At the ROG Unleashed event, Asus unveiled a heap of new products, among which two very interesting new motherboards – the Maximus VIII Extreme and the Maximus VIII Impact. If you're familiar with Asus' lineup, you'll probably know what both of them are: a high-end ROG ATX motherboard, and a high-end ROG Mini-ITX board, both based on the LGA1151 socket with Intel's Z170 chipset.
Look, A Maximus VIII Extreme Board
Of course, it's a little more difficult to tell what the board is if you're thinking back to the last generation, because Asus never actually built a Z97 Maximus VII Extreme board – the company skipped that generation of the Extreme series. However, it makes a re-appearance on the Z170 platform. The Maximus VIII Impact packs an ATX layout, and comes with many juicy features.
Wired to the socket are four DDR4 memory slots, which allow users to install up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory, and clock it up to 3866 MHz. On the graphics side, there are four PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots, but only one of these is capable of driving 16 lanes. Install a second graphics card in the third slot, and both will run at eight lanes, and if you were to populate all four slots, they would all run at four lanes. Additionally, there are two PCIe Express 3.0 x1 slots.
Of course, being an Extreme series board, it comes with plenty of overclocking, gaming, and quality oriented features. These include features ranging from an LN2 mode, to dedicated onboard overclocking switches, to DRAM channel jumpers, to EZ Flash 3 and Asus' CrashFree BIOS 3, and more. One of the most interesting features to note is that all of the board's fan headers come with PWM support – typically, motherboards only have PWM signals supported on the CPU fan header, with the rest of the headers only supporting voltage adjustments.
The Maximus VIII Impact
When it comes to the Impact series of boards, it's no surprise that Asus built a third one with the Z170 chipset. After all, the Z87 and Z97 variants were both big hits, so Asus would be shooting itself in the foot if it didn't make one for Skylake.
If you're familiar with the last two boards, then practically nothing about this one will surprise you. It is a Mini-ITX board centered on an LGA1151 socket, with two DDR4 memory slots. The only real surprise here is that they'll support up to 4133 MHz memory, assuming you're willing to overclock a bit. Additionally, there is just a single PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot.
To make the board really stand out, Asus fitted it (like each of its predecessors) with a VRM circuitry of many phases, and a high-end audio solution. The last two were called the SupremeFX Impact and SupremeFX Impact II, so guess what, this one's called the SupremeFX Impact III. Oh, and the board has been restyled a bit, losing some of the red accents, and adding a fair bit of lighting (if I'm looking at the pictures correctly).
Good Show Asus
Overall, there's little to be said about these boards that should come as much of a surprise. They both aim to be among the top of their segment, and will therefore come with the accompanying price tags. Considering the history, we can expect the Maximus VIII Extreme to sell for somewhere around the $300 mark, while the Maximus VIII Impact should hit closer to the $200 mark.
Niels Broekhuijsen has been with Tom's Hardware since 2012, and works as a Contributing Editor on the news team. He covers mostly hardware, components, and anything else that strikes his fancy. Outside of work, he likes to travel, cook, and fix things that are broken.
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No m.2 slot ;-/
I guess the fan-sink of the first one did too. Almost like if it was made of plastic.
The "magnetic shielding"-look doesn't look all that great too me.
I don't know how it could be made otherwise though :), I guess it's an issue of space which they solve and that's great :)
SATA port location wise, the Gigabyte seems to have placed a benchmark with their angled connectors at the edge of the board.
According to newegg. the wifi/bluetooth is plugged into an M.2 connector. i guess you get a choice of connectivity or storage?
They did away with the M.2 port in favor of introducing the U.2 port and for NVMe integration. Expensive for the latter but that means they thought of an alternative.