What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

ASUS Maximus VI Impact Z87 ITX Motherboard Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
There was a time not so long ago when ITX and even micro ATX motherboards were thought of as underpowered and lacking the necessary capabilities and features that would endear them to enthusiasts. Now that more gamers are looking to downsize the physical dimensions of their respective systems, there’s a burgeoning market for small form factor boards and manufacturers are rushing to fill the void. ASUS has been on the leading edge and their Maximus VI Impact clearly demonstrates how much can be crammed onto an ITX motherboard.

Being part of the Republic of Gamers series automatically makes the Maximus VI Impact an enthusiast-oriented motherboard and that may be a lot to ask considering its diminutive size. Due to past experiences we’ve got an unusually high set of expectations for anything that comes out of ASUS’ version of Skunk Works and this is, well, a really small board that just can’t be stuffed to the gills with features. Right? Not so fast. If you’re still tied at the hip to those low-grade mini ITX system expectations, prepare to be floored by what ASUS has accomplished here.


Fueled by the significantly diminished power consumption needs of today’s Haswell processors, boards like the Impact perform up to expectations without insane VRM designs and upgraded circuitry. The miniaturization approach may lead some to believe things like overclocking have been sacrificed but ASUS’ primary goal here was to retain the RoG pedigree. That means plenty of clock speed headroom.

All of this has been accomplished through a careful design process which led to the Maximus VI Impact becoming one of the more unique motherboards currently available. It may have the same form-factor and similar PCI-E / RAM slot limitations as others in the small form factor class, but this is where the similarities with traditional ITX designs end.

Instead of designing on a flat plane and being limited by the small 17cm² PCB area, ASUS has implemented a unique three dimensional layout like they did with previous micro ATX designs. This means key components like the VRM, debug LEDs and wireless communication modules are placed on a quartet of integrated daughter cards which sit at a right angle to the board. A layout like this frees up space for feature-specific chips which simply wouldn’t have fit onto a normal ITX motherboard. Think of ASUS’ approach as building skyscrapers in a landscape dominated by suburban housing.

chart.jpg


These types of small motherboards are often cramped affairs and while the Impact certainly doesn’t have acres of free space, there’s a surprising amount of breathing room. It also looks like ASUS took into account the possibility that some users would want to use LN2 cooling since there’s more than enough bare PCB for insulation.

The layout is also quite well done with sensible locations for every major component. There are three fan headers clustered near the leftmost corner alongside which ASUS has installed FastBoot and LN2 jumpers. Four well placed internal SATA 6 ports (which won’t conflict with any GPU installation) and onboard power / reset buttons round out and impressive setup. Some of these may be hard to access when the board is used in a claustrophobic SFF enclosure but the more enthusiast-oriented features are meant to be used outside of cases anyways.

vrm_sm.jpg
nude_sm.jpg

You may have noticed that the Impact’s PCB is remarkably devoid of any power delivery components since, other than a small line of capacitors, the VRM and PWM stages reside on a secondary, vertically mounted riser. This hardwired daughter card consist of two large heatsinks which cover a large 8+2 phase all digital PWM.

Being part of the ROG line, the Maximus VI Impact uses an all-digital, eight phase DIGI+ III Power Controller paired to 60amp 'Blackwing' chokes and 10K-hour 10K Black Metallic solid capacitors. As an added benefit, ASUS’ design is only as tall as the rear I/O ports which reduces compatibility issues.

power_sm.jpg

Next to this hardwired daughtercard is where you will find the the24-pin and 8 pin power connectors followed by the large power button, a small reset button, the single internal USB 3.0 header, a front panel header and the two DDR3 DIMM slots. Just like its larger RoG counterparts these two slots officially support DDR-1333 all the way to DDR-3200 speeds along with Intel's Xtreme Memory Profile 1.3 standard. As an added benefit they are offset from the CPU socket enough to make installation of larger heatsinks an actual possibility, something almost unheard of in the ITX motherboard marketplace.

wifi2_sm.jpg

Two removable daughter cards have also been included, both of which house features which usually either require using the x16 slot or taking up a large portion of real-estate. First up we have the mPCIe Combo II card which combines a dual band 802.11AC and Bluetooth wireless adapter on one side with a M.2 (NGFF) SSD port on the other.

While M.2 solid state drives are extremely rare at this point they combine high performance into a form factor which is even smaller than most mSATA based cards.

sound_sm.jpg

Next to the mPCIe Combo II is a relatively long SupremeFX Impact discrete sound card which is an absolute must for an enthusiast board that lacks secondary PCI-E support. The SupremeFX boasts some pretty impressive specs such as Texas Instruments LM4562 op-amps, an EMI shield and is based upon the Realtek ALC1150 controller.

While the op-amps are soldered directly to the board they allow for a dedicated port which can support up to 600 ohm high end headphones. When this is coupled with the SupremeFX’s output SNR ratio of 110dB for headphones out and 115dB on the loseless line-out port, it’s hard to imagine gamers wanting anything else.

backplate.jpg

The rear I/O panel is also not your typical mini ITX affair. In addition to the usual assortment of USB 2.0 (4), USB 3.0 (4), HDMI, DisplayPort, SPDIF, eSATA, and single Intel i217 based Ethernet ports, ASUS have also included a fourth add-in card here.

This 'Impact Control' panel has a two digit debug LED, USB BIOS Dlashback button and reset button, along with support for ASUS’ excellent MemOK and DirectKey buttons. The DirectKey button allows for instant overclocking once it’s configured in the BIOS. The BIOS Flashback on the other hand only needs to be pressed and you can then flash the board’s firmware via USB even if a CPU, RAM or GPU is not installed. This is particularly handy when an overclock or BIOS flash goes horribly wrong.

When taken as a whole, the Impact’s nearest competitors are actually mATX boards such as ASUS’ own RoG Maximus VI Gene while the only other ITX board which can come close to matching features is ASUS' own Z87I- Deluxe. Considering this mITX board has an online asking price of $220 this long list of features is certainly necessary since MSI's Z87I Gaming AC and EVGA's Z87 Stinger can be found for much less.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Included Software

Included Software


AI_1_sm.jpg

Regardless of your intended usage for the Maximus VI Impact the most utilized program will likely be ASUS' AI Suite III which is controlled via ASUS’ Dual Intelligent Processors feature. As with previous implementations this is a very powerful tool and allows for tweaking and monitoring of just about anything you could possibly want.

The very first section, aptly called 4 Way Optimization, is a great spot for beginners since it enables one button automatic overclocking as well as automatic fan speed and power optimization. However unlike some of the ATX-sized Maximus line, the Impact will not automatically overclock your RAM or Uncore speed and will simply use Intel’s XMP profile. It did however get a stable 4.6GHz overclock on our 4770K, which is certainly a very good result considering it took mere moments to accomplish.

AI_TPU_sm.gif

The TPU page is for folks who have a basic knowledge of overclock but don’t want to enter the BIOS. Here you will find the basic requirements for overclocking and tweaking. This includes adjustable settings for BCLK, CPU ratio, CPU cache ratio, as well as adjustable voltages for CPU core and CPU cache.

The Group Tuning checkbox allows for adjusting individual cores or locking so all cores together. At the bottom are sensors for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds. It also includes CPU Strap with 100,125,167 and 250 increments but in our experience, 250 wasn’t entirely usable.


AI_EPU_sm.gif
AI_Digi_sm.gif

The EPU section contains all of the power saving options. There are subpages titled High Performance, Max Power Saving, and Away Mode which allow for customization of things like monitor sleep time, computer sleep, how much CPU voltage will drop in certain instances, fan profiles, and even if USB controller power will be active when a device is not attached.

The DIGI+ Power Control section contains adjustable settings for load-line calibration, CPU power phase control, current capability, CPU power thermal control, voltage frequency, CPU power duty control, and active frequency mode. For memory there are adjustable settings for DRAM current capability, DRAM voltage frequency, and DRAM power phase control.

Also included in the AI Suite III is ASUS's Fan Xpert 2. This is an excellent fan tuning utility which not only includes numerous presets but also has a full adjustable mode for every fan attached to the Impact. In this case that means custom tuning settings can be made for up to four individual fans.

bootfast_sm.jpg

ASUS Boot Setting utility allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to mash delete on the POST screen. It also includes an advanced section allowing you to customize fastboot settings including what happens after a power outage.

MemTweakIT.jpg

The MemTweakIT application allows for reading and sharing your RAM timings with people online. Due to the limitations of Intel’s haswell architecture you will be unable to actually modify any settings. For most people RoG CPU-Z will end up being a better option.

CPU-Z.gif

RoG CPU-Z is a custom skinned version of CPU-Z and while it does not offer any special features not found in the standard CPU-Z application, it does provide a good looking UI.

The RAMDisk utility allows for creating fairly powerful RAM Disks and includes some very advanced features not usually seen in the free versions like automatic backup, restore and update functions.

radar_sm.gif
gamefirst_sm.gif

New additions to ASUS' already stellar software lineup include Sonic Radar and Gamefirst II. Gamefirst II is a network traffic shaping program for reduced latency and ping times on heavily congested home networks. In testing it did help somewhat but only if your wired or wireless network is heavily loaded. Otherwise the impact is minimal.

Sonic Radar on the other hand holds a lot of potential for FPS gaming enthusiasts. Sonic Radar places a small radar looking overlay in games and allows for 'seeing' where sounds in the game environment are coming from in relation to your player. You can also choose what sounds will be visualized so everything footsteps to voices to gunshots can be highlighted with ease. At this time it only has a handful of presets already customized for certain games, but also includes generic, customizable presets for any title.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


ez_mode_sm.gif
bios1_sm.gif

Typically ITX motherboards include a cut-down, limited BIOS but, as with most things, the Maximus VI Impact bucks that trend. The dual mode UEFI BIOS interface is complete, user friendly and extremely well equipped. This just goes to show that ASUS encourages enthusiasts to push their board to extreme levels.

For those only interested in accessing the basic features in a quick and painless manner, the EZ Mode BIOS will be a perfect companion. This GUI-based BIOS mode consists of a single page and features basic options such as boot order, basic system performance adjustments (Power Saving, Normal and ASUS Optimal), memory performance modifiers, and monitoring for temperatures and fan speed.

Anyone looking for in depth tweaking and customization, the aptly labeled Advanced mode is sure to delight even hardcore overclockers as it includes a countless number of options. More importantly, it is clearly labeled and nearly every function has a short but precise explanation attached to it.

bios2_sm.gif
bios3_sm.gif

The landing page for Advanced Mode is the Extreme Tweaker section. If you plan on overclocking your system at all, this section is the one you will spend the majority of your time in. Its menu items allow you to configure overclocking-related items such as clock speeds and voltages. The page’s top shows target CPU and memory speed in yellow, followed by the various options.

bios4_sm.gif

CPU Level Up is used auto overclocking and has three settings available: 4.2Ghz, 4.4Ghz, and 4.6Ghz. To enable manual overclocking, you have to set Ai Overclock Tuner to manual mode, and only then will the BCLK and Turbo Ratio adjustments become available. Other options include PLL Overvoltage (useful for overclocking), Xtreme Tweaking (useful for some benchmarking programs like 3DMark01), BCLK Ratio, EPU Power Saving Mode, and sub pages for DRAM Timings, GPU.DIMM POST, CPU Power Management, and DIGI+ Power Control, and Tweaker Paradise are all found within the first half of Extreme Tweaker. There are also some preloaded profiles to get you started quickly in the Overclocking presets subpage.

bios5_sm.gif
bios6_sm.gif

The DRAM Timing Control screen contains every memory timing imaginable and will be a dream come true for memory tweakers. There are literally pages upon pages of memory timings including primary, secondary, and third as well as slews / duty sense settings available. There is even a memory Presets subpage which has a huge variety of memory presets available and as long as you have an idea of the chips used in your memory, these are perfect starting points for optimization.

bios7_sm.gif
bios8_sm.gif

GPU.DIMM POST displays all video cards and memory detected during POST and helps with troubleshooting. CPU Power Management contains Speedstep and Power Mode Parameters whereas DIGI+ Power Control DIGI+ Power Control contains all voltage tweaks.

The newest addition to Asus' RoG Bios is the Tweaker Paradise which takes the DIGI+ Power Controller section and makes it look downright weak in its options. Everything from Initial PLL Termination Voltage to BCLK Amplitude can be found here. This section alone makes the Maximus VI Impact's BIOS one of the most comprehensive versions you can find in the market today regardless of from factor.

bios9_sm.gif

In the Advanced tab there are a number of configuration sub screens for CPU, PCH, SATA, System Agent, USB, Onboard Devices, APM, and Network Stack. At the top of the page, the board lighting can be disabled if desired. The PCH Configuration and SATA Configuration pages are fairly straightforward and contain settings for the chipset and SATA drives. Finally, the Main tab gives a brief overview of the motherboard itself including the BIOS version, CPU and memory installed, the system time and date, as well as security subpage where you can set a administrator and user passwords.

The Monitor section contains system temperature/power status, and adjustable fan settings. Fan speeds are customizable based on a number of parameters and there are profiles included in the BIOS. The Boot tab contains boot priority options and POST options including Fast Boot configuration as well as DirectKey options. Here you can also change the default BIOS mode from EZ to Advanced and change boot priorities.

bios10_sm.gif

The Tools tab contains several useful tools available including DRAM SPD Information, EZ Flash 2, OC Profiles, and SSD Erase. DRAM SPD Information shows all installed memory with subsections showing SPD and ASUS OC Profiles allow for saving customized OC Profiles suited for different situations.

The last option of the Advanced Mode are the My Favorites section which allows you to easily create a custom list of favorite options so you don’t have to dig down through multiple subpages to access them.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In order to test how different hardware combinations will fit onto the ASUS Z87 Maximus VI Impact, we installed a Noctua NH-U12S, a 16GB dual channel kit of G.Skill Trident X memory, and a PNY GTX 780 XLR8 OC video card. The NH-U12 is a moderate sized aftermarket CPU cooler so it should provide a good reference for other heatsinks. However, we also have to remember that anyone using this in a smaller ITX case (most higher end ITX cases are compatible with this cooler) will use suitably sized cooling products.

air1_sm.jpg
air2_sm.jpg

While ASUS did cut things close with their memory slot positioning, there should be no issues even with wider than standard RAM. Deeper CPU cooling solutions will overhang the first and even possibly second slots, but considering this is an ITX motherboard we were impressed with how much space there is to work with.. With that being said, memory coolers are a non-starter as there is simply not enough room here.


air3_sm.jpg
install2_sm.jpg

Even though the VRM / PWM daughter card runs along the top edge of the CPU cooler, miraculously, there weren’t any conflicts. Granted, there isn’t place for larger heatsinks but that was to be expected.


water1_sm.jpg
water2_sm.jpg

Switching from air to water cooling didn’t create any clearance issues either. While things are tight, there is enough room between the waterblock, memory slots, the waterblock and ASUS’ secondary PWM PCB for easy installation. Installing an LN2 pot shouldn’t be an issue either.


install1_sm.jpg
install3_sm.jpg


With only 170x170mm of room to work with there was only so much ASUS could do to optimize space and it came as no surprise that the single PCI-E slot is rather close to the RAM slots and SATA ports. Because the upright VRM section required the removal of RAM retention tab, they have been relocated to the slots’ opposite end. This in turn means you will want to install your memory before installing a GPU as the space is rather tight. The same holds true of the SATA cables which should be plugged in before even thinking about leveraging a CPU cooler into place.


install4_sm.jpg

Our PNY 780 XLR8 OC had no problem fitting on this motherboard, though there may be some issues in smaller ITX cases. With that being said, you’ll want to ensure the GPU is fully seated and secured since ASUS has also removed the PCI-E retention tab to make removal easier.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Test System & Testing Methodology

Test System & Testing Methodology


To full test the built in over-clocking abilities of a given motherboard, we have broken down testing into multiple categories:

Stock Turbo Boost - To represent a 4770K at stock with turbo enabled.

4-Way Optimization - To represent a Maximus VI Impact at best proven stable overclock achieved via included software based overclocking (4.5GHz).

Manual OC –To represent an experienced overclocker that is looking for the optimal long term overclock to maximize system performance while keeping voltage and temperatures in check.

We chose benchmark suites that included 2D benchmarks, 3D benchmarks, and games; and then tested each overclocking method individually to see how the performance would compare.

The full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
3DMark 8
3DMark 2013 Professional Edition
AIDA64 Extreme Edition
Cinebench R11.5 64-bit
SiSoft Sandra 2013.SP4
SuperPI Mod 1.5mod
RightMark Audio Analyzer 6.2.5
Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark
Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


Instead of LinX or P95, the main stability test used was the AIDA64 stability. AIDA64 has an advantage as it has been updated for the Haswell architecture and tests specific functions like AES, AVX, and other instruction sets that some other stress tests do not touch. After the AIDA64 stability test was stable, we ran 2 runs of SuperPI and 2 runs of 3DMark to test memory and 3D stability. Once an overclock passed these tests, we ran the full benchmark suite and then this is the point deemed as “stable” for the purposes of this review.


To ensure consistent results, a fresh installation of Windows 8.1 was installed with latest chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) from the manufactures website. The BIOS used for overclocking and benchmarking was version 1301 and the Nvidia drivers used were version 332.21.



Our test setup consists of an Intel Haswell 4770K, Asus Maximus VI Impact Z87 motherboard, a PNY GeForce GTX 780 XLR8 OC, 16GB of G.Skill Trident X 2133 9-11-11-31 1.6v memory, a Intel 335 180GB SSD, and a WD Black 1TB. All this is powered by an EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2 1000 watt PSU.

For cooling we used a Corsair H100i AIO w/ four 120mm fans attached. For hardware installation testing we also used a Noctua NH-U12S and a XSPC Raystorm waterblock.

Complete Test System:

Processor: Intel i7 4770K Retail Lot# 3335B824
Memory: 16GB GSkill 2166 Trident X 9-11-11-31 1.6v
Graphics card: PNY GeForce GTX 780 XLR8 OC
Hard Drive: 1x 180GB Intel 335 SSD. Western Digial Black 1TB.
Power Supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 1000 P2
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i AIO

Special thanks to EVGA for their support and supplying the SuperNOVA 1000 P2.
Special thanks to G.Skill for their support and supplying the Trident X RAM.
Special thanks to PNY for their support and supplying the PNY GeForce GTX 780 XLR8 OC
 

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Feature Testing: Audio & Wireless Performance

Feature Testing: SupremeFX Impact Audio


While the Asus Maximus VI Impact is mainly orientated towards Home Theatre PC & Small Form Factor enthusiasts, the SupremeFX Impact audio module is one of its main selling features. As such, it behooves us to see exactly what this upgrade brings to the table. To do this we have used RightMark Audio Analyzer followed by 40 hours of real world testing. These tests consist of numerous hours of video (movies), audio (music), and gaming using the motherboards built in soundcard and a Sennheiser HD955 headset.

RMAA_sm.jpg

While this level of performance isn’t quite good as what you could expect from high end, PCI / PCI_E based soundcard solutions, it is very impressive for an 'onboard' feature considering the limited space ASUS had to work with. Some of the numbers could have been even higher but it’s obvious that high quality caps and a good op-amp selection combined with a very good audio controller are not just marketing gimmicks and have been implemented in a very professional manner.

Most consumers will be well served by this integrated sound card and only audiophiles - with very expensive headphones and using lossless audio recordings - will want to think about sacrificing the single x16 PCIe slot for their professional grade sound card. Below this level of auditory equipment, it is highly doubtful most people would notice the difference between this SupremeFX soundcard's abilities and those found on very expensive aftermarket soundcard solutions.

In more real world related scenarios the combination of ASUS' included software enhancements and the SupremeFX Impact soundcard makes for one potent gaming enhancement tool. The combination of a fairly large soundstage with very good three dimensional auditory positioning is sure to impress gamers. We really couldn’t have asked for more from ASUS here.


Feature Testing: 802.11AC Wireless


As with the included audio module, the included 802.11AC wireless abilities of the Asus Maximus VI Impact is one of its main selling features. To see exactly how good this 802.11AC upgrade brings to the table we have used some of our standard wireless testing scenarios. These tests include both real world file transfer performance and real world singal performance. The router used was an Asus RT-AC68U 'AC1900' router.

To test signal strength we use inSSIDer, a program which can graph signal strength of all wireless signals being received by the computer’s wireless NIC.For real world testing we have taken 10GB worth of small file and large file mixture and pushed from one wireless connected computer to a second computer connected via wired Ethernet. Testing will be done via MS RichCopy. For clarity sake we have averaged both the transmission and reception performance into one aggregate number.


real5.jpg

real24.jpg

sig_5.jpg

sig_24.jpg

To be perfectly candid we are surprised at how well the included wireless solution did in these tests. In both signal strength and file transfer performance the only way consumers will obtain better performance is by sacrificing the single x16 PCI-E slot for an aftermarket wireless AC adapter.

With that being said, this included adapter does suffer somewhat from lack of transmission boosting power, but given the limitations ASUS had to work with the long range performance was still impressive. In all likelihood your Maximus VI Impact based HTPC / SFF system will be a lot closer to your router than our zone 4 scenario anyways.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Feature Testing: Software Auto-Overclocking

Feature Testing: Software Auto-Overclocking


bios_OC_sm.gif

It may be the smallest member of the family, but the Maximus VI Impact is still a Republic of Gamers motherboard and as such has been given the “(Z87) Deluxe” treatment in the overclocking department. Not only can you select from one of three settings in the BIOS and with a press of mouse gain an instant overclock, you can also use AI Software III's built in 4-Way Optimization program.

Unlike the BIOS options, 4-Way Optimization is a complete system tuning utility that offers automated overclocking, fan profiling and tuning, power optimization and full VRM power management in one convenient package. Basically all you have to do is select 4.2GHz, 4.4GHz, or 4.6GHz and the utility does the rest, provided the CPU is capable of these clock speeds of course. Once the desired level of overclock has been chosen, the system reboots and a short stability test runs while optimizing fan speeds for optimal results.

AI_oc_sm.gif

Just as with other ASUS Z87 motherboards, this auto-overclocking software relies upon aggressive presets which were fully stable. However, due to their pre-defined nature all three are limited in the in their scope. In the Maximus VI Impact's case this means adaptive voltage, zero voltage offset and all four cores operating at the same ratio without uncore or ram settings being touched.

While ASUS’ approach may sound basic it is anything but. There are some complex algorithms going on behind the scenes which optimize results, tailor designing settings to best insure your system reaches whatever preset is selected. Throughout testing we didn’t have a single system lock up and all three overclock levels proved to be rock stable.

soft_oc_sm.jpg

At the highest setting of 4.6GHz 4-Way optimization provided a 46x CPU multiplier with a CPU core voltage level that hit 1.315v under load and temperatures well in excess of 90°C under full load. Not all CPUs and cooling setups will be able run 4.6GHz so keep in mind that our H100i was only able to accomplish this due to low ambient temperatures. Haswell is a hot running chip and you’ll need to keep a close eye on temperatures.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Manual Overclocking

Manual Overclocking


Before we begin talking about how awesome ASUS’ ITX board really is in this department, there are some things that have to be put out into the open. Throughout our time with it the Impact wasn’t the perfect companion it may sound like. Our sample retail board came with the 1101 BIOS and we were immediately hit with an infamous SATA bug which caused every SSD or HDDs attached to the lone controller to randomly drop and no longer be recognized. This made installation of an OS (or using the system for more than a paperweight) all but impossible. Luckily ASUS fixed this issue with their 1301 version. Hence, before proceeding to Windows installation or transferring an OS install, update the BIOS.

Another interesting aspect of the results you see below is how hardware has changed over the last few years. Remember the days when processor overclocking was tied at the hip to the quality of your motherboard? Not anymore. Now boards like the Maximus VI Impact boast capabilities that vastly outpace all but the most cherry-picked of CPUs and, in the case of Haswell, the cooling solutions most gamers have. Even higher end water cooling loops have problems handling the tightly focused thermal output of Haswell.

With all of this being said, you will see results below that are higher than usual. Only a small part of these achievements are due to the Impact’s awesome BIOS and malleable interface. The rest has been achieved through leveraging a horribly cold Canadian winter and the resulting precipitous drop in ambient temperatures. Oh, and we also brought in a new i7 4770K with slightly better frequency headroom.


man_oc4700_sm.jpg

Even with cooling being taken out of the equation our new 4770K hit a voltage wall at just past the 4.7GHz zone. Anything beyond 4.7GHz - even with massive increase in voltages - resulted in a non-stable system. After working within the chip’s boundaries, 4.4GHz on the uncore was also possible but past this point even ultra-cold room temperatures were not enough to keep the CPU from thermal throttling.

With this taken care of we turned our attention to the RAM. By loosening the timings we were able to overclock our memory kit from the XMP profile of 2133 to 2400 quite easily. This combination was extremely easy to dial in and once again it was our parts and not the motherboard which were the limiting factor. This combination of 4.7GHz CPU, with 4.4GHz uncore, and DDR3-2400 RAM levels resulted in a fast, yet very stable system.


bclk_oc_sm.jpg

For gamers interested in 'non-K' / non-CPU ratio multiplier overclocking, base clock manipulation is extremely easy and straightforward with this motherboard. The Maximus VI Impact offers multiple options which range from 1.0 to 2.5, and just like most of the competition the 2.5 setting tends to be a non-starter. 1.67 is a good place to start and that is precisely what we did.

With very little effort we hit 171.94Mhz which happens to be the highest BCLK speed we have seen in some time. Needless to say we were very, very happy with this level of performance out of an ITX board.

ASUS really went to town on their BIOS; from the multiple pages dedicated solely to RAM timings, to being able to create a 'favorites' page consisting of settings you use the most, this design helps immensely. With that being said the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. This combined with a steep learning curve of all the features means you can get lost in the details quite easily. Even advanced users may have to resort to online resources to discover exactly what that certain features actually do.

Quite honestly, if you place this small motherboard in a full ATX case people would never guess it was a product destined for the SFF market. We honestly hope more company's take a page from ASUS' playbook.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 4770K and Maximus Vi Impact using the stock speed (turbo enabled), maximum stable software overclocking (4.5GHz) and our manual overclock (4.6GHz). This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

results.jpg



SuperPI Benchmark


SuperPi calculates the number of digits of PI in a pure 2D benchmark. For the purposes of this review, calculation to 32 million places will be used. RAM speed, RAM timings, CPU speed, L2 cache, and Operating System tweaks all effect the speed of the calculation, and this has been one of the most popular benchmarks among enthusiasts for several years.

SuperPi was originally written by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 and was updated later by snq to support millisecond timing, cheat protection and checksum. The version used in these benchmarks, 1.5 is the official version supported by hwbot.


super_pi.jpg



CINEBENCH R11.5


CINEBENCH is a real-world cross platform test suite that evaluates your computer's performance capabilities. CINEBENCH is based on MAXON's award-winning animation software CINEMA 4D, which is used extensively by studios and production houses worldwide for 3D content creation.

In this system benchmark section we will use the x64 Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario. The Main Processor Performance (CPU) test scenario uses all of the system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene (from the viral "No Keyframes" animation by AixSponza). This scene makes use of various algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects which in turn contain more than 300,000 polygons in total, and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights, shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. The result is displayed in points. The higher the number, the faster your processor.



cine.jpg



Results: Such high performance improvements from such a small board just underscore how well ASUS did when they thought vertically. By including that VRM daughter-board they have been able to offer consumers ATX-like overclocking performance in an extremely compact package.


Sandra Processor Arithmetic & Processor Multi-Media Benchmarks


SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. The software suite provides most of the information (including undocumented) users like to know about hardware, software, and other devices whether hardware or software. The name “Sandra” is a (girl) name of Greek origin that means "defender", "helper of mankind".

The software version used for these tests is SiSoftware Sandra 2013 SP3. In the 2013 version of Sandra, SiSoft has updated operating system support, added support for Haswell CPUs, as well as added some new benchmarks to the testing suite. The benchmark used below is the Processor Arithmetic benchmark which shows how the processor handles arithmetic and floating point instructions. This test illustrates an important area of a computer’s speed.



sis.jpg



Results: Once again the software-based overclocking performance increase is high enough to be tangible and goes a long way toward justifying the Maximus VI Impact's relatively high asking price.


PCMark 8 Benchmark


Developed in partnership with Benchmark Development Program members Acer, AMD, Condusiv Technologies, Dell, HGST, HP, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Samsung, SanDisk, Seagate and Western Digital, PCMark 8 is the latest version in FutureMark’s popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft.

The test used in below is the PCMark 8 Home benchmark. This testing suite includes workloads that reflect common tasks for a typical home user such as for web browsing, writing, gaming, photo editing, and video chat. The results are combined to give a PCMark 8 Home score for the system.



pcm8.jpg



AIDA64 Benchmark


AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a diagnostic and benchmarking software suite for home users that provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring. It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives.

The benchmarks used in this review are the memory bandwidth and latency benchmarks. Memory bandwidth benchmarks (Memory Read, Memory Write, Memory Copy) measure the maximum achievable memory data transfer bandwidth. The code behind these benchmark methods are written in Assembly and they are extremely optimized for every popular AMD, Intel and VIA processor core variants by utilizing the appropriate x86/x64, x87, MMX, MMX+, 3DNow!, SSE, SSE2, SSE4.1, AVX, and AVX2 instruction set extension.

The Memory Latency benchmark measures the typical delay when the CPU reads data from system memory. Memory latency time means the penalty measured from the issuing of the read command until the data arrives to the integer registers of the CPU.



aida_band.jpg

aida_lat.jpg


Results: Once again these results are every bit as good as most ATX motherboards. Even if you have no interest in manual overclocking the couple seconds of effort required to get a very high, but very stable overclock makes installing and running ASUS' AI Suite 3 an obvious first step after initial OS setup and installation. Doing anything else would simply be wasting all this potential.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
3D and Gaming Benchmarks

3D and Gaming Benchmarks


In the 3D and Gaming Benchmarks section we will show a number benchmark comparisons of the 4770K and using the stock speed (turbo enabled), highest stable software overclock of 4.6Ghz and our manual overclock of 4.7GHz. This will illustrate how much performance can be gained by the various overclocking options this board has to offer.

For reference the CPU speeds, memory speeds, memory timings, and uncore speeds used for these tests are as follows:

results.jpg


3DMark Fire Strike Benchmark


The latest version of 3DMark from FutureMark includes everything you need to benchmark everything from smartphones and tablets, to notebooks and home PCs, to the latest high-end, multi-GPU gaming desktops. And it's not just for Windows. With 3DMark you can compare your scores with Android and iOS devices too. It's the most powerful and flexible 3DMark we've ever created.

The test we are using in this review is Fire Strike with Extreme settings which is a DirectX 11 benchmark designed for high-performance gaming PCs. Fire Strike features real-time graphics rendered with detail and complexity far beyond what is found in other benchmarks and games today.



3DM.jpg



Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Resolution: 1920x1200
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 16X
Graphic Settings: High

Originally intended to demonstrate new processing effects added to Half Life 2: Episode 2 and future projects, the particle benchmark condenses what can be found throughout HL2:EP2 and combines it all into one small but deadly package. This test does not symbolize the performance scale for just Episode Two exclusively, but also for many other games and applications that utilize multi-core processing and particle effects. As you will see the benchmark does not score in FPS but rather in its own "Particle Performance Metric", which is useful for direct CPU comparisons.


valve.jpg



Results: While we put very little stock in synthetic game benchmarks, the software overclocking results are damn impressive considering it only takes a couple of seconds – and a reboot – to implement them. With this level of performance we doubt many gamers will ever bother with full-on manual overclocking.


Sleeping Dogs Gaming Benchmark


Sleeping Dogs is an open world action-adventure video game developed by United Front Games in conjunction with Square Enix London Studios and published by Square Enix, released on August 2012. Sleeping Dogs has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are the Extreme display settings and a resolution of 1920x1200. World density is set to extreme, high-res textures are enabled, and shadow resolution, shadow filtering, screen space ambient occlusion, and quality motion blur are all set to high.



sdogs.jpg



Metro: Last Light Gaming Benchmark


Metro: Last Light is a DX11 first-person shooter video game developed by Ukrainian studio 4A Games and published by Deep Silver released in May 2013. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic world and features action-oriented gameplay. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play. Scene D6 was used and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Very High for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200. DirectX 11 is used, texture filtering is set to AF 16X, motion blur is normal, SSA and advanced physX turned on and tessellation is set to high.



metro.jpg



BioShock Infinite Gaming Benchmark


BioShock Infinite is a first-person shooter video game developed by Irrational Games, and published by 2K Games released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are UltraDX11 for quality and a resolution of 1920x1200.


bioshock.jpg



Tomb Raider Gaming Benchmark


Tomb Raider is an action-adventure video game. Published by Square Enix released in March 2013. The game has a benchmark component to it that mimics game play and an average of four runs was taken.

The settings used in the testing below are Ultimate default settings for quality, VSync disabled and a resolution of 1920x1200.



tomb.jpg



Results: While the Impact has an extremely small footprint and is marketed towards the SFF market, as we have seen thus far, it is just as capable as most full size boards. It doesn't support multiple graphics cards but with a compatible case, a single high end GPU doesn't feel out of place alongside this motherboard's overclocking capabilities and feature set.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Latest posts

Twitter

Top