Note: This article was first published on 4th May 2017.
As far as picking a motherboard goes, most folks would be happy with a mid-range board that all your components can fit into. And something like the ASUS Maximus IX Extreme comes along, with a price that is more than some motherboard and CPU bundles.
At S$1,149, this isn’t a board for the faint-hearted, and ASUS clearly designed it for only the most serious enthusiasts that are willing to splurge on a board like this.
The most striking feature is the integrated Bitspower monoblock that covers the entirety of the CPU socket. Unlike the built-in EK waterblock found on the Maximus IX Formula, the Extreme’s monoblock cools both the processor and VRM circuitry and will work with the built-in M.2 heatsink as well.
M.2 SSDs usually don’t have the luxury of their own heatsink, let alone dedicated, active cooling, and the closest we’ve seen so far is MSI’s M.2 Shield that attempts to insulate the SSD from heat from the GPU. That said, the Maximus IX Extreme’s implementation should ensure that you don’t have to worry about thermal throttling on your drive.
The inside of the Bitspower monoblock features temperature and flow rate sensors, in addition to a built-in leak detector for custom liquid-cooling loops. This builds on what we saw on the Maximus IX Formula, but is a far more comprehensive solution that features up to 12 fan connectors for both fans and water pumps.
There are also extra headers on the motherboard for monitoring temperature and flow rate, good for users who are looking at a secondary liquid-cooling loop.
As expected, ASUS dressed the board up to look good as well, and the monoblock, I/O cover, and logo can be customized using the Aura Sync utility. But the devil’s in the details, and even the 3.5mm audio jacks are illuminated by LEDs.
All this is paired with the usual features like the ROG SupremeFX audio solution, support for DDR4 4,133MHz memory, Thunderbolt 3, and onboard Wi-Fi. To cap matters off, there’s an added touch of luxury in the copper-plated edges of the PCB and the integrated I/O shield.
That said, we should point out that it only supports up to two-way SLI and three-way CrossFire, which may appear a small hindrance if you want a crazy four-way setup. Still, that’s unlikely, seeing as NVIDIA only supports up to two-way SLI on its latest Pascal GPUs.
Do you need this motherboard? Probably not. But if you’ve the cash to burn and intend to install a custom liquid-cooling loop, you’ll most definitely want to give it a look.