Maximus V Extreme Z77 Motherboard Review

The Maximus V Extreme falls in line with ASUS' latest design philosophies and succeeds the older Maximus IV Extreme which was introduced during the P67 Express chipset days when the Core i7 2600K was the top end LGA1155 CPU. The last iteration of the Maximus was an absolutely incredible motherboard and like all ROG boards has big shoes to fill.

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ASUS AI Suite II

ASUS has been including their AI Suite II with their motherboards for quite some time. The application is robust and has far more features than most people will ever use or care about. In the interest of keeping things simple I'll stick with what's most important to the enthusiast. TurboV EVO gives us real time overclocking controls within the Windows environment while DIGI+ Power Control gives us control over things like voltage frequency response, power phase control, thermal protection, and current capabilities. Lastly Fan Xpert2 gives us our fan control.

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The TurboV EVO application has two modes of operation. Manual and CPU Level Up. The latter is an automated overclocking solution. In manual mode, TurboV EVO gives us control over things like the base clock adjustment, CPU voltage and DDR voltage. Our CPU frequency and current BLCK and CPU usage statistics are in a window pane on the right. The advanced section of TurboV EVO gives us voltage control for a lot of values. There are four pages of values actually. VCCSA, VCCIO, CPU PLL, and PCH voltage are a few examples of this. One new addition is PLX voltage control. While there are a lot of ASUS boards with PLX chips I've never seen tuning options for them before. Note that there is always an "OS Default Settings" button which is visible just about anywhere in TurboV EVO.

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Once you click on the CPU Ratio tab you can control the CPU's turbo multiplier. You can tune either a single core or groups of cores. Additionally you can go to the bar at the bottom and click the monitor button, then sensor to add the sensor option to the right most window pane. This shows you basic PC health information such as fan speeds, voltages and temperatures. Next we have the CPU level up menu. This simply allows you to choose a performance level. Shown in the options are the projected CPU speeds the utility will tune the system to achieve. I have rarely ever seen a configuration that couldn't deliver though there are no guarantees here. I will say that once this is set you will probably be able to go in and reduce the CPU voltage. This gave me a CPU voltage of 1.33v when I was done and this simply wasn't necessary. I was able to run at 4.6GHz with 1.275v. Doing so reduced my CPU temperatures drastically.

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DIGI+ Power control gives us three menu choices. Smart DIGI+, CPU Power Control and DRAM Power Control. Starting with Smart DIGI+, we have a menu which allows us to set the system for power savings or take us back to TurboV EVO for overclocking. Which is accomplished by clicking "OC Now." You can click the 45w or 35w buttons with the tree hugger approved leaves on them and this will limit the CPUs TDP to those values. This of course will limit performance to achieve these results. The CPU Power Control menu allows us to set things like load-line calibration, CPU current capabilities, voltage frequency response, power phase control and thermal control. We can even optimize the power duty control for better thermals or performance. Roll-overs in each category tell us more about what each setting does. A nice touch on ASUS' part. The DRAM Power Control menu works just as the CPU menu did. We can set current capability, phase control or thermal control here.

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Fan Xpert 2 gives us some of the most granular fan control on the market today. I've yet to see any of ASUS' competitors match it. The utility launches with an auto-configuration of your fans. It tries to detect the available fans and then allows you to choose profiles favoring speed or performance. You can even denote which fan headers correspond to parts of the chassis. ASUS even goes a step further and allows customized names for each fan location. In this menu the system sensor readings always show in the right hand pane so you can see what if any effects your fan control adjustments have on the system in real time. There is also an advanced mode which allows even finer tuning of the system fan speeds. The system uses a line graph control scheme for temperature thresholds and RPM ranges. You can also set a fixed RPM speed if desired. Lastly there is a report on fan power and supported fan speeds for each installed fan.