ASUS ROG Maximus III Formula Reviewccokeman - September 17, 2009
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Once you have the hardware installed and the case buttoned up you need to install the operating system and drivers so that all of the hardware works as it is intended to. ASUS includes a driver and utility disc that includes all of the drivers as well as a slew of utilities that you can use to make the experience more satisfying. No need to go anywhere else as there are utilities for monitoring the hardware (Probeit), managing the energy footprint (EPU 6), overclocking and tweaking (Turbo V) as well as a few others. But to get them installed you need to start by inserting the driver disc and letting the install GUI open up.
Once the GUI is open there are a total of six tabs that can be viewed each with a purpose. The first being the drivers tab that contains all of the drivers you need for the Maximus III. The second is the Utilities tab that contains all of the ROG applications as well as the monitoring and overclocking utilities. The third tab is the Make Disk tab so you can make the driver disc if you need to run the HDDs in RAID followed up by the Manual tab in case the paper one is not enough. I'll skip the Video tab but show some more from it later, with the last tab being the contact information for ASUS.
The Video section of the driver disc contains a couple of videos entitled "Battle" and "Extreme OC Clip." In the Battle video we have two Gamers going head to head with one looking quite happy and the other... well should I say less than pleasant. The point being that the Gamer with the ROG hardware has the better gaming experience. The comparison of their hardware was enough to give me a chuckle! The Extreme OC clip shows off one of the world renown overclocker's Extreme setups.
ASUS has put together a ton of software utilities that can be used to get the most out of the installed hardware. The first I will show you is the CPU Up utility. This little program allows you to bump up the clock speed of your processor with just the click of a button. You can go from the original clock speed up to 3.52GHz just by making the selection.
EPU-6 is a program that manages the energy efficiency of the system. It has several preset levels that you can further tailor your needs. As seen in previous reviews, the technology works quite well and offers significant energy saving if you choose to use it. One word of caution though, if you will be running a big overclock then either turn off or uninstall the software to allow you to reach for the stars. As you can see through the progression of the images, the CO2 saving continue to mount when using the EPU-6 technology with the max energy saving giving the most benefit of the four selections. The amount of energy saved is wholly dependent on the profile selected.
ROG Game First is a utility that allows you to configure your network traffic to choose what programs have network priority. This ought to help you manage all of your downloads and chat programs to keep your ping times low. You have four different boxes you can add or remove programs from to gain the most benefit.
Turbo V Evo is the heart of the overclocking features of the Maximus III. You have three modes as well as the Turbo Key function that allows you to load a preset overclocked profile at the touch of a button much the way that the CPU Up function does. Whereas that feature does all the work for you, the Turbo V software is a bit more hands on. The Manual mode is where you can play with the bclock and voltages for the CPU, IMC and DRAM. The Easy Mode only allows the bclock to be adjusted, meaning you will only go so far without tweaking the voltages.
The Auto Tune section of Turbo V will run and adjust parameters such as the voltages and memory timings to reach a good, safe, and stable overclock. When you start the software it warns that there will be several reboots throughout the auto tuning process, so if you see that BSOD then you know the overclock being tested was not stable. What I did while the auto tuning process was running was just walk away and come back in about 30 minutes to see what the results were and found an overclock of just over 3.7GHz. Not too shabby as some folks get lost and have a hard time reaching even this overclock. At 3.7GHz the overclock achieved was over 700MHz with the touch of a button. Now this overclock can be saved as a profile and set to load with the Turbo Key for performance when you need it!
ROG Connect is a utility that you load into your netbook or notebook so that you can monitor and change the clock speed and voltages from outside the computer. By connecting to the host computer with the supplied cable you can change the performance real time. To test this out I installed the software, connected the supplied cable and pushed the ROG Connect button on the I/O panel. At this point I started the software on the laptop and started making changes. To my surprise, it actually worked. Of course, you won't want to get too aggressive with the limited settings but the software does its job and makes the changes in the BIOS so that those changes are as you set them on the next reboot. Pretty cool! As a reference, the laptop screen is the left picture with the desktop being the right. As you can see, the changes made in the laptop are implemented on the desktop.
ASUS Update is a program that can be used to auto update drivers and the utilities on your system. BIOS updates can be downloaded and flashed in Windows. While flashing a BIOS in Windows can be done using the EX Flash utility, the AMI BIOS is a much better option. PC Probe is a tool that you can use to monitor voltages and temperatures that is easily configured for your tastes. The only downside is that there are three optional sensor headers that can be used on the board but there were no sensors to attach them to in the bundle whereas in the past the sensors were included. My Logo is a program you can use to customize your own boot screen. AI Suite is still included but much of the functionality is linked to other programs but forms the basis for them it seems.
ASUS has done well with the suite of utilities included on the ROG Maximus III Formula. For the hardcore enthusiast they may seem a little weak but for the masses they offer functionality without having to know anything about overclocking other than rumors and speculation.