TUF series boards in general all have three key elements: I/O connectivity, component quality and reliability / cooling technology. ASUS uses military-grade components on TUF boards and as such, this product line features a five year warranty and goes through a different internal validation test compared to standard boards. But it's the cooling aspect, a cover over the entire board known as Thermal Armor, that I'm most excited about.
The purpose of this cover is to keep heat generated from expansion cards (for example - that huge graphics card you have installed) away from the PCB. Additionally, thermal buildup occurs at hotposts on motherboards and has traditionally been difficult to effectively target and cool. The Thermal Armor creates air channels that target key hotspots in an effort to reduce component temperatures. If you use a downward-firing heatsink, airflow from the fan is designed to enter these air channels around the CPU socket to effectively cool components. ASUS optionally sells a 50mm cooling fan that mounts just above the expansion slots to achieve the same effect.
Now that we have this board on our test bed, it's time for a closer look at some of the key features before putting it to the test.