Final Words and Verdict
The ASUS Maximus III Extreme is obviously a beast ! Everything you want and could wish for is to be found on this motherboard. From A to Z the motherboard is loaded with features. And no, we are not going to name them all again. Now a primary new feature is of course the new Bluetooth monitor and OC feature. Though it seems really nice it really is restricted to the OS on your mobile. Now to be honest, I'm not sure I'd use the feature anyway, overclocking over a mobile phone, to me is just not convenient at all. But then again, it's a nice gimmick alright and my preferences can easily differ from yours.
What definitely works better is the ROG Connect feature allowing you to overclock on the fly from another notebook or computer. So if your PC crashes then you can still have all the on-the-fly overclocking settings active for the next run. Quite handy .. but who of you would use it ? Well probably not a lot, I mean everybody overclocks once or twice and then will keep using that sweet-spot tweak. It's of course different for hardcore LN2 overclockers trying to smash world records, as that's where this tool is really convenient.
Lovely, absolutely lovely is the a new USB BIOS update feature. Even if your BIOS is completely messed up. You download the latest BIOS, rename it to M3E.ROM, place it in the root folder of a USB stick, you pop in the USB stick, then push the ROG connect button at the backside I/O panel for two seconds (until it starts blinking) and the BIOS will be automatically flashed. Low level access even with a crashed BIOS is possible due to using S3 standby power. Once the blinking stops, the BIOS firmware is flashed -- that to me is evolving innovation at it's best.
Next stop then, SATA3 (6G) - We do not have SSDs available just yet supporting the blazing bandwidth available, but it's good to know that ASUS has two ports ready and waiting for you to be used. I like to add this as well, it's done right, properly implemented with an additional PLX for additional bandwidth, very nice.
So USB 3.0 then .. you gotta love this, check it out:
|USB 3.0 performance 1024 KB files||
|ASUS Maximus III Ex | 870 | N002 SSD||
Above you can see the performance results of the ADATA N002 (prototype) SSD with both SATA2 and USB 3.0 connector. The results you see are not measured over SATA ports, no Sir .. that's real world USB 3.0 measured performance. Say goodbye to the horrible ~30Mb/sec USB 2.0 limitations !
Overclocking then. For everybody there's something available.
- If you do not want to overclock, the baseline performance is grand.
- If you do not know how to overclock, but want to .. just use the CPU level up function in the BIOS, after a reboot you'll run at 3.5 GHz
- If you are a serious overclocker, configure all you want
- If you are a hardcore overclocker -- hell yeah (!) this motherboard is made for some serious lovin !
Our result was a very stable 4.2 GHz overclock on a processor that has a default clock of 2.93 GHz. That's 1.3 GHz of additional performance .. done based on a fairly average heatpipe based cooler with one fan. If you watched our BIOS video, you (could) have seen how easy it was to achieve that in the BIOS. 30 seconds work, nothing more.
The more advanced overclockers can of course use the niche Bluetooth or ROG Connect feature, but I still am in doubt wether or not people will actually use it. The OC dash that MSI for example offers on their high end Big bang motherboards does seems to be more convincing and handy. Ah well, that's for you to decide of course.
Now as a gamer if you like to go SLI or Crossfire, then the Maximus III extreme makes a lot of sense as well, an extra NF200 switch chip gives the motherboard plenty of bandwidth for the graphics cards to do their job in. The five PCIe slots are completely overkill though. I would much more have liked to see say three PCIe slots and two PCI slots as you do miss out on connectivity on the more legacy products out there.
Well, to be honest I could go on and on about this motherboard. From ground up this is just good stuff, ASUS did a superb job. I would have liked to see a second Ethernet connector, but yeah .. that's it really, all I can think of. Need I say more ?
The one thing, and I have to rain on the parade here, is the price. The inclusion of the NF200 chip, extra Marvell controller, extra NEC controller, extra PLX chip, the additional iROG chip and all the little extra's put a serious strain on the budget ASUS had to spend on designing and manufacturing this motherboard. As such we noticed a sales price of roughly 300 EUR / 339 USD. And for a P55 motherboard (which falls in the mainstream segment) that's just an awful lot of money to justify a purchase. But, that's your call to make.
The design is beautiful, the options grand, the features even better and rest assured you'll be future proof for a while with SATA6G and USB 3.0. What a truly grand motherboard this is. If you can afford it, we surely like to recommend it. But dude, are you man enough for a motherboard of this caliber ? It's a board with balls of steel!