X38 Comparison Part 1: DDR2 Motherboards

BIOS And Overclocking

Asus includes several interesting features in its Maximus Formula BIOS, such as a CPU voltage damper for reducing "voltage droop" under heavy loads and "Overclock By CPU Level" settings to assist newbie overclockers in approximating the performance of faster processor models. CPU "OC" levels for our Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 include an "X6800" speed approximation using a 366 MHz bus clock, an "E6850" setting using a 375 MHz bus clock and "Crazy" mode at a 437 MHz bus clock.

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BIOS Frequency and Voltage settings (for overclocking)
FSB Frequency200 - 800 MHz (1 MHz)
Clock Multiplier AdjustmentYes
DRAM FrequencyFSB clock x 1.0, 1.2, 1.6, 2.0
PCIe Clock100 - 150 MHz (1 MHz)
CPU Vcore1.10 - 1.90 - 2.30 Volts (0.00625/0.0250 Volts)
CPU FSB Voltage1.20 - 2.00 Volts (0.02 Volts)
Northbridge (MCH)1.25 - 1.80 Volts (0.02 Volts)
Southbridge (ICH)1.05 - 1.225 Volts (0.025 Volts)
DRAM Voltage1.80 - 3.40 Volts (0.02 Volts)
CAS Latency Range
tCAS: 3-7; tRCD: 3-18; tRP: 3-18; tRAS: 3-34

Every Maximus Formula frequency or voltage setting is more than adequate, but the most ridiculously high are an FSB limit of 800 MHz (FSB3200) and a DRAM voltage of 3.40V. Extreme overclockers will appreciate the excess, while less experienced users will need to tread very carefully.

We were able to reach a 505 MHz FSB clock (FSB2020) with our E6750 processor at 1.60 volts and its default 8x multiplier, resulting in a 4.04 GHz CPU speed. That would have seemed high prior to the release of Intel's P35 Express, but today such speeds are easily exceeded by top boards. Dropping the CPU multiplier to 6x allowed a more respectable 541 MHz stable FSB clock, matching the best of our previous P35 results.


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Documentation & SoftwareMotherboard ManualMotherboard Driver DVDStalker Game DVD
Hardware1x SupremeFX II audio module1x Chipset Water Cooling Connector Kit6x Cable Ties1x 80-conductor Ultra ATA cable1x Floppy Cable6x SATA Data Cable1x 4-pin to SATA power adapter (two-device)1x Port Breakout Plate (2x USB, 1x IEEE-1394)1x Heatpipe Cooling Fan (Supplemental)1x LCD Diagnostics Display Module1x I/O Panel Shield1x Asus Q-Connector Kit1x Asus Case Badge

The Maximus Formula Special Edition support kit stands apart from the "ordinary" Maximus Formula by including clamps and adapters for attaching its chipset cooling block to the majority of liquid cooling systems. Liquid cooling users who would rather forgo the chipset cooler can instead use the supplemental heatpipe cooling fan to replace the air circulation normally created by a CPU cooling fan.

The remaining assortment of accessories is equally pleasing. Asus includes cables for all six of its Serial ATA ports, an LCD POST status display, bonus applications and the popular game Stalker: Shadow Of Chernobyl. While the $40 "bonus" game gets most of the attention, bundled software packages on the motherboard support DVD include Kaspersky Anti-Virus, Corel Snapfire Plus SE, several Asus utilities, trial software and shareware.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • firesteel
    What happened to this motherboard? I don't see it for sale at places like tigerdirect. Newegg say it's discontinued. Has it been replaced by a newer model or something?