ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Review

ccokeman - 2013-05-26 19:42:40 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: August 15, 2013
Price: $379

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Introduction:

ASUS has packed its Z87 ROG product stack full enough to hit just about every niche in the market from Mini ITX boards all the way up to the Maximus VI Extreme we are looking at today. Back in June we looked at the Maximus VI Hero right after the launch of Intel's Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K. What we saw with the Maximus VI Hero was a board that provided a gateway to the ROG universe without the sticker shock long associated with the top of the line models like the Maximus VI Extreme. At $229 it proved to be a hit. While easily capable of delivering awesome overclocks and impressive performance, the Maximus VI Extreme just takes all of the positives and ratchets up the feature set well past the bleeding edge.

ASUS sends the M6E out the door with its Extreme Engine Digi+III all digital voltage controller and components such as Black Wing Chokes, 10K Black Mettalic caps, and NexFET™ Power Block MOSFETs. Included is an mPCIe Combo II card equipped to support socket M2 (NGFF) SSDs along with a Dual Band WiFi Bluetooth module. Add in the Overclocking command Center OC Panel, Quad GPU support for NVIDIA and AMD, USB BIOS Flashback, and all the included software tools that make the ROG brand a standout with a devout following.

Priced currently at $400, the Maximus VI Extreme is at the top end of the Z87 price point. However, the feature set is unique to say the least and is targeted at a specific audience; the extreme gamer and overclocking enthusiast. Time to see if the additional cost for this halo board from ASUS is all you ever wished for in a motherboard.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Closer Look:

When you see the big red box you know instantly that you are looking at a Republic of Gamers premium motherboard that comes with an unabashed feature set to take care of the gamer and extreme enthusiast. The front panel of the box is a bit understated with the ROG logo on the top left and the name of the board, in this case the Maximus VI Extreme, across the middle. Under the name of the board is an image of the most substantial part of the Maximus VI Extreme's accessory bundle: the multi function OC Panel. Along the bottom edge you can see that SLI and CrossfireX are supported features. The back panel lists the feature set of the Maximus VI Extreme highlighting the big ticket portions, including the OC Panel, ASUS Extreme Engine Dig+III VRM design, and that not only does the M6E support SLI and CrossfireX but supports it with up to four discrete GPUs from NVIDIA or AMD. Flipping open the front panel we get our first look at the board as well as an in depth look at the OC Panel's feature set, including Subzero Sense and VGA Hotwire. Again the benefits of the Extreme Engine Digi+III all digital VRM circuit are discussed along with another part of the extreme bundle: ASUS mPCIe Combo II riser card. 














When you pick up the box, the board and accessory bundle have some weight to them. Inside the shell are a pair of boxes: one that houses the M6E and OC Panel, while the second holds the expansive accessory bundle that really is second to none in terms of the utility and functionality it brings to the motherboard.



How many ways can you say it, but ASUS really packs in the accessories with its halo boards. To start with you get the documentation that includes the well laid out manual, the driver disk, and a label kit for the SATA data cables. The hardware side of the bundle is where you get a ton of parts that include a total of 10 SATA 6Gbps cables (half with 90 degree ends); an ROG magnet; ROG Connect cable; Q-Connectors; Q-Shield; 2, 3, and 4-Way SLI Bridge connections; a single Crossfire Bridge connection; a 2T2R dual band WiFi moving antenna and mPCIe Combo II card that supports Dualband WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac plus Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module; and last but not least the OC Panel kit including cable and drive bay mount.




The real star of the show when it comes to the bundle is the Overclocking Command Center, or OC Panel for short. If you have followed ASUS ROG enhancements and extreme overclocking tool set over the years you have seen them evolve as support grows for the overclocking community. We have seen Tweakit, ROG Connect, OC Station, OC Key, and now we get the next evolution in the OC Panel that allows real time overclocking. You get several modes, including Normal where the control is placed in a drive bay housing as more of a HUD with some funtionality than in the Extreme mode that lets you explore the entire feature set. When outside of the chassis the OC Panel has a leg that pulls out allowing the tool to stand up for ease of use or fold in to lay flat.




Across the front of the body are a multitude of buttons that work you through the functionality. When it's time to get serious the front panel comes off showing off all the hardcore tuning tools. A description will be shown below. The OC Panel gets its power and signalling from a SATA power cable and ROG EXT cable that plug in on the bottom of the OC Panel.



Rather than explain the functionality ASUS does it best on these slides.



Make no bones about it, the Maximus VI Extreme has all the features needed to deliver not only the ultimate in multi-GPU gaming but the tools with which to pull the highest clock speed out of your installed CPU and memory. Let's dig a little deeper into what ASUS has to offer with this halo board in its Z87 product stack.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Closer Look:

ASUS' Maximus VI Extreme is built upon the Intel Z87 PCH for use with Intel 22nm Fourth Generation Core series processors that fit in the LGA 1150 socket. What you get with an ROG product is a board that features ASUS' red and black theme from top to bottom. The Maximus VI Extreme is an ATX form factor motherboard measuring 12" x 9.6", so it should fit every chassis designed for the ATX form factor. Typically the Extreme series have been EATX designs that were a bit wider making chassis a bit more dependent on size, although really I have not had any issues with fitment in the majority of mid tower chassis I have looked at.

The shrink in board size comes from the fact that much of the functionality that caused the board extension is now housed on the OC Command Center OC Panel. This board is well thought out as far as layout goes, with some areas tighter than others due to the 4-Way graphics solution capabilities. ASUS' PCB design continues with its exclusive fiber weave technology and is a pitch black rather than the black coloring that turns brown under a bright light. The back side of the PCB has additional support/cooling plates under the VRM circuits around the CPU socket. These and the rest of the cooling solutions are held on with spring loaded screws instead of push pins. A feature more and more companies are adopting in lieu of push pins, at least at the enthusiast level.



















Left to right on the I/O panel is the riser connection for the mPCIe Combo II with 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.0. Next is the ROG Connect/USB BIOS Flashback button on the bottom with the clear CMOS button on top. Follow that up with a pair of USB 2.0 ports (the top one is used for the USB BIOS Flashback and ROG Connect feature set), four ASMedia-controlled USB 3.0 ports, Intel I217V managed Gigabit LAN, HDMI 1.4 port, full size DisplayPort, Optical S/PDIF output, two Intel Z87 PCH-controlled USB 3.0 ports that support ASUS USB 3.0 Boost, PS/2 mouse/keyboard port, and finally the eight channel audio ports supported by a Realteck ALC 1150 Codec. Behind the I/O port at each connection point there are small diodes that are used to keep damage from an ESD to a minimum. In fact this system is used for each external connection point and has been an ASUS standard for the past several generations. Expansion capabilities are, as you might expect, pretty robust. There are five PCIe 3.0/2.0 16x ports that support up to Quad SLI/CrossfireX configurations at 16x for a single GPU, 8x / 8x with two cards, 8x / 16x / 8x with a three way setup, and 8x / 16x / 8x / 8x when running four discrete video cards thanks to the onboard PLX 8747 Gen 3 48-lane switch. Additionally you have a single PCIe 2.0 port for use with discrete sound or storage solutions.




Across the bottom of the PCB you find a wealth of connectivity that helps make the Maximus VI Extreme the feature rich board it is. From the left is the front panel sound connection, Digital S/PDIF connection, Fast Boot switch, PWM-controlled fan header, DirectKey Button used to boot directly into the BIOS (useful when FastBoot is enabled), ROG EXT header that is used to connect to the OC Panel for that full on OC experience, a pair of USB 2.0 headers, temperature sensor header, DirectKey Jumper for use with an externally accessible switch, front panel connections for use with the front panel Q-connector, and the BIOS switch to change between the two 64MB socketed BIOS ICs. An LED beside each BIOS IC will light up to indicate which of the two is the active BIOS.



On the right side of the PCB are a total of ten SATA 6Gbps ports; six through the Z87 PCH and four at the bottom of the stack by way of an ASMedia controller. The ports to the right are managed by the Intel Z87 PCH and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, as well as offering support for Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, and Intel® Smart Connect Technology. Additionally the Z87 PCH supports the use of the socket M2 (NGFF) PCIe socket on the riser at the rear panel. Further up is the front panel SuperSpeed USB 3.0 header, 24-pin ATX power connector, Q-LEDs, Mem OK button, Power and Reset buttons, another one of the five hardware controlled fan headers, ProbeIt voltage read points, CMOS Clear jumper, Slow Mode switch, PCIe 16x lane switch, and on-board Power and Reset switches. The Mem OK button is used for tuning the timings and voltages for memory modules that may not be supported or have stability issues. The PCIe 16x lane switch is useful for diagnosing or isolating a failed card without having to remove it, while the Slow Mode Switch is useful for avoiding a CPU crash when under LN2 cooling. Just under the Q-DIMM slots are some of the 60A Black Wing Chokes and Nichicon 10K Black Capacitors that feature an improved lifespan over the previous gen 5K capacitors.

Dual Channel four DIMM memory configurations in capacities up to 32GB and DDR3 2800 (OC) are supported on the Maximus VI Extreme. ASUS' 2nd Generation T-Topology trace layout improves memory overclocking margins by up to 5% in dual DIMM configurations and up to 10% in single DIMM configurations as long as the CPU's memory controller can handle the configuration. ASUS says it best here: "The new 2nd Generation T-Topology design further optimizes its layout and termination to minimize coupling noise and signal reflection effect to seek for further room in high frequency DRAM O.C." As proof I was able to push my G.Skill Trident modules up another 50MHz over the previous best of 2600MHz. The Q-Clip design makes installing or removing the memory modules much easier when the system is populated with a large discrete video card(s).




Along the top of the PCB are the Q-Code debug LED, the primary and secondary hardware controlled CPU fan headers, the top section of the VRM heat sink, and the 8-pin plus 4-pin auxiliary CPU power connections. Here we also have a closer look at the socket for the mPCIe riser card.



ASUS' ROG Maximus VI Extreme is designed for use with Intel's Fourth Generation Core series processors, including i3/i5/i7/Pentium/Celeron using the LGA 1150 socket. While the socket changes with this generation, the heat sink mounting points remain the same as socket 1155/1156. ASUS uses an 8+2 phase power circuit on the Maximus VI Extreme with eight phases dedicated to the CPU and two for the DRAM. ASUS' Extreme Engine Digi+ III all digital controller is used. This fully digital design allows the controller to have full control over the on-die Integrated Voltage Regulator to control Switching Frequency, Thermal Management, Fault Tolerance, Power Efficiency, Phase Switching Capability, Power Response, and Current Slope. Supporting this controller are ASUS' 60A rated Black Wing Chokes that feature a gold plated coil with metal cooling fins, a NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET package, and Nichicon 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. The goal here is to improve efficiency, current delivery, and long term stability.



ASUS' heat sink package used on the Maximus VI Extreme includes a trio of aluminum heat sinks interconnected via a large heat pipe over the 8+2 phase VRM circuit. The Z87 PCH is covered with a large finned passive sink that sits low enough to not interfere with the graphics cards in all four slots. ASUS Cooling VRM Cooling solution designs have proven capable over the years. During my overclocked testing the VRM circuit stays right at ambient room temperature with a little help from a low CFM fan blowing over the main heat sink package.



If you compare the feature set we saw on the Maximus VI Hero with that of the Maximus VI Extreme, you can see how each of the boards are segmented to fit at a specific feature set/price point. The Maximus VI Extreme expands on those capabilities by increasing the scope of the hardware integrated on board to provide a best in class feature set. Fortunately the hardware is not all that makes up the ROG package. You get a comprehensive list of software and utilities that fill out the package.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Closer Look:

The software package can help make or break the implementation of a gaming specific motherboard. In the past the ROG hardware has always been top notch but the software has been one of the added value components of the package that sometimes goes unnoticed. With the Maximus VI Extreme, ASUS has delivered a robust software package including AI Suite III, Kaspersky Antivirus, Daemon Tools, Game First II, RamDisk, Secure Erase, and so much more.

AI Suite III: Let's start off with AI Suite III, the latest version of ASUS' popular software package that aggregates almost all of the software package into one simple to use tool. If you are familiar with AI Suite you no doubt have gotten used to the application and how to navigate through it. With this revision we get an all-new look that takes a few minutes to learn the layout and then it's right back to the familiar tools. The main screen contains a lot of information about each of the four key features in the 4-Way optimization tool: TPU, EPU, Digi+ Power Control, and Fan Xpert2. The secondary menu is reached by clicking on the arrow at the top right of the window. This menu contains the rest of the functionality of the AI Suite III tool set. The 4-Way optimization is just that and allows the system to be tuned for the best performance, cooling, and noise levels, and is accomplished by clicking on the radio button in the left window. Using this feature we get a nice conservative yet realistic overclock based on the variability of the samples ASUS has tested with.

















The 4-Way Optimization tool worked flawlessly to deliver a nice overall tune, but we can always do better, or so we think by manually tuning the system. Under the TPU section of the main window we can adjust the CPU ratio, CPU Strap settings, voltages by manual or adaptive modes, save and load profiles, as well as get into the warning setting mode by clicking the arrow in the bottom left CPU speed window. Here you can set the warning thresholds for voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and set the desired temperature display by unit type, Fahrenheit or Celsius.




The EPU tab is all about managing the power profiles and rules for the system. There are four preset profiles under EPU: Auto, High Performance where power consumption is not a large concern, Max Power Saving, and Away modes that are designed to minimize the power profile by adjusting sleep timers, fan speeds, and the wattage level to run the processor at, in this case the applied wattage is 42W or half of the 84W TDP of the installed i7 4770K. Be aware that setting the wattage level will reduce the overall CPU speed and system performance as you might expect.




Digi+ Power Control allows the user to set Load Line Calibration levels, CPU Current controls, Active Frequency switching, and CPU Phase control for the CPU with Current controls, Voltage phase, and frequency controls for the ultimate in manual tuning. If manually tuning the system is not your bag then the 4-Way optimization tool takes care of it for you. ASUS' auto rules are setup to deliver the best possible performance without any user interaction.



Fan Xpert 2 is a utility that manages the fan speeds dynamically to provide the best possible noise/cooling ratio based on thermal need. Connecting your fans to the five onboard 4-pin fan headers allows the utility to tune the fan speeds by finding the minimum and maximum values for the installed fans. This way Fan Xpert 2 can slow down the fans' speeds to reduce the overall noise signature when max cooling is not required, as well as increasing the speeds when max cooling is needed. It is an interesting tool to watch as it goes through the tuning algorithms but the end result is as you would expect. If the self tuning feature is not to your liking you also have the option of using four preset profiles.



Once you get past the performance tuning DIP4 section you have a wealth of other feature to use. AI Charger+ is a USB 3.0 fast charging tool that supports BC 1.1 compatible devices including iOS devices. Enabling this option will allow a 3x speedup as long as you are connecting a supported device. I found my Google Nexus charged fully in less than an hour when connected to the high current USB 3.0 port. EZ Update is used to check ASUS' servers for the latest CrashFree BIOS 3 BIOS and motherboard hardware drivers. USB Charger is a more flexible application where you can choose your device type and enable fast charging while in a sleep state by connecting your charging plug to the ROG connect port on the I/O panel.



System information gives you basic information about the installed hardware including the CPU, Motherboard, and memory SPD settings. USB BIOS flashback is a tool introduced on the last generation boards that proves its worth. You can use this functionality without the DRAM or CPU being in their sockets to update the system BIOS. As long as power is applied to the board, the flash drive is installed in the ROG Connect port, and the USB BIOS flashback button is pushed, the BIOS will flash the CrashFree BIOS. As a tool it can come in handy if you manage to corrupt the BIOS from some spirited overclocking. Network iControl allows you to set up the applications you want to effectively manage access to the available bandwidth. USB 3.0 Boost is a truly unique tool that uses optimizations to the BOT protocols and UASP support to drive improved USB 3.0 performance.




AI Suite III is an excellent and fully functional tool in its own right, but there is more to the software package available on the Maximus VI Extreme.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Closer Look:

AI Suite does not include all of the software package included with the Maximus VI Extreme. Added value software is included that bought separately would increase the end user costs. ASUS includes a full version of Kaspersky's highly rated antivirus software with a one year subscription. Daemon Tools disk virtualization software is also included to help save your game disks and make/burn disk images.




















MemTweakit is used to set the memory sub-timings from within the Windows environment. This tool features an efficiency score that will help you improve the memory performance of the modules installed. ASUS is currently working on a solution to get it working on the Haswell architecture. In the past this tool has been a great addition to the ROG software package. ASUS has its own ROG skinned CPU-Z utility that sets up a point of difference from the standard version. The Boot setting tool is used to enable FastBoot and utilize the DirectKey function from within the OS environment rather than opening the chassis up or mounting an additional switch somewhere on the chassis. You will need this tool to get into the BIOS when FastBoot is enabled since keyboard support is disabled during the FastBoot process.



Game First II is ASUS' own traffic shaping tool to improve ping time and reduce latency by managing the traffic flow of ACK packets. You get an easy to follow EZ mode as well as a more granular look in the advanced mode. The Easy mode has presets that allow you to setup the traffic management for VOIP, File sharing, Gaming, or Media Streaming.



RamDisk is a new addition to the ROG package. The premise with this tool is that access to DRAM is much quicker than accessing an HDD or SSD to load files that you need either working in the OS and/or during gaming. RamDisk is a utility that takes excess DRAM capacity and creates a virtual disk so that you can drastically improve load times of applications or maps during gaming. ASUS makes this tool simple enough for even the novice to use. Most of us are not fully utilizing the 16 or 32GB of DRAM In our systems so why not take advantage of a way to improve the computing experience? At this point DRAM is still relatively inexpensive. Creating an 8GB virtual drive is as simple as choosing the capacity with a slider and applying the change. After a reboot you can click on the Junction tab and add the applications or maps or games you would like to accelerate and you are done. Newer solid state drives with the latest controllers can have sequential read/write results in the 500 to 550MB/s range with that result at the high end of the spectrum. Running Crystal DiskMark on the RamDisk virtual drive gives a graphic example of just how fast this solution can be using 2133MHz memory. It's just brutally fast.



Sonic Radar is a new tool in the ROG arsenal as well. Some have alluded to this software being used as a cheat but if you are using surround sound speakers or a headset with surround capabilities you are doing the same thing; using the sound system and your ears. Sonic Radar is a graphic representation of the sounds you hear. The key is the visual interface that works to point out the sounds directionally; a bonus if you are not utilizing a surround speaker system or headset. There are separate modes that can be optimized for footsteps, bombs, or gunfire. Shortcuts can be used to move the interface or change the transparency level as well as toggle though the user modes. Overall it's a pretty cool tool for those of us that are less than good at FPS gaming. As you can see in the screen shot below there is a ton of ambient noise in this section of Metro: Last Light.



That wraps up the look at this full featured software package that is fully game centric.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Closer Look:

ASUS sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd in many ways from the software and hardware packages, but one of the best things it does over the past few generations has been the implementation of the Crash Free UEFI BIOS. Starting with the P67 chipset launch, the UEFI BIOS has been getting smoother and easier to use with new features added as each new generation is released. New for the Z87 chipset and Haswell launch are some really cool features, such as a more in depth EZ mode and a Last Modified tab that tracks changes as you work though the BIOS presenting the user with a map to the options used to generate the performance settings or even just the mundane changes. You get Quick Note to leave yourself messages in the BIOS or to list specific settings so you can remember them. F4 shortcuts menus for your favorites, SATA Port renaming, and what has to be one of the top additions to the ROG lineup is the ability to Secure Erase drives from within the Crash Free BIOS 3.

EZ Mode is used when you really do not want or need to spend the time going through the advanced section of the BIOS. It can be daunting to the novice user but the more adept can take advantage of the tuning abilities found in the Advanced section. All of the basics are in place to set the boot order, EPU and fan profiles, and illustrate the hardware that is installed in the Maximus VI Extreme.


















Once you move into the Advanced mode there are a total of eight tabs to explore with the first section being My Favorites. Here is where you get some of the new tweaks to the Crash Free BIOS. You can build a series of short cuts that allow you to jump straight to certain functionality. In this case I put shortcuts in place for AI Overclock tuner, DRAM Frequency, and the CPU Core and Ring voltages. You add shortcuts by pressing the F4 button and browsing for the items to add. Using this tool you can put all of your most used options in one place. Quick Note allows you to leave yourself notes as to what may or may not work or just simple reminders. Last is the Last Modified tool that captures each adjustment made in the BIOS, essentially leaving you a set of bread crumbs so that you can keep track of all the work you have done in the BIOS.



The Main page option shows the system time, date, BIOS revision and build date, installed CPU and processor speed, memory capacity, system language, and security options including passwords. Not the section you will sped a lot of time in but nevertheless provides valuable information and functionality.


The Advanced tab provides a way to manage much of the system functionality. The CPU configuration tab is used to modify the CPU operating parameters outside of the frequency and voltages. PCH Configuration is where you can enable or disable Intel's drive enhancements and PCIe assignments. Onboard device configuration is used to enable or disable on board hardware. SATA Configuration is used to setup drive operating parameters as well as showing the port availability. ROG Effects allow you to enable or disable the ROG Pulse, Supreme FX, and onboard lighting.





The Monitor section is just what the name implies. Here Anti Surge support can be turned on or off. Under each category you can view the operating characteristics and current state of the pertinent voltages, the fan speeds, temperatures, and enable or disable the fan speed controls. As well as Fan Xpert 2 manages things, this should be left alone unless you are looking for full manual control.




Boot: Under this section Fast Boot can be turned on or off, SATA and USB ports can be enabled or disabled, and DirectKey functionality can be enabled to access the BIOS with Fast Boot enabled. Logo display at boot can be turned off so you can view the P.O.S.T. sequence. EZ or Advanced mode can be set as the first screen upon opening the BIOS. Wait for ERROR F1 messages can be turned off (I find this helpful when not running a fan off the CPU fan header), and last the boot sequence can be set up here.


Tool: Outside the Extreme Tweaker section this section is one of the most useful areas of ASUS' UEFI Crash Free BIOS. ASUS EZ Flash utility is a simple to use option for flashing the BIOS on ASUS motherboards that has yet to fail on me after years of use. A new feature for a new age in disk drives is the Secure Erase function that gives you the ability to secure erase your drive to improve performance. When using this feature with my Corsair Force GT Drive it showed as locked and needed a reboot to unlock the drive. After a reboot the Secure Erase finished as planned. No longer do you have to work through several means to run a secure erase. ASUS OC Profile lets you save and/or load profiles from the BIOS save files or from a USB Flash drive. Coupled with the Last Modified tool you can make sure you save those important changes. ROG OC Panel H-Key adjusts a finite number of options including CPU core voltage and frequency.






The Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS is where you will spend a good majority of your time if you are used to overclocking manually. This section provides all of the CPU and DRAM specific settings to get the most from your hardware. Up front ASUS has said the auto rules for the vast majority of settings are tuned well enough that no manipulation or adjustments are needed for most of the settings. In fact I used only the CPU vcore, CPU Ring voltage, DRAM Voltage, DRAM Frequency, CPU and Cache ratio, and the basic timings to reach a 4.7GHz overclock on the CPU I have. However you have access to pretty much every option as far as voltages, Load Line Calibration, current limits, and overrides. The top of this section shows the current state of the hardware. AI Overclock tuner can be set to Auto, Manual, or three preset speeds that mirror the vast majority of CPU capabilities on the market. DRAM Timing Control allows the end user to tune the timings of the installed modules for improved frequency margins or outright performance. GPU DIMM Post shows the installed DRAM Modules current frequency as well as the installed discrete GPU type and PCIe Lane allocation. Digi+Power control is used to set and apply a value for LLC along with the current limits, phase controls, VRM Switching frequency, and more. Again the auto rules are pretty good. Tweakers Paradise lets you get a little more granular as far as power settings go. Towards the bottom of the page we finally get to the voltages that can be tweaked.








ASUS UEFI Crash Free BIOS are pretty much the standard by which all others are measured when it comes to usability right out of the box. I had no issues navigating through the BIOS with several different mice; the mouse clicks and selection works every time. ASUS ongoing support is one thing many of you are aware of but if not the long term BIOS support is there for ASUS and especially ROG-inspired motherboards like the Maximus VI Extreme. ASUS has its own forum that encourages members to participate in the ROG Exchange process that puts tried and tested BIOS settings packages out and available to try out for all users. The ability to upload a BIOS from a file is key to this ability. During a flash on this board I somehow corrupted the primary BIOS that left me with a 00 display on the Q-Code display. Using ASUS' USB BIOS Flashback procedure enabled a recovery of the BIOS in about twominutes, easily squashing those fears of a borked board.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Specifications:

Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
    Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
    Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
    * The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
    * Refer to for CPU support list
Intel® Z87
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
    Dual Channel Memory Architecture
    Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
    * Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
    * Refer to for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Integrated Graphics Processor
    Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort ports
    - Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
    - Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz
    Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
    Multi-GPU Support
    Supports NVIDIA® 4-Way SLI™ Technology
    Supports AMD CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots
5 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x16/x8 or x8/x16/x8/x8) *1
    1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
    1 x mini-PCIe 2.0 x1 *2
Intel® Z87 chipset : *3
    6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
    Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
    Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *4
    Intel® Z87 chipset :
    1 x M.2 (NGFF) Socket 2 on mPCIe Combo II expansion card(s), black
    Support M.2 (NGFF) Type 2242 SSD card (22mm x 42mm), Support PCI express 2.0 x1 and SATA 6Gb/s standards
    ASMedia® ASM1061 controller : *5
    4 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
    Wireless Data Network
    Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
    Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
    Bluetooth V4.0
    Bluetooth V3.0+HS
Realtek® ALC1150 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
    - Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
    Audio Feature :
    - Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
    - Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports
Intel® Z87 chipset : *6
    4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
    Intel® Z87 chipset : *7
    8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, black, 6 at mid-board)
    ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
    4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
OC Panel
2.6 " LCM display
    EXTREME/NORMAL mode switch
    EXTREME Mode for subzero OC benching:
    - VGA Hotwire
    - Subzero Sense
    - Slow Mode
    - Pause Switch
    - VGA SMB header
    - ProbeIt
    - 4 x 4-pin extra fan connectors
    NORMAL Mode for in-chassis usage:*8
    - CPU Level Up OC button
    - FanSpeed control button
    - LCM backlight on/off button
I/O Ports:
    - POWER?1 x SATA power connector
    - ROG_EXT port?1 x 18-1 pin data connection port
ROG Exclusive Features
mPCIe Combo™ II (mPCIe/M.2 combo card)
    ROG Connect :
    - RC TweakIt
    - RC Diagram
    - RC Remote
    - RC Poster
    Extreme Engine Digi+ III :
    - 8 + 2 phase power design
    - NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET
    - 60A BlackWing Chokes
    - 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
    ROG Extreme OC kit :
    - Slow Mode
    - LN2 Mode
    - PCIe x16 Lane Switch
    - EZ Plug
    UEFI BIOS features :
    - ROG BIOS Print
    - GPU.DIMM Post
    - Tweakers' Paradise
    - ROG SSD Secure Erase
    ROG RAMDisk
    Extreme Tweaker
Special Features
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization :
    - The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
    CPU Level Up
    ASUS Wi-Fi GO!
    ASUS Exclusive Features :
    - USB BIOS Flashback
    - MemOK!
    - AI Suite 3
    - Ai Charger+
    - USB Charger+
    - USB 3.0 Boost
    - Disk Unlocker
    - ASUS O.C. Profile
    - ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
    - ASUS EZ Flash 2
    ASUS Q-Design :
    - ASUS Q-Shield
    - ASUS Q-Code
    - ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
    - ASUS Q-Slot
    - ASUS Q-Connector
    Overclocking Protection :
    - ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
    1 x DisplayPort
    1 x HDMI
    1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
    6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
    2 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to ROG Connect)
    1 x Optical S/PDIF out
    6 x Audio jack(s)
    1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
    1 x ROG Connect On/ Off switch(es)
Internal I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
    3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s)
    10 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
    1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
    1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
    3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
    3 x Optional Fan connector(s)
    1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
    1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
    1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
    1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
    1 x 6-pin EZ_PLUG Power connector(s)
    1 x 4-pin EZ_PLUG Power connector(s)
    1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
    1 x System panel(s)
    1 x DirectKey Button(s)
    1 x DRCT header(s)
    1 x MemOK! button(s)
    1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
    10 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
    3 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
    1 x LN2 Mode header(s)
    1 x Power-on button(s)
    1 x Reset button(s)
    1 x BIOS Switch button(s)
    1 x FastBoot switch(es)
    1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
    1 x mPCIe Combo II connector(s)
User's manual
    I/O Shield
    10 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
    1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)
    1 x 3-Way SLI bridge(s)
    1 x 4-Way SLI bridge(s)
    1 x SLI bridge(s)
    1 x CrossFire cable(s)
    1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
    1 x ROG Connect cable(s)
    1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
    1 x mPCIe Combo II card(s) with dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module
    1 x ROG Magnet
    OC Panel Kit:
    - 1 x OC Panel(s)
    - 1 x OC Panel 5.25-inch bay metal case
    - 1 x OC Panel Cable(s)
64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
WfM2.0, DMI2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc
    ROG RAMDisk
    ROG Mem TweakIt
    Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
    DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
    ASUS WebStorage
    ASUS Utilities
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
    12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
*1: Native x8/x8 mode is available when only PCIE_X16/X8_1 and PCIE_X8_B2 slots are in used.
    *2: The mini-PCIe slot is pre-installed with a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module on mPCIe Combo II expansion card.
    *3: SATA 6Gb/s port 5 will be disabled when M.2 slot on mPCIe Combo II is in use.
    *4: The functions support depends on the CPU types.
    *5: These SATA ports are for data hard drives only. ATAPI devices are not supported.
    *6: Support ASUS USB 3.0 Boost, UASP standard on the Intel native USB 3.0 is only supported under Windows® 8.
    *7: 2 x USB2.0 ports at mid-board shares with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port.
    *8: One 5.25" drive bay is required for NORMAL Mode installation.


ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Features:


All information courtesy of ASUS @

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Testing:

Testing ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and  AMD Catalyst 13.6 drivers for the XFX HD 7970. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings making this point a valid concern so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Socket 1150


Comparison Motherboard:


ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:


Overclocking the Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K using any of the tool sets included with the ASUS Maximus VI Extreme will in the end give you as high an overclock as your hardware can deliver. Built for the overclocking enthusiast and gamer, the Maximus VI Extreme allows for traditional BIOS based overclocking or using presets in the OC Up tool in the BIOS or by way of the 4-Way optimization tool in ASUS AI Suite III. ASUS has spent a wealth of time ensuring that the auto rules in the BIOS are robust enough for the majority of users. Set the bclock multiplier and cache multiplier you want, massage the voltage to the core (I use manual mode), set the memory multiplier and see if the core will handle the adjustments and deliver the goods. Keep in mind that the uncore or cache ratio and DRAM settings can have an impact on the core's ultimate overclocking results.

Moving on to the 4-Way optimization tool in AISuite III. To use this tool to reach a safe, conservative, usable overclock, all you have to do is click the button and sit back while the tool works its magic. For my CPU the results were a Prime 95 stable 4221MHz reached by setting the core multiplier to 42 with a bclock of 100.5MHz.If you look at the uncore speed on the memory tab in CPUz-Z you can see that the uncore ratio is at 39.

In the BIOS you can use the CPU Level up feature that gives the end user three progressively more aggressive clock speed options, starting with the conservative 4.2GHz seen in the 4-Way tool that jumps to 4.4GHz and 4.6GHz. Each of the options were Prime 95 stable and again you will notice that the uncore ratio is kept at 39, taking any uncore limitations out of the overclocking equation. By doing so ASUS gives the tools the best possible options to succeed with the majority of processors on the market. ASUS took the time to run through tons of processors in its labs to find the mean averages and develop the auto overclocking tools. In my experience this paid off handsomely.



Manual overclocking is where you are going to find the highest possible speed your chip can run. In this case I can get my 4770K ES to boot and run some benchmarks as high as 4.8GHz but it takes a drop to 4.75 to get through all of the benchmarks, with the x264 benchmark the hardest of the bunch. Knowing what my ES is capable of as far as core voltage and clock speed limitations, I popped in a retail chip that is for the most part a mediocre chip and found tuning it a bit more challenging than the ES. Ultimately it was a 4.55GHz chip that could not run the uncore at higher than 44. However it was able to run this speed using 16GB of 2133MHz rated memory at its native speed and slightly higher. I did not push higher in the interest of things more pressing.

Memory overclocking is just as good or or better with the Maximus VI Extreme as my ES chip easily pushed my 2400MHz rated G.Skill modules to 2600MHz+ speeds. Sadly they won't do any higher so truly testing the top end memory speeds with my chip will have to wait a bit longer. In the DRAM timings section of the BIOS are a wealth of memory configuration presets that wil allow you to get a good baseline before looking to tweak the settings tighter or looser from that point. All things considered you really have the cream of the crop as far as overclocking ability with the Maximus VI Extreme. With top name support from ASUS in house overclocking experts, you can't go wrong.



Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed over-clocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the overclocked scores in the testing. A mall note that the CPU used on the ASUS P8Z87-Plus differed from the CPU in this review resulting in lower overall overclocked scoring in many of the benchmarks.




  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Diskmark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro: Last Light
  3. DiRT 3

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.
























SiSoft Sandra 2013 is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

Overall Score



Stock scoring falls within the envelope you would expect with all of the boards including the M6E. Overclocking allows the M6E to move up towards the top of the field in many of these tests.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Testing:

Cinebench 11.5 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.




















X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.



AIDA64 Extreme Edition 3.0 is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.




In just about every test the Maximus VI Extreme is at the top of the charts, delivering the highest performance in Cinebench, X.264, and in the AIDA64 memory tests. Where it breaks down is the latency test in AIDA, although the latency does not seem to hinder memory performance.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4K blocks, 512K blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.





















ATTO 2.47: will be used to measure USB 3.0 performance using an SSD attached to an external USB 3.0 drive dock.



As expected, internal and USB 3.0 drive performance is excellent on the Maximus VI Extreme. The USB 3.0 results illustrates the effects of ASUS USB 3.0 Boost technology to truly have a point of difference.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Testing:

LAN performance will be tested via a utility to gauge the performance of the onboard network solutions. The motherboard being tested will be connected via a Gigabit switch to another system with an integrated Gigabit network solution on board.

iPerf: is a small lightweight utility run from the command prompt and can be used to measure both TCP and UDP performance on a network. iPerf is cross platform software and open source. The test is configured to run for 20 seconds with a window size of 256 KB and four simultaneous streams that should be able to saturate the TCP link on a good NIC.


















Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.25 is used to test the sound solution on board each motherboard. Nothing beats a good set of ears and headphones but this is a graphic representation of the capabilities of the installed hardware. Sampling mode is 24-bit 44kHz.

Intel DZ87KLT-75
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
Frequency Response dB
+0.52,+ 0.30
-0.01, -0.07
Noise Level dBA
Dynamic Range dBA
Total Harmonic distortion %
Intermodulation distortion +noise
Stereo Crosstalk,db
Intermodulation distortion + noise (Swept Freq) %
Frequency Response (Swept Sine), db
+0.0, -0.0
+0.1- -0.2

When you compare the throughput of the Killer and Intel NICs on all of the comparison boards you get pretty similar performance through the testing process. That being said you can always use traffic management software, if provided, to optimize your usage scenario. In the case of the M6E we have ASUS Game First II software that adds that ability without having to purchase an additional software package. Wireless performance is limited by the wireless router but still pushes through at just over 44Mbps; better than the wireless performance on the MPOWER MAX. The Realtek 1150-based sound solution provided proves to be comparable to that of the M6H in just about every test in RMAA.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.




















DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.




Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the followup to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.







Gaming performance is similar across the two games tested at both stock and overclocked CPU speeds. The GPU is going to limit the performance more so than the clock speed at higher graphics settings. In the 3DMark tests that are more system related, the boards are similar for the most part with ASUS' M6E right in the middle of the pack .

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme Conclusion:

Over the course of the years I have been writing for OCC I have looked at a broad range of ASUS motherboards. One segment has stood out as the gold standard for all things extreme and has grown almost into a brand of its own: ASUS ROG or Republic of Gamers series motherboards and the associated products. In that time frame the focus has shifted from an extreme overclocking-only product to one that is built for and targeted exclusively at the gaming community, with the best LAN and sound components on board. Not to mention software utilities to manage gaming traffic along with the rest of the software bundle. The other benefit is that ASUS builds a bulletproof product that the extreme overclocker can use to effect when reaching for that all important world record. The hardware is incredibly solid and ASUS has put in the tuning time to ensure the software side of things is up to the task of allowing the end user to have that all important positive gaming experience.

As far as the software side of the bundle goes, we can start with the ASUS Crash Free UEFI BIOS that is far and away the best on the market. Navigation through the BIOS is easy and works as it should, with a wide variety of mice and keyboards and just plain works. Each tab is clearly labeled and the functionality for each tab is in a window to the right so you know what you are toying with. You get useful extras such as Quick Note and a Last Modified window to track your adjustments in the BIOS, plus an EZ Mode for the novice and an Advanced mode for, well, the advanced user. Tools such as Secure Erase, ASUS EZ-Flash, and OC Profiles all add value and functionality here.

In the process of flashing the BIOS using ASUS' tool, I failed to pay attention and lost track of the process and shut down the computer before the flash finished. After a reboot all I would get on the Q-Code display was a pair of 0s. Totally a user induced failure that was remedied using ASUS' USB BIOS Flashback feature that fixed the problem in a matter of a few minutes. Add in having every conceivable option in the BIOS with enough memory module presets and some pretty robust auto rules, you can go as mild or as wild as you and your hardware are capable of. Once you get past the BIOS, ASUS includes Daemon Tools and Kasperskey Antivirus that add value since they are included in the bundle. Additionally you get a host of ASUS software tools including RamDisk, Sonic Radar, AI Suite III featuring DIP4 technology, Fan Xpert 2, Mem Tweakit, ROG-based CPU-Z, USB 3.0 Boost, and ASUS' own Game First II network traffic management software.

Hardware wise you get a massive bundle with all of the accessories this board will ever need, from the wealth of SATA 6Gbps data cables; ROG Connect cable; 2, 3, and 4-Way SLI Bridge connections; an mPCIe Combo II riser card featuring 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity; ASUS OC Panel that is an add on component that takes hardware off the board to save space and integrates it into an add on device; Q-Connectors; and more. On board build quality is not compromised with ASUS Extreme Engine Digi+III 8 + 2 phase power design using NexFET™ Power Block MOSFETs, 60A BlackWing Chokes, and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors throughout the board. The Maximus VI Extreme has the ability to run up to four of your favorite brand video cards with 4-Way SLI and CrossfireX supported.

When you look at the performance delivered by the Maximus VI Extreme at stock speeds, it is going to deliver performance within a few percentage points across the entire test suite. Really there were no surprises here with the stock performance. When overclocked, the M6E delivered performance increases across the board making for a truly inspired performance. On this board I was able to eek out another 50MHz of bench stable performance out of my 4770K thanks to the flexibility and the granularity of the voltage options in the Crash Free BIOS BIOS at up to 4749MHz by manually tweaking many of the options, even though the auto rules for all three of the Level Up options are robust enough to get clock speed levels of 4.2, 4.4, and 4.6GHz stable as long as your chip can run the number. If manually tweaking is not your strong suite, you have the previously mentioned Level Up feature in the BIOS as well as the 4-Way optimization tool in AISuite III.

At $400, the Maximus VI Extreme is pricey, there's no doubt about it. But when you look at the feature set and hardware options, it has the ability to back that price up with an incredible array of functionality, the inclusion of the OC Panel for the extreme enthusiast, and the same stunning good looks we have come to know oh so well over the past few generations of ASUS ROG hardware. If $400 is a bit too stiff a penalty, then you have the option of picking up a board a little lower in the product stack, which thankfully ASUS has infused with much of the same hardware capabilities found in this board. A three-year limited warranty is standard on this board in case something goes horribly wrong.

All in all I am pleased with what ASUS continually brings to the table in its ROG series boards. If you like the look and feature set there is no reason that it to can take up residence in your chassis.