Non-maximize: This changes your "internal" stat. If you have +1 Str, this acts as if you quaffed 1 potion of Str. This can mean more than a +1 bonus, since stat potions sometimes give a +2 bonus, and above 18 it can give more than a +10 percentile increase. But this only affects your "internal stat", which you can increase with stat potions anyway, so once your stats are maxed at 18/100, no race/class influence on stats will be left.
Maximize: Leaves your "internal" stat intact. If you have +1 Str, this acts as if you've "swallowed" a +1 Str ring. At all times, you'll have a bonus of exactly 1. (internal stat 15 will be 16, internal 18/20 will become 18/30). Because this does not affect the internal stat, it will still have influence on your stats even when they have been maxed with stat potions.
I always play maximize, whatever the character, because I think max stats should be influenced by race/class during the whole game.
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