ASUS Maximus VI Impact Motherboard Review
Features and Motherboard Layout
Courtesy of ASUS
- LGA1150 socket for 4th Generation Intel®Core™ i7/ i5/ i3/ Pentium® / Celeron® Processors
- Intel® Z87 Express Chipset
- Impact Power - Compact dynamo of full-scale power
- SupremeFX Impact - Blade of sound adds striking game audio
- Sonic Radar - Scan and detect to dominate
- mPCIe Combo II + Wi-Fi 802.11ac/Bluetooth 4.0 - Extra connections with new gen support
- GameFirst II + Intel LAN - Put Your Frags First
- RAMDisk - Double up on speed with RAM
The ASUS Maximus VI Impact motherboard is designed with a glossy black PCB and red coloration on the DIMM, PCI-Express, USB 3.0, and SATA ports. As a result of moving the power circuitry and sound components to add-on cards, the board has more than enough room around all components. Not a small design achievement given the amount of features crammed into this small form factor board.
ASUS moved some of the power circuitry and board components to the board's back to free up additional space on the front side of the board. However, there are quite a few chips and other components in close proximity to the mount area surrounding the CPU back plate that could be damaged or crushed when using certain cooler back plate designs.
The following ports are integrated into the Maximus VI Impact's rear panel: 4 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, an eSATA port, 2-digit diagnostic display, DirectKey button (black button just under the diagnostic display), MemOK! button (red button just under diagnostic display), CMOS reset button (button to right of diagnostic display), a dual purpose BIOS Flashback / ROG Connect button (button to lower right of diagnostic display), an Intel GigE NIC port, an HDMI video port, a DisplayPort video port, and an optical audio port. With the mPCIe Combo II device plugged into the mPCIe slot, Intel-based 802.11ac dual-port Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ports are added to the rear panel. With the SupremeFX Impact audio add-on card installed, 3 analogue audio ports are added to the rear panel.
The 2-digit diagnostic display can be used for debugging system issues during system initialization. The displayed debug codes can be decoded using the table from the motherboard manual. The DirectKey button forces system shutdown or power on when pressed. With the DirectKey Enable setting enabled (located on the BIOS Boot page), the system goes directly into the BIOS after the DirectKey button is pressed with the system powered off. The MemOK! button can be used to reset memory-related BIOS settings to defaults, useful when the system doesn't boot because of memory options set over-aggressively.
The ROG Connect button can be used to connect the system to a remote system using a dual ended USB cable attached to the upper USB 2.0 port. Once the two systems are connected via USB and the ROG Connect button is pressed, you can change settings on the Maximus VI Formula board from the remote system using the ASUS TweakIt software. You must first install the ASUS TweakIt software on the remote system to change the settings on the Maximus VI Formula board.
The USB BIOS Flashback button can be used to re-flash the BIOS without having to boot the system into the UEFI BIOS interface or DOS. Simply plug in a USB drive containing the proper BIOS file in the root of the drive into the bottom USB 2.0 port(to the lower right of the button) and press the button for 3 seconds until the integrated LED begins to flash. As the BIOS is updated, the LED flashing frequency increases. Once the LED goes out, the flash operation is completed and the board can be booted. Note that if the BIOS Flashback LED flashes for 5 seconds and then glows solid, it means that something went wrong with the flashback operation. Check the USB drive for the the BIOS file in the root and make sure that the BIOS file is named correctly. BIOS Flashback looks for a specific filename and file format when attempting to replace the on-board BIOS. According to the user manual, the BIOS file in the root of the flash drive must be named M6I.CAP for the BIOS Flashback applet to successfully re-flash the board's BIOS.
Because of the board's small form factor, the Maximus VI Impact motherboard has a single PCI-Express device port which stretches almost the entire length of the board.
In the upper left corner of the board are the mPCIe slot for the ASUS Combo II card, the SupremeFX audio card socket, the Probelt voltage measurement points, a USB 2.0 header, and the OC Panel headers (labeled ROG_EXT). The Probelt voltage measurement points allow for direct board voltage measurement using a volt meter. The OC Panel cable connects to the ROG_EXT port and the USB 2.0 port to its left, allowing the optional ROG OC Panel device to interact with the board.
The Intel Z87 Express chipset cooler and the four on-board SATA ports sit along the inside middle of the PCIe slot. ASUS used a low profile, ASUS-branded aluminum cooler for the board's Z87 chipset.
The two on-board DDR3 memory slots are located just below the CPU socket in the lower right quadrant of the board. The board supports up to 16GB of memory running at a maximum speed of 3000MHz. Note that memory speeds above 1600MHz are considered overclocked speeds and are outside of the official Intel stock memory speed specifications. The 24-pin ATX power and 8-pin ATX12V power connectors are located to the lower right of the DIMM slots.
To the lower left of the memory slots are the Intel Z87 chipset controlled USB 3.0 header, a system fan header, the power and reset buttons, the front panel and case speaker headers, and the DirectKey header. A case button can be connected to the DirectKey header to force system shutdown or power on when pressed. With the DirectKey Enable setting enabled (located on the BIOS Boot page), the system goes directly into the BIOS after the DirectKey button is pressed with the system powered off.
The area around the CPU socket is clear of obstructions to support use of larger CPU coolers with this board. The CPU power circuity has been relocated to a daughter board to the right of the CPU socket. Notice that ASUS placed the CMOS battery to the upper left of the CPU socket in a vertical orientation to free up space and make it accessible when needed.
The daughter board to the right of the CPU socket houses all power circuitry for the CPU, including its 8+2 digital power phases, the powIRstage MOSFETS, and the 60A BlackWing chokes. ASUS covered the front and back of the daughter card with black aluminum heat sinks for protection and cooling purposes. Notice that the capacitors for the daughter board sit in a line directly under the front sink.
Directly above the CPU socket are the trusted module header, and two 4-pin fan headers. The CPU_FAN header supports fans rated at up to 1 amp.
To the upper left of the CPU socket are a 4-pin fan header, the LN2 Mode jumper, and the Fast Boot jumper. The LN2 Mode jumper (unmarked jumper just above the Probelt voltage measurement points) enables a cold bug fix that can be encountered when attempting to boot a CPU at sub-zero temperatures. The Fast Boot jumper accelerates the system boot sequence when enabled.