ASUS Maximus III Extreme 1156 Motherboard
Published: 19th February 2010 | Source: ASUS | Price: around £250 |
Test Setup and Overclocking
Of course having all this potential isn't much good without giving it a damn good thrashing. So here is todays test setup which uses the standard P55 components we test with, so hopefully the results are comparable across our reviews.
CPU : Intel i7 870 @ 2.93GHz
GPU : ASUS GTX275
RAM : G.Skill Trident 2000MHz CL9 4GB
PSU : Cougar 1000CM
HDD : Samsung Spinpoint 1TB
Motherboard : ASUS Maximus III Extreme
OS : Windows 7 64
Cooling : Cooler Master 212 Hyper Plus
The temptation with any hardcore overclocking based motherboard is to put the CPU under water or with some ultra hardware and go for a major overclock that 90% of the readers will never achieve. We much rather give you an overclock that you can go away and feel confident that you could achieve tomorrow with the same hardware. For this reason we stick to air cooling and an average hardware selection. Of course with a motherboard like this we have to give it the full monty processor.
The Intel 870 will run all day with a clock around the high 3GHz mark, and 4 is possible with a voltage hike. Once you get past that it very much depends upon the chip you have and the many black arts that come with a good overclock. Anyone who has delved into this side of the industry will know that sometimes you get a chip that overclocks well, and others you'll get one that wouldn't budge even if you hooked it up to 240v, much less something sensible.
Naturally as the Maximus III Extreme is billed as an overclocker, 4GHz had to be the first point of call. It's always important, even if you know the chip you're using and such, to always overclock incrementally. With the Maximus III Extreme not available yet the BIOS isn't so mature that we can just barrel in, but within a couple of days of beginning testing we received a new BIOS from ASUS that greatly improved the ease of overclocking and the stability we could expect to obtain.
To cut a short story even shorter, the Maximus III Extreme nailed 4GHz easily. It took a little bit of tweaking with voltages to get it stable but it was a very painless process and certainly we were hopeful of pushing on past 4GHz without going past the 1.4v mark, which we feel is the point at which temperatures become too much of a factor to comfortably stick on air.
Having got it perfectly stable at 4GHz it was time to see if the Maximus III would enable us to squeeze a bit more out. 4.1GHz wasn't too bad at all and a nice 1.1GHz overclock. 4.2 definitely started to need a few extra volts across the board, although the excellent Maximus III BIOS made sure we were never in the dark about the process with everything handily kept in in the one screen.
Finally we reach 4.4GHz still using all four cores, and hyperthreading still enabled, and under our 1.4v air-cooled limit. This is a staggering overclock considering how fresh the BIOS is and how little experience we've had with this board. Given more time and a more mature BIOS we're sure some insane clocks can be had.
This was stable enough to run all of our tests, but not Prime stable and so to make sure that we aren't making false claims about our results we clocked it back to the bulletproof 4GHz mark, which was used for all our testing.