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ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review

Does a Mini-ITX board deserve the ASUS ROG tag? There's only one way to find out - let's check out the tiny, yet feature-packed Maximus VI Impact.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Wed, Aug 21 2013 10:42 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 97%Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Package

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VIEW GALLERY - 42 IMAGES

I'm not going to go into too much detail on the Mini-ITX platform because the chances are if you're a fan of the platform like myself, you would've read our recent coverage of Mini-ITX boards that have arrived recently. One thing we do notice about the platform, though, is that come launch time of a new chipset, most companies don't pay too much attention to it.

Saying that, though, the one company that seems to always be ready with a Mini-ITX board at launch of a new chipset is ASRock. The ASRock Z87E-ITX did a good job of impressing us. It came in at a good price and was pretty much everything you'd expect from a Mini-ITX motherboard. More recently, though, we saw both MSI and GIGABYTE bring Mini-ITX boards out. Both the MSI Z87I and GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI impressed us and really gave us a few more options.

When it comes to the major motherboards players, the only company that was missing from the Mini-ITX game was ASUS. Well, that is until today. I must admit when it came to pulling the new ASUS Maximus VI Impact out of the box, I found myself extremely impressed. It was all looking very good for ASUS from first glance. But what we really couldn't wait to find out was just what this new motherboard from ASUS was capable of. So, let's not delay any longer, and just get stuck straight into it.

Package

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While the box of the Maximus VI Impact may be small, thanks to the opening flap on the front, we've got an absolute wealth of information on offer. The whole design is very typical ROG and the front gives us the model number and a couple of logos. Opening up the flap, you can see across the top some of the main features are highlighted. This includes the SupremeFX Impact audio component, along with the mPCIe Combo II card, which offers a ton of features for something so small.

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As we move to the bottom of the box, we can see some of the included software technologies like GameFirst II and RAMDisk, along with mention of Daemon Tools Pro and Kaspersky Anti-Virus being included at the bottom. In the middle, you can see a lot of focus is being placed on the Impact Power system. The back of the box goes on again to highlight some of those main features that are covered and give us a run down on the main specifications and a look at the I/O plate at the back of the board.

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Starting to move inside the box you can see the standard inclusions like User Guide, Driver CD, four SATA cables and our rear I/O back plate. Along with that you can see we've also got an extra cable that plugs into your front panel connector. Those leads are then extended making plugging in everything just that little bit easier. Moving away from here, though, is where the bundle becomes a lot more interesting.

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Above you can see the SupremeFX Impact adapter that is installed to the motherboard. We'll take a closer look at how it connects in the next page. While we see so many motherboards just offer a Realtek solution for Audio, with this we get ROG SupremeFX Impact 8-Channel High Definition Audio. A clear step up from so many other motherboards.

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Along with the SurpremeFX Impact we've also got an antenna for the wireless card that is installed on the included mPCIe Combo II card that can be seen above. Along with the wireless card that includes support for Wi-Fi 802.11 A/C and Bluetooth 4.0, we have a NGFF (M.2) or Next Generation Form Factor port. Aimed to replace both mPCIe and mSATA, this new connection is optimized for SSD performance and one we should see show up more and more in the coming months.

ASUS Maximus VI Impact Motherboard

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 11 | TweakTown.com

Taking a look at the board you can see it's that typical small Mini-ITX format and ultimately we get a good idea of just what's going on with the board from this view. We'll move in a bit closer, though, and start to look at everything in more detail.

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Looking across the bottom of the board, you can see we've got the standard single PCIe x16 slot. On the left side of this, though, we have something that we're not used to seeing normally with two other connectors being present.

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Moving in a little closer you can see the two connectors a little bit closer. These are for the SurpremeFX Impact and the mPCIe Combo II card. We'll take a closer look at both these connectors with the cards installed when we get to the I/O department.

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As we turn the corner you can see we've got a fair bit going on with the right side of the board, with the standard two DIMM slots which support up to 16GB of DDR3 ranging from 1333MHz to 3000MHz DDR via overclocking. Here you can see four SATA III ports behind, while in front we've got a USB 3.0 connector on the left followed by a Start Button, main 24-pin ATX power connectors and 8-pin CPU power connector. The 8-pin connector is a rarity as we tend to see Mini-ITX boards offer only 4-pin.

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Around the CPU area you can see that ASUS has opted for a setup that's different to what we've seen from other companies. The Impact Power system sits in a card like style and includes an awesome looking heatsink which under sits BlackWing Chokes and 10K Black Metallic Caps. By using something like this ASUS has a higher quality power system that takes up more room than a Mini-ITX board would normally allow. The end result is belter quality power and still plenty of room around the CPU area.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 16 | TweakTown.com

While you normally head over to the I/O side of things and don't find anything too exciting, the same can't be said about the Maximus VI Impact's I/O area. We've got a number of standard features including DisplayPort, HDMI, optical out, four USB 2.0, four USB 3.0, eSATA and Gigabit networking. What really stands out, though, is the additional card on the left that's inserted between the video and USB 2.0 connectors. On here we have an LED debug readout, BIOS reset button, ROG Connect, Direct Key and MemOK!.

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If we install the two additional cards, the SurpremeFX Impact and mPCIe Combo II card, you can see that we get three auxiliary plugs thrown into the mix. The Combo II card doesn't add anything else to the I/O connectivity, but you can see just how it sits when installed.

BIOS

Heading into the BIOS is a very standard affair. While the board might be small, you can see we've got a fully featured ROG BIOS.

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As always, if you're in the BIOS, the chances are you're going to be doing some overclocking and that's all done under the Extreme Tweaker section, which you can see above.

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Outside of the Extreme Tweaker section, you've got all the standard options you'd expect from an ASUS BIOS.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital, MemoRight and Corsair.

What we're really interested in seeing today is the performance of the ASUS Maximus VI Impact against other Z87 Mini-ITX motherboards we've looked at recently. Two of those said boards are the MSI Z87I and GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI. Along with those two Mini-ITX boards, we've also got the GIAGBYTE Z87X-OC, MSI Z77A-GD65 Gaming and GIGBYTE X79S-UP5-WIFI to round off the collection today.

As always, before we get into the performance of the board, we check in and investigate overclocking. While no board has yet been able to give us 5GHz stable on our CPU, we always like to try it. With everything setup, we got into Windows at 5GHz with no problem. This isn't the first board to do this and getting into Windows isn't the biggest surprise. Although, we must admit a certain amount of shock when it fires straight up on a Mini-ITX motherboard.

Once in Windows, we fired up MediaEspresso to see if the CPU clock was stable. With little surprise, our system froze up fairly quickly. Heading back into the BIOS, we moved to the 49x Multiplier, which resulted in our CPU running at 4.9GHz. We headed back into Windows again, fired up MediaEspresso and completed it with no issue.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

With everything looking good at 4.9GHz, we headed back into the BIOS to see if we could do a bit of BCLK fine tuning. To date, though, this has not been possible. Again this was a problem we ran into here and in the end you can see we ended up with a final clock speed of 4900.1MHz or 4.9GHz.

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 30 | TweakTown.com

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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ASUS ROG Maximus VI Impact (Intel Z87) Mini-ITX Motherboard Review 32 | TweakTown.com

Starting off with our CPU benchmarks we can see that the ASUS Maximus VI Impact lines up with the MSI Z87I under Hyper Pi. The GIGABYTE Z87N-WIFI manages to come in a little bit faster, though.

AIDA64 sees the ASUS offering fall in between the two models. Overall, though, you can see the numbers are quiet similar across the board when it comes to checking them out under AIDA64.

When it comes to the overclocking side of things, you can see a strong boost in performance, with a very noticeable difference being seen under both benchmarks.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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Moving into our system benchmarks, we can see some excellent performance coming out of the ASUS Maximus VI Impact out of the box. Looking at PCMark 7, you can see it manages to sneak out ahead of the other Mini-ITX offerings, and under MediaEspresso, you can see that only eight seconds separate all three boards.

Overclocking as always brings with it an excellent boost in performance, and under MediaEspresso we can see the real-world benefits of overclocking.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Checking out the performance of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 devices are as you'd expect - very little separates the boards we've got here today.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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Checking out the performance of our SSD, we've got some excellent numbers coming from the ASUS Maximus VI Impact. Under AIDA64, we can see that the Begin is pretty much in line with the best. You can see that when it comes to the End and the Random numbers, though, it's ahead of everything else.

HD Tune Pro sees the Minimum sit in the middle of the pack, but against the Z87 offerings, we can see that the Maximum and Average are ahead of the other setups and by a decent chunk in some areas.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Memory numbers are fairly standard across the board with all the boards lining up fairly close to each other. When overclocking is thrown into the mix, you can see that nothing much changes - this is common on the latest Intel Z87 platform.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Gaming performance is very similar across the board here. Overclocking, as usual, doesn't do much in increasing performance.

What's interesting, though, is normally we'd see a slight bump in the 3DMark 11 Performance number when overclocking, in this instance we see not much change at all.

Temperature and Power

Power Consumption

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Out of the box, the power draw numbers on the ASUS Maximus VI Impact sit a little higher than the other boards. Considering the amount of features that are placed on this tiny board, it doesn't come as a huge surprise to us, and while it's higher, it's only slightly higher.

Looking at load numbers, though, we can see that it's fairly standard. Overclocking as always brings a bump in both areas, but the numbers aren't at worrying levels.

Core Temperature

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Looking above, you can see the idle number sits a little higher than the other Z87 boards. Load numbers at stock are fairly standard, though, and you can see it falls in between the other Z87 offerings.

Overclocking doesn't change the idle temperature at all, but you can see that the load jumps up. What's surprising, though, is that it doesn't jump up to that 99c number that we see most the time. While not far off it, when we're hitting almost 100c (throttling point), every degree we can get away from it is appreciated.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

Pricing on the ASUS Maximus VI Impact has just popped up online and it's higher than I thought it would be. I knew that it would carry a premium price tag, and a big one at that. When you consider the ASUS Z87I-DELUXE already comes in at $179.99, it was obvious an ROG variant of the Mini-ITX offering was going to come in higher than that.

Coming in at $229.99 at the time of writing, the ASUS Maximus VI Impact isn't just an expensive motherboard by Mini-ITX standards, but it's an expensive motherboard by normal standards. When it comes to our scoring system, though, everything is relative. While the price of the board is high, it's also extremely small, and what ASUS has managed to do with such a tiny foot print feels like nothing short of amazing.

While we've been saying for a while now that just because you go for a Mini-ITX motherboard, it doesn't mean that you have to sacrifice a ton of stuff. That holds a lot of truth when it comes to comparing to your general motherboard. Saying that, though, the Mini-ITX platform still misses out on a lot of things when it comes to comparing truly top-end motherboards.

That was until today, it feels. This isn't a Mini-ITX board that ASUS has made red and black and then chosen to throw the ROG tag on it. This is a Mini-ITX board that is truly worthy of the ROG title. Sure, you're not going to get SLI or CrossFire support and there's other features that you're not going to get because of the size of the board. But until today, I have to admit we're seeing more features than I thought was possible or imaginable on a motherboard so small.

ASUS has really shown us here today that you don't need a huge foot print to get amazing features on a motherboard. With superb sound, excellent networking, NGFF connectivity for super-fast future SSD storage and a fantastic power setup, we've really got so much more than you would expect out of a board this size.

Like any board that carries the ROG tag, the Maximus VI Impact carries the same price bump that you would expect. Is it worth it? The answer is a "god yes" and a "god no" at the same time. If you want to build a system and you don't mind what size case and motherboard it's built around, then the price tag associated with this board isn't worth it.

On the other hand, if you want to build a system that has a small foot print and truly kicks ass, there really is no other board that can touch this right now. The Maximus VI Impact is either the board you've been waiting for or one you don't really care about. Either way, ASUS has set the benchmark for performance based Mini-ITX motherboards today. And if we're completely honest, we're not quite sure when someone will catch up to them.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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