is far from ideal. You also get top notch audio and inbuilt ac-Wi-Fi.
All this, and extensive overclocking options from a UEFI that’s simple and quick to navigate. I couldn’t get the memory to hit its XMP-defined 3200MHz top speed but otherwise the board overclocked the 7700K CPU to 5GHz with no problems. Its resultant performance took second place in our charts.