Review: ASUS Maximus VI Extreme

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A new chipset, a new gamer-centric motherboard. That’s the Maximus VI Extreme in a nutshell. As part of the ROG (Republic Of Gamers) family, this particular board caters to the overclocking crowd, with a bundled tool that makes for easy real-time tweaking. The trademark red-black colour scheme is carried over, making for a rather fetching board.

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The Maximus VI Extreme is based on the Z87 chipset, which means it is only compatible with LGA1150 processors. Four DIMMs with alternating paintjobs support a maximum of 32GB of DDR3 memory running at 3100MHz. RAM modules that run at speeds higher than 2400MHz are still a bit of a rarity, and will cost you a pretty penny, but should you splurge on high-performance modules, you can rest assured the board will accept it without issues.

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Storage-wise, the board has ten SATA 6Gbps ports altogether, plus an extra miniSATA port from the combo card (more on that later). Out of the ten SATA ports, six of them come from the native Intel chipset, and they support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 as well as Intel’s various storage-oriented technologies like Rapid Start, Smart Response and Smart Connect. The other four come from an ASMedia controller. They follow an odd arrangement, however: SATA 1 starts from the center, with native ports on one side, and ASMedia ports on the other. Also, SATA 5 will be disabled when the miniSATA connector is occupied, so you will only get ten working SATA ports, despite having eleven on the board.

Looking at the expansion slots, the Maximus VI Extreme comes with an impressive five (yes, five) PCIe x16 slots, with Quad-SLI and CrossFireX compatibility. So if you’re looking to build a multi-GPU setup, this board has you covered regardless of your allegiance to Team Red or Team Green. There is a single PCIe x4 slot for your other expansion cards, which will not be accessible when you have a third GPU installed. There is also miniPCIe on the combo card, which comes with a wireless card pre-installed.

ASUS continues the inclusion of its miniPCIe/miniSATA combo card, this time with an improved design. Instead of a plastic flap, the combo card now secures the innards with a metallic outer shell. Installation now requires you to unscrew the metal casing, install your components, and screw the shell back into place. The card comes with a wireless card (which supports 802.11ac) pre-installed, with a miniSATA connector available for SSDs. But do note that SATA port 5 will be disabled when this is in use.

The Maximus VI Extreme comes with what ASUS calls the “OC Panel”, which is essentially a handheld tweaking console. It has two modes: “Extreme” mode which is meant for open-air benchmarking (i.e. no chassis), and “OC” mode which lets you install the console on one of the 5.25-inch panels. ASUS have included a 5.25-inch bracket for installation, as well as the proprietary cables that connect it to the motherboard.

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Looking at the back, the board has six USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 2.0 ports, with four out of the six USB 3.0 ports coming from an external ASMedia controller. There is a USB 3.0 header onboard as well as a trio of USB 2.0 headers, should you need more. Display expansion comes n the form of HDMI and DisplayPort connectors, and the board rocks 7.1 audio support and SPDIF. For networking, a lone RJ-45 port can be found. If you’re using an older keyboard or mouse (or a mechanical keyboard that supports PS/2), there is a hybrid PS/2 port available.

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Phew! With that lengthy introduction out of the way, let’s go to the benchmarks!

[[Benchmarks & Conclusion]]

For the benchmarks, the testbed consisted of the following components:

  • Intel Core i7-4770K
  • 2x 8GB Kingston HyperX Beast 2400MHz DDR3 RAM
  • 128GB SSD
  • No graphics card

The Maximus VI Extreme includes the same 4-Way Optimization feature found in its higher-end offerings, which leaves most of the tweaking to the computer after sifting through variables like fan speed. If you prefer to get your hand dirty, you can always head to the UEFI to do your tweaking. Again, the board has “MultiCore Enhancement” enabled, which performs some minor overclocking right out of the box. Tests were done twice, once with the enhancement disabled (3.9GHz), and once with it enabled (4.6GHz).

In the first round, the Maximus VI Extreme comes very close to another ASUS product, the Z87-Plus. It led when left untouched, but lagged behind the other board when overclocked.

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In PCMark 8’s “Home” scenario, the Maximus edged its way to victory, with a narrow gap separating it from the Z87-Plus.

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However, it managed to position itself further from the competition in the “Creative” scenario.

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The PCMark 8 benchmark ends with the Maximus VI Extreme taking a small lead in the “Work” scenario.

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In SiSoft Sandra’s Arithmetic benchmark, the board lost out to the Z77 batch, as well as Intel’s own Z87 motherboard.

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That moment of defeat did not last however, with the board taking first place in the Multi-Media benchmark.

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Finally, the board aced the Cryptography benchmark, with it leading in both AES-256 and SHA2-512 encryption.

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Looking at it, the Maximus VI Extreme doesn’t yield a significant performance increase over other Z87 offerings, but its extra features like the combo card and OC Panel make it a very tempting option for overclocking enthusaists, who seek to bring their rigs to the next level.