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Appeared on: Friday, March 28, 2008
Asus Maximus Extreme


1. Features, specifications

Asus is one of the few motherboard manufacturers that introduce different variations of a specific motherboard. An example is the company's "Extreme" series of enhanced motherboards, which are water cooling ready and offer additional BIOS/overclocking tweaks compared to the normal models.

We have in our labs the new Asus Maximus Extreme, an Intel X38 motherboard. Asus introduced implementation of the Intel X38 Express chipset with the P5E3 Deluxe WiFi model, but the new Maximus Extreme comes in a different board design.

The Maximus Extreme motherboard provides awesome overclocking speeds and challenges performance limitations. Equipped with the Crosslinx technology for increased performance, it utilizes the Fusion Block System - an effective 0dB fanless design cooling system with a chipset waterblock that adds onto a power user´s existing water cooling circuit to help keep operations cool. Additionally, SupremeFX II not only increases the sound quality, it also enhances aesthetic value. The Maximus Extreme also adopts the Intel X38/ICH9R chipset and supports DDR3 dual channel memory and CrossFire Technology - making it the Overclocker and Gamer´s first and best choice.

Intel® X38 Chipset

The Intel® X38 Express Chipset is the latest chipset designed to support 8GB of dual-channel DDR3 1333/1066/800 architecture, 1333/1066/800 FSB (Front Side Bus), Dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 graphics and multi-core CPUs. With the specially included Intel® Fast Memory Access technology, available memory bandwidth usage is optimized and memory access latency is reduced - allowing faster memory speeds.

Crosslinx Technology: Delivering better game play without the bottleneck of x4 solutions
Crosslinx is an unique technology utilizing a dedicated controller to optimize PCIe allocation with dual x8 lanes(2nd & 3rd PCIex16 slot). Crosslinx eliminates the graphics data bottleneck found in other x16, x4 solutions. The result is unmatched graphics performance for smoother gameplay and maximum benchmark potential.

Dual-Channel DDR3 1800(O.C.)/1333
The motherboard supports DDR3 memory that features data transfer rates of 1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066/800 MHz to meet the higher bandwidth requirements of the latest operation system, 3D graphics, multimedia, and Internet applications. The dual-channel DDR3 architecture doubles the bandwidth of your system memory to boost system performance, eliminating bottlenecks with peak bandwidths of up to 17 GB/s. Furthermore, the supply voltage for the memory is reduced from 1.8 V for DDR2 to just 1.5 V for DDR3. This voltage reduction limits the power consumption and heat generation of DDR3 which makes it an ideal memory solution.
Fusion Block SystemH2O ready: The next step in thermal solution.
The Fusion Block System is a more efficient thermal solution compared to competing followers with complicated looks. It is a hybrid thermal design that combines the ROG´s renowned heatpipe design with the additional ability to connect to a water cooling system. By taking the entire integrated solution into design considerations, the user can enjoy exceptional thermal improvement to north bridge, south bridge, Crosslinx, and even VRM with a single connection. The Fusion Block System is the most versatile, efficient, and the most advanced thermal system there is on a motherboard.
2-Phase DDR3
With the embedded 2-Phase DDR3, this motherboard allows users to reach higher memory frequencies and enjoy better performance. Compared with only one phase solutions, this motherboard ensures longer power component lifespans and higher overclockability due to cooler temperatures and better efficiency.
ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit): New Generation Automatic Energy Saving Chip
The ASUS EPU utilizes innovative technology to digitally monitor and tune the CPU power supply with improved VR responses in heavy or light loadings. It automatically provides power for higher performance or improve efficiency by 7% when the PC is running low intensity applications. Working together with AI Gear 3, this can help you attain the best possible power efficiency and energy savings up to 19% to help save the environment.

In order to get familiar with the full features of the Asus Maximus Extreme, visit Asus website.

- Full specifications

CPU
LGA775 socket for Intel® Core™2 Extreme / Core™2 Quad / Core™2 Duo / Pentium® Extreme / Pentium® D / Pentium® 4 Processors
Support Intel® next generation 45nm Multi-Core CPU
Compatible with Intel® 06/05B/05A processors
Chipset
Intel® X38/ICH9R with Intel® Fast Memory Access Technology
Front Side Bus
1600 / 1333 / 1066 / 800 MHz
Memory
Dual channel memory architecture
4 x DIMM, max. 8GB, 1800(O.C)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066, Non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Support Intel® XMP Technology
Expansion Slots
3 x PCIe x16 slot, support dual PCIe2.0 x16 or 1x PCIe2.0 x16, dual x8 speed
2 x PCIe x1, PCIex1_1 (black) is compatible with audio slot
2 x PCI 2.2
CrossFire
Storage
Southbridge
- 6 x SATA 3.0 Gb/s ports
- Intel Matrix Storage Technology supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10
JMicron® JMB363 PATA and SATA controller
- 1 x UltraDMA 133/100/66 for up to 2 PATA devices
- 2 x External SATA 3.0 Gb/s port (SATA On-the-Go)
LAN
Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, both featuring AI NET2
Support Teaming Technology
Audio
SupremeFX II Audio Card
- ADI 1988B 8-channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Noise Filter
Coaxial, Optical S/PDIF out at back I/O
IEEE 1394
2 x 1394a ports(1 port at back I/O, 1 port onboard)
USB
max. 12 USB2.0/1.1 ports(6 ports at mid-board, 6 ports at back panel)
Overclocking Features
Fusion Block System
Crosslinx Technology
Extreme Tweaker
Loadline Calibration
2-Phase DDR3
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- CPU Level Up
- Memory Level Up
- AI Overclocking (intelligent CPU frequency tuner)
- ASUS AI Booster Utility
- O.C Profile
- Frequency LED
Overclocking Protection:
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
LCD Poster
EL I/O
Onboard Switches: Power / Reset / Clr CMOS(at rear)
Q-Connector
Q-Fan Plus
ASUS EZ Flash2
ASUS CrashFree BIOS3
ASUS MyLogo3
Back Panel I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 Keyboard port(purple)
1 x Optical + 1 x Coaxial S/PDIF Output
2 x External SATA
2 x LAN (RJ45) port
6 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports
1 x IEEE1394a port
1 x Clr CMOS switch
Internal I/O Connectors
3 x USB 2.0 connectors supports additional 6 USB 2.0 ports
1 x Floppy disk drive connector
1 x IDE connector for two devices
6 x SATA connectors
8 x Fan connectors: 1 x CPU / 1 x PWR / 3 x Chassis / 3 x Optional
3 x thermal sensor connectors
1 x IEEE1394a connector
1 x S/PDIF output connector
1 x Chassis Intrusion connector
24-pin ATX Power connector
8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS
1 x EL I/O Shield Connector
System panel connector
BIOS
16Mb AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.4, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WOL by PME, WOR by PME, Chasis Intrusion, PXE
Accessories
Fusion Block System Accessory
DIY Pedestal
ASUS Optional Fan
3 in 1 ASUS Q-Connector Kit
UltraDMA 133/100/66 cable
Floppy disk drive cable
SATA cables
SATA power cables
2-port USB2.0 module+IEEE1394a module
EL I/O Shield
Thermal sensor cables
Cable Ties
User's manual
Support Disc
The hottest 3D Game: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.
Support DVD:
Drivers
ASUS PC Probe II
ASUS Update
ASUS AI Suite
Futuremark ® 3DMark® 06 Advanced Edition
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor, 12"x 10.6" (30.5cm x 26.9cm)

2. The package

The Asus Maximus Extreme costs between 260 and 280 Euros (+shipping), according to prices found online. It is cheaper than the Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi edition, since those two models are not exactly the same in terms of features. The main differences are that the P5E3 Deluxe includes a 802.11n WiFi card and the ExtremeGateway bootup system, while the Maximus Extreme is more oriented for hardcore users.

The retail package follows the usual design of Asus special edition motherboards, with all the needed logos printed to inform you about the motherboard's unique features. We did noticed that the retail box is somewhat bigger than the usual Asus motherboards:

Opening the retail box, we find many cables, various connectors and adapters.

Below is a list of what's included in the package

The board itself looks very "clean" as most parts can be identified easily. Its overall dimensions are slightly bigger than P5E3 Deluxe (12"x 10.6" (30.5cm x 26.9cm) vs 12"x 9.6" (30.5cm x 24.4cm)) so it should be installed at a full ATX PC case.

Below is an overall overview of the motherboard layout

Let's take a closer look at the CPU area.

We can see an 8-phase power design and low heighted MOSFETs for minimum switching loss & lower temperature. The Ferrite Core chokes have lower hysteresis loss, while they all have long life conductive polymer capacitors. The Asus Maximus Extreme has many copper heatsinks around the CPU area all well connected with the central fusion block. According to Asus "...The Fusion Block System is a more efficient thermal solution compared to competing followers with complicated looks. By taking the entire integrated solution into design considerations, the user can enjoy exceptional thermal improvement to Northbridge, Southbridge, Crosslinx, and even VRM with a single connection. The Fusion Block System is the most versatile, efficient, and advanced thermal system there is on a motherboard...".

To be honest, the whole design does look better and more solid than what Asus has used at the Blitz Series (Formula/Extreme). The Intel X38 chipset as well as the CrossLinx get easily hot so a water cooling solution would perfectly match here. The height of these components is also low enough allowing you to possibly install bigger aftermarket coolers.

There are four DDR3 DIMMs for up to 8GB memory configurations:

Passing to the lower left, we find six (6) SATAII connectors and of course the ATA133 connectors, all colored in red to be easialy spotted . The Southbridge chip is also covered with a passive copper heatsink featuring  the CrossLinx logo. The copper heatsink gets really hot, especially after overclocking so its suggested to use the included water cooling embedded system. There are also eight (8) additional fan connectors there:

Two power/reset buttons are present and they are very useful:

On the top left side of the mainboard there are the three PCI-e v2.0 x16 lanes (blue colored) that fully support the ATI Crossfire technology. Due to the CrossLinx technology, you can have a dual PCIe2.0 x16 or 1x PCIe2.0 x16 and dual x8 speed. According to Asus "...CrossLinx is a unique technology utilizing a dedicated special graphics controller to optimize PCIe allocation with x16, x8, x8 lanes. Such architecture eliminates the x4 bottleneck found on competing x16, x16, x4 solutions. Hence, the Crosslinx is able to provide faster graphics performance...

The newly adopted PCI-e v2.0 has higher bandwidth and several graphics cards are starting take advantage of it, like Nvidia's 8800GT and the upcoming ATI 3800 series. There is enough space between them, so you shouldn't have any problem when you will try to install oversized graphics cards.

The I/O panel has the following ports and connectors:

The PS2 Mouse port has been replaced by two USB2.0 ports. In the following pictures you can see the mainboard in the dark, where various leds on it indicate the operation conditions of the motherboard, in terms of overclocking/FSB and voltage level:

Of course all these LEDS be disabled under BIOS.


3. BIOS settings

The BIOS interface follows what Asus has been using for sometime now. In order to get the best results, we used the BIOS update software to upgrade to the latest 0904 beta version. The update procedure is pretty straight forward.

This BIOS interface is probably the best we've ever seen, compared to what other mainboad makers offer. It is separated in several tabs, each one having sub-menus with different options. The first tab includes information about the date, the SATA drives and the system.

On the second tab named "AI Tweaker", users will find tons of features. The motherboard includes an auto overclocking system, called Ai Overclock Tuner, with three different settings:

The CPU Level Up allows easy overclocking with pre-defined settings, starting from E6700/X6800/E6850 and finally the "crazy" level.

The FSB Strap to North Bridge settings can be left to the default value, or set to frequencies up to 400MHz, when used with the upcoming Intel processors.

There are many memory dividers to play with, from 1:1 to 1:2. The memory dividers are affected from the selected FSB, so in order to have the highest possible options, leave the FSB to auto. We can see that the BIOS recognizes the memory timings and displays them automatically.

Let's set now the Ai Overclock Tuner in Manual mode.

There are several modes for memory regulation in order to either enhance the system's or performance or choose more stable options. The voltage control is not the same with what we saw with the Asus P5E3 Deluxe, since now the menus follow the drop down form, allowing you to choose the available voltages rather than manually typing of value (with 0.02V interval). Here is a list with all the available voltages and frequencies:

Compared with Asus P5E3 Deluxe, most voltages have been pumped up, - good news for serious overclockers. Passing to the Advanced tab, we can find more settings for SpeedStep, C1E support and of course the CPU multiplier:

Under the Power tab, you can find the usual temperature readings, with NB and SB temperatures. The voltage reporting is also very informing and useful.


4. Testing configuration

For all the tests we used a beta BIOS that Asus provided us, the 0904 version. By the time this review was completed, a newer build (0907) was available at Asus' servers.

Let's see now how our CPU was identified under CPU-Z:

All tests are performed with the same configuration as follows:

We used a variety of software, from benchmarks to games:


5. Benchmarks - EVEREST Ultimate Edition

Click for official website!EVEREST Ultimate Edition is an industry leading system diagnostics and benchmarking solution for enthusiasts PC users, based on the EVEREST Technology. During system optimizations and tweaking it provides essential system and overclock information, hardware monitoring and diagnostics capabilities to check the effects of the applied settings. CPU, FPU and memory benchmarks are available to measure the actual system performance and compare it to previous states or other systems. Furthermore, complete software, operating system and security information makes EVEREST Ultimate Edition a comprehensive system diagnostics tool that offers a total of 100 pages of information about your PC. The software has build-in several tests for memory and CPU/FPU.

We tested three motherboards that support DDR3 memory. The Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi and Maximus Extreme performed very closely.

The CPU tests are also affected from the memory performance. In some tests, the P5E3 Deluxe WiFi was faster, while in other, the Maximus Extreme took the lead.


6. Benchmarks - SiSoftware Sandra

SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software. It works along the lines of other Windows utilities, however it tries to go beyond them and show you more of what's really going on. Giving the user the ability to draw comparisons at both a high and low-level. You can get information about the CPU, chipset, video adapter, ports, printers, sound card, memory, network, Windows internals, AGP, PCI, PCIe, ODBC Connections, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc. Sisoft Sandra offers a variety of tests for Memory and CPU.

The memory performance was a mixed bag for both Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi and Maximus Extreme. The same applies also for the CPU tests.


7. Benchmarks - PCMark05, 3DMark 06

Click for homepage!PCMark®05 measures the performance of aPC and determines its strengths and weaknesses. With PCMark05, you will be able to select the optimal upgrades for your existing PC, or choose the right new PC that fits your specific needs. This easy-to-use product gives you the same tools and knowledge that virtually every professional tester in the industry uses. Below you can see all three available scores, memory, CPU and total.

At the Memory benchmark, the P5E3 Deluxe WiFi was faster, while at the CPU tests the best score came from the Maximus Extreme.

Click for homepage!3DMark®06 is the worldwide standard in advanced 3D game performance benchmarking. A fundamental tool for every company in the PC industry as well as PC users and gamers, 3DMark06 uses advanced real-time 3D game workloads to measure PC performance using a suite of DirectX 9 3D graphics tests, CPU tests, and 3D feature tests. 3DMark06 tests include all new HDR/SM3.0 graphics tests, SM2.0 graphics tests, AI and physics driven single and multiple cores or processor CPU tests and a collection of comprehensive feature tests to reliably measure next generation gaming performance today.

3D Mar06 tests both CPU/RAM and of course the graphics card. The Asus P5E3 Deluxe came first with 2158 points, while Maximus Extreme lags behind by just two points.


8. Benchmarks - Science Mark 2.0, Pov-Ray

Science Mark 2.0 is an attempt to put the truth behind benchmarking. In an attempt to model real world demands and performance, SM2 is a suite of high-performance benchmarks that realistically stress system performance without architectural bias.  Science Mark 2.0 is comprised of 7 benchmarks, each of which measures a different aspect of real world system performance.

Pov-Ray s a high-quality, totally free tool for creating stunning three-dimensional graphics. It is available in official versions for Windows, Mac OS/Mac OS X and i86 Linux. The source code is available for those wanting to do their own ports. We used Pov-Ray 3.7beta15 for all tests, since it supports Dual Core CPUs. We used the build-in benchmark as suggested from developers.

Both Pov-Ray and ScienceMark test results are dominated from the Asus Maximus Extreme.

- x264 Benchmark

x264 Benchmark utilizes the next generation of Video Encoding benchmarks with support for x264 codec that is considered to be one of the most demanding for Video applications. Simply put, this test measures how fast your machine can encode a short, DVD quality MPEG-2 video clip into a high-quality x264 video clip. The author believes that "...it's ideal for a benchmark because the application (x264.exe) reports fairly accurate compression results (in frames per second) for each pass of the video encoding process, and it uses multi-core processors very efficiently..."

The benchmark procedure is very simple, you just run a batch file that encodes the same file five times. The software reports results for both the first and the second pass of the encoding. Below you can see the average results for each pass:

The x264 benchmark really tests the CPU/memory combination. The Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi came first in FPS1 test, while Maximus Extreme first at FPS2 test.


9. Benchmarks - MAXON CINEBENCH

MAXON CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software, CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation. MAXON software has been used in blockbuster movies such and Spider-Man, Star Wars, The Chronicles of Narnia and many more. MAXON CINEBENCH runs several tests on your computer to measure the performance of the main processor and the graphics card under real world circumstances. The benchmark application makes use of up to 16 CPUs or CPU cores and is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-Bit) and Macintosh (PPC and Intel-based). The resulting values among different operating systems are 100% comparable and therefore very useful with regard to purchasing decision-making.

All tests were done with the R9.5 and R10 build and each result is presented in a different graph for your consideration. Note that all the displayed scores are the summary of the CPU index scores.

In the CineBench R9.5 and R10 version the Asus Maximus Extreme came first.


10. Benchmarks - SuperPI

SuperPI has become an utility to benchmark modern systems. In August 1995, the calculation of pi up to 4,294,960,000 decimal digits was succeeded by using a supercomputer at the University of Tokyo. The program was written by D.Takahashi and he collaborated with Dr. Y.Kanada at the computer center, the University of Tokyo. This record-breaking program was ported to personal computer environment such as Windows NT and Windows 95 and called Super PI.

The software offers up to 32M calculations of PI numbers. We summed all test results and compare the performance of the tested motherboards

The Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi still holds impressive performance with 6.25mins, while Maximus Extreme was somewhat faster than the Blitz Extreme with 6.29mins 8M+4M+2M+1M calculation time.


11. Benchmarks - SYSmark 2007 Preview, WorldBench

BAPCo's SYSmark 2007 Preview builds upon its predecessors and is the next generation of benchmark utilities that utilize real life applications like: Adobe After Effects 7, Adobe Illustrator CS2, Adobe Photoshop CS2, AutoDesk 3ds Max 8, Macromedia Flash 8, Microsoft Excel 2003, Microsoft Outlook 2003, Microsoft PowerPoint 2003, Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Project 2003, Microsoft Windows Media™ Encoder 9 series, Sony Vegas 7, SketchUp 5 and WinZip 10.0.

SYSmark 2007 Preview is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of Video creation, E-learning, 3D Modeling and Office Productivity. This new release includes a robust and refreshed set of applications. All results are directly comparable between various configurations and operating systems.

The highest overall rating was for Asus Blitz Extreme, while all three tested motherboards were very close.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,130470-page,1/article.htmlPC World has developed a new benchmark for testing PC system performance, WorldBench has reached six (6) number and now is compatible with Windows Vista. Much like as SysMark, it uses various real life applications (Adobe Photoshop CS2, Autodesk 3ds max 8.0 SP-3, Firefox 2, Microsoft Office 2003 with SP-1, Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 9.0, Nero 7 Ultra Edition, Roxio VideoWave Movie Creator 1.5 and WinZip Computing WinZip 10.0) and with pre-defined usage patterns calculates a total score that can be used to evaluate a system's performance.

The highest score in this test comes from the Blitz Extreme with only one point difference from the P5E3 Deluxe Wifi and two points from the Maximus Extreme.


12. Lost Planet: Extreme Condition

The game's plot focuses on the amnesiac character Wayne Holden, his father, Gale Holden, and the past and future of the planet E.D.N. III. After a particularly vicious battle against a large Akrid known only as "Green Eye", Gale is supposedly killed, and Wayne lost on the icy planes of E.D.N. III . The planet of E.D.N III is perpetually cold and snowy, originally inhabited by a species of aliens known as Akrid, who forced humanity to abandon E.D.N. III by strength of numbers and surprise, which can be found in many and varied forms.

For this benchmark we used the Demo version that includes a "Performance Test" function. We used the default demo visual settings for all the test. There are two test results from two different animated courses that being reported as "Snow" and "Cave":

Let's now see the performance of the tested motherboards:

More or less, all tested motherboards had exactly the same performance.


13. Overclocking

1st Test

In our first test, all motherboards must achieve the highest overclocking speed with all the BIOS settings left to Auto. This means that each motherboard must calculate how much voltage the CPU needs in order to be absolutely stable while operating in higher clock speed. The memory dividers and the memory/FSB/MCH voltages are also left to Auto. In other words this is the easiest overclocking you can do. For this test we use a retail Intel E6600 with it's CPU multiplier locked at x9 and we raise the FSB until we get a stable system (Orthos2004+PovRay running).

Keeping the CPU multiplier at 9x, the Maximus Extreme reached 3374MHz stable with Orthos/PovRay stretching the system. We noticed that with an earlier BIOS (0802) installed, the overclocking performance was somewhat higher...

2nd Test

Apart from the maximum overclocking speed, we have to examine the maximum possible FSB frequency with the specific CPU installed. Again all BIOS settings are left to Auto and the CPU multiplier is dropped to 6x. The memory timings and the dividers are also left to auto. An additional 8cm fan was used to further cool the whole system.

The Asus Maximus Extreme and P5E3 Deluxe gave similar performance with 490MHz FSB.

3rd Test

Our final overclocking test focuses on how good a motherboard is when the memory is overclocked. In this test we used one pair of SuperTalent's DDR3-1600CL7 with the following settings:

We had a hard time to make the system boot under Windows when the memory was overclocked. As a result, we had to skip this test and run it again with a newer BIOS installed.

- Overclocking stability

During our overclocking attempts, we noticed that after some overclocking failures, the system didn't POST back and we had power off/or use the clr CMOS button to get everything back in order. While this is the way things are supposed to work, we didn't have so many problems with Asus P5E3 Deluxe WiFi Edition.


14. Asus AI Gear 3

Asus has included the AI Gear 3 utility with Maximus Extreme, as well as with P5E3 Deluxe WiFi Edition. The ASUS AI Gear 3 is a utility designed to configure and support all ASUS Energy Processing Unit (EPU) features. This easy-to-use utility provides four system performance profiles that adjust the processor frequency and vCore voltage for different computing needs. After installing ASUS AI Suite from the bundled DVD, you can launch ASUS AI Gear 3 by double-clicking the AI Suite icon on your Windows OS taskbar and then click the AI Gear 3 button on the AI Suite main window.

Here are some simple ways to use AI Gear 3:

We used the AI Gear 3 software with our system and here are the results we got from using it:

Mode
Result (watt)
51.45
51.06
47.76
32.91

There is a significant power saving after using Asus AI Gear 3, especially with the Max Power Saving mode (32.91 watts using Intel E6600). A tooltip balloon gives a brief report about the current power used from the system :


15. Summary

The Asus Maximus Extreme is Asus' new motherboard for enthusiast and experienced users, based on the Intel X38 Express chipset, offering full support for the not very cheap DDR3 memory.

The X38 Express chipset offers two PCI-e v2.0 with official ATI Crossfire configuration. With Maximus Extreme, Asus has included CrossLinx, this way you can add a third video card and work at 16x, x8, 8x, when usual you are going for 16x, 16x, 4x. We assume Asus is correct about which setup is faster, since we didn't;t have three ATI based graphics cards to test this out. Again the specific additional chipset that allows this would be useful for specific users only, so consider it as a good addition. What's most obvious is the central fusion block, which is improved, compared to what we had seen in the Blitz Series. Asus includes all the needed cable and accessories for users to install their own water cooling system and of course add Maximus Extreme to the rig.

Compared with another Asus X38 motherboard, the P5E3 Deluxe WiFi Edition, we found that the P5E3 seems to be faster in memory tests, while Maximus Extreme is faster at the CPU tests. Again the performance differences are too small so we would say both motherboards performed more or less the same. As far as overclocking is concerned, we saw that both mainboards reached very easily the 490MHz FSB, with potential to go up even higher.

We had some issues when we attempted to overclock the SuperTalent DDR3 memory, at least when we selected the Auto settings. That is strange, because the P5E3 Deluxe WiFi Edition worked just fine with the exactly same components out-of-the-box so we assume it's a BIOS glitch.

Lastly, don't forget that this motherboard is slightly bigger than other motherboards (12"x 10.6" vs 12"x 9.6").

Passing to the retail price, you can buy the Asus Maximus Extreme at the price range of 260~280 Euro, more or less 30~40 Euro less than P5E3 Deluxe WiFi Edition. Of course there is also the P5E3 Deluxe Edition (without WiFi) available that would cost you even less than Maximus Extreme. So we have three models with different features that give similar performance. What users should choose? Obviously the one that covers their needs. We could say that the Maximus Extreme represents Asus's top X38 model and aims at the overclocking community (with its water cooling ready system). However the P5E3 Deluxe WiFi edition is also a top performer, either in benchmarks or overclocking, so we could easily suggest both.

With the X48 chipset not planned to be released before Q2 2008, proceed and get your Asus Maximus Extreme now :-).

Retail package
Features
Price
Bios
Performance
Overclocking performance
Overclocking stability


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