ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-z Motherboard Review

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We’re back today with another feature-packed ASUS board for your viewing pleasure – the Intel Z68-based Maximus IV Extreme-z.

Packaging and First Look

As ASUS is wont to do with their ROG-series motherboards, they have packaged the Maximus IV Extreme-z in a nice looking red box with a flap for previewing the motherboard.

Maximus IV Extreme-z Box

Maximus IV Extreme-z Box

Maximus IV Extreme-z Box Rear

Maximus IV Extreme-z Box Rear

Maximus IV Extreme-z Box Flap

Maximus IV Extreme-z Box Flap

Maximus IV Extreme-z Preview Pane

Maximus IV Extreme-z Preview Pane

After we open the box, we get to why we’re all here. It is one nice looking reason too. The Maximus IV Extreme-z (MIVE-z) is a solid looking board, with a slightly-larger-than-ATX-but-not-EATX form factor.

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-z

ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-z

It’s enough to get even the hardiest hardware habitué all hot and bothered.

Specifications and Features

ASUS has one of the largest specification lists in the business, pretty much because their ROG boards have more features than most boards out there. Rather than take up a crazy amount of vertical space, please feel free to click through to ASUS’ website for the specification list.

On the other hand, features aren’t a giant chart and can offer a good overview of what comes with the board

Lucid Virtu

Enjoy optimal onboard graphics and discrete GPU’s performance by dynamic switching!
Lucid Virtu is the GPU virtualization software along with 2nd generation Intel® Core processor featuring like Intel Quick Sync to enable an all-inclusive media platform and discrete GPUs coming with high-end DirectX 11 3D, anti-aliasing and performance features to get the thrills in games. Ultimately, users can enjoy optimal simultaneous performance in 3D gaming and video functions like transcoding and HD playback without having to manually change settings between GPUs.

* ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z motherboards retain iGPU accessibility alongside native LucidLogix® Virtu™ support for auto switching between integrated graphics and discrete graphics cards. This enables full use of Sandy Bridge iGPU features for improved media performance regardless of whether you use onboard or add-on VGA output.

While not tested in this review, there are clear advantages to anyone that transcodes video or anything else that can take advantage of QuickSync. There is a minor overhead in games with Virtu running, but it’s hardly noticeable.

This board is so chock-full of features, we’ll leave exploration of this for the next review in progress – an ASUS P8Z68-V Gen3, but the feature is present and powerful for anyone that uses applications with QuickSync capability.

ROG Connect

Plug and Overclock – Tweak it the hardcore way!
Monitor the status of your desktop PC and tweak its parameters in real-time via a notebook—just like a race car engineer—with ROG Connect. ROG Connect links your main system to a notebook through a USB cable, allowing you to view real-time POST code and hardware status readouts on your notebook, as well as make on-the-fly parameter adjustments at a purely hardware level.

ROG Connect is a killer feature, especially for extreme overclockers. Gigabyte has tried with CloudOC but that doesn’t hold a candle to ROG Connect.

ROG iDirect

Tune your PC from your iPhone or iPad now!
Still overclocking your PC the old-fashioned way? Let ROG iDirect bring you a whole new tweaking experience right on your iPhone or iPad! Thanks to the Bluetooth card that comes with select ASUS ROG motherboards, you can monitor your PC and tweak parameters such as voltages and frequencies in real time wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad!

RC Bluetooth

Smashes through all the barriers of conventional overclocking !
Still overclocking in old-fashioned way? Let RC Bluetooth bring you the whole new idea of how to do! Just simply push the button from the Back I/O on the RC Bluetooth card, overclockers can real-time monitor the desktop PC system status & tweak its parameters – such as voltages and frequency on the fly. When users want to use ordinary bluetooth functions, just simply push the button once again & enjoy all the wireless convenience brought from RC Bluetooth.

Both of these seem gimmicky, but truth be told I wasn’t able to test them due to lack of a smartphone. In the interim I have procured an old first gen Motorola Droid and will definitely test this out in the future. Personally I’d rather be connected by USB using the tried and true (and superb) RC TweakIt software for remote clocking and monitoring.

USB BIOS Flashback

Refresh the BIOS can never be that easy
USB BIOS Flashback must be the most convenient way to flash BIOS ever! It allows overclockers to try their BIOS with the simplist way one can imagine. No need to enter the BIOS or the operating system, just plug the thumb drive into the ROG Connect port & push the ROG Connect button for 2 seconds, BIOS would be automatically flashed under standby power. It’s no doubt that USB BIOS Flashback gives overclockers the ultimate convenience!

This feature is a godsend for people that really push the envelope. Admittedly I’ve only killed one BIOS install in a couple of years, but if it happens to both BIOS chips on your MIVE-z, this will help you recover without any trouble. The only thing you need installed to do this is a CPU, which makes it all that much neater.

BIOS Flashback

Two BIOS ROM. Two BIOS settings. Twice the overclocking flexibility.
Overclocker’s prayer to have BIOS flexibility is answered! With the new BIOS Flashback, PC enthusiasts can overclock with even more confidence. BIOS Flashback gives overclockers the ability to save two versions of the BIOS simultaneously. Very much like the “SaveGame” function, one BIOS can be used for the overclocking adventure, while the other BIOS is to be stored with any previous version. BIOS Flashback brings the ultimate convenience to overclockers!

I think they said it all; two BIOS chips is always a welcome feature for overclockers. Not only does it let you test two BIOS versions without flashing, it’s a great boon to extreme overclockers that run the risk of killing a BIOS install.

Extreme Engine Digi+

Powerful combination of analog and digital design elements
Extreme Engine Digi+ equipped with high performance digital VRM design can easily achieve the ultimate performance with adjustable CPU PWM frequency. It expedites heat dissipation and achieves better electric conduction keeping critical components reliable. Now you’ll be able to push your spanking new Intel CPU to the limit, hitting benchmark scores that others only dream of. Extreme Engine Digi+ balances the need for voltage and the desire for rock solid performance to bring the ultimate user experience.

I go into detail on this later, but it’s good. Really good. Two thumbs up for DIGI+VRM!

Mem TweakIt

Dynamic timing adjustments, DRAM efficiency gauge
When changing DRAM settings in BIOS, it always takes time for the system to reboot. Worry no more! With Mem TweakIt, you can do DRAM tuning in real-time, view your DRAM efficiency score, and upload and share your ranking online.

I’m not positive, but I think ASUS is alone in offering this kind of fine-tuned memory timing controls from inside Windows.

Dual Intel Gigabit LAN

Experience the fast network connectivity!
The LAN solution from Intel has been long known to have a better throughput, lower CPU utilization as well as better stability. With the dual Intel Gigabit LAN solutions onboard, the ultimate network experience can therefore be delivered to its users like never before.

I’ve never really had the urge to test their claims of lower CPU utilization properly, but if you’re running a Sandy Bridge CPU, chances are you’d never notice the difference. What did interest me about this was their use of two different LAN chips on this board. One is physically larger than the other.

I wasn’t sure what difference this made, if any. When posed to ASUS, they verified there are indeed two chips dealing with LAN. One is Intel’s L-series, which is their higher-end workstation part. It handles LAN duties with even less CPU overhead than the other chip, which facilitates use of the Z68’s native LAN solution.

Not mentioned in ASUS’ list is another of the Z68 chipset’s solid features – SSD Caching. We won’t be looking at that in this review; like QuickSync via Lucid Virtu, that’s going to be saved for the P8Z68-V Gen 3 review. As I presumed and ASUS confirmed, most people that are in the market for an ROG motherboard are going to use larger SSDs or RAID’ed drives (HDD and/or SSD) rather than the SSD caching solution. This is why you’ll find the superior Marvell SATA 6G/s controller with better RAID performance (per ASUS) rather than one that supports additional SSD caching.

All in all, a solid feature set. It certainly doesn’t cover everything though, read on for the full details!

Accessories

There is no lack of accessories for sure. They come in a separate box below the motherboard box.

Box o' Accessories

Box o' Accessories

First I’ll show you this gorgeous sticker ASUS just can’t seem to drop from their accessory pile. Give us a cool ROG sticker with the emblem in the bottom right. THAT would look pretty cool. This? I’ve never been sure what they were going for, and it sure as heck won’t ever make it on to a piece of hardware I own. Different strokes for different folks of course, but I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this thing is just plain ugly.

Beautiful Sticker!!!!!

Beautiful Sticker!!!!!

Anyway, please excuse the tangent there. Included in the accessory box is a user manual / guides, driver DVD and very handy stickers for labeling your cables.

Manual, DVD & Stickers

Manual, DVD & Stickers

Now on to the main stack, and it is plentiful. There is a PCI bracket USB connector in case the already impressive number of USB ports on the rear I/O aren’t enough. You get four SATA 6G/s and two SATA II cables. There are 2- and 3-way SLI connectors as well as a Crossfire connector.

ASUS never forgets their convenient front-panel quick-switch connectors (which are convenient, but for aesthetics not necessarily the best looking option) and the rear I/O plate. There are even three temperature sensors to hook up to the three optional temperature probe headers on the board.

Plenty of Accoutrements

Plenty of Accoutrements

Whoops, Forgot the Thermometers

Whoops, Forgot the Thermometers

This was photographed above but I’m leaving it on its own because it’s pretty neat. Meet RC Bluetooth. you can monitor and overclock your board from a bluetooth-enabled smartphone. My “dumbphone” unfortunately can’t DO that, but it’s a neat feature for those who aren’t smack in the middle of a binding contract. I’m looking at you, Verizon.

RC Bluetooth Module

RC Bluetooth Module

RC Bluetooth Module

RC Bluetooth Module

Now these little things are quite handy. Plug these into the ROG ProbeIt connectors, plug in your multimeter probes and voila, instant hands-free voltage monitoring. The most common use for these on my bench is CPU Vcore. The rest I trust software for the most part, but Vcore is a pretty important voltage to have accuracy on when benching with high voltage. This makes monitoring it quick and painless.

ROG ProbeIt Dongles

ROG ProbeIt Dongles

Solid accessory stack for a solid board. Speaking of, let’s take a closer look.

Up Close and Personal

First up, we have internal storage connections. There are eight all told, four SATA 6G/s and four SATA II. Two of the SATA 6G/s connectors are powered by the Z68 PCH and two are controlled by a separate Marvel controller.

Internal Storage Connectivity

Internal Storage Connectivity

Marvel SATA III Controller

Marvel SATA 6G/s Controller

Turning the corner, we have a great feature on high end ROG boards – selectable BIOSes. With the mere push of a button you can switch between BIOS versions. More importantly, you can recover from either a flash-gone-wrong or a dead BIOS due to clocking too far.

Also pictured here are the front panel connectors as well as the iROG and TPU controllers from ASUS.

Dual BIOS

Dual BIOS

Moving to the left you see tons of other front panel connectivity (audio and a bunch of USB 2.0 headers), a temperature probe header and two fan headers side-by-side.

Bottom Connectivity

Bottom Connectivity

Around this corner we have controller city. Starting from the left, there is the RealTec audio codec, a JMicron controller for the eSATA 6G/s ports, and two Intel LAN controllers.

Quartet of Controllers

Quartet of Controllers

Below you see one of the NEC USB 3.0 controllers (marked “D720200AF1”, on the left). There are two on the board, one that controls 2x USB 3.0 ports and another that has a VIA SuperSpeed USB hub controller (on the right, labeled “VLI”) allowing it to control 8x USB 3.0 ports.

Also in this photo is a PWM fan header and the RC Bluetooth connection.

RC Bluetooth Connector (and more)

RC Bluetooth Connector (and more)

This board is just full of strong power delivery. Just below the DIMMs you can see their dedicated three phase power section, enabling higher, more consistent memory overclocking through solid, clean power delivery.

Robust Memory Power

Robust Memory Power

Let’s have a look at where the action happens after you get everything set up. The control corner has ASUS’ handy diagnostic QLED next to the 24-pin power connector. If your POST fails, this will tell you where it’s hung. There is also a POST code indicator for even more specific diagnosing.

Also on the monitoring side is ROG ProbeIt. You have two choices here; you can physically touch your multimeter probes to the small pads to check voltage or you can plug in the ProbeIt connectors for hands-free monitoring.

Just above ROG ProbeIt are the onboard power & reset switches. There are also switches for disabling individual PCIe connectors, which is extremely helpful if you kill a GPU while benching multi-GPU setups, especially if they’re sub-zero.

Control Corner - With Q-LED

Control Corner - With Q-LED

Pwr/Reset Switches et al

Pwr/Reset Switches et al

The rear I/O on this board is insane. The only USB 2.0 port is that for the ROG Connect cable. Other than that there are fully eight USB 3.0 connectors. There are also the two LAN ports, full audio outputs, two eSATA ports and that all important external clear CMOS button.

Rear I/O

Rear I/O

Not a close enough look you say? Let’s strip those heatsinks off.

Under the Hood

Now we remove those nice looking heatsinks. Contact was good throughout 99.99% of the board. There was one chip not quite fully covered by the power section heatsink, but just barely. Everything else looked good. The thermal material (TIM) for the NF200 was good, but the PCH heatsink has that awful, sticky, difficult to remove pink TIM. I really wish all manufacturers would stop using that stuff. It’s a pipe dream, but one can hope. Admittedly, few users will ever remove either of these heatsinks so it’s not really a big deal; just a pain for yours truly.

Heatsink Contact

Heatsink Contact

Heatsinks

Heatsinks

Here we have the electronics-packed Maximus IV Extreme-z in the flesh. It’s even good looking without the heatsinks.

Bare Board

Bare Board

This board features the NVIDIA NF200 PCIe-lane-granting chip (on the left). Strangely, if you run two GPUs they run at 8x + 8x, but if you run the full three, the NF200 kicks in and runs them at 8x + 16x +16x.

The chip on the right is the Z68 Platform Controller Hub.

NVIDIA NF200 Controller

NVIDIA NF200 Controller

Intel Z68 Controller

Intel Z68 Controller

You saw the memory power section, now feast your eyes on the CPU power section. The DIGI+VRM chip gives fine-grained control of the power section – LLC, power delivery frequency, OCP and more. It controls one nice looking VRM too.

There are twelve phases total for CPU power. Eight are for the CPU and four are dedicated to the iGPU.

Digi+VRM Controller

Digi+VRM Controller

CPU Power Section

CPU Power Section

Power Goodness

Power Goodness

Powerful board looks powerful… and then some. ROG motherboards are usually solidly built, great looking boards and this is no exception.

The UEFI

So you know, I’m trying something a little different with the UEFI section. Since you can’t see the text anyway with the regular thumbnails, I’ve dropped them to the small version to save space in the review.

Anyway, let’s power it up and see what we get. First, of course, you get the splash screen, or the BIOS POST screen if you disable that. Also pictured is a screen the vast majority of people that purchase this board will never see – EZ Mode. Thankfully the MIVE-z defaults to Advanced Mode, but EZ Mode is there if you feel the urge.

The first menu you’re presented with is Extreme Tweaker, where you’ll control all the major overclocking functions. Multiplier, RAM speed, voltages, it’s all in this menu.

As usual, this ROG board comes complete with all the memory timings you could ever want. ASUS is generally a memory tweaker’s best friend and the MIVE-z is no exception.

GPU.DIMM Post is handy to make sure your GPUs are running the speed they’re supposed to be and ensure they’re being detected properly. You can also check on your memory’s position and speed.

There are two places to adjust CPU settings. In the main menu you have the CPU Performance Settings (on the left) and in the Advanced menu is a CPU Configuration menu. These two combined give you plenty of control over the features in your CPU.

The DIGI+ VRM control is one of the best in the business. It definitely beats Gigabyte’s offering and probably MSI’s, though I don’t have personal experience with their recent boards. ASUS stands alone in the ability to manipulate power output this well.

The hardware monitoring in BIOS is very extensive, which thankfully also translates to equal monitoring in the OS with AISuite.

BIOS fan control is impressive with the MIVE-z. You have fine-grained control over the CPU and Chasis fans, which can both be adjusted with AISuite. The rest of the headers have good controls too. The PWR fan can be permanently set at 40-90% speed (disabled is 100%) via duty control. The three OPT fan headers have temperature-controlled or duty-controlled options.

All of the various controls are pictured below for your perusal.

The Tools menu is probably where overclockers will spend the most time outside the Extreme Tweaker menu. You have:

  • EZ-Flash 2 – a great, simple way to flash your BIOS via GUI
  • O.C. Profile – where you can store up eight BIOS profiles – sixteen if you count both BIOS chips.
  • SPD Information – in case you need to double-check your sub-timings.
  • The GO Button profile – for you to set what happens when you hit the GO button.
  • Dual BIOS control – to switch between the two BIOSes (there’s also a physical button for that) and a place to flash from one chip to another.

The rest are your more mundane settings menus. They’re necessary for setting up a system, but if you’re reading here you probably know what most of this does. They’re all here for your viewing pleasure if you care to click through, though.

A very extensive UEFI to go along with a feature-packed board. It’s stable, fast to respond and contains all the tweaking options you could ask for.

ASUS Software

I’ve said it before and will probably say it in every review until someone comes out with something better. ASUS currently has the best, most comprehensive, most seamless software for overclocking, monitoring and controlling fans of any company currently on the market. Frankly, I wish other manufacturers could compete, but ASUS has them all by the short hairs. Let’s have a look at why they’re the best, starting with AISuite.

AISuite

This is where it’s at for overclockers and 24/7 power users alike. As you can see the menu has plenty of options to play with. The “Tool” menu is what will get the most use by far.

AISuite Menu

AISuite Menu

AISuite Tool Menu

AISuite Tool Menu

AISuite Monitor Menu

AISuite Monitor Menu

AISuite Update Menu

AISuite Update Menu

We’ll go through the less-used menus first. This is a combined image of the System Information’s three tabs, showing pretty much all you need to know about the components in your system. The most helpful part (in my humble opinion) is  the BIOS version. Warning: This is wider than our normal images.

System Information (Warning: Wide Image!)

System Information (Warning: Wide Image!)

These two are the settings windows, where you can adjust behavior of the bar as well as select which applications are enabled in AISuite.

Settings Windows

Settings Windows

The Update windows (warning, another wider image) allow you to update BIOS from within Windows and change the boot splash-screen, which is a neat feature.

With the very easy to use EZ Flash 2 inside BIOS I’d very strongly suggest flashing from there and never flashing from Windows. Things have improved over the years, but problematic flashes are almost always from Windows. DOS or within-BIOS tools are the only way to flash.

Update Windows

Update Windows

Now we get to the Tool menu and the first tool is where overclockers will find their bread and butter. You can do pretty much anything you can from BIOS right from here. The only limitations are ones that require a hard restart, such as BCLK strap and RAM divider. The fine-tuning controls (BCLK skew for one) are relegated to BIOS, but for the most part, everything you really need is right here at your, um, mouse-tip.

TurboV EVO

TurboV EVO

ASUS also stands alone with fine-grained VRM control within windows. Most boards have OS control of LLC, but ASUS does better than that. You can also control OCP (Over Current Protection) and VRM switching frequency.

EPU isn’t something many overclockers or tweakers will really do much with, but there it is for you to see if it interests you.

DIGI+ VRM

DIGI+ VRM

EPU

EPU

Fan control in-OS with FAN Xpert isn’t as extensive as from BIOS. There is superb control over the CPU and Chassis fans, but the other fan controls are BIOS only. For the two it can control it is great but it would be nice to control them all even with their limited selections.

Probe II controls the thresholds where the software will give you a popup warning. i.e. The PWM header on my MCP35X is kind-of wonky so it will drop to zero occasionally. When that happens, AISuite dutifully pops up a warning that the CPU fan speed is zero. This is quite handy for making sure you’re not pushing too far and ensuring your fans are indeed alive.

Sensor Recorder is perfect for those that like to document their PC’s health, which is a fair number of you; especially those who need to weigh CPU temperature vs. ambient temperature when pushing overclocks. Folding@Home, Rosetta & SETI all come to mind here.

Lastly you have the sensor and CPU monitors. These actually are available on their own or on the right side of most AISuite windows (see the sensor tab in the other three screenshots below).

Fan Xpert

Fan Xpert

Probe II

Probe II

Sensor Recorder

Sensor Recorder

Sensor & CPU Monitors

Sensor & CPU Monitors

ROG Connect – RC TweakIt

Of course, with ASUS ROG motherboards, you don’t even have to be at that particular computer to adjust overclocking settings or to monitor the system. With ROG Connect you can overclock the system remotely with a USB cable.

Not only is ROG Connect just a neat feature to have, it is especially great for extreme overclockers, especially during video card benchmarking. You can set the CPU speed high for the GPU tests, then drop it for the CPU sections of the benchmarks. It squeezes out that extra few points to get you that much higher in the rankings.

You also have full monitoring capabilities to view voltages, temperatures, fan speeds & Frequencies. There is even a control to power up, reset and even clear CMOS on the system. It will also walk you through the POST codes, showing not only the code but what it stands for.

RoG Connect

RoG Connect

ROG Connect - Temps

ROG Connect - Temps

ROG Connect - Fan Speeds

ROG Connect - Fan Speeds

RoG Connect - Frequency

RoG Connect - Frequency

ROG Connect - Extras

ROG Connect - Extras

Not pictured is ASUS Mem TweakIt, which allows you to set memory timings from inside your OS for testing to shave that extra few hundredths of  a second off benchmark times.

Test Systems

Our test systems share everything except for the GPU. The test bench has been switched over from a 5870 to a 6970, so the 3D testing isn’t going to be very comprehensive. Rest assured there is little to zero difference between any of the boards clock-for-clock with a single GPU.

CPU Intel i7 2600K
Motherboards Intel DP67BG
ASRock P67 Extreme 6
ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-z
RAM G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-2133
GPU AMD HD 6970
Cooling Custom water loop (Swiftech MCP-x35,
Swiftech MCR-320, EK Supreme HF,
Ultra High Speed Panaflo fans)
OS  Windows 7 x64

The open-air test setup isn’t the most beautiful of setups, but benchmarkers can appreciate its simplicity.

Maximus IV Extreme-z Installed

Maximus IV Extreme-z Installed

I actually like the pulsating RoG light. Lights on boards are usually more utilitarian in my eyes, but this one grew on me. Definitely a nice looking system for hammering on benchmarks or playing games.

Overclocking

When overclocking the Maximus IV Extreme-z, it’s logical to want to go a little more extreme with your 24/7 overclock. On the same cooling and with this same CPU as other boards, I went 200 MHz over the previous 24/7 overclock, pushing it to 4.8 GHz stable.

4.8 GHz Stable

4.8 GHz Stable

The MIVE-z achieved this overclock without any problems at 1.330 Vcore loaded. It was an easy overclock to obtain and it ran there without fail throughout stability testing, benchmarks and daily use.

LLC Voltage Tests

Earthdog, MattNo5ss and Dolk all started doing this and I think it’s a valuable addition when it can be had (though I’m not likely to solder under the CPU socket like Dolk). For these tests, the Vcore set in BIOS is 1.330 V. The LLC settings -from left to right in the graph- on this board are Disabled, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%; rather than the standard text-based options (likeLow, High, Very High etc).

LLC Voltage Testing

LLC Voltage Testing

LLC settings aren’t ‘good’ or ‘bad’, they just are. Now you can see what happens when you set the different LLC controls. I tend to stick with the 75% setting, which is the closest to the set Vcore. As expected and as is normal in the industry, 100% overshoots set Vcore a little bit, but surprisingly has lower idle Vcore than 75%.

Interestingly, software measures a little bit higher than with the multimeter both at idle and under load. The software measurement was identical between CPUz and AISuite’s sensor.

Benchmark Results

This section is going to be shorter from now on in my motherboard reviews. You can see how the CPUs perform in the CPU reviews, but to be honest, there is about a maximum 2-3% difference clock-for-clock between motherboards with the same chipset.

However, in continuing to run the benchmarks, we learn two things

a) how the motherboard ‘feels’. After all, how can you make a judgement on a motherboard without actually using it for a while? Running stock benchmarks three times, overclocking it for stability (then pushing the envelope later) and running overclocked benches once gives you a good feel for actually using the equipment.  and…

b) Whether there are any anomalous results that show some huge deficiency with the motherboard relative to others. These should just plain not exist, but if they do, running the benches should ferret them out.

Thus, there are only going to be three graphs with multiple benches. All results are graphed relative to the Maximus IV Extreme-z at stock and results are in percentage relative to those results. Because the graphs are condensed, there are no data points above the bars as there are (and will continue to be) in CPU reviews.

You’ll see in this review that the Maximums IV Extreme-z outperforms all of the boards by a handy margin. That’s because I used ASUS’ default settings. When you set the memory divider manually, the board automatically sets the Turbo Multiplier to “Auto By All Cores (Can Adjust in OS)”. That’s good, because you can then use AISuite to overclock from Windows. It also leads to a healthy increase in multi-core scores because it pins all four cores at the maximum turbo multipler, because it’s 400 MHz higher than ‘stock’, so keep that in mind.

Additionally, because this is the Maximus IV Extreme-z, as mentioned I raised the 24/7 overclock by 200 MHz to 4.8 GHz from 4.6 GHz on other boards. This board was fully capable of that with no problems. The same can’t be said about other boards, but that’s for another review. Thus, overclocked results will also be higher because it’s operating 200 Mhz higher.

Rendering and Compression

These tests show how the system would perform in real-world scenarios when rendering or compressing/decompressing files.

Cinebenches & 7zip

Cinebenches & 7zip

As you can see, 200 MHz (“stock” and overclocked) leads to a healthy increase in computing ability across the board.

3D Benchmarking (CPU Tests)

The 3D testing is a little lacking because the test GPU switched since Sandy Bridge has been out, from a 5870 to a 6970. Thus, we’re left only the CPU tests from 3DMarks to compare.

3DMark06 and 3DMark Vantage CPU Tests

3DMark06 and 3DMark Vantage CPU Tests

No shocker here, 200 MHz makes a difference in CPU tests.

2D Benchmarking

This one is a little more interesting. When running single-threaded applications, the other competition actually ran the same 3.8 GHz, which is the maximum turbo in lightly threaded applications by default; so those results were almost identical. The multi-threaded and all overclocked benchmarks show a clear 200 MHz advantage.

SuperPi & WPrime

SuperPi & WPrime

Pushing the Envelope

This is the fun part. I can say with full conviction that running this CPU at its maximum 54-55x multiplier was easier to do on this board than any of the socket 1155 boards I’ve used to date. It ran and stuck there without any trouble at all. It didn’t even take adjusting the extra features in UEFI. The board is just plain strong and can take full advantage of the best your CPU has to offer.

This  CPU doesn’t like running multi-threaded benchmarks at 55x on just water, so WPrime was run at 54x.

WPrime 1024M @ 5411.3MHz

WPrime 1024M @ 5411.3 MHz

WPrime 32M @ 5429.2 MHz

WPrime 32M @ 5429.2 MHz

Single-threaded handled 55x just fine. That’s not truncating cores either – this was run at 4 cores and 8 threads. This board is so strong, dropping those didn’t even matter – it achieved the same results with all cores and HT enabled.

SuperPi 1M @ 5548.9 MHz

SuperPi 1M @ 5548.9 MHz

Like SuperPi, maximum CPUz was also with 4 cores & 8 threads enabled.

CPUz @ 5566 MHz

CPUz @ 5566 MHz

The CPUz validation can be seen here.

This frequency is actually 14 MHz higher than I’ve ever been able to take this CPU with any other board before it. It’s not a night-and-day difference, but there is a distinct difference and no other board on my test bench was able to get there. While that doesn’t mean too much for every day clockers, it definitely does for extreme benchmarkers.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

The Maximus IV Extreme-z is the best of all worlds when it comes to socket 1155. You get an unparalleled feature set, the benefits of the Z68 platform (QuickSync & SSD Caching) and a ridiculously easy overclocking experience all in one bundle. It’s not going to be easy on the wallet – at $339.99 it’s one of the most expensive LGA1155 boards on the market, but it also has features to match.

As far as overclockers are concerned (extreme and ambient!), this board is the bees knees. There are more features than most overclockers would use, but they are there for those that prefer to fine-tune everything they can get their hands on. It will also overclock farther than other boards. To be honest, I had convinced myself that was mostly a myth and that, for 24/7 overclocking, a board is a board and what separates them is features. However, I’ve since proven myself wrong.

I’m not talking about maximum CPUz either, which did improve; strong motherboards have always been a must when pushing things to the max. All those power upgrades are always worth it to extreme overclockers. But we’re talking 24/7 overclock stability. With the P8Z68-V Gen3 on the test bed it is evident that not all boards are created equal. 4.8 GHz stable on this system, with the same CPU and RAM, does not translate over to the other board, which was 100 MHz shy of the MIVE-z.

Clock-for-clock performance is of course no different, but for overclocking ability, the MIVE-z wins without a doubt. So in addition to its superior features, there is a legitimate ambient-cooled, 24/7 overclocking related reason for non-crazy benchmarkers to get this board.

The Maximus IV Extreme-z is the total package. It also already supports Ivy Bridge CPUs that aren’t even out yet, so if that’s a concern, the MIVE-z is on board. All this makes for an easy Overclockers Approved, if not for overclockers on a budget, most definitely for those that want the best their money can buy.

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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