ASUS Maximus VI Extreme Review
The abiding feeling we have when dealing with the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme, is that it's old-fashioned.
Let us explain. From the days of the P67 motherboards and the stunning Sabertooth, ASUS led the way in proving that you could produce a motherboard that had all the performance and features but at a very affordable price. With the Z68s and Z77s the other manufacturers took up that gauntlet and produced a range of motherboards that were everything to everybody, without breaking the bank. The three that stick in our mind are the MSI Z77 MPOWER, £150s worth of incredible performance; the Z87 Sniper M5 from Gigabyte and Z87 MSI GD65 Gaming, both of whom overclock brilliantly, perform well, look the business, and rock in around the £160 price point.
ASUS though seem to have forgotten what you can get for your money in the days since Intel produced a bomb-proof chipset with the Z series. The Maximus VI Extreme at an eye-watering £330 seems stuck in the past. That merely throwing a load of frippery in the box and sticking a ROG logo on it allows them to charge twice the price of a similarly performing motherboard. You're not really getting much extra to be honest. Yes this has 10 SATA ports instead of 6 or 8, but have you got 10 drives? Yes it has a load of options for the LN2 brigade, but how many of us count amongst that number? Further, anyone who is using sub-zero cooling to attain world records gets their gear free from their sponsors, so the 'high price because it's extreme' argument doesn't wash.
It hasn't even got outstanding performance to justify the price. When the £100 Gigabyte D3H is running it close at stock, and the Sniper M5 and MSI GD65 Gaming (both half the price) out overclock it and out-perform it when overclocked, we're left scratching our head as to what exactly the Maximus offers. Yes the MSI GD65 matched it with a 4.8GHz CPU speed, but the Maximus required more volts to get there. More volts equal more heat and the i7-4770K already is thermally limited on regular cooling, and this will only get worse as you attempt to extract more from it. The BIOS is full of options but totally lacking in design flair. The benchmark is definitely the Gigabyte 3D BIOS and the ASUS can't compare.
Speaking of design, the Maximus VI itself is a bit bland. Yes it's got the red and black stuff which is on every ROG motherboard around, but we could have drawn a picture of it before we ever saw it and been 99% accurate. Look at the two heatsinks on the GD65 Gaming, shaped like a dragon, and then compare it to the regulation lumps of metal on the Maximus VI Extreme. Hardly awe-inspiring. This lack of design is emphasised most in the external OC device. It can be used in a drive bay or on your desk, but it requires SATA power in both cases. Have you got a SATA power cable hanging out your tower? Us neither. Also when that's plugged in the thing falls over all the time. Poor design. You can put it in a drive bay but the cable is too short to route anywhere, spoiling the lines of your internals. For tuppence of cable it's worse than useless.
So it isn't good at stock, and only par when overclocked. Perhaps it's for gamers then? Obviously not as the 3D results are all nearly identical whether you're using the little D3H or overclocked Sniper 5. In fact the only thing that would make a difference to the 3D scores is using a GTX780 instead of our HD7970. But of course a GTX780 costs around £180 more than a HD7970. Luckily the Maximus VI Extreme also costs £160 more than better motherboards such as the Gigabyte Sniper M5 or MSI GD65 Gaming.
The answer is clear. Save your money, buy a better but cheaper motherboard from the above two, and then spend the difference on the awesome GTX780. If it's a choice of GD65 Gaming and GTX780, or Maximus VI Extreme and HD7970, you know where we'd put our money. Of course the Maximus has enough performance and bits and bobs that it will still perform alright. It would be nearly impossible to make a Z87 motherboard that wasn't any good, and for that reason we award it our Bronze..... Just.