PCB Design and Functionality
Tastes differ, but I think that quite a few people will be puzzled by the looks of ASUS Maximus Extreme at first glance. It looks very unusual. There are a lot of components that may seem confusing, the low-sitting DIMM slots may cause some concerns, but most questions are obviously connected with the massive cooling system where smooth rounded lines of some components hardly go together with edgy rough shapes of other.
However, I would like to defend the cooling system right from the start. Yes, it may look not very fine or inharmonious, but it is highly practical. It works extremely efficiently. We can even consider it the result of ASUS’ error correction to some extent, because the first version of chipset cooling aka Fusion Block System that could also be connected to a liquid-cooling system was introduced on ASUS Blitz Formula and ASUS Blitz Extreme mainboards. This is what it looked like:
So, a pretty hot Crosslinx chip is located between the PCI Express x16 slots and there is a heatpipes connecting it to the chipset South Bridge. Both chips are covered with heat-spreaders, not heatsinks. A small water block on top of the chipset North Bridge may be efficient enough to cool the chip, however, if you use air-cooling, like most users, then the heat generated by these three micro-chips and MOSFET transistors will have to be dissipated by a small heatsink enhanced with an additional unit on the rear panel. As a result, all these components will run pretty warm, so if you need to raise the chipset voltage quite noticeably, then you simply have to have a liquid-cooling system in place. The cooling system used on ASUS Maximus Extreme had to ensure proper cooling of the same number of components, however, the heat dissipation of the Intel X38 Express chipset is higher than that of P35. And they did make the right conclusions.
A large heatsink tops the Crosslinx chip and ICH9R South Bridge chip at the same time. It is not just a heat-spreader anymore, but a fully-fledged heatsink, though not a very tall one for obvious reasons. There are two heatpipes that lead from this heatsink to the cooling complex on top of the chipset North Bridge.
As you see, now the water block is enhanced with an additional heatsink that will not go to waste if you are not using any liquid-cooling in your system. Since this part of the system turned out pretty large, it is fastened using a backplate on bottom of the PCB.
One of the two heatpipes coming out of the chipset South Bridge leads to the base of the North Bridge heatsink. The other one continues beneath the additional heatsink and ends only between the MOSFET heatsink and an additional rear panel unit.
In fact, it is all a solid heatsink and the separate parts we mentioned are simply just parts of a solid system. The solid heatsink can dissipate the heat more effectively. Moreover, it has become significantly larger than a similar heatsink on ASUS Blitz Formula or ASUS Blitz Extreme.