ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review

We check out the latest ROG board from ASUS sporting the latest and greatest chipset from Intel, the Z68. Let's check out the Maximus IV Extreme-Z!
| Aug 9, 2011 at 12:28 am CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package

Introduction
VIEW GALLERY - 44 IMAGES

The Republic of Gamers boards from ASUS have done a great job of impressing us. In June we had a look at the Maximus IV Extreme. Moving to July, we checked out the Maximus IV Gene-Z and today we check out the Maximus IV Extreme-Z. To be honest, before I even start testing, I have a good feeling about the board simply because of the track record. But of course, we'll see just what the Maximus IV Extreme-Z is able to offer.

Before we get into the performance side of things, there are a few other areas we need to look at which is of course starting off with the package. Once we've done that, we'll get stuck in to the motherboard itself and just see what kind of features are on offer from the Maximus IV Extreme-Z. We'll fire up the BIOS and show you all those options ASUS are offering before we get into looking at our testbed, which carries with it a few changes, along with the overclocking capabilities of the board.

Once we've gone through those formalities, it's on to the benchmarking side of things to see just what kind of performance we're able to get out of the Maximus IV Extreme-Z. First, though, let's check out the package and see just what's going on.

The Package

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The box has a heap of information as it can be opened up and from one area you can see we're able to see the board itself which is always appealing. Turning to the back of the box, you can see the main feature and specification table which gives us a good run down of what exactly the board offers. We'll get more into that a little later, though.

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Moving inside the package, we've got the normal ROG bits and pieces which include some paperwork, driver CD, HDD stickers, ROG sticker and some information on the Xonar line of audio cards.

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In the cable department we've got four SATA II cables and four SATA III cables, ROG Connect, temperature probe, back plate, 3-way SLI connector, extended SLI connector and a CrossFire connector.

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Finally, we've got a USB header, Bluetooth module and Ez Connector modules. All in all, we've got a strong bundle from ASUS and we wouldn't expect anything less out of an ROG board.

The Motherboard

The Motherboard

Looking at the board, you don't have any real surprises as the Maximus IV Extreme-Z looks like the non Z version and other ROG boards with the black and red color scheme. We also get a good idea of the layout that's going on, but let's move in a little closer to see just exactly what we're dealing with here.

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Looking at the PCI-E side of things, you can see we've got a single PCIe x1, single PCIe x4 and four PCIe x16 slots. While the board carries with it the NF200 chip, when running two cards in CrossFire / SLI, those cards will run at x8 / x8. ASUS says this is because x8 / x8 is faster due to the lack of latency which exists when you start to go through the NF200 chip. For more information on this, I highly recommend you look at our own testing which yielded some interesting results.

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Outside of two cards, if you move to a three card configuration the setup is x8 / x16 / x16 and this is when we see the NF200 capabilities come into play. Normally a three card setup with a NF200 chip would run at x8 / x8 / x16, so the decision behind what ASUS has done seems to be extremely smart.

Also worth mentioning around here is above the top slot we've got a Molex connector which ASUS recommend you use if you're going for a three card setup. Just above that we also have a little red header which is a USB 3.0 header.

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Moving away from the PCI-E slots and getting into the bottom of the board, we can see another Molex connector on the far left. This will help give some more power to the board if you're opting for a multi VGA setup. Next to that we've got a bunch of headers including; front panel audio, system fans and four USB 2.0 headers. Next to those headers we've got our front panel header and a little switch which gives us the ability to switch between the two BIOS'. Each BIOS has an LED that corresponds to it and as you click the button, the LED will switch showing which BIOS is active.

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Turning the corner, you can see we've got eight SATA headers. We've got four gray which are SATA II and run off the Z68 chipset and four red which are SATA III. The two red that are closest to the grey run off the Z68 chip and should be your first option, while the other two run off the Marvell 9182 controller. Like the Maximus IV Extreme, I would've liked to have seen ASUS use maybe a different color for the Marvel instead of being the same red as the Intel based ones, but it's not the end of the world. You'll just want to make sure you're using the Intel controlled SATA III ports ideally.

The Motherboard Continued

The Motherboard Continued

As we start to head up towards the top of the board, you can see we've got a fair bit going on. The most standard features include our four DIMM slots which support RAM up to 2400MHz DDR and our main ATX power connector. In the bottom corner you can see our LED readout debug and next to that we have a little switch that switches the board over to "LN2 Mode".

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Moving further along, we've got a bunch of little points that are designed to tell us what voltage certain parts of the board are running at. This is achieved with the help of the little headers that are included in the package. Above these points we've got a Power and Reset button and the other stand out up here is the little red GO Button which loads a preset BIOS.

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Getting into the CPU area, you can see our 8-Pin CPU power connector and the socket area which has that meaty looking ROG heatsink surrounding the board. This is one of the better quality heatsinks on the market and just feels extremely well made.

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Turning the corner and getting into the I/O side of things, you can see we've got a combo PS/2 port, 8x USB 3.0 controlled via the NEC USB 3.0 controller, 1x USB 2.0 ROG Connect port, two eSATA controlled via the JMicron 362 controller, optical and 8-Channel Audio connectivity via the Realtek ALC880 codec along with an ROG Connect and Clear CMOS switch.

BIOS

BIOS

Getting into the M4E-Z BIOS, there's nothing that we haven't seen before really; not just from the M4E, but other ROG based boards we've seen from ASUS. There's just a huge line up of options and as you work through the BIOS you can see why the ROG series of boards offer such strong overclocks.

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Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

As we move into a new month, we're making some changes to our testbed and benchmark line-up. We won't get too much into it as everything is really shown above and in the coming pages. Instead we'll just get into the overclocking side of things on our ASUS Maximus IV Extreme-Z

Getting into the BIOS, we expected big things again from ASUS and as usual, the company didn't disappoint. We ended up pushing our multiplier up to x53 and base clock to 101.5.

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As you can see from above, this resulted in our CPU coming in at 5381MHz or 5.38GHz as listed in our graphs. This is a strong overclock and should yield some strong performance over the stock 3.4GHz clock that's present on the 2600k.

Due to the new line-up when it comes to the hardware we're using today and the benchmarks, we're only comparing the ASUS board against itself in both stock and overclocked form. We already have a good idea of how the Z68 chipset goes against other chipsets and motherboards, so it wasn't really worth worrying too much about retesting them again today.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Under HyperPi you can see what that overclock does for performance. We're able to shave a full 33% off our time here.

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at AIDA64, we can again see the strong performance increase that is seen when we overclock our system so high.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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Getting into one of our newly added benchmarks, we can continue to see the strong gains that overclocking brings to overall performance as we get a jump of over 1000 points here.

MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater™ video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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Looking at our encoding time, we can see we're able to shave a good four minutes off the total time when it comes to converting our 1080p rip to an iPad 2 friendly format and resolution.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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USB performance in general is strong and you can see when it comes to overclocking there is no difference, as you'd expect. We do also get a really good idea of USB 3.0 performance when compared to USB 2.0 here as well.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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SSD performance is strong as you'd hope and when it comes to the overclocking side of things, we really see no difference, which is exactly what you'd expect.

HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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HD Tune Pro just helps reiterate the strong performance with some good looking numbers across the board.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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At stock, memory performance is strong just as you'd expect. Overclocked, though, you can see a massive boost in performance with the best gains as always being seen in the write department.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Under 3DMark 11 we can see a little boost to our Performance score as we overclock the system. In the X preset and across Metro 2033, though, we don't see the overclock bring much extra in terms of added performance due to the fact we're not CPU limited.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Power draw at stock is good and while it jumps when we're overclocked, it's not too much and a good quality 600 Watt power supply won't run into any dramas with the setup we're looking at today.

Core Temperature

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While our core temperature of course sky rockets when we're overclocked due to the extra voltage running through the system, at idle we can see that the numbers look good and don't show us anything to worry about.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Due to the similarities between the P67 chipset and the Z68, ASUS have been able to power through the release of the Maximus IV Extreme-Z. Using that great foundation found on the P67 version and adding in the Z68 chipset, you've just got a board that stands out from the pack of Z68 boards we've already looked at.

At $359.99 US the Maximus IV Extreme-Z might be one of the more expensive Z68 boards we've looked at, but the bottom line is that performance speaks volumes and this board manages to speak it very loudly.

You combine the stuff we love about ASUS with the stuff that we love about the ROG series of boards, throw them together with a nice bundle, and you've just got a motherboard that anyone with a K series Intel CPU will want.

The ROG line continues to give us the strongest overclocks to date on our 2600k and when it comes down to it all, that's going to be one of the most important features when buying such a high end board.

There's not much else that can be really said about the board that we haven't already expressed. Sure, it's a little more expensive than some of the other Z68 offerings we've looked at, but the old line "You get what you pay for" holds so much truth here.

If you're happy to spend a few more dollars over the competition, the Maximus IV Extreme-Z from ASUS is a board you should be looking at. It ticks all the right boxes, and because of that, we can't recommend it enough to people. It will be so interesting to see what ASUS do with the next generation LGA 2011 platform when it finally hits us later this year or early next.

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Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:30 pm CDT

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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