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ASUS Maximus VI Impact review: extreme Mini-ITX board

Tested and compared with 40 other Haswell motherboards

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Introduction

The launch of the Mini ITX Maximus VI Impact RoG board during Computex was easily one of the most impressive component introductions by ASUS. Even gamers and overclockers are following the trend of smaller and more compact desktop computers. It's the first Republic of Gamers motherboard in Mini ITX format, even if ASUS a couple years ago already released a Micro ATX board with extreme overclocking features. Now they've gone even smaller.


ASUS Maximus VI Impact

Implementing all of the extra features that belong on an RoG board on a compact Mini ITX board was a challenge, and ASUS had to come up with some clever solutions. The components for the CPU power supply, for example, have been put on a vertical PCB, and the SupremeFX sound card is also located on a separate PCB (which benefited the audio quality). Extra features such as a debug HEX display were also put on an extra little PCB between the I/O connectors. ASUS definitely achieved squeezing a large amount of features onto very little surface area.

The Maximus VI Impact of course uses the Intel Z87 chipset, the most high-end chipset for Intel Haswell processors. Located next to the Socket 1150 processor socket are two DDR3 memory slots. That close vicinity apparently benefits performance, as ASUS managed to set a new record for memory clock frequency at Computex (live!). That record has since been improved upon, again with this motherboard. The Mini ITX size only has room for a single expansions slot. It's PCI-Express x16, and suitable for a separate graphics card.

ASUS Maximus VI Impact

The Z87 chipset contains six Serial ATA 600, but it wasn't possible to implement all of those connectors, so you get four. It should be enough, because how often do you put more than four hard disks in a Mini ITX chassis? The board has six USB 3.0 ports, four of which are on the back. It has the same number of USB 2.0 ports.

The board has a single gigabit LAN port, provided by an Intel WG-I217V chip. An expansion card offers supports for 802.11ac WLAN, the very latest standard. The AzureWave AW-CE123H controller provides 2T2R 802.11ac, two channels, for a maximum of 867 Mbit/s. The controller also supports Bluetooth 4.0. The MPCIE COMBO adapter that contains the WLAN controller also has space for an M.2 SSD.

ASUS Maximus VI Impact

The ASUS SupremeFX, also located on a separate PCB, is actually a Realtek ALC1150 codec with special drivers. The implementation is outstanding, as it's the best onboard audio quality we've ever measured. The card also contains a powerful headphone pre-amp. The drivers supports DTS Connect, which uses audio cues to create a visual map of enemy locations.

ASUS Maximus VI Impact

ASUS Maximus VI Impact

The compact board offers four PWM fan connectors. The fan connector, used on ASUS Z97 boards, that automatically recognizes the presence of a 4-pin connector is also present on the Impact. The extra PCB makes it possible to have a 10-phase CPU power supply.

Next to the DIMM slots there's an onboard power button and a reset button. By the network connector there are eight voltage measuring points for Vccin, Vcore, Viod, Vioa, Vsa, Vring, Vmem and Vaux. It's not the most practical location, but the fact that a Mini ITX board has them is impressive.

On the back, between the I/O connectors, there are some more extra features. There is the HEX display for the BIOS POST codes, and Clear CMOS and RoG Connect buttons. One smaller button makes it possible to boot directly to the BIOS, and another is the MemOK button.

ASUS Maximus VI Impact

The BIOS is the same as on the ASUS Z87 boards and us very comprehensive. Below are a few screenshots so you get an idea, and the maximum voltages are in a table on the next page.

The average price of £185/ €212 isn't exactly low, but considering the large number of features it can be justified.

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