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ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact Mini-ITX (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 17, 2015 6:50 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASUS

Here are key points about the ASUS Maximus VIII Impact.

 

What's Hot

 

Extreme Overclocking DNA in a mini-ITX motherboard: The Maximus VIII Impact is a mini-ITX motherboard, and most people don't associate the two with extreme overclocking. However, since the board only has two DIMMs, prior experience would indicate much higher memory overclocking margins than four DIMM motherboards. ASUS backs this with 4133MHz memory support, and my testing seems to confirm easy XMP with higher frequency DDR4 kits. Moving the VRM to a daughterboard also allows for a much higher performance VRM, and the Maximus VIII Impact's VRM rivals that of many Z170 motherboards. BIOS support for extreme overclocking is also present, and all the OC features you need are pretty much present.

 

 

Decked out IO Panel: The IO panel is unique. Since most of the OC features won't fit on the main PCB, a tiny Impact Control PCB allows for OC feature access from the IO panel. The audio outputs also light up to differentiate between the ports, and it is quite cool.

 

Full-Size ATX Features: While the board is mini-ITX ASUS did include many full sized ATX features such as U.2, an eight phase VRM, Intel's USB 3.0, and SupremeFX Impact III audio (almost same as Maximus VIII Extreme). Intel's USB 3.0 chipset is quite a bit larger than the ASMedia option, and it would be almost impossible to fit the audio hardware onto the main PCB and still have room for other ICs. Mini-ITX motherboards are all about trade-offs between size and functionality, and ASUS decided to break the rules and added a few daughterboards, which benefit the motherboard.

 

Fan Control: One aspect of mini-ITX motherboards that is usually lacking is fan control. Many times mini-ITX boards have only a couple fan headers, but with the included fan extension card, ASUS allows users to get up to five versatile headers with full UEFI and Windows fan control.

 

What's Not

 

No M.2: One might think that M.2 and mini-ITX go hand in hand, both are very small compared to their larger counterparts and perform quite well. Other manufacturers have added M.2 to the back of their mini-ITX boards, and that works just fine for the most part. ASUS left out an M.2 slot, and I think that will disappoint some, but U.2 is present, and you can still run a high-speed Intel 750 series SSD.

 

Price Tag: The Maximus VIII Impact isn't a cheap motherboard. At $248 at the time of writing, it is not only the most expensive mini-ITX board, but it's also more expensive than the Maximus VIII Gene and the Maximus VIII Hero.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

ASUS's ROG Maximus VIII Impact totally breaks the rules of mini-ITX motherboards. It not only carries a VRM that rivals full-sized Intel Z170/X99 motherboards, but it also offers top notch audio and more OC features than many full sized boards. All this is due to ASUS taking a risk and building a unique product, which probably costs a lot more to build because of all the customized PCBs. That cost is passed down the line to the consumer, but for those who want a mini-ITX motherboard with full-sized ATX features, there is almost no other option. The one downside other than price is the fact that the board doesn't have M.2, which is kind of a mystery to me.

 

asus-rog-maximus-viii-impact-mini-itx-intel-z170-motherboard-review_124

 

If you have seen "Futurama", then you know of Leah's pet, "Lord Nibbler". Nibbler is a cute and tiny dog-like alien pet who eats other animals many times larger than itself and drops pellets used to power their spaceship. The Maximus VIII Impact is like the Nibbler of motherboards, disguised by its small size; it delivers a most powerful blow.

 

The motherboard is built for extreme overclocking as well. The voltage read points are hidden beneath the audio card that most extreme overclockers would remove during use. The two DIMMs, memory profiles, and supported memory list point towards extreme memory overclocking capabilities. If you want to build a mini-ITX system and not be constrained by the form factor, then the Maximus VIII Impact is the right choice.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance (including Overclocking)94%
Quality including Design and Build95%
General Features95%
Bundle and Packaging95%
Value for Money88%
Overall TweakTown Rating93%

The Bottom Line: The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact is quite an impressive motherboard, with extremely impressive features, packaged in a very tiny form factor.

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