Today's Hard|Forum Post
Today's Hard|Forum Post

ASUS Maximus VI Impact LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

ASUS combines the mini-ITX form factor with Republic of Gamers innovation, style and performance giving rise to the Maximus VI Impact. The tiny motherboards have moved from a tiny computer builder niche to a subset that many true overclocking enthusiasts consider as options now days due to flourishing features sets.

Introduction

ASUS is one of the most well known and largest of the world’s motherboard manufacturers. And of course ASUS has a wide range of products at various price points. ASUS also have another brand within the company that produces motherboards that go beyond the standard production line models. The main difference is that ASUS doesn’t use a standard motherboard and make it better. ROG offerings are designed by a different team and use a different component selection. This isn’t to say these are entirely original as the UEFI and a few choice things are carried over when these are deemed desirable.

ROG offerings tend to be among the very best you’ll find in the industry. I wouldn’t say these are entirely "no compromise," but these are about as close as it gets in the industry. ROG motherboards generally have better audio implementation, better overclocking features, better thermal solutions, and in some cases better component design and or selection. Of course this all comes at a cost. Republic of Gamers offerings are not inexpensive and in fact ROG products usually top the price charts in the respective segments.

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The Maximus VI Impact is based on Intel’s Z87 Express chipset. It is the first mini-ITX offering in the ROG lineup. The Maximus VI Impact owes its existence to the very successful P8Z77-I Deluxe which we reviewed some time ago. ASUS proved that a system need not be large to offer extreme levels of performance, stability and importantly, overclockability. In fact the P8Z77-I Deluxe was one of the most capable overclockers of its time. Of course ASUS also offers a Z87-I Deluxe which is the direct successor to the P8Z77-I Deluxe. However ASUS felt that there was an opportunity to take things to the next level and create a ROG mini-ITX motherboard and thus bring ROG features and overclocking to the mini-ITX form factor.

Most of what the Z87 Express chipset offers is present on the Maximus VI Impact. What doesn’t carry over is limited by the form factor rather than other things. Most notably things like the extra PCI-Express x16 slots are absent for obvious reasons. You still get 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports, 6x USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, eSATA, and that sort of thing.

More importantly, the features that make an ROG motherboard unique are largely retained. Design features such as 60A BlackWing chokes, 10K black metallic capacitors, SupremeFX audio, LN2 mode, improved UEFI BIOS, performance profiles, onboard power and reset controls, BIOS flashback, built in secure SSD erase, and support for the OC Panel. While the hardware isn’t included the connections and UEFI support are present to enable the use of the OC panel. It does lack some of the other features found in some models like the built-in the subzero sense header and built in waterblock.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The packaging for the Maximus VI Impact is similar to that of other ROG motherboards albeit smaller. Our sample arrived intact with all accessories accounted for. Included in the box were the following items: User guide, driver disc, SATA cables, I/O shield, Q-connector, Wireless antenna, mPCIe combo card with dual band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/b/ac + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module and the SupremeFX module.

Board Layout

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Given the small foot print of the motherboard it is laid out surprisingly well. There are a couple of tight spots as a result of the design such as the proximity of the mPCIe combo card to the PCI-Express x16 slot.

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There is no other way to put it. The CPU socket area is cramped. Proximity to the DIMM slots and the voltage hardware on the daughter board are all going to be problematic for larger coolers. Of course this is an mITX motherboard and as a result your mITX case probably won’t have room for such cooling hardware anyway.

The chipset itself is located next to the CPU socket and above the PCI-Express x16 slot. It’s passively cooled with a flat heat sink. This heat sink has a groove in it so the SupremeFX audio hardware has a place to sit. Directly in front of the chipset are the 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports. And of course we don’t have to worry too much about the expansion slot area as there is only one slot.

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The I/O panel is interesting. You’ll of course find your usual compliment of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports as well as video connectivity in the form of HDMI and DisplayPort connections. An eSATA port and an RJ-45 port are also located here. The main difference between this and other mITX solutions I’ve seen is the Impact Control panel. This takes some of the controls we’d normally find on the main PCB of ROG motherboards and located them on the I/O panel for easy access. This includes the ROG connect button, BIOS Flashback button, clear CMOS, and MemOK buttons. The LCD post code readout is also found here. The SupremeFX daughter board also has the audio jacks off to the side to make room on the I/O panel for the Impact Control feature.