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ASUS Maximus VI Impact Motherboard Review

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Features and Motherboard Layout

Features

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

Motherboard Layout

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

March 15, 2014 | 03:55 AM - Posted by Joe (not verified)

Just think the incredibly tiny gaming machines possible combining this mobo in a specially designed case that has no optical drive and no hard drive mounts and uses one of the super tiny 400 watt mini itx power supplies. To cool the cpu use a low profile horizontal downward blowing cpu cooler with a thin profile fan and build the case with a single 120mm intake and 120mm exhaust. Use a 512GB m2 SSD for your storage right on the mpcie combo card that is why no hard drive space added inside case. For graphics card you can either go super super compact with a low profile gt 750ti maxwell gpu that doesn't even use a pci-e connector or a gtx 670 direct cu mini or gtx 760 direct cu mini (but the previous gtx 670 mini is actually a bit faster) normal height but same length as the mini itx mobo if u dont mind a slightly bigger case for a large increase in gpu muscle. Low profile low voltage ram as well of course.

Combining these parts together would allow the use of an extremely tiny mini itx case. Due to the tiny space you would most likely have to run the system at stock to keep it running cool and quiet but thats a fair trade off to get a tiny system that weighs less then 10 pounds and can play every single game out at 1080p resolution ultra details and 40+ fps with probably 95-99% of games hitting 60+fps.

March 15, 2014 | 03:59 AM - Posted by Joe (not verified)

Also forgot to add if you use a taller case to fit the full height gtx 670 direct cu mini you can use that gained space to put a taller cpu cooler with normal thickness fans to improve the cpu cooling and allow lower fan speeds or some minor OC room. If going for absolute tiniest space and still decent gaming for a majority of titles and using the low profile gpu's like the new 750ti maxwell you're stuck with a very small low profile cpu cooler but that will still get the job done at stock.

I'd love to carry around my tiny little gaming pc with the power of full atx cases in the palm of my hand.

March 19, 2014 | 05:46 PM - Posted by Hyp36rmax (not verified)

Silverstone Sg05 + Asus Maximus Impact VI + i7 4770k + Nvidia GTX 780ti + watercool of your choice is an even better possibility ;)

OMG BBQ Awesome

http://www.overclock.net/t/1394314/build-log-watercooled-sg05-haswell-om...

March 21, 2014 | 04:12 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Would the Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme cooler fit on this board?

March 26, 2014 | 12:49 PM - Posted by Morry Teitelman

It should.  We had no problems with the fit of the Noctua NH-D14 (which is a dual tower air cooler)...

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