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ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 9, 2015 9:10 pm
TweakTown Rating: 95%Manufacturer: ASUS

Circuit Analysis

 

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The Maximus VIII Extreme in its birthday suit.

 

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Counting phases on the Z170 platform isn't as simple as it used to be. Four major voltage rails are present and on the Maximus VIII Extreme the CPU is fed by a 8 (VCC) + 4 (VCCGT) +1 (VCCSA) + 1 (VCCIO). Each phase consists of an integrated dual N-Channel MOSFET and is driven by an IR3535 single phase driver located on the back of the PCB. ASUS is using their new MicroFine Alloy Chokes designed with smaller, and more uniform, granules that result in more gaps, that increase permeability and result in a more stable magnetic field. The capacitors used are rated at 10K @ 95C, and many ROG fans refer to their color as "gunmetal black".

 

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ASUS rebrands their PWMs, but I believe I can confirm that the two Digi+ PWMs on this motherboard used for the CPU VRM are in fact International Rectifier IR35201. They are using the same batch number styling as I have seen on IR35201 (look at the "C5216W" written at the bottom of the numbering). Nevertheless, the IR35201 is the top digital PWM used on Z170 motherboards designed for overclocking; it is almost like a pre-requisite for an overclocking motherboard as IR's reputation in the market is almost unrivaled. Recently, International Rectifier was acquired by Infineon, and ASUS is utilizing Infineon dual N-Channel MOSFETs. Each CPU VCore and iGPU phase gets its own Infineon OptiMOS BSC0812ND rated at 50A. Each OptiMOS has one high-side and one low-side MOSFET inside a single package and these are top notch parts, the best ASUS has used on a Z170 motherboard so far. I should also mention that there is zero phase doubling or sharing.

 

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The tinier the MOSFET, the harder it is to identify, and since ASUS has also rebranded the memory PWM I don't know what they are using. It is safe to say that ASUS would not short change their Maximus VIII Extreme, and I would venture to guess that this two-phase memory VRM will fuel any DDR4 overclocking excursions. For extra BLCK overclocking, ASUS is utilizing an IDT6V41538NLG clock generator. For the VCCIO ASUS is utilizing a fully integrated TPS51362 10A converter. The VCCSA is powered by an Anpec single phase PWM and two PowerPAK MOSFETs.

 

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ASUS's fan extension card has multiple circuits for fan control and temperature inputs including an NCT7802Y and a Winbond W83L6036.

 

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ASUS had the Maximus VIII Extreme certified by Intel to support ThunderBolt 3.0. The new Thunderbolt specification requires higher quality power delivery and certification takes a long time that is possibly why we see motherboards with the technology coming to market only now. ASUS is using Intel's TB3/USB 3.1 chip previously known as Alpine Ridge. The marking L6540 is very similar to the DSL6540 found on other motherboards with Intel USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3.0. To support the type-C port and USB power delivery specifications, a Texas Instruments TPS65982 is utilized. I also spotted an EJ179S chip used to expand USB power delivery specifications.

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