At the initial Skylake launch, we provided a rundown of all the Z170 motherboards we could get information on from the major motherboard manufacturers. Even with details on over 55 motherboards, there were some noticeable parts missing from that list as we were told to expect more as the platform developed. The Maximus VIII Impact from ASUS is one of those to come a couple of months after the initial launch, and builds on the previous Impact products from the Republic of Gamers brand.

As with other Impact motherboards, the major difference between it and other mini-ITX motherboards is the power delivery on a right-angled daughter board at the top. This allows ASUS to provide a larger power sub-system, cool it appropriately, and over the multi-generational iterative design we are told the power losses involved with this method are continually minimised. From the images it is difficult to make out, but the Z170 generation of the Impact comes with a rear metal guard (look on the right hand side and over the motherboard screw hole in the top right corner). Presumably this is either for rigidity or for extra PWM cooling. Also as with other Impact designs, the power connectors are on the right hand side of the board, outside the DRAM slots, to make them easier to access for cable management. Underneath this is the front IO panel, a fan header and a USB 3.0 header from the chipset.

Being a mini-ITX board, there is really only space for two DRAM slots, and the Impact uses dual DDR4 slots with single-sided latches and support for 32GB and DDR4-4133. The latches for the slots are on the PCIe side due to the power delivery daughterboard, which might make DRAM removal with large GPUs installed more difficult. Inside the DRAM slots are four SATA 6 Gbps ports, but storage is aided by a U.2 connector near the rear panel. This is done due to the size of the U.2 connector, and it’s great to have the functionality, though it does mean that SSD 750 owners will be routing the cable over the motherboard to get to it in most cases. Back at the launch of the Z170 chipset, after the SSD 750 had been out for a month, I spoke to motherboard manufacturers about actually replacing SATA Express with U.2 onboard – here’s one of the first examples (there are a couple of others).

The last generation Impact came with an additional daughterboard for extra fan headers, to aid the two already on the motherboard. Here, instead of that daughterboard, we get the EXT_FAN header in the top right which is a breakout connector to a separate PCB containing fan headers and power. When talking to ASUS about this on previous designs, the move towards the fact that Impact owners tend to have customized systems, so having this option allows them to have a more configurable system design.

While we don’t have HDMI 2.0 here, ASUS seems to be using Intel’s Alpine Ridge controller to provide two USB 3.1 ports at 10 Gbps with type-A and type-C support. There are two Intel ICs next to the USB 3.1 ports, the smaller of which is the network controller and the larger seems to be the Alpine Ridge and is similar to other implementations – there isn’t an ASMedia controller nearby at any rate. This would be one of the first times we’ve seen the Alpine Ridge controller outside of GIGABYTE boards, perhaps suggesting that their launch day exclusivity has now come to an end. ASUS also puts on the board an Intel I219-V network controller, a 2x2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi Go module, and their SupremeFX Impact III daughterboard audio solution, now encased in a full EM shield and with LED-illuminated audio jacks and headphone impedance detection/adjustment up to 600 ohms.  The rear panel also supports BIOS flashback, four USB 3.0 ports, and their Impact Control III information/control panel.

Because this information is from the ROG team and not an ASUS regional office, pricing and availability is not yet known. Although typically an ROG team announcement in the past has become a 2-4 week lead time to US deployment in the past, and previous Impact motherboards have been in the $230-$280 area.

Source: ASUS ROG

Update 10/11: We've been told that the Max VIII Impact will retail for around $249 and be available next week in North America.

 

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  • 8steve8 - Saturday, October 10, 2015 - link

    no mini-displayport?
    thunderbolt enabled type-c?

    failure
    Reply
  • id4andrei - Saturday, October 10, 2015 - link

    If you want TB head for Apple or workstation solutions. No one cares about TB; certainly not the "RoG" crowd. Reply
  • Morawka - Saturday, October 10, 2015 - link

    the ROG Maximus VIII Extreme which was also announced yesterday but for some reason omitted, includes thunderbolt over type c and usb 3.1.. Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, October 11, 2015 - link

    It's also ITX. What do you expect there is only so much room. Frankly every ITX board is a work of art to me. Reply
  • bill.rookard - Sunday, October 11, 2015 - link

    Ha - no kidding. Most people look at the pictures and forget just how TINY an ITX board is. 6" x 6" is -not- a lot of space to work with when you're talking about supporting a full-fat desktop class CPU and the cooling component for it. Your average 115(x) socket and cooler accounts for a pretty significant percentage of that, along with the rear IO headers, one PCIe slot, two power blocks and two dimm slots. Those are non-negotiable. Thats why you see ITX boards with more sophisticated features requiring the vertical sub-board assemblies. Reply
  • DrJulle - Sunday, October 11, 2015 - link

    They should have made the soundcard 0,01 inch shorter and put a m.2 on the board. Completely hopeless not to have an M.2 slot for NVMe on a mITX board. Hopefully they will make a revision when they can't sell this junk. Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, October 11, 2015 - link

    I agree not having m2 is pretty bogus on Asus' part. Many ITX boards have ITX, it's a pretty small connector and can be shoved in on the back-side if they don't want the slot to point vertical. Reply
  • Samus - Sunday, October 11, 2015 - link

    ...meant to say many ITX boards have m.2; this board has u.2 but good luck finding a u.2 drive in retail until next year. Reply
  • pjalm - Monday, October 12, 2015 - link

    Um M.2 was meant for mobile, this has the desktop equivalent U.2 so even better. Reply
  • n13L5 - Wednesday, December 02, 2015 - link

    U.2 is lame, cause
    1) they're hard to find
    2) I can't swap the drive into my laptop when I go to travel.

    An M.2 drive, I could use in both machines...

    Of course, there's a simple solution: The ASROCK gamer board. :p
    Reply

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