Friday , 1 August 2014
Latest Reviews
Home » Reviews & Articles » Hardware » ASUS Maximus VI Extreme Z87 Motherboard Review

ASUS Maximus VI Extreme Z87 Motherboard Review

 

Overview of the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme

Click Image For a Larger One

The packaging is very much like other ROG products we have so many times before and always gets the job done. The bright red packaging jumps out at you. We hope ASUS does more ROG Black Edition models as they flat out look awesome.

Now back to the Maximus, you can see it gives a sneak peek of the OC Panel mounted in the 5.25″ converter bay. Otherwise like most other ROG boards we have seen to date it is fairly clean and to the point.

Flipping open the front panel provides you a plastic window to see the full board along with bundled OC Panel, on the flip out doors backside you can see a few heavily detailed specs such as OC Panel features. It also touches on some of the Extreme Engine Digi+ III component details and also the WiFi AC mini PCIe combo card just to cover a few of the key details.

The rear is about what we have come to expect with full spec including support and port listings to let you know down to the finite detail what you are getting with this board.

 Click Image For a Larger One

Here we see the complete accessories included.
  • ROG OC Panel Device
  • ROG OC Panel Cable
  • SATA Cables
  • ROG Connect Cable
  • mSATA/mPCI-E Combo card (w/pre-installed WiFi AC/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 Magnet
  • Cable labeling Stickers
  • Installation disc
  • Owners Manual

The accessories are plentiful and it has everything you would need to set this board up and even some extra such as the ROG magnet just for a stylish addition that can be placed in different areas unlike a sticker which is normally a single time use.

  

Click Image For a Larger One
 
Here we see the actual layout of the board. The slot layout it is great as it allows for 4 Way dual slot GPU’s or dual triple slot GPUs with an air space between them. The connector placement is mostly at the board’s edge which makes for easy cable management. The exception is the supplemental PCI-E power which is a 6-pin design and is located at the left hand side of the board above the PCI-E slots. While this is useful, it can be quite a pain if using the board in a 24/7 gaming rig as the cable will have to be strewn across the board to reach this connector and that can turn unsightly pretty quick. Having the connector at the board’s edge near the SATA ports or the 24 Pin connector would be preferable for cable management purposes. One cool feature that we have seen on many ROG boards of the past and still makes an appearance here is the optional temperature probe headers. These 2 pin headers allow connection of thermal probes to help monitor areas you feel are important or even other devices such as hard drives or GPU’s which can all be monitored directly from the board. All in all the layout is great and it works well for the job it needs to do.
 

Click Image For a Larger One
 
Looking at the IO it as well as the board is stuffed quite well with features.
  • mSATA/mPCI-E Card female pin port
  • Clear CMOS Button
  • ROG Connect Button
  • 2x USB 2.0 Ports
  • Intel Gigabit (10/100/1000) LAN Port
  • 6x USB 3.0 ports (4x Asmedia, 2x Intel Z87)
  • Optical S/PDIF Port
  • HDMI Connector
  • Displayport Connector
  • PS2 Combo KB/Mouse port
  • 8 channel Realtek ALC 1150 powered audio connections 

As you can see here there is an enormous array of available connectivity. A PS2 port for those who use that for benching purposes, ROG Connect and of Course the mPCIe/mSATA card 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.

 

Click Image For a Larger One
 
This board supports every bit of 4 way GPUs  via 4 red slots with dual slot spacing and as we said before also offers dual card performance via native PCIe lanes with the top slot and the middle black slot. We do wish that there was a way to switch the middle black slot through the PLX bridge and allow 3 way using slot 1, 2B, 4 to allow triple slot spacing on a 3 way SLI setup as it would allow for nice card cooling capabilities. But overall the slot setup is very good and ew know that the engineering needed to do that probably would add extra components that simply have no space on the board when you see how crowded the PCB is with all of the features.
The  memory uses the tried and true proven T Topology  layout for optimal performance and now with Haswell showing memory speeds topping 4000MHz+ from some enthusiasts users we can see why it was so good that ASUS implemented and got T Topology figured out before this platform. The board officially supports up to 64GB (32GB According to website, but we spoke directly to ASUS and found that they are all verified with 64GB with no issue; speeds achieved will be dependent on modules and IMC strength).
SATA support is all 6G all day long, which we are excited to see since now you can run monster SSD arrays onboard. We hope to soon see the speed limit on the PCH as soon as we collect enough time to build up an array for testing. Six total ports from Z87 PCH which all support SATA 6G spec, and four more ports from dual ASMedia ASM 1061 chipsets feed the other four ports. The native Intel ports support full RST intel RAID but the ASMedia ports support just single drive function so use that for standard backup/storage/optical usage.
Lastly we see the 6 pin PCIe connector feeding supplemental power to the GPU slots which help ensure under heavy loading the cards dont pull too much power form the 24 pin as everything else form the board pulls from there as well. Also there is a floppy peripheral connector next to it which when connected just stiffens the board power to the far side of the board to further help alleviate stress from the 24 pin feed.
 

Click Image For a Larger One
Here  you can see the socket area which the ROG team has always done very well, since these boards are designed to face worst case scenarios (LN2 benchmarking) which means the socket area is kept nice and tidy to facilitate easier prep work for subzero condensation protection. This is important to all users as it means coolers will not have stray components in the way to contend with as this board is designed for optimal clearance and also since its built to handle benchmarking stresses you can rest assured it is gonna be able to take a beating in a standard gaming or even heavy loading render rig.
The heatsink you can see is thermal padded very well and I like that they used a thermal pad on the PLX as previous iterations with thermal paste did not transfer heat optimally and with the pad you get a nice solid thermal contact. The PCH sink is simple with a contact patch and bumpers to keep it sitting firmly on the board without PCB top layer damage.
The PCH is seen here is well a PCH chipset like the rest of them you have seen.
The silver chip in the mid board is the PLX PCIe Gen 3 bridge which is what makes the 4 way SLI capable as you need x8 lanes to run SLI so 4 way needs 32 total lane width which is where the PLX comes in to multiplex the lanes from the CPU to 32 available for the 4 way configuration.
 

Click Image For a Larger One
The VRM uses a 8 pin/4 pin combo similar to the Maximus V Extreme which honestly with Haswell should be more than enough should the Amperage from a single 8 pin be overdrawn you have a 4 pin there providing the extra push you need.
The mPCIe/mSATA card female pin header is seen here on the board, and as you may remember on the Maximus V series had a pin male header here but i think moving the pins to the card was a good choice to help eliminate shorting or crossing the pins on the board without the add on card installed. Im not completely sure if that was even an issue or if it happened but this just seems like a good design idea.
The VRM employs the new Extreme Engine Digi+ III components which we discussed before but as you can see it utilizes specially selected components to feed your critical components. First up and the most visible change   would be the BlackWing Chokes which have a very unique finned design. Also the black color caps make them much less noticeable when placed on the black PCB and the NexFET MOSFETs which are rated at over 90% efficiency during normal loading which means better power efficiency and less thermal dump.
 

 

Click Image For a Larger One
Here is the upper overclocker corner and we like that it is a lot cleaner since now some of the extra features like the GPU Hotwire have been moved to the OC Panel.
The lower area has all of your standard connections along with a fastboot switch and a DirectKey which when pressed starts the system directly into BIOS so you don’t have to spam the DEL key just to get in BIOS.
The audio codec you can see on the lower left edge of the board which is a Realtek ALC1150 model supporting 8 Channel HD audio along with full Blu Ray audio content protection, basically its simply one of the more awesome audio codecs you can get built on a motherboard.
The lower edge of the board has a special connector in place which is two groups labeled ROG_EXT so don’t plug a front panel header here as this is the header for your OC Panel and will allow the board level controls you saw earlier. One thing to note is that while the Maximus VI Extreme comes bundled with this device the other ROG boards will have this header which means now any of the ROG level boards can support the OC PANEL and also as an awesome bonus will have Subzero sense and GPU hotwire capability no matter the board you choose.
 

Software Overview

AISuiteIII

ASUS has completely redesigned the AISuite Software with the AISuite III software. A completely new user interface is now available and with that comes a much smoother function.

 

 Overall the AISuite III software has been completely reworked for a cleaner looking interface. As you can see there is alot more information available in each section as the upper screen gives you the controls of the section you are in and the bottom area can be tabbed through and has a load of different monitoring areas to cycle through and help you see exactly how your board is behaving in real time. Also this is a significant change so it may take you a few minutes to figure out where everything is at but in the end it is quite easy once you get the hang of it as the system has changed from a selector bar or taskbar driven software to a larger screen driven software.

 

ROG Connect

ROG Connect is found just like we have seen on so many boards and it is a very nice option if you have a laptop or another system close by to control your system as it allows real time hardware monitoring and control over your system at a hardware level which means that almost no system overhead is seen. 

One really cool part is that you can also monitor system load so that if you are running a longer bench and you notice the system no longer shows load you can get a quick hint that something is amiss before it becomes a bigger issue or possibly freezes the system over.

The ROG Connect function also allows GPU tweaking which can allow for voltage and clock adjustments even during bench runs which can help alot by dropping clocks during a especially stressful part of the run.

Also power/reset is included in the controls so that you can even power the system on without having to use the board in case it is covered by insulation or something from a subzero run you do not need to worry as you can control virtually every aspect of the system from the remote computer.

 

Mem TweakIt

 

 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.

 

TurboV Core 

 

 Turbo VCore is a super lite program made for quick and easy board tuning within the OS. We have seen many companies starting to realize that their included software is a bit too much or a bit too heavy for users who need a super light easy to load program that also loads quickly as being on the ragged edge overclocking you cannot wait for a huge program to load just to make a quick change.

The Turbo VCore program is just this and it fits the bill nicely as it loads very fast and load or overhead on the system is very small which is exactly what you need when running in such extreme conditions.

 

BIOS Overview

The BIOS of the ASUS Z87′s still carries the same fluidity that the Z77 and Z68′s carried as ASUS has done very well on the overall UEFU/I code which means the only think they have really needed to add was updates based on features or tuning of the board. Well all of that aside ASUS did add some very interesting features which we think will help some users especially those who like to tweak their boards and try to squeeze a bit more performance from them. The ability to  take notes within the BIOS is very cool although I am old school and always keep pen and paper near by, we guess you could call this a “Green” alternative as you take notes on adjustments, although I would still keep a paper backup of any notes or at least a screenshot (F12) of the notes before flashing the BIOS as a bios update that goes deep enough could clear those notes and they would be gone forever.

Another neat feature would be the Last modified section which basically just logs any changes you made in the BIOS so that if you run into an issue you can go back and look at what your changes were all dated and with a timestamp so that you can revert changes and test again without starting over. This is a interesting feature and I am not saying everyone will use it but well for the target audience of this board (Extreme enthusiasts and overclockers) we think it could ultimately be very useful.

Another cool addition is the my favorites page which allows you to earmark certain settings within the bios to be placed on this page where you can go to and have access to your most commonly used settings without having to go through all of the other settings as there are quite a lot on this board.

The memory presets has grown even further on the Maximus VI Extreme as you saw previously in my Maximus V Series reviews the presets are amazing and give a really nice starting point depending on the IC’s/Sticks you are using. Knowing that Haswell IMC’s are strong and memory overclocking is crazy these could really see some usage on extreme benchmarking runs for those users who do not know exactly what there sticks can do and want a nice starting point to tweak from.  Once again as this is the extreme board designed with overclocking in mind figure most of these features while useful to some non extreme users are tailored toward that market.

 

 

  • Undermoose

    I own this motherboard, and I too had thoughts about wanting the top-middle-bottom PCIe slots to be useable at the same time for 3-way SLI configuration air cooling.

    Although this isn’t possible, what I did discover is that this motherboard has thermal sensor capability on the optional fan headers. If you have the right case and cards (non-reference) these thermal headers work great with a high speed fan to cool a sandwiched 3-way SLI rig. This was a big relief as I really didn’t want to implement liquid cooling for the video cards, and use Corsair H80i for my Haswell i7-4770k. I use stock speeds on my GPU’s and CPU. My hottest card hits 74C with ambient temp around 74F while gaming.

    Without the thermal control there’s no good way to use a fan that can properly cool a 3-way SLI configuration. You need it to be variable so it’s not too loud when not gaming, and you need a high speed 120mm fan (4000rpm) to have enough airflow to cool it under load.

    At Idle it’ll run around 2000rpm and be relatively quiet and ramp up to 3700rpm and be about as loud as a reference style blower graphics card (not quite). In the BIOS, setting is 50%-90% for the variable fan speed range and based on temp range of 35c-60c. The temps being measured at the GPU heat sink fins by the ASUS thermal wire. After testing I determined the 35c-60c temp range setting for controlling the fan speed and relative GPU temps under load. It keeps the GPU’s at 33c at 2000rpm up to 74c at 3800rpm and temps measured by ASUS’s GPUTweak.
    I have 3 GTX680-DC2-4GD5 on my MVIE.

    Great mobo!

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE