ASUS Maximus II Formula P45 Motherboard
The Republic Of Gamers boards, being directed at the high-end enthusiast market, require the very best structured BIOS to enable the end user to get the absolute maximum performance from their hardware. It therefore comes as no surprise that ASUS have once again pulled out all the stops to develop yet another BIOS filled to the brim with an amazing array of options that will enhance overclocking functionality.
Upon initial boot, we are greeted with the new ROG emblem and the usual DEL gains entry into the BIOS itself.
The very first page is where all the action is at and the one that most overclockers will be using, saving time from flicking through the various pages to get to the overclocking section, which in the Maximus' case is the 'Extreme Tweaker' area of the BIOS. This first page is actually more like three pages, as that's how far the options scroll down!
The first option in the BIOS will allow the user to set the CPU to 'level up' to another speed such as a Q6700 or QX6850, a quick and easy way to gain some extra performance out of your chip without spending the extra cash on one! Most thoroughbred clockers, though, will no doubt wish to fine tune the performance of their CPU by entering the values manually and with the amount of options available to tweak, I'm certain no one will be disappointed with this BIOS, regardless of knowledge and expertise. Below are just a few of the main voltage tweaks available:
As you can see, very small increments can be used to raise the voltages to sizzling levels that only the users of extreme cooling should venture. These voltages are also 'coloured' blue/yellow/red depending on the safety of the value you set, which is a useful addition to guide/warn those who are unfamiliar with voltages of current CPU's and motherboard chipsets. These voltages can be either input manually (where they will be rounded down to the nearest figure available) or by the use of +/- to scroll up or down as required.
Above right we see the final section of the Extreme Tweaker page where GTL voltages can be fine tuned to extract the maximum possible performance out of the CPU/Memory. The very bottom of the page features Load Line Calibration, which can be used to prevent Vdroop when the CPU is put under load. This is a feature most overclockers now rely heavily on.
Swiftly moving on past the usual peripheral settings found in most BIOS's, I was pleased to see Asus have also taken the time to include a well presented power/monitor section where one can view the major components' voltage and temperature readouts. While this section is not exactly rare among motherboards, the plethora of readouts are most welcome and much better than the limited monitors usually found in competitors' boards.
With that amount of settings, it would surely be a shame if you were to lose all those finely tuned tweaks to a bad overclock. Asus have thought about this and have provided an overclock profile utility that will store two of your most favoured settings that can quickly restore your previously saved settings with just one quick load out.
If on the other hand you should find yourself getting carried away with your BIOS tweaking and have become a little too ambitious, then fear not. The Asus Maximus features not one, but two BIOS chips, allowing the motherboard to self restore to a bootable state if one BIOS becomes corrupt either by a bad flash or overzealous overclocking.
Below left is the section where you can configure what the LCD Poster displays, which is a new addition not seen before. Last of all, we come to the EZ Flash utility. This is now a making a regular appearance among ASUS boards thanks no doubt to to its ease of use. Floppy, USB and CD/DVD can be used as media with which to flash the BIOS. The need for a bootable floppy is gone; just stick the BIOS ROM file on your preferred media and EZ Flash will do the rest for you, with only the requirement being to follow on screen prompts as needed.
One of the many aspects I liked about this BIOS is the little descriptions in the side panel describing briefly what the setting actually does, which helps ease the pain of trawling through the manual. With so many options in the BIOS, I was eager to see how well it actually overclocks. So without further delay, let's see how the overclocking went...
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