Great stuff do come in small packages and one of them happens to be the ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT motherboard.
That’s quite a mouthful for a motherboard but it is what it is, the 8th generation of ASUS’s MAXIMUS range boards that are part of the ROG product line, a board with the Intel Z170 chipset that’s made to work with Intel’s 6th Generation Skylake processors.
The board itself is unlike any other ITX board, the real-estate of an ITX PCB isn’t enough to house what’s needed to make the MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT the board it is to be.
The raised platform is the key area on the MAXIMUS VIII IPMACT as it houses the architecture for top-of-the-line power delivery for precise power management and overclocking, something you don’t see often on Mini-ITX boards.
The PowIRStage Mosfet, the Microfine alloy chokes and the 10K Japanese capacitors were all made to last longer, run cooler, provide higher efficiency, reduced power loss and being more durable.
On the upper corner the placement of the ATX and ATX 12V power sockets are at the same corner which I think is an excellent design, this is something many manufacturers neglect and kept them at quite a distance.
On the down side of things, the SATA ports are placed at the corner that links the PCI-E slot and DIMM slots, a horrible location where the SATA cable has to be routed above the RAM sticks in order to reach.
The DIMM slot is placed far enough from the PCI-E slot, this allows you to use graphics card with backplate as the DIMM slots do not block the placement. The DIMM slot however isn’t placed far enough so you still can’t remove the RAM without first removing the graphics card.
The raised platform at the middle is the SUPREMEFX IMPACT III to deliver the best possible audio experience. It has color-coded LEDs to guide to the right audio jacks, a collection of carefully-selected professional-grade audio components, including an ESSÂ® ES9023P digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with Hyperstreamâ„¢ technology, ultra-low-jitter clock, Nichicon capacitors, 2VRMS headphone amp, and Sonic SenseAmp that automatically detects and optimizes any headset (32-600ohms).
At the back, the MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT has the following I/O ports.
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
1 x USB 3.1 (black)Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 (red)Type-A
4 x USB 3.0 (blue)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
3 x Audio jack(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
2 x Wi-Fi antenna port(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
1 x Q-Code LED
1 x Start Button
1 x Reset Button
A few things to note – Q-Code LED is much welcome but being at the back of the board, it’s quite difficult for one to actually refer to it during troubleshooting. Same goes to the color-coded audio jacks, who’s going to see the color?
Other things to take note of is that the POWER, RESET and Clear CMOS are all at the back so be really careful when fiddling around near the I/O panel.
Lastly, there’s the PCI-E x16 3.0 slot for you to fit the graphics card of your choice, here I have the ASUS Poseidon GTX 980 on the MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT and the theme matches very well.
More details at the official product page
As always, the ASUS boards come with the best possible and most informative UEFI interface, although I do have problem locating the XMP Profile option for memory and ended up resorting to visiting the Easy Mode to change this setting.
In any case, the beauty of an ASUS ROG board is the level of detail it allows when it comes to fine-tuning your system.
The board works well and I got the Core i5-6600K up to 4.5Ghz with ease and had no issues running benchmarks. Overclocking enthusiasts will love the options available in the UEFI for fine-tuning.
The ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT retails at RM 1285, it’s not surprising it is an excellent Mini-ITX motherboard that is able to rival (and perhaps even outdo) it’s full-sized ROG siblings.
If you intend to run a compact system and want the best possible performance then there is but only once choice – the ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII IMPACT.