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ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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1,087
Location
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Feature Testing: Onboard Audio

Feature Testing: Onboard Audio


Since fewer and fewer consumers seem to be buying discrete sound cards, the quality of a motherboard's onboard audio is now more important than ever. We figured that it was worthwhile to take a closer look at just how good the analog signal quality is coming out of the onboard SupremeFX 2015 audio subsystem that is implemented on the Maximus VIII Extreme.

Since isolated results don't really mean much, but we have also included some numbers from the ASUS Maximus VIII Impact, GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3, ASUS X99-A, ASUS X99-PRO, ASUS Rampage V Extreme, GIGABYTE X99-Gaming G1 WIFI, MSI X99S Gaming 7, EVGA X99 Classified, and ASUS X99 Deluxe motherboards that we have previously reviewed. The GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 motherboard is based on the Realtek ALC887, a lower-end 7.1 channel HD audio codec, whereas most of the other models in this comparison feature onboard audio solutions that are built around the higher-end Realtek ALC1150 codec, but feature different op-amps, headphone amplifiers, filtering capacitors, secondary components and layouts. The GIGABYTE X99-Gaming G1 WIFI and EVGA are both based on the same Creative Core3D CA0132 quad-core audio processor, but feature vastly different hardware implementations.

We are going to do this using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, since sound quality isn't really something that can be adequately explained with only numbers. To do this we have turned to the RightMark Audio Analyzer, basically the standard application for this type of testing.

Since all the three motherboards support very high quality 24-bit, 192kHz audio playback we selected that as the sample mode option. Basically, what this test does is pipe the audio signal from the front-channel output to the line-in input via a 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male mini-plug cable, and then RightMark Audio Analyzer (RMAA) does the audio analysis. Obviously we disabled all software enhancements since they interfere with the pure technical performance that we are trying to benchmark.


Surprisingly, or perhaps not, the Maximus VIII Extreme achieved the best audio results that we have seen almost across the board. The noise level and dynamic range numbers were exemplary, as was the low stereo crosstalk. The only other motherboard to come anywhere near these figures is the Rampage V Extreme, which only achieved an 'Excellent' rating in six of eight categories, but with distinctly worse results. Using our usual mix of mix of Grado SR225i and Koss PortaPro headphones, Westone UM1 IEMs, and Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers, playback was clean, we could crank the volume up on our Grado's to past enjoyable sound levels, and we couldn't pinpoint any flaws in the audio quality.

As we tend to repeat, we aren't experts in this area, but we suspect that most Extreme owners will likewise be very happy with this motherboard's onboard audio capabilities.
 

MAC

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Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Feature Testing: M.2 x4 PCI-E 3.0

Feature Testing: M.2 x4 PCI-E 3.0


One of the big advancements of the Skylake LGA1151 platform was the fact that it brought the M.2 connector to the maintream. Not only did it make this new storage connector available at a more reasonable price, but properly implemented too. While most X99 LGA2011-v3 motherboards had an M.2 connector, many were speed limited or had a caveats list a mile long. Since all Z170 motherboard manufacturers are now boasting of their "full speed" PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 connectors with support for NVMe SSDs, we thought it was time to test out those claims. While there are no M.2 SSDs on the market that make full use of this interface's theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gbps (4GB/s), we went searching for one that could at least break the 2000MB/s barrier and quickly settled on the Samsung SSD 950 PRO 256GB.


This next-generation NVMe PCI-E SSD combines Samsung's newest UBX controller with its industry-leading 3D V-NAND and is capable sequential read speeds of up to 2,200MB/second and write speeds of up to 900MB/sec.

One of the ways that we will be evaluating the performance of a motherboard's M.2 interface is by verifying that is capable of matching or exceeding these listed transfer rates. The other is by checking to see whether it performs as well as when we install the SSD 950 PRO onto a ASUS Hyper M.2 x4 expansion card plugged directly into a PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot. If the M.2 connector is getting its PCI-E lanes from the Z170 PCH - instead of directly from the processor - we want to see if that implementation is causing any performance issues when compared to a direct link.


M.2 vs PCI-E

As can see, the performance of the M.2 connector on the Maximus VIII Extreme is excellent. It was within 1% of the performance of the PCI-E slot, which is well within the margin of error. In both cases, the SSD 950 PRO easily outperformed its listed specifications.

While transfer rates are obviously an important metric, we figured that it was also worthwhile to take a peak at instructions per second (IOPS) to ensure that there wasn't any variance there either:


M.2 vs PCI-E

Once again, the differences are essentially non-existent and well within the margin of error for this benchmark. As a result, we think that it is fair to say that the M.2 interface on the Maximus VIII Extreme has been very well implemented and should ensure that you get optimal performance from any current or future M.2 solid state drives.
 
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MAC

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Location
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Auto & Manual Overclocking Results

Auto & Manual Overclocking Results


It wouldn't be an HWC review if we didn't include some overclocking results, so we thoroughly tested this motherboard's capabilities, especially its auto-overclocking functionality. There won't be any ground breaking insights on how to overclock on this new Skylake platform, but our personal pointers are to increase the vCore up to around 1.40V if you're cooling can handle it, while increasing the VCCIO up to 1.20V, and the System Agent voltage up to 1.25V. If you are trying to achieve the highest possible DDR4 memory speeds, increasing the VCCIO to 1.25V and vSA to 1.35V might be worth trying out. These last two are really only needed if you plan on seriously pushing the Uncore/cache frequency or the memory frequency. While faster memory speeds are always welcome, we haven't really noticed any substantial gains from overclocking the cache. If you have an unlocked K-series processors, there's no reason to go crazy increasing the BCLK if you can achieve similar results by just tweaking the various multipliers instead.


Auto Overclocking

The Maximus VIII Extreme features two types of automatic overclocking. There is the TPU option that you can find in the UEFI BIOS and the 5-Way Optimization feature that is located in the Ai Suite III utility. The BIOS-based option relies on presets and it is quite simple since it only offers two choices, TPU I or TPU II. TPU I applies an overclocking preset that is designed for those with air cooling, while TPU II is a more aggressive option for those with liquid cooling. In practice, TPU I overclocked our Core i7-6700K to between 4.1 to 4.3Ghz depending on how many cores were loaded. TPU II on the other hand appplied a 4.6Ghz across the board, while setting a flexible vCore that peaked at 1.36V when all cores were fully loaded. You will indeed need a capable cooler to handle this particular overclock, so either the recommended liquid cooling solution or a high-end air cooler should adequately handle the thermal output. Both settings set the Cache/Uncore to 4100Mhz - ASUS' reference default - while the memory speed was bumped to a respectable DDR4-2933. Since were using an extreme DDR4-4000 kit the XMP preset was not applied, but it will usually do so for most memory kits. Although this BIOS-based automatic overclocking option is very fast - just the time it takes to save & exit the BIOS - it is based on presets and as such it produces slightly less impressive results than an intelligent software-based approach. Having said all of that, as you can see below, the results are still pretty strong.



As mentioned above, within the Ai Suite III utility there is the 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature. While this feature also makes use of the TPU - which stands for TurboV Processing Unit - it is regarded as an intelligent approach to automatic overclocking because it does not rely on presets. Instead, it slowly increases your processor's clock speed and voltage, tests for stability, monitors fan speeds and temperatures, and repeats until it has found the sweet spot. Nowadays, you can even specify a clock speed to start from and even what maximum temperature you feel comfortable with.

With all of that said, let's see what 5-Way Optimization is capable of:



Since we are always aggressive when it comes to overclocking, we selected the TPU II and Extreme Tuning options applied to all cores. However, that resulted in an attempted overclock that was too optimistic for our particular chip at the given voltage, and thus consistently resulted in a crash during the Ai Suite stress testing process. The motherboard would subsequently fail to auto-recover, and more than once, when we manually reset the system and entered the BIOS, we saw that the BCLK was set to 650Mhz and the target CPU frequency was something along the lines of 19Ghz. Clearly, ASUS have a little bug to fix here. As a result, we instead selected TPU I- Extreme and ended up with the above overclock.

4.7Ghz with a peak vCore of about 1.375V is quite respectable by any measure, but to have it done without any manual effort is a delight. As mentioned above, usually ASUS motherboards will apply the XMP profile, but since we were using a rare DDR4-4000 memory kit, we aren't entirely surprised that it failed to do so. Nevertheless, DDR4-2933 is still a heck of a lot better than DDR4-2133 or DDR4-2400, though we do wish that it hadn't used the DDR4-4000 XMP profile's loose memory timings.


Manual Overclocking



By this point we are quite familiar with the capabilities of our particular Core i7-6700K, so we knew that we did not have a lot of headroom above 4.85Ghz @ 1.40V available to us, at least not without a serious vCore increase and the accompanying heat output. As expected on an RoG board, we had zero issues reaching this level, we just increased the CPU multiplier to 48X, kicked the BCLK up to 101.25Mhz and set a 1.40Vcore. Although it does not provided much of a performance gain, we did increase the cache/uncore frequency from the stock 4000Mhz to 4250Mhz without having to touch any other voltage settings.

On the memory front, we were left a little bit disappointed. While the Maximus VIII Impact was able to run our Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000 memory kit at its full speed - and then some - simply by enabling the XMP Profile, the Extreme was not capable of running at DDR4-4000 at all. Now admittedly ASUS have only certified the Extreme for overclocked frequencies up to DDR4-3866, but the fact that the flagship model can't exceed any and all capabilities of its less prestigious siblings left a slightly bitter taste in our mouths. While the Impact certainly has a physical design advantage due to it only having two DDR4 slots and thus having shorter traces between the processor and memory, the fact that the Z170-PREMIUM - a full-sized model with four memory slots - also supports DDR4-4000 reflects poorly on the Extreme. While there is surely a way to achieve DDR4-4000 on this motherboard through extensive use of the vast number of memory-related manual settings, we were not able to accomplish this feat.

Overall, as on all Republic of Gamers motherboards, overclocking on the Maximus VIII Extreme was a drama-free affair. The automatic overclocking results speak for themselves and the motherboard didn't inhibit our manual processor overclocking in any way. If and when ASUS manage to support DDR4-4000 via XMP Profile, this will likely be the motherboard to beat when it comes to Skylake overclocking.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
System Benchmarks

System Benchmarks


In the System and Gaming Benchmarks sections, we reveal the results from a number of benchmarks run with the Core i7-6700K and ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme at default clocks, with two different DDR4 memory speeds, with the best automatic overclock, and using own our manual overclock. This will illustrate how much performance can be achieved with this motherboard in stock and overclocked form. For a thorough comparison of the Core i7-6700K versus a number of different CPUs have a look at our "The Intel i7-6700K Review; Skylake Arrives" article.


SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP


When running the SuperPI 32MB benchmark, we are calculating Pi to 32 million digits and timing the process. Obviously more CPU power helps in this intense calculation, but the memory sub-system also plays an important role, as does the operating system. We are running one instance of SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP. This is therefore a single-thread workload.



wPRIME 2.10


wPrime is a leading multithreaded benchmark for x86 processors that tests your processor performance by calculating square roots with a recursive call of Newton's method for estimating functions, with f(x)=x2-k, where k is the number we're sqrting, until Sgn(f(x)/f'(x)) does not equal that of the previous iteration, starting with an estimation of k/2. It then uses an iterative calling of the estimation method a set amount of times to increase the accuracy of the results. It then confirms that n(k)2=k to ensure the calculation was correct. It repeats this for all numbers from 1 to the requested maximum. This is a highly multi-threaded workload.



Cinebench R15


Cinebench R15 64-bit
Test1: CPU Image Render
Comparison: Generated Score


The latest benchmark from MAXON, Cinebench R15 makes use of all your system's processing power to render a photorealistic 3D scene using various different algorithms to stress all available processor cores. The test scene contains approximately 2,000 objects containing more than 300,000 total polygons and uses sharp and blurred reflections, area lights and shadows, procedural shaders, antialiasing, and much more. This particular benchmarking can measure systems with up to 64 processor threads. The result is given in points (pts). The higher the number, the faster your processor.



WinRAR x64


WinRAR x64 5.30 beta 6
Test: Built-in benchmark, processing 1000MB of data.
Comparison: Time to Finish

One of the most popular file archival and compression utilities, WinRAR's built-in benchmark is a great way of measuring a processor's compression and decompression performance. Since it is a memory bandwidth intensive workload it is also useful in evaluating the efficiency of a system's memory subsystem.





FAHBench


FAHBench 1.2.0
Test: OpenCL on CPU
Comparison: Generated Score

FAHBench is the official [email protected] benchmark that measures the compute performance of CPUs and GPUs. It can test both OpenCL and CUDA code, using either single or double precision, and implicit or explicit modeling. The single precision implicit model most closely relates to current folding performance.




HEVC Decode Benchmark v1.61


HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
Test: Frame rates at various resolution, focusing on the top quality 25Mbps bitrate results.
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

The HEVC Decode Benchmark measures a system's HEVC video decoding performance at various bitrates and resolutions. HEVC, also known as H.265, is the successor to the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC (Advanced Video Coding) standard and it is very computationally intensive if not hardware accelerated. This decode test is done entirely on the CPU.




LuxMark v3.0


Test: OpenCL CPU Mode benchmark of the LuxBall HDR scene.
Comparison: Generated Score

LuxMark is a OpenCL benchmarking tool that utilizes the LuxRender 3D rendering engine. Since it OpenCL based, this benchmark can be used to test OpenCL rendering performance on both CPUs and GPUs, and it can put a significant load on the system due to its highly parallelized code.




PCMark 8


PCMark 8 is the latest iteration of Futuremark’s system benchmark franchise. It generates an overall score based upon system performance with all components being stressed in one way or another. The result is posted as a generalized score. In this case, we tested with both the standard Conventional benchmark and the Accelerated benchmark, which automatically chooses the optimal device on which to perform OpenCL acceleration.



AIDA64 Memory 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.


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
Gaming Benchmarks

Gaming Benchmarks



Futuremark 3DMark (2013)


3DMark v1.1.0
Graphic Settings: Fire Strike Preset
Rendered Resolution: 1920x1080
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark is the brand new cross-platform benchmark from the gurus over at Futuremark. Designed to test a full range of hardware from smartphones to high-end PCs, it includes three tests for DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 hardware, and allows users to compare 3DMark scores with other Windows, Android and iOS devices. Most important to us is the new Fire Strike preset, a DirectX 11 showcase that tests tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Like every new 3DMark version, this test is extremely GPU-bound, but it does contain a heavy physics test that can show off the potential of modern multi-core processors.




Futuremark 3DMark 11


3DMark 11 v1.0.5
Graphic Settings: Extreme Preset
Resolution: 1920x1080
Test: Specific Physics Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score


3DMark 11 is Futuremark's very latest benchmark, designed to tests all of the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. At the moment, it is lot more GPU-bound than past versions are now, but it does contain a terrific physics test which really taxes modern multi-core processors.




Futuremark 3DMark Vantage


3DMark Vantage v1.1.2
Graphic Settings: Performance Preset
Resolution: 1280x1024

Test: Specific CPU Score and Full Run 3DMarks
Comparison: Generated Score

3DMark Vantage is the follow-up to the highly successful 3DMark06. It uses DirectX 10 exclusively so if you are running Windows XP, you can forget about this benchmark. Along with being a very capable graphics card testing application, it also has very heavily multi-threaded CPU tests, such Physics Simulation and Artificial Intelligence (AI), which makes it a good all-around gaming benchmark.




Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark


Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark
Resolution: 1920x1080
Anti-Aliasing: 4X
Anisotropic Filtering: 8X
Graphic Settings: High

Comparison: Particle Performance Metric

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.




X3: Terran Conflict


X3: Terran Conflict 1.2.0.0
Resolution: 1920x1080
Texture & Shader Quality: High
Antialiasing 4X
Anisotropic Mode: 8X
Glow Enabled

Game Benchmark
Comparison: FPS (Frames per Second)

X3: Terran Conflict (X3TC) is the culmination of the X-series of space trading and combat simulator computer games from German developer Egosoft. With its vast space worlds, intricately detailed ships, and excellent multi-threaded game engine, it remains a great test of modern CPU performance.




Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark


Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
Resolution: 1920x1080
Texture & Shader Quality: Maximum IQ
DirectX 11
Fullscreen

Game Benchmark
Comparison: Generated Score

Square Enix released this benchmarking tool to rate how your system will perform in Heavensward, the expansion to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. This official benchmark software uses actual maps and playable characters to benchmark gaming performance and assign a score to your PC.





Grand Theft Auto V


DirectX Version: DirectX 11
Resolution: 1920x1080
FXAA: On
MSAA: X4
NVIDIA TXAA: Off
Anisotropic Filtering: X16
All advanced graphics settings off.

In GTA V, we utilize the handy in-game benchmarking tool. We do three full runs of the benchmark and average the results of pass 3 since they are the least erratic.





Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor


Resolution: 1920x1080
Graphical Quality: Custom
Mesh/Shadow/Texture Filtering/Vegetation Range: Ultra
Lighting/Texture Quality/Ambient Occlusion: High
Depth of Field/Order Independent Transparency/Tesselation: Enabled

With its high resolution textures and several other visual tweaks, Shadow of Mordor’s open world is also one of the most detailed around. This means it puts massive load on graphics cards and should help point towards which GPUs will excel at next generation titles. We do three full runs of the benchmark and average the results.


 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
Voltage Regulation / Power Consumption

Voltage Regulation


Our voltage regulation testing will focus on the various voltages and the differences encountered between what is selected in the BIOS and what is measured by a digital multi-meter (DMM). Thanks to the onboard voltage measurement points we didn't have to go poking & prodding everywhere, since all the voltage read points are located in one convenient spot. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, ASUS have actually included relevant voltages, things like the CPU voltage, Cache voltage, System Agent voltage, all the voltages that most manufacturers seemed to have mysteriously ignored when implementing their voltage read points.

These measurements were taken at stock system speeds and with all settings set to default in the BIOS. We used Prime 95 Blend in order to create a heavy system load. Here are our findings:


As you can see, the Maximus VIII Extreme has excellent regulation output. What you set in the bios is dead-on exactly what the board put outs whether idling or under full load. There is a normal amount of voltage droopage on CPU Input line under full load, but those who want no vDroop have the settings available to completely eliminate it via the various Load-Line Calibration (LLC) settings. Basically, everything here looks great, and ensures that dialing in the exact right voltage to stabilize an overclock should be a breeze.

We also kept an eye on the other system voltages, and did not notice any great variations there either. What you set in the bios appears to be generally what the board put outs, and it seems to be able to maintain those voltages even when under heavy load when you select the appropriate power control settings. That is exactly what we want from a motherboard.


Power Consumption

For this section, every energy saving feature was enabled in the BIOS and the Windows power plan was changed from High Performance to Balanced. For our idle test, we let the system idle for 15 minutes and measured the peak wattage through our UPM EM100 power meter. For our CPU load test, we ran Prime 95 In-place large FFTs on all available threads, measuring the peak wattage via the UPM EM100 power meter. For our overall system load test, we ran Prime 95 on all available threads while simultaneously loading the GPU with 3DMark Vantage - Test 6 Perlin Noise.



If we compare this motherboard to the Maximus VIII Impact or the GIGABYTE Z170-HD3 DDR3, the power consumption numbers are unmistakably higher. However, it is not entirely a fair comparison. On the Extreme, we switched over a Corsair Hydro H100i liquid cooler instead of our usual heatsink, so that adds a bit to the power usage. Also, whereas the Extreme is a large fully-featured motherboard with every feature imaginable, the other two are not. The Impact is a small ITX motherboard, and although it is very well featured, it is missing a lot of slots and ports and controllers that add to power consumption. The Gigabyte board is a very simple model that comes with basically no add-on controllers, so obviously it will achieve some low power usage numbers.

Having said all of that, it is also clear that the Maximus VIII Extreme was not designed with efficiency as the number priority, and as such it achieved power consumption that was at the higher-end of our expectations. Those users really interested in achieving the lowest possible power consumption numbers have a ton of tweaking options on this model, so lower numbers can most certainly be achieved.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,087
Location
Montreal
Conclusion

Conclusion


The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme is a motherboard with updated but familiar aesthetics, top-notch capabilities in every respect, and generally high levels of polish. If you have the money to afford it, the skills and desire to make use of its many terrific overclocking features and capabilities, this is the best Z170 motherboard on the market to play around with. In fact, there's no one else even competing in the ultra-high-end sphere that the Maximus VIII Extreme occupies, aside from the equally priced GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming G1.

The Gaming G1 appears to be a worthy competitor on paper, but we haven't yet had the opportunity to review it. It does feature a PLX bridge chip which multiplies the available PCI-E bandwidth and allows it to boast better multi-GPU capabilities than the Extreme. The Extreme's 2-Way SLI limitation is kind of a disappointment at this price point, but then again, excluding the middleman chip ensures optimal PCI-E performance. The Gigabyte board also has two M.2 slots and dual gigabit LAN ports, whereas the Extreme only has one of each. It features a Sound Blaster ZxRi onboard audio and gaming-oriented Killer wired and wireless connectivity, but we strongly doubt that those perform any better than the Extreme's audio and networking subsystems. Should the Z170X-Gaming G1 be on the shortlist of anyone considering a Maximus VIII Extreme? Absolutely, but it is a gaming-oriented motherboard first and foremost. Those interested primarily with hands-on overclocking will likely find it lacking by comparison.

In case you skipped straight to the conclusion, let's recap some of the most noteworthy aspects of this model. The Maximus VIII Extreme is one of the most feature rich motherboards around and has been designed from the ground up to be the best possible platform for gamers and overclockers alike. For starters, the new SupremeFX 2015 onboard audio solution is something everyone will enjoy. Although based on the very common Realtek ALC1150 codec, the audio numbers it put out were the best that we've seen among any of our reviewed motherboards. ASUS have become better and better at combining high quality audio components like ESS DACs, TI amplifiers, Nichicon capacitors, and careful EMI shielding in order to achieve great onboard audio solutions. Sound quality is obviously intensely subjective, but most casual listeners should be very satisfied with what the Extreme outputs.

The onboard connectivity in the form of SATA, SATA Express, M.2, U.2, USB 3.0, USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi is also clearly impressive and comprehensive. As we demonstrated, this motherboard had zero issues handling the 2.2GB/s+ transfer rates of our Samsung SSD 950 PRO.


This model's bread-and-butter are the countless features that were clearly designed for and by overclockers. It features a Q-Code debug LED display, LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures), Slow Mode switch (drops the CPU multiplier to temporarily enhance system stability), power-on Start button, Reset button, MemOk! button (initiates memory compatibility tuning process), and a thermal probe header. The two newest button additions are particularly ingenious. If you are overclocking and your system fails to post successfully, you no longer have to hit the CMOS Reset button. Instead you can now press the Safe Boot button and it will power off your system and then boot with default settings allowing you to modify the last configuration to fix the problem.

Sometimes when a system is pushed way past its overclocking limits it might lock up so hard that even the reset button doesn't work. Instead of having to manually turn off your power supply - which is something that every overclocker has had to do at some point - you can just hit the motherboard's new ReTry button which automatically cuts the power and forces a reboot right away. The ProbeIt area features an assortment of actually useful voltage read points, which is a necessary feature for those doing heavy overclocking.

When it came time to overclock, the Extreme obviously did not disappoint. The motherboard’s automatic overclocking capabilities proved exceedingly capable, and the software-based 5-Way Optimization feature was able to push our Core i7-6700K all the way to 4.7Ghz. While there was an even more aggressive setting available, it was a mix of too aggressive for our particular chip and a little buggy when the stress testing inevitably failed and caused the motherboard's auto-recovery features to fail as well.

When we took things into our own hands, we were able to manually overclock our Core i7-6700K to 4.86Ghz, accompanied by a mild 4.25Ghz cache/uncore, and a very respectable DDR4-3649 memory frequency. We were slightly disappointed that this motherboard did not support our Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4000 memory kit, or more specifically, was not able to achieve DDR4-4000 at all despite our tweaking attempts. This is an absolutely insane memory frequency, but insane speeds is what this motherboard is supposed to be built for.

As is usually the case with Republic of Gamers motherboards, the Maximus VIII Extreme Extreme left us impressed by its features and most of its capabilities. There is no motherboard that is better suited to avid overclockers or just anyone that really likes tweaking and tinkering with their system. However, much like the aforementioned Corsair kit, this is a very niche product, one that you have to be willing to pay a hefty premium for. This model currently retails for about $485 USD / $640 CAD, and that price tag is hard to swallow when you consider just how good the rest of the less expensive RoG models are.

 
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