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Asus Maximus Extreme
Maximus is the most recent addition to the Republic of Gamers family of motherboards and they're so new that, at the time of writing, the Asus UK website doesn't carry any details, so you'll need to check out the Republic of Gamers website for details.
There are three models of this X38 chipset motherboard. The basic Maximus Formula has all of the usual X38 features including dual PCIe 2.0 graphics slots, support for the latest Penryn Core 2 CPUs and an extensive cooling system that links the chipset and power regulation hardware. This model supports DDR2 memory.
The second model is a variant called Maximus Formula SE (Special Edition), which adds a Fusion cooling block on the Northbridge so you can hook the chipset into your water cooling system without changing any hardware. The SE costs the same as the regular Maximus and is, to borrow a phrase, available while stocks last.
The third and final variant is the Maximus Extreme which is the motherboard that we're reviewing here. Extreme takes the Maximus concept to a new level by adding a third PCI Express graphics slot that's controlled by a Crosslinx chip positioned next to the Southbridge. If you install a pair of graphics cards in the two main PCIe slots then each card gets 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 in the usual X38 chipset style. Crosslinx works its magic when you install a third graphics card as the main slot gets 16 lanes while the other two slots get eight lanes of PCIe each.
We have to sound a note of caution here. X38 supports PCIe 2.0, or Gen 2 as it is known. The Crosslink chip is Gen 1 so we have to wonder what will happen when you plug in two or three or ATI's forthcoming Radeon R680 cards, which will support PCIe 2.0
Asus has modified its chipset cooling package to accommodate the Crosslinx chip so the Southbridge cooler on the Maximus is much larger than the regular Maximus cooler. However, it is very low profile and won't interfere with any graphics card that you may have installed. A few components have been moved around to accommodate the new cooler so the Firewire and USB 2.0 headers are in the corner of the board next to the six laid-down SATA II connectors. The illuminated Power and Reset micro buttons that have previously lived at the foot of the motherboard are now positioned between the IDE connector and memory slots. These changes means you have to play hide and seek to spot the handful of new features that have been added to the Extreme as they are quite small details.
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