ASUS ROG Maximus V Formula Motherboard Review

 

Features - Software and Utilities

AI Suite II

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We loved the graphical touches and modularity of AI Suite II when we first laid eyes on it during our review of the ASUS P8Z77 V Pro. From the looks of it, not a single thing about the interface is different, which is a very good thing. Having the same class of adjusment and tuning from within the OS as from within the UEFI BIOS is a serious boon for those unfamiliar with advanced system settings and overclocking. Navigation and tweaking of all manner of system settings is intuitive and the various statistics are presented in an easy to understand manner. Perhaps the most, shall we say, ‘dumbed down’ feature of AI Suite II is the ‘CPU Level Up’ function found under the TuboV EVO overclocking pane. The program presents you with three levels of overclocking, which are predetermined by the CPU that you have installed in your system. Our rig happened to be running on Intel’s 3rd gen Core i5-3570k, resulting in small, moderate, and high OC levels of 4.2, 4.4, and 4.6 GHz respectively. This is where countless hours of stability testing in the ASUS labs have really paid off, as it takes some of the edge off of enthusiasts who might not be sure how hard they can push their systems without maintaining a bit of headroom.

It is important to keep in mind that ASUS has no way of knowing what type of cooling setup you have installed, so be sure to consider what kind of TDP you are dealing with before maxing out the CPU on a first try. While we were successful in overclocking to 4.6 GHz, the heat generated by the CPU under full load broke into the 80°C range despite the best efforts of a Cooler Master V6 GT. Cooling issues aside, ASUS certainly has done their part to deliver one of the most hassle-free OS-based overclocking interfaces that you will ever come across.

Of course there’s more to TurboV EVO than just the Level Up function. Those wanting to set a specific CPU ratio can enter the aptly named ‘CPU Ratio’ window. One can tune all four cores separately or as a group. Unlike the CPU Level UP, the effects here are immediate and don’t require a reboot. Users with a higher degree of background knowledge can tab into an ‘Advanced Mode where they can tweak all the voltages they desire. Be it scary or liberating, nothing seems to be off limits here.

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menuThose with a passion for knowing every detail about what is going on inside their system will love what they see upon clicking the ‘Tool’ button. There is a total of eleven utilities to take advantage of, including the already mentioned TurboV EVO. DIGI+ Power Control is the next item on the list. The main motivation behind the thermal, voltage, and current controls offered here is that they can increase the overclocking potential of your system. Besides the requisite CPU settings, you can also OC your memory here. If being green is more your thing, the board’s architecture has been designed in accordance with Intel VRD (Voltage Regulator Down) 12.5 to limit CPU power usage to either 45W or 35W. Bringing up the topic of saving power allows us to segue into the next item on ASUS’ list of tools; the EPU. The EPU isn’t just another chip, it’s actually a hardware chip controller that dynamically adjusts the Voltage Regulator Module (VRM) ‘load line’ for the most stable environment under overclocking or power saving modes. Three modes are available: Auto, High Performance, and Maximum Power Saving. You can configure the way the system responds to each of these modes or just stick with the stock settings. For a high level view of what these toggles do to your computer, ASUS has provided a sort of ‘mood pentagon’ to highlight the direction your system is leaning.

Everyone knows that a well-cooled gaming rig is a happy gaming rig. If you’ve ever wished to control the behavior of 3-pin and 4-pin fans individually, then you’re probably going to appreciate what Fan Xpert II has to offer. The ‘Smart Mode’ gives users the chance to adjust the reaction speed of their fans to increasing temps. The ‘R.P.M. Fix Mode’ operates just as it sounds, fixing the fan speed in place until you decide to move the slider. As can be expected, there are three predefined modes of operation on the front page: Silent, Standard, and Turbo. But all these bells and whistles don’t mean much if the user cannot compare the relative power between fans, which is why ASUS implemented the ‘Fan Auto Tuning’ function. Turn it on, and the program will probe through any fans connected to the board’s 4-pin connectors, turning the fan up to max speed and then all the way down to idle to establish a performance curve. You can even go so far as to label the fans according to their position inside the chassis.

The final big-ticket-item contained within AI Suite II is the Wi-Fi GO! engine. Media streaming via desktop PCs is becoming more and more popular, and Wi-Fi GO! comes with several utilities to cater to such habits. If you possess a DLNA certified smart TV or Blu Ray player, the DLNA Media Hub gives you the means to enjoy the music, movies, and pictures stored on your desktop hard drive from the comfort of your living room. If getting up to touch the keyboard or mouse sounds like too much work, you can download the Wi-Fi GO! Remote application from the Apple Store or Google Play Store. Waving your phone to switch scenes, typing out an instant message, or even viewing your full desktop can all be accomplished with the app. Speaking from firsthand experience, the app is actually quite fluid and responsive. Because everything operates in landscape mode, the menus never felt cramped, although I can only imagine that the experience would fare much better on a 10” tablet rather than a 4.3” phone.

 

ROG GameFirst II

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Even if you claim to have the best gaming rig in the world, it all means nothing if your performance on the battlefield is hindered by a poor network connection. However, managing the speed of your connection can be an exercise in frustration as you try to hack your way through a field of networking jargon that even IT specialists have a difficult time understanding. With GameFirst, all that Greek speech happens in the background, so you can get back to focusing on the game and not how miserable your ping is. Much like the EZ Mode of the UEFI BIOS, the GameFirst EZ Mode offers an intuitive interface that reports just the information you care about. What adapter am I running on? What's my IP? What nagging programs are taking up my precious bandwidth and how can I kill them? All of these questions can be answered by a quick glance at the EZ Mode front page. The entire GameFirst system is based on cFosSpeed software, which was built from the ground up for traffic shaping and reducing latency. It can also be assigned to accelerate and tune network performance for both wired and wireless connections.

 

ROG Connect

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If you thought that real-time performance tuning via an externally connected laptop was something reserved for the racetrack, think again. You can monitor the "telemetry" of your very own motherboard by jacking into the ROG Connect USB port on the rear I/O. Those without a Windows USB-equipped laptop can make due with a Bluetooth equipped iOS or Android device. The RC TweakIt application gives you access to nearly everything you'd expect from TurboV EVO like voltages, currents, ratios, temps and fan speeds. Post codes can be viewed ini string format and the CMOS can be cleared. You can even overclock your system on the fly, so you never have to leave the action happening on the main screen. Being able to utilize an existing laptop and avoid having to purchase a dedicated 5.25" controller to monitor active temperatures and voltages is a great convenience. Additionally, ROG Connect takes no CPU resources, as it is implemented on a hardware level.

 

ROG Exchange

Ever wonder what settings pro overclockers use to get just the right mix of performance and stability? As a technical amateur or OC professional, you can browse all of the BIOS OC profiles submitted to the ROG Exchange database or submit your very own. Getting the right formula (pun intended) is simple. Just login with your ASUS member account under AI Suite II, filter by BIOS version and CPU, then download the profile. ROG Exchange members can rate, like, and comment on each other’s profiles, which really lends a sense of community to the overclocking experience. Those who purchase a ROG motherboard as a first step into the world of overclocking are sure to appreciate being able to count on an OC profile that has been highly rated and liked by many. And who knows if an even better profile will arrive on the site a month later? Crowd-sourced stability testing is a beautiful thing, no matter if you’re seasoned, or just getting started.

 

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