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August 20, 2011

The Best Z68 Motherboard – Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z Review

The Best Z68 Motherboard – Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z Review

If you’re looking for the best of the best Z68 motherboard that will take you to a new level of gaming experience to the extreme, look no further because the Maximus IV Extreme-Z is perfectly right for you.

The Maximus IV Extreme-Z belongs to the ruthless ROG family therefore, we are expecting the best motherboard here just like what his big brother did, the Maximus III and Rampage III Extreme.

This board is almost the same as the Maximus IV Extreme except for the chipset. The Maximus IV Extreme-Z has the advantage of using the Z68 chipset, because, it has the power to use the integrated GPU of Sandy Bridge processors.

Combining the iGPU with the descrete GPU using the LucidVirtu is trully unparallel in video applications, especially the QuickSync features of Sandy Bridge processors.

The Maximus IV Extreme uses only the P67 chipset, as we all know that has the power to overclock the unlock version processor. With the Maximus IV Extreme-Z, they make it even easier for us to tweak that really bring us joy for lots of possibilities.

The Looks

As we take a look at the Maximus IV Extreme-Z it is exactly the same as the Maximus IV Extreme.

From the color, PCB layout, to I/O back panel and ports there is no difference between these two.

This board has an extended ATX form factor with a dimension of 12 inch x 10.6 inch. A combination of black and red has always been the theme color. The ROG logo is noticeable on the top of the heatsink that clearly identifies them.

All SATA ports are in right angle position on the edge of the board for easy access, 4x SATA 3Gb/s in black and 4x SATA 6Gb/s in red. All DIMM slot are properly placed that prevents it from distracting the GPU when installed, a combination of black and red is also noticeable here.

All PCI-E slots are in red color. The first 2 PCI-E slots are well spaced for proper air ventilation when 2 GPU are installed, but the next 2 are closer in distance. The ATX power connector is also in great place on the side of the board for easy access and neat wiring.

Generous amounts of USB port at the back panel are available to make it sure that you never run out of port. CMOS clear buttons, a ROG connect and an RC Bluetooth switches is also provided at the back panel for easy access. Overall, the ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z has a very nice design and a great looking motherboard.

Specs

Supports Intel Socket 1155 Core i7/ i5/i3 Sandy Bridge Processors

Intel P67 Express Chipset

4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333

Supports NVIDIA 3-Way SLI and CrossFireX Technology

4x PCIe 2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8, x16, x16), 1x PCIe 2.0 x4, 1x PCIe 2.0 x1

4x SATA 6Gb/s ports, 4x SATA 3Gb/s ports, Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10

2 x eSATA 3Gb/s port

2 x Gigabit LAN Controller

RC Bluetooth On/Off Switch

9x USB 2.0 ports, 10x USB 3.0 port(s)

Realtek ALC 889 8-Channel HD Audio CODEC

Features

The Maximus IV Extreme-Z is packed with the best features that you ever wanted in gaming rig that ASUS can offer. This board is built with the Z68 chipset so that you can take the advantage of its overclocking capabilities using the unlock version as well as the QuickSync for Transcoding applications of Sandy Bridge processor.

Some of the best features of this motherboard can offer are the EFI BIOS that replaces the traditional keyboard controlled to make it easier to navigate using a graphical user interface. It provides an 8 CPU power design and 3 in memory power design. This feature provides power efficiency to the CPU and memory that maximized its usage with minimal power loss.

The Al Suite II is user friendly software for easy overclocking. The MemOK function is to enable to boot the motherboard even if there is a memory compatibility issues. A Bluetooth receiver is also provided for faster interface.

The best thing about this board is the support for both SLI and CrossfireX that allow us to have freedom to choose our own multi GPU.

Some of the best ROG extreme features are the CPU-Z, USB BIOS Flashback, ROG Direct, GPU.DIMM Post. The CPU-Z is a customized version only for ROG that reports your CPU related information. The USB BIOS Flashback is the easiest way to save your BIOS settings on a flash drive for a worry free anytime it crashes. The ROG Direct lets you monitor and tweak your voltage and frequency in real time using your iPhone or iPad. The GPU.DIMM post can easily check your memory and graphics card status in BIOS whenever a component failure arises.

This also includes The ROG bundle softwares, a 3DmarkVantage is a standard PC gaming benchmark design for Windows Vista and DirectX10. A Kaspersky anti virus is also provided to keep you safe from any malicious software programs.

The Lucid Virtu would be the main advantage of the Maximus IV Extreme-Z over the Maximus IV Extreme. This special software combines the integrated GPU of Sandy Bridge processors and the discrete GPU, with the support of DirectX 11 3D to further enhance when you’re playing 3D games. With this kind of technology, you can now enjoy both the transcoding and the 3D games without the need of switching between GPU’s.

Testing The Maximus IV Extreme-Z

The Maximus IV Extreme-Z was tested using the unlock Core i7 2600K. Setting the multiplier at 46 and keeping the BaseCLK at 100MHz, a 4.6GHz is easily achieved with a stock speed of only 3.4GHz. It was clearly noticeable a big leap of 1.2GHz on top of its 3.4GHz stock frequency.

It shows great improvement in frame rate at overclock speed in various games. Compare with the Maximus III and Rampage III which is also a top competitor, As a result, it doesn’t show much impressive but quite good enough to take the lead.

Conclusion

As we already seen that, there is no big difference between these two Extreme motherboards except for the chipset being used. I think ASUS pull out the same board and install a different chip to make it simple as well as less pain in designing a separate board.

But whatever it is, they have done a great job for those who don’t need the QuickSync and for those who are in need, will get the same great board. The Maximus IV Extreme-Z is well deserved as an enthusiast and gamer’s stuff, everything you need is in here. A generous amount of ports are provided from USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s to firewire are well design for future standard, even for 2-3 years of use you’ll never left out in technology.

We already know that all ROG motherboard are pricey because of its unbeatable performance and loaded with features. This is one thing that makes them exceptional compare with other boards. The Maximus IV Extreme-Z has a big advantage with the QuickSync for Transcoding applications. If you want to enjoy both worlds and a budget would not be a major concern here, I suggest you go for it!

Read the full Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z Review and discover the Top 5 Best Z68 Motherboard for intel Sandy Bridge processors.

Asus Maximus IV Extreme – Test setup

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