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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

Packaging and Overview

 

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To convey the size of the motherboard box, I included my camera's cap in the picture. It's quite a tiny box. The motherboard is well protected in its mini box, and the accessories are packaged adequately.

 

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The board comes with a healthy amount of accessories; fan extension card (and cable), 4x SATA6Gb/s cables, front panel audio extension cable, CPU installation tool, one thermistor, wireless Ac antenna, CPU installation tool, IO shield, ROG case badge, ROG stickers, cable stickers, manuals, and driver DVD.

 

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The ASUS Maximus VIII Impact has two onboard fan headers (circled in blue) that work in PWM or DC mode, and a single thermistor input circled in green. A fan extension card is provided which adds three fan headers and three thermistor inputs. The fan extension card overcomes one of the challenges of mini-ITX motherboards; limited fan headers. Since PCB space is low, the number of chips and ports has to be balanced, but by adding many daughterboards, ASUS can get around many of the pitfalls of mini-ITX motherboards. The back of the motherboard isn't bare; instead there are multiple chips used to support different functions.

 

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The IO panel on the Maximus VIII Impact is unique. Impact Control III provides OC features on a small PCB which can be accessed through the IO panel on the back of the case. These OC features include a POST code display as well as, BIOS flashback, ClearCMOS, power, and reset buttons. Apart from the Impact Control III panel, ASUS provides S/PDIF, HDMI, 4x USB 3.0, wireless AC antenna connectors, 1Gbit Intel NIC, Intel USB 3.1 type-A and type-C, and finally the SupremeFX Impact III audio card outputs which provide three illuminated ports (red=mic, green=out, blue=input).

 

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Like the majority of mini-ITX motherboards, the Maximus VIII Impact has a single PCI-E 16x slot for a GPU and two DDR4 DIMMs. It also has four SATA6Gb/s ports and an internal USB 3.0 header. The memory overclocking on the Maximus VIII Impact is also supposed to be extremely strong, stronger than the majority of the motherboards on the market because of the reduced DIMM count.

 

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The 24-pin system power connector and 8-pin CPU power connector are located side by side for easy insertion. ASUS decided to input a U.2 port that can be used with Intel's latest NVMe drives, and ASUS hopes the adoption of U.2 will become more popular because of the power and thermal restrictions that M.2 faces. There is a DIP socket for the BIOS ROM, and two jumpers provide LN2 mode and Slow-Mode functionality.

 

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ASUS's SupremeFX Impact III audio card provides high-quality audio improvements to such a tiny motherboard. If the codec was forced onto the board, then it would be hard to add high-quality capacitors, a discrete DAC, as well as an amplifier. This audio card provides all these things and a little more. The audio card also has HD audio connector jumpers facing the power connectors.

 

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One large pitfall of the mini-ITX motherboard is the fact that a hefty VRM cannot fit on the board, ASUS overcomes this by moving the VRM off the main board. The Impact Power card uses gold plated copper connections to supply power to the CPU and memory. The gold plating ensures the copper doesn't corrode. To ensure that the power delivered to the CPU is clean and unfazed by the off-board converter, the capacitors are located on the main PCB. The card has full heat sinks as well.

 

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A tiny hole is present in the CPU socket for extreme overclockers to place their own thermocouple under the CPU to get more precise temperature readings.

 

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The PCH and VRM heat sinks make excellent contact with their components.

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