Maximum Impact and mimimum footprint; the ASUS Maximus VIII Impact

Subject: Motherboards | December 3, 2015 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: skylake-s, ROG, Republic of Gamers, Maximus VIII Impact, lga1151, Intel Z170, asus

Before looking at this particular Maximus board, make sure you have checked out Morry's review of the Silver Award winning Maximus VIII Gene as it is well worth the read.  If you find that a mATX board is simply too big for you then you could consider the ASUS Maximus VIII Impact, a mini-ITX board with a fair spread of features.  You are limited to a single x16 PCIe slot but that leaves plenty of channels for 6 USB 3.0, two 3.1 ports of which one is a Type-C connector, four SATA 6GBps ports and U.2 as well.  This board also features the SupremeFX audio found on the Gene, albeit in a slightly different form and adds dual channel WiFi support as well.  [H]ard|OCP were very impressed with Impact, check out the many reasons why it picked up their top awards here.

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"Let’s face it, most sequels are never as good as the original films. When it comes to motherboards the opposite usually rings true. ASUS’ Republic of Gamers brand has had several iterations of the mini-ITX Maximus Impact, today we have version VIII. Hopefully ASUS continues its track record of great sequels."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Maximus VIII Gene is one of the Intel Z170 chipset offerings in the ROG (Republic of Gamer) board line. The board features the standard black and red ROG aesthetics in an mATX form factor to accommodate space constrained system builds. ASUS chose to integrate black-chrome heat sinks into the board's build, giving it a sleek and modern appearance. The board's integrated Intel Z170 chipset integrates support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. With an MSRP of $230, the Maximus VIII Gene offers a compelling price for a feature-packed product.

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Maximus VIII Gene features an 8+2 phase digital power system, providing more than enough power to the CPU and integrated GPU for whatever you choose to throw at it. ASUS integrated the following features into the Maximus VIII Gene board: two SATA 3 ports; two SATA-Express ports; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; two PCI-Express x16 slots; one PCI-Express x4 slot; on-board power, reset, MemOK!, Safe Boot, ReTry, Clear CMOS, and USB BIOS Flashback buttons; ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort and HDMI video ports; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our preview of the ASUS Maximus VIII Gene motherboard!

Gaze again onto the glory that is the MSI Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition

Subject: Motherboards | October 16, 2015 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition, skylake-s, msi, lga1151, Intel Z170

As you saw from the pictures in Morry's article, the MSI Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition is a gorgeous looking motherboard and a shoo-in to power modders systems for this generation as it will lend great character to any inventive build you might construct.  Looks are not everything in a motherboard however, enthusiasts also want to know how well it performs.  [H]ard|OCP have also recently reviewed this motherboard which earned a Gold Award from their team as well but some of their experiences differed.  For instance they saw a stable overclock of 4.7GHz @ 1.45v with the memory at DDR4-2666, albeit with some small problems which they discuss, a bit better than the 4.5GHz Morry achieved.  They also had some issues with the sensors and Command Center software which you should read about in addition to Morry's discoveries.

MSI, keep doing what you are doing as some of us are not cultural illiterates!

"MSI has a goal to be the number one motherboard maker in PC Gaming. To that end MSI has been rebranding and the Z170A XPOWER GAMING TITANIUM EDITION motherboard is an example of this shift in focus. This new XPOWER series retains much of its heritage but shifts gears towards being an upper echelon gaming oriented solution."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of MSI

Unique is a word I don't throw around much with motherboard reviews, but the latest revision of MSI' XPower series is nothing if not unique. The Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition features a stunning silver and black aesthetic for a look unlike any of its competition in the LGA1151 realm, featuring a silver colored PCB and black and red accents in some key areas of the board for some additional eye-catching value. The board features branding on its VRM and chipset heat sinks as well. By integrating the Intel Z170 chipset, the motherboard supports the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. With an MSRP of $299, the Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition sits at a competitive price point for the features it offers.

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

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Courtesy of MSI

To give the board some teeth, MSI paired up the Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium (Ti) Edition motherboard with its Military Class 5 component architecture. This latest iteration includes a 16-phase digital power delivery system with DrMOS 3-in-1 chip MOSFETS, Titanium chokes, and a mix of Hi-c and DARK capacitors to ensure stable operation under the most extreme circumstances as well as the greatest degree of power efficiency possible. MSI also integrated a high quality audio subsystem, centered around their Nahimic sound technology with Chemi-Con sourced audio capacitors and headphone amplifiers on an isolated PCB. MSI chose to integrate the following features into the Z170A-XPower Gaming Titanium Edition board: four SATA 3 ports; two SATA-Express ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable ports; an Intel I219-V GigE controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; a 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, BIOS Flashback, and Game Boost buttons; Multi-BIOS, Hotkey, and PCI CeaseFire switches; OC Dashboard device support; BIOS Flashback+ BIOS updater; integrated V-Check voltage measurement points;dual HDMI video ports; a DisplayPort video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our review of the MSI Z170X-Gaming G1 motherboard!

ASUS Announces ROG Maximus VIII Impact Mini-ITX Z170 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, SFF, ROG, motherboard, mini-itx, Maximus VIII Impact, lga1151, asus

ASUS has announced their latest mini-ITX offering in the Republic of Gamers series, and the Maximus VIII Impact motherboard packs an outrageous number of features into one formidable little 6.7-inch square. In fact, short of the second PCIe slot afforded the larger mATX form-factor, the newest Impact board looks to be every bit as powerful as the recently released Maximus VIII Gene motherboard.

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"To push performance even further, Maximus VIII Impact has a full-scale voltage-regulator module (VRM) dubbed Impact Power III vertically-mounted onto the tiny board, allowing you full access to digital power management for ultra-precise and stable overclocks with your  processor and memory.  ROG has also managed to squeeze in 5-Way Optimization auto-tuning and Pro Clock technology so you can get the most out of your 6th Gen. Intel processor and overclocked DDR4 memory which goes up to 4133MHz or higher." 

Let’s check out the specs on this new Impact board:

  • CPU: LGA1151 socket for 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron processors
  • Chipset: Intel Z170 Express
  • Memory: Dual-channel memory architecture
    • 2x DIMM, max. 32GB DDR4-4133(OC) non-ECC, un-buffered memory
  • PCIe Slot: 1x PCIe 3.0 x16 slot (supports x16 mode)
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics Processor
    • HDMI 1.4b
    • Intel InTru 3D/Quick Sync Video/Clear Video HD Technology/Insider
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac supports dual frequency band 2.4/5GHz; MU-MIMO
  • Bluetooth: V4.1, 4.0LE
  • USB: 2x USB 3.1 ports (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C) powered by Intel USB 3.1 controller; 6x USB 3.0 ports (2 at mid-board)
  • Storage: 1x U.2 port (PCIe x4, 32Gb/s), 4x SATA 6Gb/s ports. Supports Intel Smart Response Technology
  • LAN: Intel® I219-V Gigabit LAN with Anti-surge LANGuard, ROG GameFirst Technology
  • HD Audio: SupremeFX Impact III
    • ROG SupremeFX 2015 High Definition Audio Codec
    • ESS® ES9023P DAC with Hyperstream™ Architecture
    • 2Vrms Headphone Amp into 32-600 Ohms
    • SupremeFX Shielding Technology
    • Optical S/PDIF output at back panel
    • Sonic Studio II; Sonic Radar II; Sonic SenseAmp; DTS Connect
  • Fan headers: 2x 4-pin onboard; 3x 4-pin on daughter card
  • Form Factor: Mini-ITX, 6.7" x 6.7" (17 cm x 17 cm)

Maximus VIII Impact_2D Front.jpg

Update, 10/11/15: The ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Impact motherboard is now available at Newegg.com for $248.99.

Source: ASUS

ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Z170 Motherboard

Subject: Motherboards | October 9, 2015 - 06:00 PM |
Tagged: Z170, Skylake, ROG, overclocking, motherboard, Maximus VIII Extreme, lga1151, asus

While a little less flashy looking than some of the performance motherboards we’ve seen lately, opting for an understated gray/red color scheme over a black PCB, there is nothing subtle about the new Maximus VIII Extreme. From the specs it looks to be the most overbuilt gaming/overclocking motherboard possible for the Intel Z170 chipset, and that’s exactly what the ROG Extreme motherboards are made for.

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Here are the (very lengthy) specifications:

  • CPU: LGA1151 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron®
    • CPU Cache Ratio Tuning
    • Turbo Ratio OC
    • BCLK OC (Pro-Clock)
    • iGPU OC
  • DRAM: Spec supported 4x DIMM, max. 64GB
    • DDR4 3866(O.C.) non-ECC, un-buffered memory, XMP 2.0
  • Extreme Overclocking   
    • OC Zone: Retry button, Safe Boot button, LN2 mode, Slow Mode switch, Probelt, PCIe x16 lane switch, DRAM channel jumper
    • OC Gadget: OC Panel II
    • OC Design: ASUS PRO Clock Technology
  • Optimize System             
    • Power Design: Extreme Engine Digi+
    • DRAM Layout: 2nd Generation T-Topology
  • Performance Optimization          
    • Intel® Quick Sync Video
    • Intel® Smart Response Technology
    • USB 3.1 Boost
    • HW Fast Boot support
  • Network: Intel® I219-V NIC with LANGuard Anti-surge
    • Network bandwidth management: GameFirst III + GameFirst IV (Beta)
  • Intel® Rapid Start Technology
  • Intel® Smart Connect Technology
  • Expansion Slots:
    • PCIex16 @ x16 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x8/x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3
    • PCIex16 @ x4 - 1x Max. @Gen3 via PCH
    • PCIex1 @ x1 - 2x Max. @Gen3

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The included OC Panel II fits in an open 5.25” bay

  • BIOS: CPU-Free Update/USB BIOS Flashback/UEFI Level Update/EZ Flash 3/BIOS Flash Protection/CrashFree BIOS 3
  • BIOS feature:
    • All fans including pump header are DC and PWM mode compatible
    • Wizard for simple OC and RAID
    • SSD Secure Erase
    • My Favorite & Shortcut
    • Boot Logo Size Adjustment
    • F12 BIOS Print
  • Power Solution:
    • Full Digital 8 Phase CPU Power Design
    • 4 Phase for iGPU
    • 2 Phase Digital DRAM Power Design with ASUS DRAM Power Utility
    • System Agent Power: 1 Phase for VCCSA
  • Extreme Engine Digi+     
    • Dual PWM Controllers, 1 for Vcore, 1 for VGT
    • 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
    • MicroFine Alloy Chokes
    • OptiMOS™ MOSFET
  • Real-time adjustment: ASUS DIGI+ Power Control Utility
  • Anti-Surge Protection
  • Mass Storage:
    • 1x M.2 socket 3 with M Key; Supporting form factor 2242, 2260, 2280, 22110, PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA mode, PCIe RAID
    • 1x U.2 connector (sharing PCIe with M.2)
    • 2x SATA Express via PCH (SATA-E 1 share SATA with M.2)
    • 8x SATA 6Gbps (2 via PCH native; 4 via SATA-E; 2 via ASM1061)
    • RAID: RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 via iRST 14
  • USB Support:
    • 4x 3.1 (1 Type-A and 1 Type-C via Intel Alpine Ridge; 2 Type-A via Asmedia USB 3.1 controller)
    • 4x USB 3.0 (4 rear, 4 mid) via PCH
    • 6x USB 2.0 - 6 mid via PCH, two shared with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port
  • Bundled Software           
    • AI Suite 3 (Real-Time OC); ROG GameFirst III + GameFirst IV (Beta); ROG Keybot II; RAMCache; ROG RAMDisk; USB 3.1 Boost; ROG CPU-Z; ROG MemTweakIt; Lighting Control

Pricing and availability were not immediately available.

Source: ASUS
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

As the flagship board in their Intel Z170-based G1 Gaming Series product line, GIGABYTE integrated all the premium features you could ever want into their Z170X-G1 Gaming motherboard. The board features a black PCB with red and white accents spread throughout its surface to make for a very appealing aesthetic. GIGIGABYTE chose to integrate plastic shields covering their rear panel assembly, the VRM heat sinks, the audio components, and the chipset and SATA ports. With the addition of the Intel Z170 chipset, the motherboard supports the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. Offered at at a premium MSRP of $499, the Z170X-Gaming G1 is priced to appeal to the premium user enthusiasts.

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

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Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE over-engineered the Z170X-Gaming G1 to take anything you could think of throwing at it with a massive 22-phase digital power delivery system, featuring 4th gen IR digital controllers and 3rd gen IR PowerIRStage ICs as well as Durable Black solid capacitors rated at 10k operational hours. GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the Z170X-G1 Gaming board: four SATA 3 ports; three SATA-Express ports; two M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; dual Qualcomm® Atheros Killer E2400 NICs; a Killer™ Wireless-AC 1535 802.11AC WiFI controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; three PCI-Express x1 slots; 2-digit diagnostic LED display; on-board power, reset, CMOS clear, ECO, and CPU Overclock buttons; Dual-BIOS and active BIOS switches; audio gain control switch; Sound Blaster Core 3D audio solution; removable audio OP-AMP port; integrated voltage measurement points; Q-Flash Plus BIOS updater; integrated HDMI video port; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

Continue reading our review of the GIGABYTE Z170X-Gaming G1 motherboard!

Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: ASUS

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170-A motherboard is among initial offerings from ASUS' channel line of Intel Z170 chipset board line. The board features ASUS' new Channel line aesthetics, featuring white and black coloration to differentiate the line from their Z97 gold-theme offerings. ASUS uses the Z170-A to redefine the definition of a base-line motherboard, integrating many "upper-tier style" features not normally found on the lower tier offerings. The board's integrated Intel Z170 chipset integrates support for the latest Intel LGA1151 Skylake processor line as well as Dual Channel DDR4 memory. Offered at a price-competitive MSRP of $165, the Z170-A threatens to give the rest of the Z170-based boards a run for the money.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170 shares the same DIGI+ style power system of its higher priced siblings, featuring an 8-phase digital power delivery system. ASUS integrated the following features into the Z170-A board: four SATA 3 ports; one SATA-Express port; one M.2 PCIe x4 capable port; an Intel I219-V Gigabit NIC; three PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; one PCI slot; on-board power, and MemOK! buttons; EZ XMP and TPU switches; Crystal Sound 3 audio subsystem; integrated DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI, and VGA video ports; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

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Courtesy of ASUS

The Z170-A motherboard comes standard with ASUS latest iteration of their sound technology, dubbed Crystal Sound 3. Like its predecessors, Crystal Sound 3 integrates the audio components on a isolated PCB from the other main board components minimizing noise generation caused by those other integrated devices. ASUS designed the audio subsystem with high-quality Japanese-sourced audio and power circuitry for a top-notch audio experience.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS Z170-A motherboard!

Navigating Skylake, here's a map of the ASUS Z170-A

Subject: Motherboards | August 27, 2015 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: Z170-A, skylake-s, lga1151, Intel Z170, asus

Morry looked at the ASUS Z170-A at the beginning of the month, while SkyLake was still being launched and we were learning about multiple Z170 boards every day.  With the chipset still so new it is worth investigating the results of other sites when they tested ASUS' mid-range motherboard which costs about half of the Z170-Deluxe.  The aesthetics of this board are somewhat simpler than the Deluxe model and [H]ard|OCP reported the motherboard felt much thinner and more flexible, it didn't break but it certainly didn't feel as sturdy as the more expensive model.  Apart from the construction they also could not reach the same RAM speeds as they did with the Deluxe, one of the testers could not get 3200MHz DIMMs to run completely stable at their JEDEC specs.  Check out the full review here, the price on this motherboard can make the small issues moot for many enthusiasts looking to upgrade to a new Intel based system.

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"Previously we looked at ASUS’ Z170-Deluxe which offered users a huge amount of features and a premium price to go with it. Not everyone wants to spend $300 or more on a motherboard which is why ASUS has just what you need. ASUS’ Z170-A offers all the performance without all the extra features and fluff and a low price point."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS offers up the Z170 chipset with Deluxe features

Subject: Motherboards | August 14, 2015 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: Z170-Deluxe, skylake-s, lga1151, Intel Z170, asus

Morry offered you a preveiw of the ASUS Z170 Deluxe and now [H]ard|OCP have posted their opinion of the new motherboard.  One new feature you might not have realized was incorporated on this board involves the 5 fan headers, all are 4-pin PWM and can be controlled in the UEFI BIOS.  As well there is a dedicated waterpump header that is defaulted to full power, another handy new feature.  The plastic shrouds are striking and will make this board popular with modders and those with glass cases who like to show off.  During their testing [H] tried to push their i7-6700k past 4.7GHz but could not do so, they will be looking to source additional chips to see what difference, if any, exists.

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"Today we review ASUS’ new Z170-Deluxe which is based on the new Intel Z170 Chipset supporting Skylake processors. We overclock Skylake and push the Z170-Deluxe to its limits. We find out about this solid new motherboard platform and we have to say we come away impressed."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP