ASUS Maximus III Extreme 1156 Motherboard
Published: 19th February 2010 | Source: ASUS | Price: around £250 |
Continuing Our Look
On the previous page I mentioned how the Maximus III Extreme comes with a dual-BIOS. This is nothing new as dual BIOS motherboards have been about for quite some time now. However one of the frustrating things about them is that usually the second BIOS only comes into effect if the first one becomes corrupted or similar and then you are at the hands of fate as to whether it will recover enough to use the second one. Here ASUS have given us a button, the red one at the bottom right hand corner, to enable us to choose which of the two BIOS' we wish to boot from, and an LED indicates which we are currently working with.
Zooming back a bit shows the business end of the chipset, the large passive ASUS branded heatsink covering the P55 chip itself. It's low-profile ensures it wont get in the way of even the longest graphics card, but the large surface area keeps the chipset cool even under overclocked conditions.
The IO backplate is pretty much what you'd expect to see with the combination of PS2, Audio, USB and LAN sockets. With a few differences. Firstly the button between the left USB and the blue ones is a clear CMOS button. We've seen some on the rear panel before but often as a button kept tiny to avoid accidental clearance, but so fiddly it would almost be quicker to open the case and use the jumper. The Maximus III Extreme not only has it loud and proud, but also lit up. Yet another nod towards its overclocking design. The blue USB ports are USB3 and moving along to by the audio jacks we have the ROG Connect button and cable port. This is also where the bluetooth receiver sits we mentioned earlier. The USB socket section of the ROG Connect system works similarly to the bluetooth smartphone, but using another computer instead.
You too can plug your laptop into your computer and pretend you're a member of CTU on 24. Or more realistically keep a very close eye on your system from the comfort of a stable one.
Finally on the motherboard side of things the very swish Republic of Gamers logo writ large upon the central heatsink that covers the NF200 chip. Perfect for showing off through your side window.
As you could see on page three, the Maximus III Extreme comes with more than the usual couple of SATA cables and a IO Shield. An entire box is dedicated to the accessories available. We often get items through the OC3D offices that are either marketed as a high-end product or priced at a premium level. More often than not they have a feature or two that allows them such status and the rest is fairly bland. Given the incredible amount of detail and features that have gone into the motherboard itself it wouldn't have been surprising to see the rest of the package skimped on. But if ASUS have gone the extra mile on the motherboard, then they didn't stop running when it came to the rest.
The manual is around 150 pages thick, all in English, and containing an extraordinary level of detail about almost everything. As is always the case with motherboard manuals some of the more obscure BIOS settings are skimmed over, but only the things that you either know what they do or you should leave them the hell alone. One of the best elements is the coherence between the various sections. Because the knowledge required for the hardware, BIOS and software sides are so different you sometimes feel that the manual was written by three people who have never met. Here it is more of a holistic document and when an item is explained in the hardware side, a page link is given to that particular item.
Another cool little thing, and it's often the little touches that make the difference between value for your money and the feeling you've been had, is the SATA cable labels. Sure if you've got a single drive and an optical it probably wont make a difference, but anyone who has put a couple of extra drives in their system as storage needs increased and then one day found themselves wondering if the third drive down is the D drive, and which port did they plug E into again?, need worry no longer.
Moving across we have the standard shield we're all used to, nicely finished in black with a ROG logo. The reverse is, to continue the little touches that have defined this so far, nicely padded with metallic backed foam rather than the more simplistic bent punch out we often see. Also included is a ROG branded USB cable for the ROG Connect, some cable ties and three thermal probes. Something very rarely found and a nice inclusion.
In the next little compartment we find the SLI and Crossfire bridges, along with a optional fan that comes replete with a large warning that it is to only be used if your CPU is passively cooled or water-cooled, otherwise the air flow will be disturbed. As it's only a 40mm fan I can't imagine anyone would plan to use it as a cooling solution anyway, but nonetheless it's a nice touch especially as a premium board such as this is likely to find itself in a water-cooled situation.
On the right is the stiff tri-SLI connector and the bluetooth ROG Connector I spoke about on the preceding page.
Finally among our plethora of accessories we have the ubiquitous SATA cables, a bracket for external USB connections via the rear of the chassis, and the block that allows easy connection of the ever fiddly front-panel connections such as power and HD LEDs.
Crikey that was a lot to get through. Hopefully you've still got the stamina for the BIOS shots, so let's look at the meat of the Maximus Extreme III.