Summary

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8/10

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Asus Maximus Extreme - Asus Maximus Extreme

For instance there's a flick switch next to the CMOS battery and front panel headers that enables and disables the Clear CMOS battery on the I/O panel. This is a fine idea as the Clear CMOS button is very easy to press in error when you're installing a digital audio or Firewire device.

If you hit problems with your PC, the Maximus range includes a handy gizmo called the LCD Poster. This is a small LCD display that connects to a header on the board with wires that feed out through the I/O panel so you can sit the Poster on your desk or on top of the PC. During POST it displays messages that show you how the process is going and if you hit problems you should be able to pinpoint where the fault lies within moments.
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The other tweaks are cosmetic and add an illuminated Republic of Gamers logo to the Northbridge cooler as well as three sets of LEDS that announce to the world whether your CPU is running on Normal, High or Crazy settings. We'll come to that in a moment.

Taken together the various Extreme features are all very nice but the big question is whether you need three graphics slots on a gaming motherboard? For that matter do you even need two graphics slots? The obvious answer is that a single graphics card is perfectly adequate for most, provided you run a GeForce 8800 or Radeon HD 2900. However, if you've seen how Crysis performs on a single card, you might well feel the need to gang up two ATI cards in CrossFire. Triple graphics cards are a completely different matter as ATI Catalyst drivers don't support a third card, either for pure graphics or for physics, and we're not aware of any games that currently benefit from a third card.

Just to make sure we plugged in two HD 2900 XT cards in CrossFire and then added a Radeon X1950 GT to see what happened. The Catalyst Control Centre recognised the third card and showed a desktop that potentially spanned six screens (two monitors per graphics card) but 3DMark06 showed lower performance with three graphics cards than it did with two.
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Let's assume that triple CrossFire will be added in the coming months in which case the graphics cards will take up most of the space that's available for expansion cards, giving you the choice of using the Asus audio riser card in the top-most PCIe x1 slot or you could use the single available PCI slot for an X-Fi. There's another option as you might want to use the third PCIe slot for a RAID 5 or RAID 6 controller card along with CrossFire graphics but that would be a very exotic choice.

Provided you use the supplied bracket that carries one Firewire and two USB ports then you'll find that the Maximus Extreme offers all of the ports and connectors that you'll need.

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