ASUS Maximus VIII Impact LGA 1151 Motherboard Review
Let’s face it, most sequels are never as good as the original films. When it comes to motherboards the opposite usually rings true. ASUS’ Republic of Gamers brand has had several iterations of the mini-ITX Maximus Impact, today we have version VIII. Hopefully ASUS continues its track record of great sequels.
ASUS is one of the most well-known and the largest motherboard manufacturers on the planet. While ASUS is generally known for motherboards the company has expanded into a number of other markets. Today they make monitors, laptops, tablets, smartphones, networking equipment, servers, and more. In 2006, or nearly 10 years ago ASUS established its Republic of Gamers brand. This brand has a focus on gaming and nothing else. Products launched under this branding are more than simple model numbers. These products all sport names and feature the best products ASUS has to offer. ROG pushes technological boundaries and represent the pinnacle of ASUS’ engineering prowess. These are the motherboards which literally spawned the gaming motherboard industry. All the red and black motherboards that have come and gone since owe their lineage to ASUS’ ROG line. So far I have yet to see an ROG motherboard that I wouldn’t be proud to own. While ROG motherboards, push technological limits, they tend to feel mature even when they are brand new to market.
When it comes to the mini-ITX realm, ASUS truly has no equal at this point in time. ASUS as a company pioneered the segment as something other than a place for low budget compact offerings that sacrificed nearly everything for the sake of being small. ASUS proved that with an inventive design you could have the same overclocking capability in a smaller package and the only thing you really have to sacrifice is expansion slots. Because of that, ASUS tries to put a lot of features on board so you won’t miss those slots. The ROG SupremeFX Impact III, and Intel Gigabit Ethernet ensure you really don’t have to add much to the system to have a great gaming experience.
The MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT is based on the Intel Z170 Express chipset and supports Intel’s 6th generation Skylake microarchitecture based processors using the LGA 1151 socket. Like all previous "Impact" motherboards the Maximus VIII Impact is a mini-ITX based offering. The Maximus VIII Impact is designed with an 8-phase digital power design using MicroFine Alloy chokes, 10K black metallic capacitors and IR3553 PowIRStageŽ MOSFETs.
Main Specifications Overview:
Detailed Specifications Overview:
The packaging for the ASUS Maximus VIII Impact is on the small side but it’s packed with accessories. The package artwork follows the same format as the rest of the ROG line. Red and black is no longer the principal color for the motherboards in the ROG line, but the boxes are still colored the same. Inside the box you’ll find the following accessories: User's manual, ASUS Q-Shield, 4x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1x CPU installation tool, 1x Supporting DVD, 1x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant), 1x Fan Extension Card (3 x 4-pin fan out), 1x Fan Extension card screw pack, 1x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s), ROG Fan Label, 1x 5-pin to 5-pin cable, 1x Panel cable, 1x Thermistor cable(s)
The layout of the Maximus Impact family has a unique layout. One of the principal limitations of the mITX form factor is a lack of PCB real estate. ASUS had to think in 3 dimensions to overcome this limitation and that’s exactly what they did. The power phases are on a daughter board near the CPU socket which orients these horizontally and allows these to take up almost no real estate on the main PCB. This is the ingenious separation ASUS has from the rest of the mITX market. This is the main ingredient in the secret sauce that allows ASUS’ mITX offerings to overclock like their ATX and E-ATX counterparts. If I had to complain about anything with regard to the layout it would be with regard to the location of the U.2 port. I would like to see this near the SATA headers, or preferably on the outer edge of the motherboard so that you don’t have to run the U.2 cable over the memory modules.
Thanks to the horizontal mounting of the power phases, the CPU socket remains clear of major obstructions. In a mini-ITX build you will be lacking for vertical space anyway, so the larger coolers will be right out in most applications anyway.
The Maximus VIII Impact has two 288-pin DDR4 DIMM slots. These support a maximum of 32GB of DDR4 memory. The Maximus VIII Impact supports RAM speeds up to 4133MHz through overclocking. This is the highest I’ve seen any ASUS motherboards rated for thus far. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that this motherboard is a newer design than the bulk of the Z170 motherboards we’ve seen so far. The DIMM slots use single sided locking tabs, although it’s by sheer necessity in this case. Unfortunately, a video card would have to be removed to replace the memory modules with larger ones due to the clearance issues which are unavoidable given a PCB of this size.
The chipset takes up almost the entire left hand corner of the motherboard. The chipset is cooled with a passive, low profile cooler. While it doesn’t block any expansion slots it does need to be flat to allow the Supreme FX III daughter board to clear it. In front of the chipset you’ll find the DDR4 DIMM slots and 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports.
Given the mITX form factor’s limited PCB real estate you only get one PCIe x16 expansion slot.
The I/O panel is packed with connectivity options, although some space is given up for the Impact Control panel (which is a great idea). Again ASUS is thinking not only horizontally but vertically. The Impact Control panel has your standard power and reset buttons, the POST code LED read out, a BIOS flashback and a CMOS clear button. There are also four USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 type-A port, 1x USB 3.1 type-C port, 3x mini-stereo jacks, 2x wireless antenna connections, 1x HDMI port, 1x optical output, and 1x RJ-45 port.