Undoubtedly, the ASUS ROG series motherboards have become an extremely popular choice among the computer enthusiast community. In an effort to keep that trend moving forward and provide mass appeal to the gaming community, ASUS has offered up their latest Z87/Haswell based motherboard – the Maximus VI Formula. The M6F is aimed squarely at the gamer; but being a ROG based motherboard, it also caters to the overclocking enthusiast. Initial impressions give the feeling of a motherboard packed with features and a lot of unique qualities, so let’s have an in depth look at this motherboard and see what ASUS has in store for us this time around!
Specifications and Features
While the specifications are a long and wordy affair, you have to give kudos to ASUS for laying it all out there for the consumer to digest. After reviewing the specifications, you are left with little doubt as to what you’re buying into. So, without further ado, here is the specification list as provided by the ASUS website.
|ASUS Maximus VI Specifications|
|CPU||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 www.asus.com for CPU support list
|Memory||4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3100(O.C)/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 www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
|Graphic||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® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ Technology
|Expansion Slots||3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4) *1
1 x mini-PCIe 2.0 x1 *2
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
|Storage||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
|LAN||Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)|
|Wireless Data Network||Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac*6
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX Formula 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming
– SupremeFX Shielding Technology
– Cirrus Logic® CS4398 DAC: 120 dB SNR, -107 dB THD+N (Max. 192 kHz/ 24 -bit)
– TI 6120A2 high fidelity headphone amplifier
– WIMA® film capacitors
– ELNA® premium audio capacitors
– High-fidelity audio OP AMP(s)
– Differential circuit design
Audio Feature :
– Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
– Sonic Radar
– DTS Connect
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
|USB Ports||Intel® Z87 chipset : *7
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset : *8
8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
|ROG Exclusive Features||
CrossChill (Hybrid air and liquid cooling)*9
ROG Armor (including top cover and SECC steel backplate)*10
mPCIe Combo II (mPCIe/M.2 combo card)
Extreme Engine Digi+ III :
– 8 + 2 phase power design
– NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET
– 60A BlackWing Chokes
– 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
UEFI BIOS features :
– ROG BIOS Print
– GPU.DIMM Post
– Tweakers’ Paradise
– ROG SSD Secure Erase
|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!
– Wi-Fi GO! Function: Cloud GO!, Media Streaming Hub, Smart Sensor Control, Remote Desktop, Remote Keyboard & Mouse, File Transfer, Capture & Send
– Wi-Fi Engine for network sharing and connection: Client Mode, AP Mode
– Wi-Fi GO! & NFC Remote for portable Smartphone/Tablet, supporting iOS & Android systems
ASUS Exclusive Features :
– GPU Boost
– USB BIOS Flashback
– AI Suite 3
– Ai Charger+
– USB Charger+
– USB 3.0 Boost
– Disk Unlocker
ASUS EZ DIY :
– 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-DIMM
– ASUS Q-Connector
Overclocking Protection :
– ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
|OS Support||Windows® 8
|Back I/O Ports||1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0
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)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM connector(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 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)
10 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
3 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x FastBoot switch(es)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo II connector(s)
8 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 SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
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 Door Hanger(s)
|BIOS||64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI5.0a Multi-Language BIOS|
|Manageability||WfM 2.0, DMI 2.7, WOL by PME, PXE|
ROG GAMEFIRST II
ROG Mem TweakIt
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )
|Notes||*1: x8/x4/x4 mode is supported by Intel® 4rd generation Core™ Processors
*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: The Wi-Fi standard of 802.11ac will be restricted by countries’ regulations. Wi-Fi 802.11ac feature will be supported under the complete
*7: Support ASUS USB 3.0 Boost, UASP standard on the Intel native USB 3.0 is only supported under Windows® 8.
*8: 2 x USB2.0 ports at mid-board shares with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port.
*9: Supports G1/4″ threaded fittings. Fittings require separate purchase.
*10: Chassis must conform to ATX specification for successful installation: brass stand-offs of at least 6mm are required.
In typical ASUS fashion, their feature list is as detailed as the specifications they provide. We’ll touch on several of the main features here and get into more detail as the review progresses. First is a look at a motherboard overview showing some of the high level features. All images and descriptions courtesy of the ASUS website.
The CrossChill hybrid thermal design has been improved from previous designs, most notably, the ability to now use any G1/4 fitting of your choice. When I reviewed the Maximus V formula several months ago, one of my gripes was the factory installed fittings that could not be changed. Luckily, this time around the user has the ability to match fittings to any size water cooling system they might be using. ASUS claims the heatsink works just fine without using water, but using the water cooling option can improve MOSFET temperatures up to 23 °C.
One of the highlights of the M6F is the SupremeFX Formula onboard sound solution. ASUS has done a good job here getting the most possible out of a Realtek based sound solution. Premium audio capacitors and German made WIMA film capacitors are used to enhance performance. EMI Shielding and PCB isolation are used to separate the audio from surrounding components and any potential degradation of audio quality. A 120 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) is possible via Hi-Fi op-amps and a digital/analog converter (DAC), all resulting in what ASUS claims to be loss-less audio. Also included in the SupremeFX audio package is a built-in 600 ohm headphone amplifier that can support the highest end sets out there.
Keeping along the lines of audio performance, we come to the ASUS Perfect Voice feature. Here you can use the available noise reduction and noise gate adjustments to reduce unwanted background noise, which should enhance VoIP clarity.
Sonic Radar is another unique gaming feature ASUS has implemented for the M6F user. This nifty gaming utility has the ability to tell you what direction a particular sound is coming from. Geared towards first-person-shooter (FPS) games, this can be a valuable tool in determining where gunshots, voices, and footsteps are coming from in relation to your position in the game field.
The ROG Armor is a two part design that features an ABS plastic top and a SECC steel back plate. The top will help video card heat from raising system temperatures and can also be used to customize the look of your system by painting, applying decals, etc. The SECC back plate has a two-fold purpose that encompasses added support to minimize board flexing and also provides added cooling to important components using thermal pads.
The Japanese 10K black capacitors, 60 amp BlackWing chokes, and 90% greater efficiency nexFET MOSFETs highlight the Extreme Engine Digi+ III feature. Even though the Haswell CPUs now have the voltage regulator built into the die, ASUS’ Digi+ III still affords the user complete control over its functionality. Digi+ III also allows precise control over the memory power, which allows you to push your RAM to its maximum potential.
With the latest wireless standard (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 4.0 support, the mPCIe Combo II is a welcomed addition to the M6F. Not only do you get the latest wireless and Bluetooth standards, but the ability to utilize the latest M.2 Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) for SSDs. True, there isn’t a whole lot of devices available yet that use the NGFF standard, but it’s nice to see ASUS on the forefront of this technology.
Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimazition made its debut with the release of the Haswell/Z87 platform, and as expected, can be found on the M6F. The Turbo Processing Unit, Energy Processing Unit, Digi+ VRM, and Fan Xpert 2 make up this feature.
Several new UEFI BIOS features have been added to the fold recently by ASUS. Highlighted here are the Last Modified, Quick Note, and My Favorites/Shortcut options.
Ok, this next feature is just flat out awesome and something ASUS is rightfully very proud of. With the SSD Secure Erase Feature, you can perform this task from within the UEFI BIOS. How cool is that?
ROG RAMDisk allows you to use excess system memory to create a temporary virtual storage drive. ASUS claims a 20X faster than SSD speed when using RAMDisk, and the feature is capable of using up to 80% of your system’s memory.
It’s always nice to see an Intel Gb LAN controller onboard, and the M6F doesn’t disappoint. Along with the Intel LAN controller, the GameFirst II utility can help you prioritize bandwidth and is reported to be able to reduce ping times.
There are a few value added software packages you get as part of the deal as well. A quick check online shows DAEMON Tools and the Kaspersky anti-virus software at a combined cost of over $100.00.
Packaging and First Look
The M6F packaging is typical of what you would expect for a ROG series motherboard. We have a predominantly red theme loaded with snippets detailing the high level features and specifications. If you open the flap on the box top, you’ll find even more information on the product and a window giving you a first glimpse of the motherboard itself. If you happen across this motherboard at a retail outlet of some sort, you’ll appreciate the detailed information provided and being able to actually see the motherboard that sits inside.
Inside, you’ll find two black boxes. One box holds the motherboard, and the other contains the accessories.
The accessory pack is quite extensive and includes all of the following items:
- User’s manual
- I/O Shield
- 8 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
- 1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)
- 1 x SLI bridge
- 1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
- 1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Labels
- 1 x mPCIe Combo II card with dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module
- 1 x ROG Door Hanger
With everything unpacked, here is your first unobstructed look at the M6F. Love it or hate it, you have to agree it is a rather unique looking affair.
… And a few more glamor shots.
Up Close/Under the Hood
By removing nine screws at the back of the M6F, you can remove both the steel back plate and the plastic ROG Armor. Unfortunately, if you prefer to use the motherboard without the ROG Armor, you will have to sacrifice using the back plate too. As you can see by the pictures below, the screws that hold the back plate on travel through the motherboard and thread into the ROG Armor, forcing you to use both pieces or none at all.
We’ll begin our up close tour by looking at the outer extremities and start with the bottom area. Here we find such things as the front panel audio connector, a 4-pin Molex connector for added PCI-E power, and TPM and Thunderbolt headers. Further to the right side, we find two 4-pin fan headers, two USB 2.0 headers, the front panel case wiring connections, and the DirectKey button. The DirectKey button can be pressed to restart the system and have it boot directly to BIOS without having to hit the delete key. You might notice a header called ROG EXT, this is where the ASUS OC Panel gets connected. While the OC Panel does not come bundled with the M6F, all signs point to it soon being available as a separate purchase.
Moving up the right side of the motherboard, we find the 10 SATA 6 GB/s connectors. The upper six SATA ports are native to the Z87 chipset, while the lower four are provided by ASMedia. Just below the SATA ports is the Fast Boot switch, which, when enabled, promises a faster boot time. Moving upward, we find the 24-pin ATX power connector, another 4-pin fan header, the onboard start and reset buttons, and the post code LED.
Along the top of the M6F is where you’ll find the voltage readout points (which ASUS calls the Probelt) and the MemOK! button. The MemOk! button can be helpful if incompatible memory is keeping the system from booting as it will attempt to automatically configure the memory to a bootable state. Further over, we find the two ATX +12V CPU AUX power connectors, which include one 8-pin and one 4-pin. Yet another 4-pin fan header is located here as well. Just next to the fan header is one of three temperature probe headers. These can be used to connect a two wire probe and attach it to any component in the system. Once you do this, the probes can then work in conjunction with optional fan headers 1, 2, and 3 for a better cooling effect.
The left side of the M6F is home to all the I/O connectors. At the very top is where the mPCIe Combo II card gets installed, and just below that is a series of six I/O Blocks. Below is a diagram depicting how the I/O area is laid out. Of special note is the ROG Connect button that can be used to flash the BIOS with a USB stick. All you need connected to the motherboard is the power supply, and you can flash the BIOS using that ROG Connect button. It’s saved my bacon more than once!
Below the I/O area is where all the onboard SupremeFX audio components are found. We already talked about the features this audio solution offers earlier, but we can get a close up look at the high quality ELNA® audio capacitors and German-made WIMA® film capacitors. If you look closely, you can see the PCB isolation lines. In a sense, these make it as close to a stand alone piece of hardware as you can get, while still being an onboard component.
The M6F has three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, two PCI-E 3.0 x16/x8 slots, and one PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot. A single graphics card will run at x16 speed and two cards installed in the top two slots will run at x8/x8. Three way CrossfireX is supported and will run at x8/x4/x4 speeds. Just above the very top PCI-E x1 slot, there are two more 4-pin fan headers, which round out the eight total onboard.
The four DIMM slots support up to 32 GB of system memory and speeds up to DDR3 3000 (OC). ASUS recommends populating the red slots first if two modules are being used.
The CPU socket area has plenty of unobstructed area to fit most cooling solutions out there. The CrossChill MOSFET heatsink is designed to be low enough to ward off any potential clearance issues. As always though, you’ll want to keep an eye on memory height if you plan on using an air cooler that will overhang the memory slots.
The two heatsinks found on the M6F are made from aluminum. The heatsink over the Z87 PCH uses a thick, gooey, pink TIM that can best be described as almost a bubble gum like consistency. It was, however, found to be well applied and making good contact with its intended target area. The CrossChill MOSFET heatsink uses thermal pads, and they too were found to be making excellent contact with the target points. As far as mixing an aluminum water block with an otherwise copper based water cooling system, ASUS says the water channel has a special anti corrosive coating that is specifically designed for this kind of usage. This, in combination with the anodizing process, should ensure compatibility across different water cooling configurations.
With the heatsinks removed, we can get an up close look at the Z87 PCH and the power delivery area. The M6F uses an 8-phase power design for the CPU, which they claim is more than adequate due to the high quality components. The newly designed 60 A BlackWing chokes offer up a total of 480 A of power delivery, which I think you’ll agree is enough for even the most demanding overclocker. ASUS also states the NexFET MOSFET chips offer 90% better efficiency, and the 10K Nichicon-GT capacitors offer a longer lifespan and a better temperature tolerance.
Let’s face it, the codes that the LED display give you when trying to troubleshoot a problem can be hard to understand. Luckily, ASUS has attempted to minimize confusion when troubleshooting a boot up problem by providing a series of LEDs that warn you of where the problem might be. These Q-LEDs as they are called, will illuminate temporarily as the system boots up. If the CPU, memory, video card, or boot device is keeping the system from booting, the corresponding LED will stay illuminated.
Having a closer look at the ICs that perform many of the motherboard’s functions, we’ll begin with those provided by ASMedia. For additional USB 3.0 ports at the rear I/O area, the ASM1074 IC is used. The ASM1480 ICs are used to provide PCI-E lane switching between x16 and x8, depending on the amount of video cards installed. There are two ASM1061 chips that provide additional SATA 6 GB/s connectivity.
The nuvoTon NCT6791D is called upon to provide system monitoring duties, such as fans speeds, voltages, temperatures, etc. Winbond is the vendor of choice when it comes to the BIOS chip. Like we often see on ASUS boards, the 25Q64FVAIQ is the weapon of choice there. Intel has long been the popular choice for an onboard LAN controller, and the M6F doesn’t disappoint with the use of Intel’s I217V chip.
There is a Digi+ VRM assigned to the two memory power phases that allow the user finite control over the memory power delivery. Even though the Digi+/EPU chip lost a bit of its luster when Intel moved the CPU’s VRM on die, it still provides a seamless interface and extensive control over its functions.
With the board tour complete, let’s get this thing on the test bench and fired up!
The UEFI BIOS
Recognizing that most users will want to dive right into the Extreme Tweaker overclocking section, that’s exactly where you land when first entering the UEFI BIOS. Extreme Tweaker offers up a plethora of options to allow you to get the most out of your system. While tinkering with many of the available settings can be a lot of fun, ASUS typically does an outstanding job fine tuning their “Auto” settings throughout the BIOS. Also of note are the two buttons on the right side of the screen, Quick Note and Last Modified. These buttons will be available to use on almost every screen inside the UEFI BIOS. They provide you with a method of jotting down anything you wish for later reference (Quick Note) and will display any changes you have made during your current session (Last Modified).
There are five sub-menus inside Extreme Tweaker to explore as well. Beginning with the DRAM Timing Control sub-menu, you’ll find enough options to fine tune any set of memory out there.
In addition to the memory tweaking options shown above, ASUS has done an exorbitant amount of work fine tuning most memory ICs used over the past few years. There are lots of presets to choose from, and finding one that matches the memory you are using should be easy enough.
The GPU.DIMM Post screen is basically an overview of what your GPU and memory speeds are currently running at.
The Digi+ Power Control sub-menu still offers the CPU and memory power controls we’re used to seeing on ROG motherboards. Even though some of these options might not be as important as they once were now that the VRM is integrated into the CPU, they may still help squeeze out that little bit extra.
On the off chance you get bored with the abundance of available tweaking options we’ve already covered, a quick trip to paradise might entice you. Yes, there is actually a sub-menu called just that… Tweakers Paradise! Here you’ll find even more options to keep you interested.
The Overclocking Presets sub-menu offers a few options to try out. Most of these are based off of BCLK variations, but they are well thought out and seem to work quite well. I would venture to say that the 200 MHz BCLK setting might be hard to achieve on many competitor boards, but ASUS seems to have pulled it of with what they describe only as “magic.” They wouldn’t give out the details during the Haswell seminar I attended a few months back, but I can’t blame them for that! I had to adjust a couple of the 200 BLCK presets to get it to boot, but it does work.
The last sub-menu is called CPU Power Management, which most notably has the EIST and Turbo Mode settings.
Backing up one tab, you’ll find the My Favorites section. You can fill this page with shortcuts to your most used areas of the UEFI BIOS.
Under the Main tab, you get some basic system information, security options, and the time/date settings.
Under the Advanced tab is where you find eight sub menus related to system configuration. Everything from CPU configuration to the ROG lighting effects can be manipulated here. Of special note, under the SATA configuration sub menu is the ability to name each of the SATA ports. This will take all the guess work out of remembering what drive is hooked to which port.
The Monitor tab gives you four sub-menus that enable you to check on voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and controlling fans as well. The fan speed control works with the CPU fan header, the three system fan headers, and the three optional fan headers.
The Boot tab is pretty self explanatory, but does offer control over the DirectKey and Fast Boot features.
The Tool tab has some innovative features worth mentioning. The EZ Flash II utility makes BIOS updates a safe, effective, and easy way to accomplish the task. Most users of ASUS boards will recommend this method of BIOS flashing over all others.
Having SSD secure erase capabilities built right into the UEFI BIOS is a fantastic feature, kudos to ASUS for spending the time to develop this useful tool. No more downloading, booting from media, or cumbersome software methods to secure erase a SSD… Nice!
You can save up to eight BIOS profiles with the Overclocking Profile feature, and it also has the ability to save profiles to a USB drive. In a sense, that makes the amount of profiles you can save limitless. Keep in mind that saved profiles can’t be used if you flash the BIOS to a different version than they were saved with.
The SPD information tool can be handy if you prefer to set your memory timings manually, or if you want to know ahead of time what they will be set at in the event you decide to use one of the XMP profiles.
The OC Panel H-Key configuration allows you to customize exactly what it does when you press on its O.C Key. You’ll find this a helpful utility if you decide to purchase the OC Panel when it becomes available as a stand alone purchase.
Finally, when you’re all done poking around in the UEFI BIOS, you can select Save Changes & Reset. When doing so, a window pops up listing everything that has been changed during your current session. It’s a good idea to check this list before executing the changes for anything you might have done in error, or even forgot to do.
I think you’ll agree that the M6F has about the most detailed and feature rich UEFI BIOS you’ll see anywhere. I think ASUS has done a great job here and continues to add new and innovative features/utilities to their UEFI BIOS experience.
Bundled Software – AI Suite III
With the advent of the Haswell/Z87 platform, ASUS reworked the AI Suite package, and it now sits at version three. Much like its predecessors, AI Suite III is a robust in-OS utility that gives the user a pleasing GUI interface that includes most of what is in the UEFI BIOS, and then some. While I would venture to say most of our readers will be interested in the TPU section, there are many other useful tools and utilities that can be taken advantage of.
The home screen offers five areas you can experiment with, the first being 4-Way Optimization. This gives the user a one click option to automatically tune the system based on their usage preference. Just click the 4-Way Optimization button, and let it do its thing.
The TPU screen has two sub-menus for CPU frequency and CPU strap. From here, you have access to CPU ratios and frequencies and many of the same voltage adjustments found in the UEFI BIOS. With this new version of the software, you now have the ability to manually enter voltage values if you prefer that over using the sliders. Voltages are also color coded to let you know if you’re entering dangerous territory. The CPU strap options are 100/125/167/250 MHz and will require a system reboot if manipulated.
For those of you concerned with power consumption and efficiency, you have four presets you can choose from. Auto, High Performance, Max Power Saving, and Away Mode are the available options here, each providing their own level of power savings and efficiency. You’ll notice a drop in several system temperatures when using these options, so these options do indeed work quite well.
The Digi+ Power Control feature also has many of the same options found in the UEFI BIOS. Controlling power delivery to both the CPU and memory is possible from within this section of AI Suite III.
Fan Xpert 2 continues to be an impressive utility, which quite frankly, has no peers. You can choose from four presets (normal, standard, turbo, full speed), or you can use the fan curve feature to manually control each fan. Using the fan tuning option will provide you with detailed information on each of your installed fans. Fan Xpert 2 can then use this information to provide optimal performance when using the presets or when configuring manually.
There are additional utilities included with AI Suite III that are very useful. Here is a quick list of the remaining available utilities
- AI Charger+
- EZ Update
- USB Bios Flashback
- USB 3.0 Boost
- System Information
- USB Charger+
Most of these utilities are self explanatory as you make your way through the slide show below. Be sure to have a look, I’m sure you’ll find something that piques your interest.
If you’re the type that wants desktop overclocking utilities without all the fancy graphics and a light footprint, then you may be interested in TurboV Core and Mem TweakIt. Mem TweakIt can be found on the support DVD, and TurboV Core can be obtained from ASUS.
Overclocking and Benchmarks
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VI Formula|
|CPU||Intel i7 4770K Haswell|
|Memory||G.SKill TridentX DD3-2666 MHz 2x4GB|
|SSD||Kingston HyperX 3KSSD 240 GB|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050 Professional Series|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 780 Classified|
|Cooling||Swiftech Apogee HD CPU Water Block – 3X120 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump|
Just like all the other ASUS boards I’ve reviewed to this point, the i7-4770K CPU I possess maxed out right where it has before. 4.6 GHz with the memory at 2400 MHz is the sweet spot for this particular piece of silicon. Still, when compared to the base speed of 3.5 GHz, a 1.1 GHz overclock isn’t that bad, I guess. I can say that the overclock was achieved with a little less CPU voltage then the previous ASUS boards I’ve tested. We’ll chalk that up to the higher quality chokes and MOSFETs, along with a more robust power delivery. I’ll see if there is any gas left in the tank when we get to the Pushing the Limits section of the review. I performed a quick 15 minute run of AIDA64’s System Stability Test to confirm stability, all systems go!
We’ll use the previously reviewed ASUS Z87-A, Z87-Deluxe, Maximus VI Extreme, and the Intel DZ87KLT-75K at their respective stock speeds for comparison data. There is one caveat to be aware of though, the four ASUS boards were using the the multi-core enhancement feature (meaning the core speed was locked down at 3.9 GHz), while the Intel board was at true stock and using the Turbo Core feature. This doesn’t impact single thread benchmarks like SuperPI much at all, but multi-threaded benchmarks will tend to favor the ASUS boards. Additionally, all five of the boards have the memory set to DDR3 2600. I also added the 24/7 stable overclock results mentioned above to the charts. This should give you a good indication of how performance scales when overclocking.
Normally, you won’t find a lot of difference between motherboards when the components and speeds are all the same. However, I still like to run these benchmarks to make sure no performance issues are found. If there is a problem with the way a motherboard handles any of the components, it’ll make itself known here. First up are the rendering and compression tests, I’ll let the graphs speak for themselves.
Rendering and Compression Tests
2D Benchmark Testing
… And AIDA64 Cache & Memory Benchmark to make sure everything is in order there too!
Just as expected, the M6F performed admirably and right inline with all the other boards compared. As the results above show, it also displayed very nice scaling when overclocked. Nothing at all to complain about here.
Pushing the Limits
I’ve played around with my i7-4770K enough to know that 4.8 GHz is the maximum it will go under water; and true to form, that’s where it topped out without temperatures getting in the way. Once at the desktop at 4.8 GHz, I ran a quick SuperPi 1M and WPrime 32M benchmark. We managed a sub five second score in WPrime and SuperPi came in just a hair over 7.5 seconds. I had to drop the memory speed down to 1600 MHz to get there, but get there we did! Please excuse the second image below, I forgot to click the memory tab on one of the CPU-Z screens.
ASUS went to great lengths to bring us a true gamers’ delight in the Maximus VI Formula. From the rugged looks of the ROG Armor, to the CrossChill cooling and enhanced SupremeFX audio, the board is truly packed with features that gamers will enjoy. Combine all the gaming features with the stout overclocking potential this board offers, and you have a product that will appeal to a large enthusiast segment.
The UEFI BIOS is well laid out and could arguably be the best on the market today. It’s packed with overclocking options and some useful new features, such as Quick Note, My Favorites, Last Modified, and ROG SSD Secure Erase.
With 10 SATA 6 GB/s ports, a total of 16 available USB ports (I/O and onboard), and of course, the mPCIe Combo II card, there is enough connectivity for the vast majority of users… and then some.
We’ve talked about AI Suite III several times in previous reviews; but suffice to say, it really is the leader of the pack when it comes to a motherboard software suite. Fan Xpert 2 is my personal favorite and is unmatched in the industry with the in depth control it provides.
So, what will all this gaming and overclocking goodness cost? Currently, it can be had for $299.99 at Newegg, which is right about where I thought it would come in. For all the features you get, along with the mPCIe Combo II card, I think the price is fair and competitive. Built for gaming and as good an overclocking board as I’ve come by, it’s easy to recommend this board if it has the features you’ve been looking for.