ASUS has some amazing Z77 offerings especially in the ROG lineup. We have already looked at the Maximus V Gene and the Maximus V Formula, both of which were amazing overclockers with loads of features. Today we have the Extreme variant which is the very top model for the ASUS ROG lineup. It carries many features such as the OCKey and VGA Hotwire. Keep reading to see exactly what this board offers!
Introduction – ASUS Maximus V Extreme
ASUS ROG model boards have a legacy of being marvels of engineering. We previously reviewed the Maximus V Gene then the Maximus V Formula which both were more than capable clockers, but overclocking is only part of the equation with these boards. ROG stands for “Republic of Gamers” which none of these boards have lost that ideal as they all have gaming centric features which make them just as much at home in an extreme gaming rig as they are on a test bench. The higher level a ROG model is, the more extreme benchmarking features we tend to get with them.
Today we are looking at the Maximus V Extreme, which is the daddy of the Z77 ROG lineup. The Maximus V Extreme not only offers many gaming features but also many features which are built around the whole idea of breaking world records. Some of the Overclocker centric features are the Extreme Engine DIGI+ VRM components, ROG OCKey, VGA Hotwire and the Subzero sense technology. All of these things come together to make one awesome and extreme board.
The Maximus V Extreme comes to market with a street price of $379.99 directly from Newegg at the time of writing. This is actually a pretty reasonable price for the features, so now let’s take a look at how it performs.
APS (ASUS Premium Service)
ASUS Previously offered the APS service on ROG boards, but starting with the X79 series they have extended the service to cover much more of their X79 and Z77 models in the standard channel line. This is nice to see as the APS service allows an advanced replacement or a board to be shipped to the user which in turn means less down time for the end user. More on this service can be seen on the ASUS website HERE
Extreme Engine DIGI+ II
ASUS Has been known for some time for their DIGI+ solutions and on the ROG boards they have the Extreme Engine DIGI+ II designs.
The Extreme engine DIGI+ II design is a direct implementation of the DIGI+ designs designed for optimum performance and efficiency to meet both the extreme gamers needs along with the extreme benchmarkers needs as well. If you have ever heard the term wretched excess, the extreme engine DIGI+ fits that description quite nicely. We all know that going excessive is not a bad thing but you must keep your goal in perspective, and ASUS did exactly that by building a super robust VRM, but also ensuring the DIGI+ controller can handle the extreme load of benchmarking while also meeting the needs of 24/7 use. This includes such features as demand based switching which throttles the VRM components so that load is shifted back and forth between VRM components so that no single component is in a constant loading state which will allow for much cooler and efficient operation. Also if the system jumps up to a fully loaded situation the controller can instantly transition to a high power state which kicks on all of the VRM components and ensures your system has the power it needs on tap. This kind of implementation also means that even under significant overclocks you can keep power saving features of the DIGI+ setup active and it will still throttle as seen necessary to keep power on tap but also allow power savings and efficiency in low load conditions. A note to this is that if pushing for extreme clocks the DIGI+ can be set for higher or extreme modes which will keep the VRM at a constant on state and full power will be delivered at all times which is necessary for those running in such scenarios such as LN2 benchmarking.
One important note for the Extreme Engine DIGI+ design is the components. Here we will look at specific components and what makes them special.
Special attention has been paid to the capacitor choice as they are very highly specd units. A standard capacitor is rated to handle operating temps of 105C at up to 2000hr, but the special black metallic Nichicon GT series caps are rated for up to 5x this time at up to 10,000hr’s at the same 105C operating temperatures. This is a huge advantage as it allows for a much higher threshold for long term usage along with the durability to handle the severe beating many users will dish out during overclocking expeditions.
Also worth noting is the fact that the Nichicon GT caps are rated for a wider thermal threshold which means that the operating temps it can handle is much better and it is even better at the extreme cold temperatures some extreme enthusiasts subject these boards to.
Windows 8 Ready
ASUS has been hard at work prepping for Windows 8, the new revolutionary OS from Microsoft. With this comes a new BIOS CAP file which is said to improve features and functionality integration for better compatibility with the new OS. Also other cool features are faster boot up times and optimized settings for a smoother Windows 8 working environment. We are sure the features available for this upgrade will scale larger as the OS matures and becomes available so keep a look at the ASUS site for updates found HERE
ASUS’ P8Z77-V Premium was the first to offer onboard Thunderbolt support which is fully certified by Intel. This may not seem like a very big deal, but this tells us that ASUS works very closely with Intel to get such a jump ahead on this offering. If ASUS works with Intel so closely for a add on component such as this it can only mean good things and great compatibility for the board as well as for the end user.
We will go deeper into the Thunderbolt technology a little later in the review but we can confirm it uses a full 10Gbps interconnect to ensure no bandwidth issues or slowdowns will be seen from the Thunderbolt interface. The Thunderbolt does carry both a data stream alongside a DisplayPort stream to ensure seamless integration of up to 6 devices in a daisy chain configuration along with a DisplayPort monitor at the end of the line all from a single connection on the board.
mPCI-E Combo Card (WiFi/BT 4.0 mPCI-E card included)
ASUS included a Mini PCI-E and mSATA card with the Maximus V Gene, but with the Formula they did one better. With the formula ASUS decided that just having the mPCI-E option wasnt enough and they wanted the board to have WiFi to add to its many items already on its unique features list. With that ASUS bundles a mPCI-E WiFi/BT4.0 modules preinstalled on the small card. This alone allow for WiFi function and basically for the most part wireless functionality for pretty much everything. Also with the included card a mSATA SSD can be installed with capacities up to 240GB which means a complete and almost wireless system can be installed with no storage devices even plugged into the onboard SATA ports. I like this as it allows for some amazing versatility as to how you want your system configured.
One important note on this is that even though the card supports and comes with the WiFi/BT4.0 card included the SSD can also be installed and used concurrently for the ultimate cable-less solution.
4 Way SLI Support
The Maximus V Extreme comes with four dual slot spaced PCI-E slots which run through the PLX bridge chip to allow for full PCI-E 3.0 to four cards at x8 bandwidth. ASUS also has a PLX bypass for native PCI-E performance in dual card configs by using the top #1 slot and the Black (2B) slot which allows direct PCI-E lanes from the CPU without any interaction with the PLX bridge. This can net you up to 5+% in gameplay which is really awesome for just a slot difference.
The good thing about this is that since this board is built for benching, it has full support for 4 way GPUs. This means that with a good high frequency CPU, we can see many multi card benchmarks getting nice results with this board.
GPU/DIMM POST is one of those features whose benefit usually will be seen in the most stressful times like when something is not working. We actually wound up using this feature without intention on a previous ROG review, when a 32GB memory kit we were testing only showed up as 24GB. As we entered the BIOS after several attempts to fix the problem, we checked the GPU/DIMM POST and found that 2 modules were reading as “abnormal”. Powering the system off and resetting those DIMMs remedied the issue, but seeing that info directly in the firmware can save a lot of time when diagnosing errant behavior or instability; this kind of information being readily available is an invaluable asset to users. Additionally, the GPU POST option allows us to see the installed GPU’s in each slot, so that when benching LN2 or even on a liquid cooled gaming rig, the GPU POST screen can be checked to ensure identification of all installed cards is accomplished. See the BIOS Section for more info.
The ROG OCKey is something we have seen and even used before with the Rampage IV Extreme board. It is a very interesting device as it allows an overlay on the same screen as your OS or benchmark is running on, or even can be plugged into another screen entirely. Moreover, it also allows direct control and monitoring of the Maximus V Extreme during a benchmark run directly on the screen. Let’s take a look at some of the features of the OCKey below.
As you can see the OCKey is an intermediary device which can be plugged onto the output of the GPU then the display cable can be connected to the OCKey which will allow the visual monitoring and adjustment overlay directly on the benchmark screen. Before all of this kicks up into operation though there is an internal USB header conveniently placed near the rear IO section which also needs to be run to the OCKey so that we can effectively communicate with the PC. This can be quite beneficial as sometimes we do not have a separate system to utilize for the ROG connect overclocking or maybe don’t want to run the overclocking software and spend time in the OS messing with it. Also the ability to monitor with this means that you can see pot temperatures in real time via the Subzero sense as well.
For those who do not necessarily utilize the board for its hardcore benching aspect, the OCKey can still be of great benefit to you as it still can offer the OSD overlay monitoring and even post code strings for monitoring during initial posting of the system. In this way the ROG OCKey is a benching device that has some real pedestrian value as well.
The Subzero Sense feature is another that we have seen previously on the Rampage IV Extreme and is based solely on the needs of an extreme benchmarking enthusiast. The Subzero Sense feature is a collection of 2 K type probe connections on a block near the SATA portion of the motherboard. These are used to keep track of the pot or LN2 container temperature to ensure your running within desired temps to avoid cold bugs or issues. Normally, when running LN2 or any other kind of sub ambient cooling you would need a external thermometer of good quality to ensure you get very accurate subzero temperature readings. With the Subzero Sense feature you now have 2 ports to which you can install K probe connections to monitor 2 different devices temperatures which means you dont need to spend the cash for those expensive thermometers.
As you see above the cost of an external thermometer can be quite high so having these ports can save you from buying up to 2 of these devices, which is actually huge money saved. We did have a chance to test the accuracy on the Subzero sense ports and the accuracy was well within a degree of our Fluke thermometer which means this would be an excellent choice for a subzero benchmarker.
The VGA Hotwire feature is a unique one as it allows for hardware level voltage modifications to your graphics cards. Previously in order to have hardware level control over your GPU voltage it would require specific trimmers of the correct resistance or something over then soldering it to correct points on the card so that you could fool the VRM of the card into giving it more voltage as needed for extreme overclocks. Well ASUS knows what its users need so they went ahead and integrated pin headers on the board so that the wires can be soldered onto the card then plugged directly into the board for hardware level voltage modification and monitoring without fumbling with external trimming devices.
As you see above there are also select card which come with plugs so that no solder is necessary for the hardware level monitoring via the VGA Hotwire feature. We recently experienced this on the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum: in order to enable the voltage control the only thing that we needed was to short a small solder pad. This is much easier than soldering a bunch of leads to a card and hoping you don’t slip with the iron. Also it is important to note the advantage of VGA Hotwire as anyone who has ever benched with LN2 knows that the smoke can be quite full and can block vision of the components so adjusting the trimmers in such conditions can be difficult, and a single slip can cause death to your graphics card.
Here you can see we hooked up the ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum card to the VGA Hotwire points. The monitored voltages show up in the BIOS.
Lucidlogix Virtu MVP
ASUS, like all other manufacturers offers the Lucidlogix Virtu MVP support for their Z77 line which is a very interesting improvement over the previous Lucid Virtu we had used before. This version of Virtu MVP does all of the same functions that the original could do but is better optimized, and now adds some new 3D enhancement features to the mix that make for a very interesting possible implementation. Virtu MVP offers HyperPerformance which allows for rendering to be offloaded to the iGPU and in turn allows the discreet GPU to do the grunt work it was designed for while the iGPU does the light frame renders to ensure better fps as the frames are pre rendered in place and any duplicate frame is not rendered by the discreet GPU and is dropped by the discreet GPU to keep the discreet GPU processing only frames which are new or different than the previous.
Also included in the MVP package is Virtual Vsync which allows for the tear free quality of vsync display without being limited to the display refresh rate which ultimately will allow for smoother performance and playback. This is accomplished by the same methods as mentioned above by pre rendered frames and dropping partial rendered frames before they get to the discreet GPU to avoid from partial redraws which will cause the undesired tearing affect we have seen before.
Further in this review we will do some game testing to find what exactly we get from Virtu and if the performance is worth the hype.
ASUS GameFirst II
ASUS has pushed the GameFirst technology even further with its cFos software which now offers a EZ mode to allow even easier tweaking and adjust ability for all end users to increase online gameplay performance. The GameFirst II technology builds off of the ability to shape the network traffic to better control throughput and packet priority to ensure the program that needs maximum speed and reduced latency such as streaming HD video or simply online gaming is all at your fingertips.
The ASUS GameFirst II technology is very cool in the effects that it not only applies to the onboard NIC, but also can work with the included WiFi module to allow similar performance improvements via a wireless connection.
Included Software additions
One area that normally is not explored is the small added value components such as what I got with the Maximus V Extreme. Software which are full versions such as Kapersky Anti Virus and also Daemon Tools which can help on two fronts via Kapersky offering protection while the Daemon Tools offering gives a vast array of functionality. Features include those such as virtual drive mounting for quick and easy ISO loading without the need to burn a disc. These software which are rarely mentioned but come with the board are definite added value considerations as they are software you may otherwise have to purchase.
USB BIOS Flashback
ASUS offers the BIOS Flashback utility which is actually a multi-facet tool and has many capabilities which some may not be aware of. we have had many times where a motherboard did not support a CPU and a frantic search for a supported CPU just to flash the BIOS (ex. Gulftown CPU support on X58). ASUS has eliminated the worry of these kinds of issues by allowing the BIOS flashback procedure which does not require a CPU or memory to flash the BIOS. All that is needed in order to flash the BIOS is to have the desired firmware ROM file on a USB thumb drive and insert that into the ROG connect USB port.
Depressing the ROG Connect button for 5 seconds will start a flashing LED which indicates the firmware is being updated and once the update is complete the flashing will stop. It really is that easy and ensures no matter the condition the firmware can be flashed even if the newest CPU is not supported without the previously mentioned hunt for a compatible CPU.
This may seem like an odd feature but many may buy the newest and greatest CPU on the market while the board could have been shipped with the older firmware which in most cases would leave the user stuck without an option. We have found this useful quite a few times when after running a LN2 cooled system in unstable conditions, a BIOS had corrupted. With the BIOS flashback it was remedied as quickly as we could copy the ROM file from our laptop to the flash drive and get it flashing.
USB 3.0 Boost
Turbo USB is a new feature we have seen from ASUS as of recent and it allows for a speed increase from older USB 2.0 thumb drives or storage devices when the Turbo mode is enabled on that device through the ASUS AISUITE II software.
One thing that not many have publicized is the fact that this boost also supports a protocol names UASP which supports a much higher transmission rate via the Asmedia controller. ASUS included with the motherbard a Thermaltake BlacX 5G USB 3,0 capable external docking station along with a Corsair Force GT SSD to allow for testing of this feature. we went ahead and tested multiple different drives and combinations to see how the functions actually plays out in real world scenarios.
Here we see standard performance from the Asmedia controller under its “Normal mode” which is rather good and plenty fast for an external storage device
Here we see with the UASP mode enabled that the speed is increased massively by over 100MB/s throughput which put some serious speed into the equation.
Also with Z77 one of the features of the new inclusion of Intel native PCH USB 3.0 ports. With this ASUS has found a way to enable faster speed via the AISuite USB boost control for these ports as well. The Intel USB 3.0 does not support UASP protocol so only Turbo mode can be enabled as of this time.
Here we have the stock results for the Intel controller and it is really good, so we definitely see the Intel inclusion of native USB3.0 support as being an advantage.
Here we have the result with turbo mode enabled which nets some very extreme results. This is very impressive and should be noted that with UASP support the results may improve even further.
Keep in mind that this is not just for external docks as any USB storage device can possibly be sped up via the USB 3.0 boost even USB2.0 thumb drives may grab a small advantage from being plugged into the USB3.0 port and having the boost enabled.
For more information please see the ASUS USB 3.0 Boost landing page here
Fan Xpert 2
ASUS has always had Fan Xpert technology as part of its AI Suite utility chest but its always been used for manual adjustments and profiling of the system fans.
The Fan Xpert 2 now comes with a automatic profiling system which we will attempt to demonstrate in the following steps. One thing to note on this is that ASUS Fan Xpert 2 supports full fan control via both 4 pin and 3 pin fan headers even though most ASUS boards now carry mostly 4 Pin headers.
Here is the main screen where you can select between custom fan profiles such as Silent which spins down all fans except the cpu cooling fan. then standard whish is standard throttled fans depending upon temperatures, and lastly we have the Turbo mode which throttles every fan up for maximum cooling when needed.
Pressing the “Fan Auto Tuning” button will start the motherboards intelligent learing process which we see below.
Here we see as the fans are proceeding through the automatic tune process. The fans are ramped to maximum then gradually ramped down to stopping at which point the motherboard knows where the stop and start point for every fan connected to the motherboard would be and this helps the motherboard better tune the system for an optimum airflow/noise ratio.
After the analysis is complete the fan Xpert screen moves to the next and final step which is where you select where each detected fan is on the chassis. if you are not sure you can always click the “Search” button to the right and the system will spin all fans down and it will spin the selected fan only up to maximum speed so that you can identify its position and even name it. This as well will help with the cooling setup and how the system throttles each fan independently.
What is Thunderbolt?
Thunderbolt is a very new interface to the PC world but has been around Mac for awhile. Very simply, Thunderbolt is a super high speed interface with up to 10Gbps throughput. In reality, however, there is much more below the surface so let’s dig in and see what Thunderbolt is all about.
ASUS is the first to carry full Intel Certification for Thunderbolt integrated into a motherboard. This speaks highly to the close working relationship ASUS shares with Intel.
Thunderbolt interface is a 10Gbps interconnect which also carries DisplayPort signal so that a single port on the board can easily be daisy chained out for multiple devices and terminated at a DisplayPort display.
Here we have the block diagram layout similar to what we had with the P8Z77-V Premium board. As we see it pulls a full 4x PCI-E link to ensure there is no starvation of bandwidth to the high speed Thunderbolt interface. For many boards that have been newly announced, we are unsure if the manufacturers used a full 4x link or if the links are switchable between 2x and 4x depending upon device population. However, the Maximus V Extreme has PLX controllers in place to allow plenty of available PCI-E lanes for component usage. For those boards that do not carry auxiliary PCI-E multiplexers the board may need to disable certain devices or lower the Thunderbolt link speed in order to allow full usage. For the Thunderbolt enabled boards ASUS chose the no compromise route to ensure everything is available when needed.
Here we see as previously mentioned that the Thunderbolt carries 2 signals concurrently (both a Thunderbolt DATA signal and a DisplayPort signal). This allows for the aforementioned connection of a DisplayPort monitor at the end of the line of data devices which makes for a single cable output from the board to devices and display.
Here we see the 7 device connection. This is 6 devices through data and a display at the end. Even if using no display inline, the limit for data devices such as external storage is still at 6 total for the data stream which is pretty awesome from a single connector on the board.
For testing the Display function we used an ASUS PA238 IPS panel hooked up via the thunderbolt interface (DisplayPort) daisy Chained from a LaCie 240GB external Thunderbolt SSD setup.
USB3.0 vs. Thunderbolt trace comparison
Here we see a few things for those who are familiar with trace layouts and how they work. The traces for the Thunderbolt port are very short which decreases latency and also chances for EMI amongst other issues. With a really high speed interface such as Thunderbolt this is an absolute necessity as they can be easily susceptible to interference on larger trace runs.
Another area we see is the arced or curved trace routing as it makes turns whereas the USB 3.0 utilizes angle style runs which means it takes 45 degree sharp angles when making a turn on the PCB and changing PCB layers. This will help reduce both electrical impedance and signal reflection.
As seen above the arced route improves the signal in multiple areas and appears to be a more efficient design for the high speed Thunderbolt interface.
Thunderbolt Performance Comparison
USB 3.0 Throughput
The USB3.0 performance is good for the single 1 to 1 interface and it does its job just fine and with the ASUS USB 3.0 boost even gets some very respectable speeds on its own but it really is limited when it comes to total bandwidth as it only carries a native link of 5Gbps which means if using a USB3.0 hub you can quickly hit the limit of the bus.
Thunderbolt Max Throughput Test
With a multiple SSD daisy chain configuration we can see the thunderbolt interface can quickly reach speeds in excess of 900MB/s read which is extremely fast and can be very usable for media professionals who need extreme bandwidth capability for high definition content.
Identifying a Thunderbolt cable
Thunderbolt cables and mini DisplayPort cables share the same connection type but unfortunately are NOT interchangeable. A DisplayPort cable can plug into a Thunderbolt port, but cannot be used for a data device. A Thunderbolt cable can be easily identified like above as it has the Thunderbolt logo and is also an active cable with an IC in the cable head.
All in all Thunderbolt is a super high speed interface that is capable of completely insane speeds simply not possible on USB 3.0 as it only has half the available bandwidth that Thunderbolt can use.
Overview of the ASUS Maximus V Extreme
The packaging is very much like other ROG products we have seen many times before: a full red packaging with a flip open cover showing the board along with many of the key features. The rear shows the IO layout along with small highlights of some key features.
Inside the box there are two black boxes one of which being the mainboard box, and the other being the accessory box which holds the plethora of accessories that come with the board.
Click Image For a Larger One
- ROG OCKey Device
- ROG OCKey Internal Cable
- SATA Cables
- ROG Connect Cable
- USB 3.0 Rear IO Panel plate
- mSATA/mPCI-E Combo card (w/pre-installed WiFi/BT4.0 Card)
- WiFi/BT 4.0 Antennae
- Qconnect front panel connectors
- IO Shield
- SLI Ribbon Cable
- 3 Way SLI Bridge
- 4 Way SLI Bridge
- ProveIT Leads
- ROG door Hanger
- Cable labeling Stickers
- Installation disc
- Owners Manual
The lot of accessories is huge and rightfully so, to match the capabilities of the Extreme board. The lot includes everything we could imagine, with no exceptions.
- Thunderbolt port
- mSATA/mPCI-E Card Header
- Clear CMOS Button
- ROG Connect Button
- 4x USB 2.0 Ports (3 Blk, 1 Wht)
- Intel Gigabit (10/100/1000) LAN Port
- 4x USB 3.0 ports (2x Asmedia, 2x Intel Z77)
- 2x Optical S/PDIF Port
- HDMI Connector
- Displayport Connector
- PS2 Combo KB/Mouse port
- 7.1 channel Realtek ALC 898 powered audio connections with Optical SPDIF port
As you can see here there is an enormous array of available connectivity. The board has dual S/PDIF connections and even a PS2 port for those who use that for benching purposes, all add to making a board that is built to be frozen on a test bench but can also be domesticated into any extreme high end gaming rig.
ASUS has not strayed too far from their already successful software design. However we can say that the software has been tweaked and improved while also adding new features to ensure users get the full control they expect from their board.
The AISuite bar has many tools and features hidden within just waiting for users to discover. We are now going to walk you through each one with some key pointers as to which does what.
The CPU Level up button allows quick and easy single click overclocking to give a free performance boost for demanding users.
The Manual section is the polar opposite to the CPU Level Up, as it allows manual configuration of an overclock which will easily exceed the CPU Level Up presets. All of the important settings from voltages to frequencies can be adjusted here.
The DIGI+ Power Control Center has separate sections for DRAM, CPU and Smart DIGI+ power sections. DIGI+ has to do with ASUS’s implementation of its industry leading DIGItal power controls, which have been proven for excellent efficiency and accuracy which leads to better overclocking potential.
Here is what we see when entering the Smart DIGI+ power screen. For those looking for the ultimate in low power computing there is the Smart CPU Power Level which when enabled there are 2 options 45W and 35W. These settings allow limiting the CPU to these preset wattage settings for power savings and it will be throttled as such. this is especially great in business type environments where full CPU performance is never utilized as this can cut power consumption and wasted energy by quite alot.
The DIGI+ screen for CPU control is where we can adjust all settings related to CPU and VRM controls. This includes VRM frequencies, thermal protections and even thresholds. These are the settings you will need if pushing the limit on your chip.
The DRAM settings allow for maximum tweaking of the memory power circuits and how they behave. Much like the CPU counterparts we see this as very useful the more you push your DIMMS.
The EPU utility allows for custom tuning of the system to best match the usage model and even graphs out the present setting into whether it is more tuned toward performance and speed, or whether it is tuned toward power savings and tranquility.
The Manual mode of the Turbo V EVO software allows for very precise fine tuning of the overclock and settings. This includes as pictured above the fact that you can adjust individual cores multiplier to allow for much better tweakability and overclock fine tuning to get the maximum performance from your rig.
The Probe II software is very similar to what we have seen before which is simply allowing monitoring of temperatures, voltages and fan speeds all to keep a good eye on the system performance. Also here we can set alarms for specific areas we want to keep an eye on such as if a fan drops in speed below an amount we specify. One thing worth noting is that there are the optional thermal probe headers on teh baord which look like standard 2 pin jumper headers and these can be monitored through the software as well to ensure key areas that may not be monitored by default or even external device as needed.
The sensor recorder function is cool because if you hear a fan ramping up during gaming or something seems to be getting to hot you can always engage the sensor recorder to monitor and graph the fan speeds, voltages or temps recorded while in game so you can better diagnose possible issues before they become bigger ones.
AI Charger + allows for charging of high draw APPLE i-devices at a much higher rate than before. This feature supports BC 1.1 function although as listed you will need to confirm that your device supports this spec. The AI Charger feature is supported via all states from power off, all sleep states and even hibernation.
USB Charger+ is much like the AI Charger but for non i-devices or Android phones, tablets or high draw USB charged devices. USB Charger is also supported in all states from full power off, to sleep states and even hibernation for charging no matter the PC usage.
Here is the USB 3.0 boost which was covered briefly before as it allows a speed boost to many USB 2.0 storage devices and even some supported USB 3.0 storage devices by changing the communication protocol being used.
A full list of supported protocols and presently supported devices can be found here
ASUS includes the ROG Connect utility with all their ROG boards. This allows connection of a remote computer via USB (with an included USB cable), which allows not only remote monitoring, but remote control of ROG boards from the separate connected system. as we see the ROG connect is the same between all of the ROG boards which is great for familiarities sake and ability to switch platforms.
Here we have the main screen. This is RC TweakIt, which allows adjustment of all of the main voltages along with monitoring of voltages, temperatures, frequencies, and fan speeds on the remote system. This is our home screen and all menus we see from here will be accessed via this main screen to start.
Here we have the RC Remote which allows a few key functions such as:
- Power on
- System reset
- Power Off
- Clear CMOS
This kind of message will be displayed to ensure no unintended operations or shutdowns occur because of an accidental click.
During POST, with a system connected, we see this display which tells us which point in the POST process we are at presently. This will help greatly when overclocking, in the event we suddenly run into a POST issue.
Here we have the RC diagram tool which allows remote monitoring of many sensors for fan speed, voltage/amperage, or temps to ensure our system is running well. We were very interested in the amperage of the CPU, which gives us a very good indication of the low power cycles were able to achieve during periods of idle usage.
Here we see the GPU TweakIt option, which allows remote control of our graphics card with gpu and memory clock adjustments along with some minor voltage adjustments. This could be helpful while benchmarking.
Here we have the VGA hotwire feature which with a VGA hotwire enabled card you can connect the wires directly form the mod points to the card and have very good control over the cards voltage and monitoring directly from the connected system or notebook.
GameFirst II is yet a further improvement on the packet priority and traffic shaping controls to give you better control over your online experience. Individual programs can be tweaked for network priority to allow for full control over which programs get top spot on network access which means that downloading while gaming online is not really an issue any longer as your important game packets will get better ping and priority while the download packets can still be transferred as well.
WiFi GO! is something we have looked at before but is something worth talking about. The WiFi GO! function allows for multiple different configurations to be made quickly and easily using this utility to configure multiple different usage models for the network. Things such as DLNA media streaming, remote control via tablet or other device, remote file transfers, motion control via motion enabled devices, remote desktop to compatible devices and even remote screen capture is just the tip of the iceberg as to what you can do with this.
Mem TweakIt is a great program for extreme overclockers or tweakers as it allows real time adjustment and tweaking of the memory for the system which can make the difference between a high point run and a world record run.
Here we see the Extreme tweaker main page. This is the base station or starting point for tweaking and overclocking the board. You will notice there are many settings just waiting to unlock all kinds of fun with the right cooling. One thing to note which is missing are the “Extreme” profiles but for all of the extreme benchmarkers out there, the board has a pin header at the upper right hand edge of the board to enable “LN2 Mode” and once the correct pins are closed the LN2 Extreme profiles magically show up when entering the BIOS. As always, exercise caution when pushing the limits or enabling this as you would likely not want to do it with standard cooling due to the fact that many protections and voltage points are changed to be more aligned with subzero cooling.
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This board has some of the most in depth memory clocking portions including a completely insane amount of presets depending upon the IC your memory modules use. As seen recently Ivy Bridge IMC’s tend to scale very well with PSC or older BBSE modules, so if you have some of those, there’s a good chance you will see 2200-2600 C8 or better.
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Here we have the GPU/DIMM POST screen which we have talked about endlessly as to how helpful it has been previously. We had memory not showing up in the OS, this tool was extremely useful in diagnostics. None of our other methods worked, but when we entered this screen, we instantly we saw that all DIMMs were detected but one was reading as “Abnormal”, at which point we powered off and reseated that stick and all was well. This also definitely helps when running subzero and losing a memory stick detection (turned out a little too much vaseline in the DIMM slot caused it not to make adequate contact)
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Here we have the CPU power management screen which deals with a few key processor technologies. This area allows for enable/disable of speedstep, turbo and of course adjustment of the CPU ratio and the turbo power limit control.
Also the DIGI+ screen is another important one as it can really open up the throttle on your overclocking efforts by extending power limits well beyond stock values where otherwise the limits would stop you from seeing the platforms full potential. This is also where you can adjust the performance of each of the DIGItal PWM components that are found in the DIGI+ implementation. Once again here setting extreme values while it may allow more overclocking headroom do keep in mind that you are opening the door to more thermal dump and higher temps so be sure not to just crank everything up for no reason unless your going cold.
Also there is the VGA Tweakers paradise which allows for full control over VGA related tweaking. If using the VGA hotwire function monitoring and tweaking can be done here as well. One thing to note here is the VGA +3.3V Aux voltage adjustment which can help quite a bit when pushing GPUs to the max as this is one of the only board I have seen with separate adjustment to this voltage which can really affect GPU stability and performance.
NOTE: VGA Hotwire is not needed to utilize the VGA +3.3V AUX adjustment.
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Here we have some of the advanced board features including many settings such as CPU feature settings. Also seen in this area will be SATA settings and many others to adjust how the components operate on the board. This is all fairly standard stuff you will see on most boards so we put up a few shots just to show the general more important options and their layout.
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The monitoring area allows for multiple options from monitoring voltage, to temperatures and even fan speeds. With the inclusion of the Fan Xpert II Software the cooling fan performance is now at a whole new level so adjusting in the BIOS will be a thing of the past.
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The rest of the settings are just basic boot setup and BIOS flashing tools which all are standard fare for motherboards. Lastly we have the tools which of course include the EZ Flash 2 utility, memory SPD reader and even clock profiles to allow you to save your favorite overclock settings. And lastly the EZmode BIOS which is a primarily GUI interface where a few clicks easily can do some basic setup in the UEFI.
Testing & Methodology
We’ve expanded our testing suite considerably since the X79 chipset release, and will continue to use the same methods for most of the motherboards and CPU’s we test. In the interests of thoroughness and accurate results, we run each test at least three times, and some tests more than that. We average the total of all the tests from each benchmark then report the average here.
The OS we use is Windows 7 Pro 64bit with all patches and updates applied. We also use the latest drivers available for the motherboard and any devices attached to the computer. We do not disable background tasks or tweak the OS or system in any way. We turn off drive indexing and daily defragging. We also turn off Prefetch and Superfetch. This is not an attempt to produce bigger benchmark numbers. Drive indexing and defragging can interfere with testing and produce confusing numbers. If a test were to be run while a drive was being indexed or defragged, and then the same test was later run when these processes were off, the two results would be contradictory and erroneous. As we cannot control when defragging and indexing occur precisely enough to guarantee that they won’t interfere with testing, we opt to disable the features entirely.
Prefetch tries to predict what users will load the next time they boot the machine by caching the relevant files and storing them for later use. We want to learn how the program runs without any of the files being cached, and we disable it so that each test run we do not have to clear pre-fetch to get accurate numbers. Lastly we disable Superfetch. Superfetch loads often-used programs into the memory. It is one of the reasons that Windows occupies so much memory. Vista fills the memory in an attempt to predict what users will load. Having one test run with files cached, and another test run with the files un-cached would result in inaccurate numbers. Again, since we can’t control its timings so precisely, it we turn it off. Because these four features can potentially interfere with benchmarking, and and are out of our control, we disable them. We do not disable anything else.
One thing to note is that we are revamping our testing method in order to better represent motherboard performance and offering to you guys the consumer. Also we want to make it an easier read for you without miles of endless charts. Please feel free to provide feedback on what you think as many benchmarks will be shuffled or removed completely.
|Case||Thermaltake Level 10 GT|
|CPU||Intel Core i7-3770K/Intel Core i7-2600K|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus V Extreme|
|Ram||(TBA) 16GB Patriot Viper Xtreme 2400MHz +|
|CPU Cooler||Swiftech H20-220 Edge|
|Hard Drive||Western DIGItal Velociraptor 300GB|
|SSD||Intel 510 series SATA III 120GB|
|GPU||ASUS GTX680 Top/GTX 580/Intel HD 4000|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower XT 1275W Platinum|
|Mouse||Tt eSPORTS Black gaming mouse|
|Keyboard||Tt eSPORTS Meka G1 mechanical gaming keyboard|
We will use the following applications to test the performance of the Motherboard and installed components.
|Heaven benchmark 3.0|
|SiSoft Sandra 2011b|
The Z77 platform is still very new and just like Z68 we had tested before the BCLK increases are quite small. With that being said these chips rely heavily on Multiplier to get the job done. With the new 22nm chips we are facing much higher thermals which is the opposite of what were used to with a process change like this.
The Maximus V Extreme clocks extremely well and we are not surprised as that is the basis for this board’s existence. Pushing the VPU to 5GHz was actually easy and we had it 100% stable in a matter of minutes with our liquid cooling solution installed. The voltage required to hit 5GHz stable has varied slightly from board to board but to my surprise the Maximus V Formula required .02V less VCore to get 5GHz stable and the Maximus V Extreme required .01 less than that which tells me this board really is tweaked in for maximum performance.
Those who are not so familiar with overclocking can select the standard profile and be flying high at 4.8GHz which is more than enough for a gaming rig or even a good starting point you can learn from in how to adjust settings.
When you engage LN2 mode and get the processor to -150 to -190C, things really start to take off. One of our chips hit 6.6-6.7GHz benchable, depending on the bench. This won’t break any records, but it is nonetheless a good result. The Maximus line in general tend to clock very well, but subzero cooling is where they really pull away from the pack, as the UEFI is optimized to take advantage of cold running.
For the Ivy Bridge benchmarks we stuck to a modest 4.6GHz overclock as we found it easily obtainable with acceptable temperatures without too much tuning hassle. This is not an indication of the board’s inability to overclock, but more a representation of what any user could expect with a decent air cooler and a few minutes of tinkering. This can also be attributed to the large amount of heat dump from the chip when overclocking which is why we always recommend maximum cooling capability such as a liquid cooling system to ensure thermals are kept under control.
Important note: Overclocking can cause component failure. Please exercise caution when attempting any level of overclock on system components.
The temperatures were recorded with RealTemp while running wPrime 1024 right before the end of the 5th run. The results were recorded carefully. After the results were recorded, we waited for 30 minutes before taking Idle temperature measurements. The results were as follows:
|CPU Temperatures||Temperature (Idle/Load)|
|ASUS Maximus V Extreme OC (4.6GHz)||31C/65C|
|ASUS Maximus V Extreme||23C/50C|
|Chipset Temperatures||Temperature (Idle/Load)|
|ASUS Maximus V Extreme OC (4.6GHz)||36C/43C|
|ASUS Maximus V Extreme||32C/39C|
The reason temps may look a little lower than seen elsewhere online is that We are using a custom liquid cooling loop compliments of Swiftech which helps us reach an area of much higher headroom for overclocking and performance testing.
The power consumption was tested while running Wprime 1024 for a few minutes at stock settings. The results were recorded carefully with a Kill-A-Watt power consumption measuring tool at the wall. After the results were recorded, we waited for yet another few minutes minutes before taking Idle power consumption measurements.
|Configuration||Power Consumption (Idle/Load)|
|ASUS Maximus V Extreme (4.6GHz)||182W/398W|
|ASUS Maximus V Extreme||127W/325W|
The power consumption is measured with a GPU installed but is not with GPU load. This is with CPU/system loading but nothing graphically intensive in order to provide the most accurate results by not ramping up the GPU, which will pull significantly more power.
SiSoft sandra 2011
“SiSoftware Sandra (the System Analyzer, 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, PCI-X, PCI-E (PCI Express), database, USB, USB2, 1394/Firewire, etc.”
First up we test with SiSoft Sandra which is a pretty comprehensive benchmark. SiSoft Sandra has many tests that can give you a good gauge of relative performance for your system. The Maximus V Extreme falls pretty much in line with the Rampage V Formula board, which are at the top of the heap in terms of overall efficiency and raw performance. Even between the Formula and the Extreme, there were minor variances but those are within the margin for error.
SuperPi is a single threaded benchmark which measures efficiency and is heavily influenced by architectural changes as much as it is by clockspeeds.
Superpi is a great efficiency benchmark, and one we always use because of its simplicity. The slightly higher clockspeed plays a role in the difference. Here the Maximus V Extreme is a top notch performer, slightly edging out the Rampage V Formula.
The X264 benchmark is all about encoding. The Extreme board really is just flat out fast, and efficiency is tweaked very well. Even in a render system the Maximus V Extreme should show some extreme promise with its performance optimizations. Even though Ivy is already fast, media content professionals live and die by render times, so any improvement in processing efficiency can mean more productivity which is huge for a business.
3DMark 11 is the newest in Futuremark’s suite of benchmarking utilities. Its a fully capable DirectX11 benchmark which also stresses and analyzes the system performance as a whole to simulate a heavy rendering environment such as a high end game or other app the end user may run. This benchmark was run with Performance settings 5 times and all runs were averaged for the result below.
3DMark 11 Physics test shows similar that the 3770K pulls a bit ahead of the 2600K and becomes a rocket as it is overclocked, but clock for clock its not a world changer.
Here we look at how the system scores with a ASUS GTX680 installed in the system. Remember that the 2600K offers PCI-E 2.0 whereas the 3770K is PCI-E 3.0 enabled, leading to a small jump in graphics performance at Xtreme preset,which pushes the benchmark with 1920×1080 resolution and high preset detail levels. We have observed this from 3+ boards tested now so we know the Virtu MVP really does make that big of a difference.
Unigine Heaven 3.0
Unigine Heaven is a benchmark program based on Unigine Corp’s latest engine, Unigine. The engine features DirectX 11, Hardware tessellation, DirectCompute, and Shader Model 5.0. All of these new technologies combined with the ability to run each card through the same exact test means this benchmark should be in our arsenal for a long time.
After many times testing this there are minor variances but for the most part, the MVP function works well. The Rampage V Extreme gives a good result.
The game tests confirm the synthetics as it also shows gains with Virtu MVP as well. Though the framerates dip a bit, we’re not surprised, asMetro 2033is one of the most intense games in our testing suite.
PCMark 7 is a pretty good synthetic benchmark that mixes many everyday tasks to give a good representation of what kind of relative performance to expect from platform to platform. The Maximus V Extreme is very capable as all of the testing has shown, but there is only so much a benchmark can show, and some of the analysis is based on qualitative experience.
The Maximus V Extreme is a rock solid board, and the benchmarks show that it can perform excellently. As far as its performance goes, there is no question as to its ability. However, a large part of the board is the user experience, which is rather qualitative. The board itself is built very sturdily, from the basics up: the PCB is very strong, and the components match. The feature set is also amazing. It is capable of running the gauntlet of overclocking and benchmarking, and it can also lend some extra performance to those looking towards this board for an extreme gaming build. Subzero Sense and VGA Hotwire both lend some amazing extreme benchmarking capabilities. The mSATA/Wifi/BT included Card all add to the package, and the capability to further expand the board’s abilities. Adding Thunderbolt expands to yet another ultra high speed interface.
The Extreme requires a little bit more room in a chassis, as it is the enthusiast’s eATX form factor. Users running a 4-way GPU setup should also note that the lowest GPU will be close to the bottom or PSU in some cases, and might not have room to breathe in cramped conditions.
This board is built much like a tank and it can handle anything you can throw at it. It’s also very versatile and can meet the needs of a multi compute card setup, a multi card gaming system, or a high end benchmark rig. The board is targeted for the extreme benchmarker, but that is just the tip of the iceberg as to its capabilities. Looking at the board as a whole, it has so many options on how it can be configured that it can be used for really any application.
When assessing the value of a board many things need to be considered. One of the most important is the target market, and the feature set included. In addition, we also need to consider the added value a feature set such as the Subzero Sense may bring. Though it may not be something everyone uses, the target benchmarkers will definitely appreciate spending less money on thermometers as two ports are on the board. The PLX bridge may add cost, but on the other hand, the extra PCI-E expandability allows for a much more versatile setup and much more powerful system to be built. All of these added value components along with the excellent versatility of the board make it a great value for those looking for the ultimate platform for their Z77 powered rig.
|OUR VERDICT: Maximus V Extreme|
|Summary: The Maximus V Extreme is an absolute performance beast that can be tamed for everyday use with an endless stream of features. For that it earns the Bjorn3D Golden Bear Award.|