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ASUS Maximus VIII Impact Review

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
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Although we have already had the privilege of reviewing one wonderfully compact ASUS Z170 motherboard - the Maximus VIII GENE - we still had our sights on something even smaller. With that in mind, we bring you today a review of the ASUS Maximus VIII Impact. This Mini ITX powerhouse falls under the Republics of Gamers (ROG) product line, so it represents the pinnacle of ASUS' engineering know-how, which really comes into play when you're dealing with such a small PCB footprint. You can either decide to leave features off or get clever with the design, and needless to say the Maximus VIII Impact is one clever piece of work.

First and foremost, thanks to the vertically-mounted Impact Power III module, this tiny Impact model is still outfitted with a robust power delivery subsystem in the form of an 8-phase digital power design, 60A MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. This is basically the same high-end components that you see on all RoG models, so we expect precise power management and very high overclocking capabilities. Case in point, ASUS has certified this model's two DDR4 DIMM slots for speeds up to DDR4-4133. There's also an encyclopedia's worth of unique ASUS-only overclocking features onboard like KeyBot II, LN2 Mode, MemTweakIt, ProbeIt, and much more in the UEFI BIOS and various utilities.

The Impact features a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, which is the only expansion slot on the motherboard if we discount the M.2 socket that is occupied by the pre-installed Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module. Speaking of which, this Wi-Fi module is a dual-band 802.11ac solution with MU-MIMO, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 2x2 external antenna. Those who prefer wired connections won't be disappointed since the single gigabit LAN port is powered by Intel's latest i219-V controller. When it comes to storage connectivity, this model features four SATA 6Gb/s ports, one NVMe U.2 connector, and both USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C ports courtesy on an Intel Alpine Ridge controller. Regrettably, there is no M.2 NGFF connector on this model, despite it seemingly being an ideal fit for this form factor.

Despite an obvious shortage of PCB space, ASUS have maintained this model's gaming roots by including an upright PCB module that houses the new SupremeFX Impact III sub-system. This audio module houses a Realtek ALC1150 audio codec that simultaneously supports 7.1-channel playback and 2 channels of stereo output, a protective EMI cover, a renowned ESS ES9023P DAC, a dedicated headphone amplifier, and audio-grade Nichicon capacitors. It should be every bit as competitive as the SupremeFX 2015 audio found on the larger motherboards, and it supports the same Sonic SenseAmp, Sonic Studio II, and Perfect Voice features. One unique feature is the addition of color-coded LEDs inside the actual audio jacks, which helps you more easily select the appropriate output without having to be staring at the jacks head-on. We have really only scratched the surface here, and as you will see, this Mini ITX model packs a truly impressive number of features and capabilities despite its petite proportions. It might even make you think twice about the need for a standard ATX motherboard.

As is usually the case in the tech world, smaller dimensions don't usually mean a small price tag and that holds true with the Maximus VIII Impact. This model comes in at around $240 USD / $330 CAD, which makes it the second most expensive RoG model on the market right now, behind only the extravagant Maximus VIII Extreme. While we've already listed a lot of what you get for that money, it's whether it all works as flawlessly as expected that will be the big selling point. Keep reading to find out.

 
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SKYMTL

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories


Now that we have gone over the Maximus VIII Impact features and specifications, it is time to examine the packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the bundled accessories. Let's check it out:


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The compact packaging is the usual Republic of Gamers fare, replete with emblems and logos. It is basically identical - though obviously smaller - to what we saw with the Maximus VIII GENE and even the Maximus VII GENE before it. It still stands out among the many variations of largely black packaging that most companies use. The tiny box also comes with a top flap, which provides some worthwhile insight regarding this model's ample features and capabilities.



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When you open the packaging you are greeted with a plastic window revealing the motherboard in all of its red and black glory. There are two separate inner sections, the first obviously holds the motherboard itself, while the bottom half contains all the accessories, manuals, installation CD, etc.



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All things considered, the Impact actually comes with a fairly sizeable accessories bundle. There is a sleek black nickel-plated rear I/O shield, a 2T2R Wi-Fi antenna which has 2 transmitter (T) and 2 receiver (R) antennas, and a thermal probe cable that connects to the Fan Extension Card that you can see below.


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Since PCB spaces come at a premium on a Mini ITX motherboard, ASUS couldn't exactly put a ton of fan headers on the Impact. In order to fix this shortcoming, they have included the Fan Extension Card. This is basically a fan header multiplier that connects to the motherboard via a proprietary connector. It provides three additional four-pin PWM fan headers, as well as three thermistor headers for enhanced temperature monitoring in the BIOS or the Ai Suite utility. It is a great little solution to a problem that most Mini ITX motherboards are faced with.

Since there is no room for a full-sized front-panel header, ASUS provides a custom cable that extends the individuals header functions such as Power Switch, Power Reset, and Power LED.

The last noteworthy accessory is the CPU Installation Tool, which helps with the installation or removal of the processor from the CPU socket. Please check out our Maximus VIII GENE review for a great showcase of this feature.
 

SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Impact

A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Impact




The Maximus VIII Impact is a very small form factor motherboard based on the Mini-ITX standard. As such, it measures a tiny 6.7" by 6.7", which you can visualize as being almost half of a standard A4 sheet of paper. Despite this miniature PCB size, ASUS have managed to fit a very respectable assortment of expansion slots and headers, while maintaining as user-friendly a layout as possible. The placement of the SATA ports and the U.2 connector are the only thing that immediately look troublesome, but we will examine that more closely in the Installation Section.


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As you might expect from such a tiny motherboard, the CPU socket area is a little cramped with components, but there's nothing here that should prevent the installation of aftermarket mounting brackets.

The star of the show is obviously the vertically-mounted Impact Power III module, which provides this tiny Impact model with a robust power delivery subsystem in the form of an 8-phase digital power design with IR3553 PowIRStage MOSFETs, 60A MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. This is basically the same high-end components that you see on all RoG models, so we expect excellent power management capabilities and very high overclocking potential.



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As is the case with most Mini-ITX motherboard, the Impact only features two DDR4 memory slots. While that might limit the amount of RAM you can install, it certainly has no effect on performance since ASUS have certified this model for overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR4-4133. We are going to be testing a DDR4-4000 memory kit on this model, so keep reading to see how well it handled these astronomical memory speeds. Like on all ASUS motherboards, the Impact features the handy Q-DIMM memory slots, but this time the clip-less side is located against the Impact Power III module.

The 24-pin ATX power connector and 8-pin CPU power connectors are right next to each other on the top-right corner of the motherboard , which frankly is only place for them on a small motherboard.


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The single PCI-E 3.0 x16 is placed at the very bottom edge of the motherboard, with zero headers or ICs placed below it. This is good since any dual-slot graphics card will obviously overlap this area and prevent any access.

This motherboard features four SATA 6Gb/s ports, all of which are supplied by the Z170 PCH and as a result support RAID 0/1/5/10 plus Intel Rapid Storage Technology. Regrettably, there is no M.2 x4 slot in which to install a solid state drive, which is weird omission given how ideal the small form factor of an M.2 SSD would be to a compact build. There is a non-storage M.2 slot is occupied by the Wi-Fi GO! module.


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Here we have the U.2 (SFF-8639) connector sandwiched between the Wi-Fi Go! module and the SupremeFX Impact III audio module. This connector features a PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface that is connected directly to the processor for best possible performance, and features up to 32Gb/s of bandwidth. At this present time, the only solid state drive that supports this interface is the U.2 version of the Intel SSD 750.

Although ASUS is confident in the future-proofness of this connector, we would have liked to see them run some SATA links to it as well, turning it into a PCI-E and/or SATA interface like most M.2 slots are. This would have allowed users to plug in a SFF-8643 to 4xSATA cable and allow the installation of up to four additional SATA devices.
 
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SKYMTL

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A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Impact pt.2

A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Impact pt.2






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Here we have the rear I/O panel, which is pretty much packed with goodness. Starting from left to right, there is a S/PDIF digital audio output, HDMI video output, Q-Code LED display, power and reset buttons, Clear CMOS and USB BIOS Flashback buttons, four USB 3.0 ports, WiFi/Bluetooth antenna ports, three analog audio outputs, a gigabit LAN port, a USB 3.1 Type-A port and and a USB 3.1 Type-C port. You can probably spot the U.2 connector between the Wi-Fi and audio modules, but that space is covered up by the I/O shield once installed.

What's powering all these ports and buttons you ask? Well, starting from the top left, we have an ASMedia ASM1442K IC responsible for the HDMI output, an upside down Nuvoton NCT6793D hardware monitoring controller and an assortment of ASUS chips that handle the various RoG functions, an IDT 6V41538NLG clock generator that improves BCLK overclocking with ASUS' ProClock technology, an Intel i219-V gigabit LAN controller, an Intel Alpine Ridge USB 3.1 controller, and a EtronTech EJ179V USB 3.1 Type-C switch.


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In the top left-hand corner of the motherboard is where you will find the header for the Fan Extension Card. Since PCB spaces come at a premium on a Mini-ITX motherboard, ASUS had to get creative in order to expand this model's fan header count - there are only 2 onboard - and the answer was to add them onto another PCB. This accessory allows you to expand your system's cooling capabilities by adding three extra fans, each of which can be independently controlled from within the BIOS or the Ai Suite utility. It also enhanced temperature monitoring via the three headers for thermals probes.


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The Maximus VIII Impact's onboard audio features the new SupremeFX Impact III audio module. We really tried dismantling the unit, but couldn't manage to do so without likely damaging it. Nevertheless, we do know what it hides under its shiny shell, which does act as an all-encompassing EMI shield by the way. The starting point is a Realtek ALC1150 audio codec that simultaneously supports 7.1-channel playback and 2 channels of stereo output.

Next up is the well-regarded ESS 9023P digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which is a 192 kHz/24-bit capable stereo audio DAC with a solid112dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) and an integrated 2Vrms op-amp driver. This DAC is responsible for converting the digital data into clean and continuous analog signal. The audio passes through this very important chip before heading to the amplifiers, capacitors, and then the outputs. There is a Texas Instruments R4580 headphone amplifier, which supposedly has enough to grunt to power 600 ohm cans. An Anpec APM3095P MOSFET is what provides the SenseAmp feature, which detects headphone impedance and adjusts the headphone amplifier automatically. This ensures that headphones are properly driven/powered given their specific Ohm rating, which is something that your average user probably had no knowledge of.

A NEC TOKIN UD2 audio de-pop relay that basically serves as surge protector for the rest of electrical components, and also eliminates the popping sound that often occurs when a system is powered on or off. Last not but least, audio-grade Nichicon capacitors are used and lead to gold-plated audio jacks. Speaking of which, one very unique feature is the addition of color-coded LEDs inside the actual audio jacks, which helps you more easily select the appropriate output without having to be staring at the jacks head-on. Although we weren't quite able to capture the effect ourselves, click here to see a slightly exaggerated example from ASUS' marketing materials.

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As you would expect, there are a bunch of little ICs all over the back of the motherboard. We are pleased to see that all of the heatsinks and modules are held in place by metal screws instead of plastic push-pins.
 
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SKYMTL

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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.


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The vertically-mounted Impact Power III power module sticks up from the PCB by about 43mm, which kept it just below the fins of our Prolimatech Mega Shadow heatsink. You will definitely want to be mindful about clearances when choosing a CPU cooler for this motherboard. As you will see below, when we installed a fan onto the cooler, the fan clips actually rested on the power module, which was a little worrisome since we did not want to cause a short circuit.


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Unlike on most motherboards, we did not encounter any clearance issues between the memory modules and our CPU cooler. This is partially due to the fact that this model only features two memory slots, but also just good design on ASUS' behalf.


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With such a limited amount of PCB room it's no surprised that the gap between the memory clips and the back of the graphics card is rather minimal. While we did not have to remove the graphics card in order to install/uninstall the memory modules, it was not an easy task so you are probably going to want to install the RAM before the GPU. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both side-by-side and ideally placed, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system a snap.


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The SATA ports are in a pretty bad location, but once again, given the size constraints there is nowhere else to put them. You can expect a SATA cable plugged in the top-most port to come into contact with any large-ish heatsink. Any installation or removal of SATA cables must be done without a graphics card, otherwise you will need small fingers and surgical precision.


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Obviously, a large graphics card with overlap the motherboard significantly, but that's to be expected. You can probably spot the SATA ports in between the heatsink and the back of the graphics card. That gap is not really sufficient to fiddle around with SATA cables, so we recommend removing the graphics card being doing so.


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While we have no U.2 solid state drive or accompanying SFF-8643 cable to show off, it's clear that based on the location of the U.2 connector that the routing of the cable is going to be a little bit awkward. It will have to go under the heatsink and run the whole length of the motherboard to the front of the case. We wish ASUS had found a better location for this connector, but once again, realistically there is lack of empty PCB space.


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The Prolimatech Mega Shadow heatsink's large mounting bracket installed without issue, but it did come pretty close to one little electrical component. This is the case on most motherboards, so nothing to worry about there.
 
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SKYMTL

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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


This new generation of motherboards carries forward ASUS' familiar UEFI bios layout. Although fundamentally similar to past versions, this latest implementation has obviously been tweaked with a bunch of new Skylake-oriented features. As we have come to expect from ASUS, this is a very smooth and responsive UEFI BIOS, incrementally better than anything we've experienced from other manufacturers. The UEFI BIOS is divided across two distinct modes. The EZ Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode has all the settings, options, and features that you could ever want. From within the EZ Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F7, and vice-versa to get back to the EZ Mode.



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The EZ Mode makes pretty good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. The Q-Fan Tuning feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but fundamentally it gives you full manual or preset-based control over the systems fans. The EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level. Basically, the wizard asks you how you generally use your system, what kind of CPU cooler you have installed, and based on your answer it comes up with an appropriate tuning level for your respective system. It worked perfect during our short time toying with it, and the fact that it never actually mentions "overclocking" should help alleviate some of the fears less knowledgeable users might associate with the word. The EZ Tuning Wizard can also be used as a very user-friendly way of setting up a RAID array.



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The My Favorites tab allows you to have all your most useful or most used settings in one place, so you no longer have to search through the whole bios to find what you need time and time again. My favorites used to come as a blank page, but now ASUS have included what it believes are the most used BIOS settings. You can obviously edit this selection, and add or remove any settings that you want.



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The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also set the system language, and an administrator and/or individual user password.



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Next up is the Extreme Tweaker section, which is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with an all-core and per-core option, BLCK frequency, CPU strap, memory frequency, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.

The OC Tuner feature allows novice users to automatically overclock their systems without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. The are two options in this feature, a multiplier-only tuning mode or a multiplier and BCLK tuning mode. You can read more about this automatic overclocking feature in our Overclocking Results section.



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As its name suggests, the DRAM Timing Control section is where you will find all the memory-related settings. Within this section you can select and change all the memory settings, and each memory channel has its own section, from which you can alter the primary and secondary timings. It has just about every memory modifier that an enthusiast or overclocker would need to fine-tune their modules. There's really an overabundance of options and it is quite impressive.



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The DIGI+ Power Control section has a whole slew of advanced power regulation settings for the CPU cores, CPU VTT and VCCSA (system agent/memory controller), and DRAM channels. This motherboard is setup well enough so that you should never actually have to tweak any of these settings though, unless you are really pushing the limits with phase-change or LN2 cooling. The exception to this is obviously Load-Line Calibration (LLC), which is a worthwhile feature that eliminates droopage on the CPU vCORE, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.



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The Internal CPU Power Management section is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like SpeedStep and Turbo Mode, as well as setting the Turbo limits. ASUS have really bolstered this section with an overwhelming array of CPU power tuning settings.



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The Tweakers Paradise sub-menus has a ton of fairly obscure settings that should come in handy in the hands of experts top-level overclockers. The only setting that might be familiar to your average well-versed power user is FCLK Frequency, which should be set to 1Ghz whenever possible to ensure best possible performance. ASUS sets this by default.



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Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Extreme Tweaker are the prodigious voltage options. As you would expect, all the key system voltages are present and accounted for, as far as bunch of other voltage options that we have frankly never even seen before. For some of the key voltages like the CPU Core voltage and the CPU Cache voltage, ASUS have allowed four separate entry modes. The Auto and Manual modes are self-evident, the Offset Mode allows you to specify how much higher (or lower) the voltage should be in reference to stock level, so something like +0.10V or +0.15V. The Adaptive Mode allows you to set both a base voltage and higher Turbo Mode voltage that is enabled under heavy system loads. This helps minimize the amount of voltage running through an overclocked processor when it's not under load.

Usually we would now say that we wish there were more drop-down menus in this section. Although can manually type in whatever you want, but that is not particularly useful when you don't know or don’t remember what the default voltages are. Thankfully, ASUS have thought about this, and they have included real-time voltage read outs next to all the key system voltages. This is an fantastic addition and we couldn't be happier to see it here.
 

SKYMTL

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BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2



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The Advanced tab is where you can tweak countless settings and enable or disable all of the motherboard's components. The CPU Configuration sub-menu is where you can manipulate all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, Enhanced SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, etc.


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The Advanced Tab is also where you can enable/disable or just find all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the audio, LAN, USB 3.0, SATA ports, etc. As you can see, there is a bewildering and overwhelming array of settings and options here. It is downright remarkable.


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The Monitor section contains the anti-surge setting, but is mostly dedicated to monitoring the various voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. This whole section is really quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, as well as truly excellent and comprehensive fan control functionality.


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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.


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ASUS EZ Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplifies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s) or USB flash drive(s). It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.

The ASUS Overclocking Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other Maximus VIII Impact owners.


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Before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It's a well thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is very handy for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
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SKYMTL

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Included Software

Included Software


Ai Suite III

The most important and all-encompassing utility in ASUS' impressive suite of software is the aptly named Ai Suite III. Whereas ASUS used to have a handful of standalone apps for different functions, many were consolidated under the Ai Suite moniker back in 2011. This system management utility is the hub from which you can monitor system clock speeds, voltages, temperatures, and fan rotation but more importantly it allows users to do both automatic and manual overclocking from within Windows. Although it's basic UI has been established for a while, ASUS regularly adds to the capabilities to this utility, so let's check it out.

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There are six main sections that are the focus of the Ai Suite III utility, and they are all linked to the Dual Intelligent Processors 5. As a refresher, DIP5 refers to two co-processors - the TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) and the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) - that are tasked with for optimizing the system with a focus on either better performance and improved energy efficiency.

The 5-Way Optimization section is the coolest, and is where you will find the 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature There is also the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) power saving or performance profiles, Fan Xpert 3 fan speed optimization status, DIGI+ VRM optimization, awesome new Turbo App functionality, and some display-only information regarding TurboV Processing Unit (TPU). We'll go into it in-depth below.

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On the left hand side of the Ai Suite utility is an arrow that activates a pop-out menu when clicked. Here you will be features like USB 3.0 Boost. When enabled, USB 3.0 Boost implements the UAS Protocol (UASP) USB protocol that greatly enhances speeds while also lowering CPU utilization. The EZ Update tool allows users to update their motherboard's BIOS either directly from the internet or from a downloaded file.

System Information just contains a bunch of basic system information regarding your CPU, motherboard or RAM. You can also find you can find your serial number, BIOS version, etc. BIOS Flashback allows you to copy the content of BIOS1 to BIOS2, as well as force the use of BIOS1 or BIOS2.

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At the bottom is a static strip that displays information on CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperatures measurements, as well as CPU and case fans speeds. You can also set safe thresholds for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as well as setting alerts to warn you of any serious fluctuations. It is essentially a replacement for the Probe II utility.

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Clicking on the 5-Way Optimization button reveals the coolest part of the whole Dual Intelligent Processors 5 utility. There is a certain level of fan optimization functionality in this section, but what's really interesting is the automatic overclocking feature. You have the option of 3 different overclocking levels depending on whether you have an unlocked processor or not. We don't want to reveal too much here, so go check out the Overclocking Results section to see how well this auto-overclocking feature worked.

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The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) tab is where you can manually adjust the BCLK frequency, CPU multiplier and Cache/Uncore multiplier. You will also be able to change the CPU multiplier, either per core or as a group. There are also an impressive eleven adjustable system voltages. You can adjust all these settings on-the-fly without having to reboot the system.

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The EPU (Energy Processing Unit) tab is you will be able to fine-tune the various selection of power saving or performance profiles. This is a versatile feature for those who truly care about maximizing energy savings.

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The DIGI+ Power Control tab is where you will find the power options for the CPU, System Agent/Memory Controller, and RAM. There are adjustable settings for load-line calibration, current capability, voltage frequency, and phase control. There are different power controls for each memory channel since they are independently powered.

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The Fan Xpert 3 tab is, as you might expect, where you can fully manage and optimize your CPU and system fans. While there are now a series of four fan presets (Silent/Standard/Turbo/Full Speed), you can also manually adjust the full fan speed curve to your preferences, or simply use the fully automated Fan Tuning feature.

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The Turbo App section allows you set custom system configurations for any applications that you want. For example, if you know that your processor can withstand a higher clock speed in a lightly threaded application, you can see this utility to automatically adjust your system overclock every time you open that app, as well as tweak network priority and audio settings.
 

SKYMTL

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Included Software pt.2

Included Software pt.2


ROG CPU-Z


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ROG CPU-Z is a special edition of CPU-Z especially created to match the aesthetics of ASUS Republics of Gamers motherboards. It is kept as up-to-date as the regular version, and is available at the same place: CPUID.com


MemTweakIt


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MemTweakIt is memory tweaking tool which allows for modification of just about every primary and secondary memory timing within Windows, and without having to reboot the system. It's a joy to use and a great tool for overclockers.


GameFirst IV


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GameFirst IV is a utility designed to help reduce latency courtesy of cFosSpeed traffic-shapping technology. This utility provides users with a lot of control and monitoring capabilities over every application that is accessing the network. It displays CPU usage, NPU usage, ICMP and UDP average ping, and the network utilization of every system process and program. This tool also allows you give priority to certain applications, and throttle or block others to free network resources for other applications. It is your one-stop tool for monitoring and controlling all network traffic.


Sonic Radar II


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The idea behind Sonic Radar II is simple enough, once configured in the above utility, it is basically a radar overlay that shows the positional location that sound is coming from in games. It is essentially a gaming aid, or a really useful tool for those who are hard of hearing or those who just can't have sound enabled in a given scenario (gaming at work anyone?).

Separate from Sonic Radar is a utility called Sonic Studio II, which is an audio suite that allows users control over six audio controls like Reverb, Bass Boost, Equalizer, Voice Clarity, Smart EQ (Smart Volume), and Virtual Surround. It also provides access to the Perfect Voice noise-cancellation feature and Casting Enhancer audio streaming.


KeyBot


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On each Republics of Gamers model you will find a KeyBot button on the top of the board, and a KeyBot microprocessor on the rear. ASUS is dubbing KeyBot as a free, instant keyboard upgrade. Users plug in their existing keyboard to the dedicated USB port on the rear I/O shield to engage the KeyBot chip, and a user-friendly utility allows for the easy programming of macro keys, assigning of function keys, or creation of shortcuts for everything from launching any of any application with a single press to multimedia playback control. Users will also be able to create and share their KeyBot profiles with friends, which should be great for games with complex macros. KeyBot also functions with the S5 sleep mode, so users can wake their PC and boot directly into the UEFI BIOS or enable/disable CPU Level Up with just one tap.


RAMDisk


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The Maximus VIII Impact comes with the familiar RAMDisk utility. For those not familiar with what a RAMDisk is, it basically acts as a virtual drive that is much faster than even the fastest high-end solid state drive. The reason for this is that it makes use of unused system memory (ie: RAM), and turns a chunk of it into an OS-level storage partition that can be used to accelerate the performance and response times of installed or cached applications.


Boot Setting


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ASUS Boot Setting allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to repeatedly hit delete during the POST screen. It is a pretty hand tool when you are rebooting as often as overclockers tend to do.
 

SKYMTL

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Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology



For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the Maximus VIII Impact in five configurations: default settings @ DDR4-2666, default setting @ DDR4-3200, default settings @ DDR4-4000, automatic overclock settings, and manual overclock settings. The components and software are the same across all five configurations, and aside from manually selecting the frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configuration, almost every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

Intel Core i7 LGA1151 DDR4 Test Setup​

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 7 and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) All available Windows updates are then installed.

E) All programs are installed and then updated, followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to eight times, and unless otherwise stated, the results are then averaged.


Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.1.3
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.132.0
  • 3DMark 2013 Professional Edition v1.5.915
  • AIDA64 Extreme Edition v5.50.3600
  • Cinebench R15 64-bit
  • FAHBench 1.2.0
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.0
  • PCMark 8
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Sisoft Sandra 2015.SP3 20.28
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • WinRAR x64 5.30 beta 6
  • wPRIME version v2.10
  • X3: Terran Conflict Demo v1.0
That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 
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