Two heatsinks topping the MOSFET transistors are connected with the third heatpipe. This time, we have no complaints about the cooling system design, however, the processor socket turned out surrounded by the cooling system on three sides, which may pose an obstacle when installing and removing some of the CPU coolers.
However, nothing on the reverse side of the PCB was in the way, so our Zalman CMPS9700 LED got installed without any problems.
The memory slots were shifted down for a reason. ASUS Maximus Extreme features two-phase memory voltage regulator, which ensures longer life span of the components and provides higher overclocking potential. Although the DIMMs have been placed very low, their clips will never be blocked by the installed graphics card.
If the two blue PCI Express x16 slots are occupied, then they will be working at their full speed of x16, like on other Intel X38 Express based mainboards. The third slot, if there is one, usually works at x4 speed. The Crosslinx chip and ASUS’ unique technology implemented on Maximus Extreme retain the operation speed of the first slot at x16, while the other two slots work at x8. This allows to avoid performance bottleneck because of the too slot third clot.
There is one more technology called Voltiminder LED, which you can see in action when the system is on. There are three LEDs next to the processor cooling fan connector, next to the memory DIMMs, next to the chipset North and South Bridges. If the voltage on the corresponding knot is normal, the green LED is on. If the voltage has been increased - the yellow LED is on, and if the voltage is far beyond the nominal value – the red. Frequency LED – five light emitting diodes lined up in a row – allow estimating approximately how greatly the system has been overclocked. Besides, the Power On and Reset buttons are highlighted and the decorative panel on the chipset North Bridge heatsink also lights up. As a result, the board looks very festive, although you may change or even completely disable the LED lighting from the mainboard BIOS, if you wish.
The first mainboards from the Republic of Gamers series didn’t have any eSATA ports for some reason, while the regular ASUS mainboards did have them. This time, they took care of that, and involved a JMicron JMB363 controller providing not only PATA support but also two eSATA ports laid out on the mainboard connector panel.
Two RJ45 network connectors are implemented via the Marvell 88E8056 chip; VIA VT6308P is responsible for IEEE1394. There are PS/2 connectors for keyboard and mouse and six USB 2.0 ports. Moreover, as you remember, there is also an additional bracket with two USB 2.0 and one IEEE1394 ports bundled with the board. The Clear CMOS button is situated on the mainboard rear panel, together with an optical and coaxial SPDIF. All other audio connectors and jacks are located on an individual card aka SupremeXF II. The sound is provided by the eight-channel ADI 1988B codec.
Another small but convenient trifle: I/O Shield is highlighted, which make it a lot easier to connect all the cables.
All in all, we can conclude that despite very complex layout, ASUS engineers did a really great job. ASUS Maximus Extreme features everything necessary and doesn’t have any serious drawbacks. I would like to specifically stress that it allows connecting up to 8(!) fans and set the rotation speed of three of them depending on the readings from three additional thermal diodes included with the board.