ASUS Maximus III Extreme
LGA1156 Motherboard Review
Manufacturer's Part Number: Maximus III Extreme
Price: $350CDN Price Comparison
Manufacturer's Product Page: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Warranty: 3 year limited warranty (with 1st year advanced RMA service)
The first wave of Intel P55-based LGA1156 motherboards have now been on the market for approximately 8 months. This is ancient by technology standards, so we have slowly begun to see second-generation P55 motherboards make their arrival. The main selling point of these newer models is support for SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0, but the board that we are reviewing today has quite a few other tricks up its sleeves.
The Maximus III Extreme (MIIIE) is, of course, a Republic of Gamers motherboard that has been designed for the hardcore enthusiast. This is a $350 component, it is not for the weak of heart, nor the light of wallet. However, at first glance this model is miles ahead of just about every other Intel P55 motherboard on the market, even casting a huge shadow on Gigabyte's newest flagship, the P55A-UD7.
This new RoG model is designed around a sophisticated new power management system called Extreme Engine Digi+, which combines the best features from digital and analog VRM designs thanks to a newer type of MOSFET. It uses less phases than traditional VRM designs, but is significantly more robust. This new design has also unlocked advanced BIOS features, like user selectable PWM switching frequencies and voltage control. Basically, skilled overclockers have more control over aspects of the power delivery system.
Adding to the MIIIE's allure is the presence of an NVIDIA NF200 chip, which allows this particular motherboard to have 40 PCI-E lanes for graphics use. This is 24 lanes more than a traditional P55 motherboard, which is limited to dual graphics card PCI-E x8/x8 setups. What this means, is that the MIIIE supports not only two cards @ x16/x16, three cards @ x8/x16/x16, four cards @ x8/x8/x8/x8, but five cards at PCI-E x8 each. While latter configuration only works with single-slot cards though, this motherboard can handle up to four dual-slot cards. Obviously, having five cards is useless for gaming purposes, but it it is very attractive for Folders.
Features-wise, ASUS have really kicked things up a notch too, with many of the improvements being centered around ROG Connect. First debuted on the Maximus III Formula, this technology allowed users to monitor and tweak the most motherboard parameters from a netbook/notebook via a USB cable. We thought it was somewhat a novelty feature, but interesting nonetheless. Well now ASUS have allowed for a smaller device to be able to control and monitor your desktop, a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. There's also the new USB BIOS Flashback feature, which allows users to flash the BIOS without even turning on the system, the CPU/GPU/RAM don't even need to be installed! Whether or not these features are worthwhile from a day-to-day perspective is what we are interested to find out, so without further ado, onto the review.
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