ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review Page: 1

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

Introduction

Modern technology is like the sea. There are high waves when the latest upgrades and chips are released, followed by a brief lull as we wallow in the calm before bracing for the next.

The LGA1155 release and accompanying P67 chipset was a definite wave. It was such a phenomenal performer that it would be easy to call it a tidal wave, but with the current problems in Japan we shall respect them and refrain from such metaphors.

If you've just come back from a six month sabbatical in a cave let's bring you up to speed.

In January Intel released the successor to the LGA1156 socket processors, the (confusingly) named LGA1155. It was met with a clamour of deserved praise before it emerged that the number 5 and 6 SATA sockets had problems with data integrity. This was disappointing for such a long-awaited product and a smudge on Intel's testing procedures, but they issued a swift recall and, now fixed, the P67 is reborn with the B3 suffix.

Technical Specifications

The only change besides the B3 chipset revision is the upgraded BIOS from when we last tested the Maximus IV Extreme. As the overclock was rather tame last time we're hoping a much maturer version should lead to performance gains.

CPUIntel® Socket 1155 for Intel® 2nd Generation Core™ i7 Processor/Core™ i5 Processor/Core™ i3 Processor/
Support Intel® 32nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
ChipsetIntel® P67(B3) Express Chipset
Memory4 x DIMM, Max. 32 GB, DDR 2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333 Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel memory architecture
Expansion Slots4 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (single @x16, dual @x8, triple @x8, x16, x16 )
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Multi-GPU SupportSupport NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™ / ATI CrossFireX™ Technology
BluetoothBluetooth Module Accessory Card
- Bluetooth V2.0/V2.1+EDR
- RC Bluetooth On/Off Switch
StorageIntel® P67(B3) Express Chipset
2 xSATA 6.0 Gb/s ports (Red)
4 xSATA 3Gb/s ports (Gray)
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology Support RAID 0,1,5,10
Marvell® 9182 PCIe SATA6Gb/s controller
2 xSATA 6Gb/s ports (Red)
JMicron® 362 controller
2 xExternal SATA 3Gb/s ports at rear (SATA On-the-Go)
* Due to the Windows XP/ Vista limitation, the RAID array with the total capacity over 2TB cannot be set as a boot disk. A RAID array over 2TB can only be set as a data disk only.
LAN2 x Intel® Gigabit LAN
AudioRealtek ALC889 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Supports Jack-Detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-Retasking
- Supports 1 x Optical S/PDIF out port at back I/O
USBIntel® P67(B3) Express Chipset
- 9 x USB 2.0/1.1 ports (8 ports at mid-board, 1 port at rear is also for ROG connect)
1 x NEC USB3.0 Controller
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports at rear
1 x NEC USB3.0 Controller with 2 x VIA SuperSpeed USB hub controllers:
- 6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports at rear
- 2 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports at mid-board for front panel support
Overclocking FeaturesROG Connect
RC Bluetooth
ROG iDirect
USB BIOS Flashback
ROG Extreme Engine Digi+
- 8-phase CPU power
- 3-phase Memory power
- ML Cap on CPU only
BIOS Flashback with onboard switch button
ProbeIt
Extreme Tweaker
iROG
Loadline Calibration
ROG OC Kit
- LN2 Mode
- PCIe x16 Lane Switch
- Debug LED
- Q_Reset
EFI BIOS features
- ROG BIOS Print
- GPU.DIMM Post
- CPU Socket Monitor
Intelligent overclocking tools:
- ASUS TurboV Evo
- O.C Profile
Overclocking Protection:
- COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
- Voltiminder LED
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
* For using ROG Connect, RC Bluetooth, and ROG iDirect, please refer to Software Compatible List.
Back Panel I/O Ports1 x PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo port
2 x External SATA
2 x LAN(RJ45) port(s)
8 x USB 3.0/2.0
1 x USB 2.0/1.1 (also for ROG Connect)
1 x S/PDIF Out (Optical)
8 -Channel Audio I/O
1 x Clr CMOS switch
1 x ROG Connect On/Off switch
1 x RC Bluetooth switch
Internal I/O Connectors1 x USB 3.0/2.0 connector(s) (Red) supports additional 2 USB 3.0 ports
4 x USB 2.0/1.1 connector(s) support additional 8 USB 2.0 ports
4 x SATA 6.0Gb/s connectors (Red)
4 x SATA 3.0Gb/s connectors (Gray)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x Power Fan connector(s)
3 x Optional Fan connector
1 x Power-on switch
1 x Reset switch
1 x S/PDIF Out connector
1 x 24-pin ATX Power connector
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector
1 x Front panel audio connector
1 x System Panel connector
7 x ProbeIt measurement points
3 x Thermal sensor connectors
1 x En/Dis-able Clr CMOS header
2 x EZ Plug connectors (4-pin Molex Power connectors)
1 x RC Bluetooth header
1 x LN2 Mode switch
1 x Q_Reset switch
1 x Go Button
1 x BIOS switch button
1 x ROG light connector
Form FactorExtended ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 10.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 26.9 cm )

 



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

As this is more of a re-visit than a first time around review we'll fly quickly through the pictures.

Up Close

The box retains all the ROG trademarks we're used to. You'd never confuse it for another. The big "B3" stamp in the corner ensures that you know this is the updated one.

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We still have the handy Velcro flap enabling those of us with more modest means to cover the floor of our local parts emporium with drool. 

As you can see the large sticky makes it obvious if the board matches up to the externals.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review     ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review  

Otherwise it's business as usual with four red PCI-e slots that utilise an excellent removal method. Anyone who's caught their fingers between graphics card and tower cooler attempting to flick a tiny latch knows how vital a easy method to remove a GPU is.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review     ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review  

Outputs remain unchanged, boasting a multitude of USB3.0 and e-SATA ports, along with twin Giga-LAN and the accompaniments.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review     ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

Up Close Part 2

The CPU socket is very clear indeed, allowing plenty of room for even the largest coolers. The vertical power heat-sink is a work of art.

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The Republic of Gamer logo beautifully woven into the heat-sink. It's those little touches that really set higher-end items apart. 

Just in case the box logo and board sticker didn't prove it, you can see that this is a revision B by the circuit board etching.

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When fired up we have a very clear seven segment status/error display in a very convenient place. Other manufacturers who tuck theirs anywhere they can take note.

The ROG logo itself looks amazing lit up. So great I couldn't resist using it for our title image, and here is the larger version for those who desire such things.

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Finally the accessories are plentiful with Crossfire and SLI bridges along with a plentiful supply of SATAII and SATA3 cables.

We're not sure who would pimp they case with the sticker, but it's there if the mood takes you. The cable identifiers are incredibly useful for those of us with more than a couple of SATA drives.

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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

Test Setup

As we don't have the time nor storage capacity to test long-term data integrity we are taking Intel's word for the fixes and expect the stock performance to remain very much on a par with our previous testing. So today we're going to be looking at the overclocking capabilities of the Maximus compared to our earlier test and another recent review.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3
Intel Core i5-2500K CPU
4GB Kingston Genesis Grey Edition
EVGA GTX570
Noctua NH-D14
Cougar CM1000 PSU
Windows 7 64-Bit

Overclocking

This is the real meat of our revisit. When we first reviewed the Maximus IV Extreme our Core i5-2500K topped out at a disappointing 4.6 GHz. We know our chip is capable of 5GHz with sufficient, ahem, encouragement so starting off at what we'd consider a 24/7 voltage of 1.4v on the vCore it didn't take long at all to reach a stable 4.8 GHz. Already a massive improvement on the old Maximus as that wouldn't budge past 4.6 GHz even with 1.5v, which is what we use as a maximum.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review  

One of the biggest innovations, and one we definitely enjoy, is the way we can just choose a memory speed regardless of the CPU speed. Our Kingston Genesis happily runs at its rated speed on the M4E without need to adjust anything.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review  

Of course we don't just want to know what our "all day" overclock would be. Could this B3 revision make it up to the 5 GHz we've seen before?

With ease is the answer. So much so we didn't need 1.5v, but a mere 1.48v. Not only could it shift up to 5 GHz but it wasn't just a suicide shot. We managed to run all of our tests except PC Mark Vantage at this speed. If that isn't impressive then you need to check your pulse.

My name is Maximus IV Extreme, Motherboard to an over-clocked processor, foundation to a speedy system, and I will have 5GHz with this attempt or the next.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

We could just bump the voltage a little to get through PC Mark, but we prefer to test at speeds we'd live with, because if we could you could and so you know what you're getting for your money.



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

AIDA64

CPU Benchmark Suite

Right out the gate the Maximus IV Extreme leaps to the top of our graph. By quite a considerable margin in some places. It's worth noting that the zLib test was optimised in an AIDA64 update between our original testing and today, so some of the increase can be put down to that, but goddam.

 

Memory Benchmark Suite

The Memory suite shows the Maximus takes full advantage of both our overclocked i5-2500K and the Kingston Genesis kit. Some incredible scores here. Triple channel is faster? Really? There is life in the dual-channel solution yet.



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

SiSoft Sandra

Processor Arithmetic

We can always let out a sigh of relief if an overclock is both stable and gives us the results we'd expect from AIDA64 and Sandra. Sure enough the Maximus IV Extreme has all the get-up-and-go that the Republic of Gamer branding promises.

 

Processor Multimedia

Considering that both the 2600K results and today's test were on a Maximus IV Extreme you can see the difference between the original BIOS and revision (2600K) and the B3 revision. Anybody for a chart-topping 5GHz capable 2500K?



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

PC Mark Vantage

With Futuremarks, soon to be superceded, PC Mark Vantage the Maximus shows there are no weak links in the chain. A very solid performer throughout.

 

CineBench R11.5

This definitely isn't a case of a clock speed not delivering the results you'd expect. Often we reach a point at which the reported clock keeps going higher, but the results get worse and worse. The Maximus really makes the most of our 4.8 GHz overclock, giving .4 points over a normal 2500K overclock and even beating the hyper-threaded 2600K when tested on the old Maximus.



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

3D Mark Vantage

3D Mark places such an emphasis on the graphics card, a GTX570 as always, that there isn't much difference between the various systems and specifications.

 

3D Mark 11

3D Mark 11, despite pushing very different parts of the system to Vantage, gives us the same result.



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

wPrime 95

Nearly a second faster at 32 Million places, and nearly 30 seconds faster at a Billion places, the Maximus IV is clearly a different beast entirely to the one we first tested thanks to the new tweaks.

BIOS

The BIOS hasn't outwardly changed from our first experiences with it. It's still great to see an automatic, bulletproof, 4.6GHz option though.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review



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ASUS Maximus IV Extreme B3 Revision Review

Conclusion

When we first reviewed the Maximus IV Extreme it was good, but not great. The performance in particular was very ho-hum when compared to its ROG stable-mates.

The B3 revision has fixed the only real issue with the P67 chipset, that of the data corruption. But the extra time involved has allowed ASUS to come keep tinkering away at their BIOS to bring the Maximus up to par with the lofty Republic of Gamer branding.

Clearly there can be no doubt that this rocks very hard indeed now. 5 GHz from a i5-2500K is very good, especially at 1.48v. We always make sure our overclocks for testing are ones you could live with all the time, but if you're somebody who lives for the CPUz and blast the consequences there certainly is plenty of voltage headroom to go beyond should you choose.

As it was we couldn't quite get PC Mark Vantage to complete consistently but a tiny reduction down to 4.8 GHz gave us a .08v reduction and the heat and lifespan benefits thereof. Most importantly it didn't really affect the performance as the Maximus IV was right up there throughout all of our testing. Considering it's primarily going against a hyper-threaded Core i7-2600K that's nothing to be sniffed at. Often we've found that you can reach a plateau with an overclock after which the speed stays high but the results fall off a cliff. Akin to a BHP graph. The revs continue to rise but the power drops off.

Not so with the Maximus IV Extreme B3. A lot of performance to go with its lengthy title.

It's very much a sigh of relief around the OC3D offices as a motherboard that comes in the ROG red and black automatically brings with it certain expectations. These are finally fulfilled. Despite the near £300 price-tag the Maximus IV Extreme has every bell and whistle you could desire, and in B3 spec has the performance to match those gorgeous looks.

A worthy winner of the OC3D Gold Award.

   

Thanks to ASUS for supplying the Maximus IV Extreme for review. Discuss in our forums.