ASUS Maximus VI Impact mITX Motherboard Review

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The Maximus VI Impact might be small in stature; but as we all know, good things often come in small packages. ASUS has listened to the voices of those wanting a small form factor enthusiast motherboard, more specifically a ROG mITX offering. It’s been said that making a motherboard loaded up with the familiar ROG features would be darn near impossible given the size constraints. That didn’t keep ASUS from giving it a go, but did they succeed? Can this really be all that and a cup of ROG too? ASUS thinks so, and they sent us a Maximus VI Impact to see if we agree. Lets find out!

Specifications and Features

Well, right off the bat we can see by the specifications below that little is missing from what the larger ROG boards offer, except for a couple of DIMM slots and more PCI-E slots. That’s obviously expected though being built on a mITX form factor. Specifications provided by ASUS.

MAXIMUS VI IMPACT Specifications
CPU LGA1150 socket for 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7/ i5/ i3, Pentium® / Celeron® Processors
Support 22nm CPU
Support Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Chipset Intel® Z87 Express Chipset
Memory Dual channel memory architecture
2 x DIMM, max. 16GB, DDR3 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz, non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Support Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Expansion Slots 1 x PCI Express 3.0/2.0 x16 slots
1 x mini-PCI Express 2.0 x1 slot* on mPCIe Combo II expansion card
* The mini-PCIe slot is pre-installed with a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module.
VGA Integrated Intel® HD Graphics Processor
DisplayPort 1.2 with max. resolution 4096×2160@24Hz / 3840×2160@60Hz
HDMI with max. resolution 4096×2160@24Hz / 2560×1600@60Hz
Intel® InTru™ 3D/Quick Sync Video/Clear Video HD Technology/Insider™
Storage Intel® Z87 Express Chipset:
4 x SATA 6Gb/s ports
– Intel® Rapid Storage Technology 12 supports RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10
– Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology
1 x eSATA port
1 x M.2 (NGFF) Socket 2 on mPCIe Combo II expansion card
– Support PCI express 2.0 x1 and SATA 6Gb/s standards
– Support M.2 (NGFF) Type 2242/2260/2280/22110 SSD card (up to 110mm in length)
LAN 1 x Intel® I217-V Gigabit LAN Controller
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac supports dual frequency band 2.4/5 GHz
Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS
Audio ROG SupremeFX Impact 8 Channel High Definition Audio
– Lineout DAC playback Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-weighted, Differential output): 115 dB
– Headphone DAC playback Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-weighted, Differential output): 110 dB
– TI LM4562 high fidelity audio OP AMP
– SupremeFX Shielding Technology
– ELNA® Premium Audio Capacitors
– Content Protection for Full Rate lossless DVD Audio, Blu-ray DVD, and HD-DVD audio content playback
– Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– Optical S/PDIF out port at back panel
Audio Feature:
– Sonic Radar
– DTS Connect
– Music PnP
USB Intel® Z87 Express Chipset:
6 x USB 3.0 ports (4 ports at back panel [blue], 2 ports at mid-board [red])*
6 x USB 2.0 ports (4 ports at back panel, 1 for ROG Connect; 2 ports at mid-board)**
* Support ASUS USB 3.0 Boost, UASP standard on the Intel native USB 3.0 is only supported under Windows® 8.
** 2 x USB2.0 ports at mid-board shares with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port.
ROG Exclusive Features SupremeFX Impact
Impact Power
– Full digital 8+2 phase CPU/DRAM power
– 60A BlackWing Chokes
– 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
mPCIe Combo II (mPCIe/M.2 combo card)
ROG GameFirst II
ROG RAMDisk
CPU Level Up
ROG Connect (Cable Sold Separately)
– RC TweakIt
– RC Diagram
– RC Remote
– RC Poster
UEFI BIOS features :
– Extreme Tweaker
– Tweakers’ Paradise
– ROG SSD Secure Erase
– BIOS Print
– GPU.DIMM Post
– O.C. Profile
– ROG Pulse
ProbeIt
Special Features ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4
– 4-Way Optimization Tuning Key, consolidating DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2
ASUS Exclusive Features
– AI Suite 3
– USB 3.0 Boost
– USB Charger+
– AI Charger
– Disk Unlocker
ASUS EZ DIY
– USB BIOS Flashback
– ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
– ASUS EZ Flash 2
– ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
ASUS Q-Design
– ASUS Q-Code
– ASUS Q-Shield
– ASUS Q-Cable
– ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
– ASUS Q-DIMM
Back I/O Ports 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x HDMI port
1 x DisplayPort
1 x Q-Code LED
1 x DirectKey button
1 x MemOK! button
1 x Clear CMOS button
1 x ROG Connect button
4 x USB 2.0 ports
1 x eSATA port
4 x USB 3.0 ports [blue]
1 x LAN (RJ45) port
3 x Audio jacks
Internal I/O Ports 1 x USB 3.0 connector supports additional 2 USB 3.0 ports
1 x USB 2.0 connector support additional 2 USB 2.0 ports sharing with ROG_EXT header
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
1 x CPU fan connector
3 x Chassis fan connectors
1 x 24-pin EATX power connector
1 x 8-pin EATX 12V power connector
10 x ProbeIt measurement points
1 x LN2 Mode jumper
1 x FastBoot jumper
1 x Power-on button
1 x Reset button
1 x DRCT (DirectKey) header
1 x Front panel audio connector (AAFP)
1 x System panel connector
1 x TPM connector
1 x SupremeFX Impact connector
1 x mPCIe Combo II connector
BIOS 64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Form Factor Mini-ITX form factor, 6.7” x 6.7” (17cm x 17cm)

Being part of the ROG motherboard family, the Maximus VI Impact has an impressive array of features that ASUS wants you to know about. Let’s begin with a board overview depicting the high-level features the Maximus VI Impact offers. Much of what you see here is consistent with the ROG line of motherboards.

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ASUS went to great lengths to make sure the Maximus VI Impact will be compatible with a wide range of mini-ITX cases and CPU coolers. Even with the unique ROG design implemented, the motherboard still meets mITX chassis requirements. ASUS claims hundreds of tests were performed to insure compatibility.

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The three key features highlighted in the slide below include Impact Power, the mPCIE Combo II card, and the SupremeFX Impact audio solution. All three of these features are modular designs, which in many respects afforded ASUS the ability to bring the ROG features to a mITX form factor board.

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The Impact Power module is loaded with the same 60 Amp BlackWing chokes and 10K Japanese made solid caps found on the larger Maximus VI motherboards. Because of its modular design, ASUS was able to use a vertical mounting scheme to keep within mITX specifications.

Also of a modular design is the mPCIE Combo II card. This device brings dual band wireless (2.4 and 5 GHz) and Bluetooth 4.0 functionality to the Maximus VI Impact. The Wireless connectivity offers 802.11ac and is backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n.

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The SupremeFX sound solution is another modular design, which in this case makes it a discrete audio device. There is a special connector on the motherboard the SupremeFX plugs into, thus leaving the PCIe X16 slot available for adding a video card. The same Dual Differential Design, ELNA Premium Audio Caps, EMI Protection, and Shielding features we saw during the Maximus VI Formula review are also found on this iteration of the SupremeFX audio solution.

Other unique additions to the SupremeFX audio include Music PnP and Perfect Voice, both of which are explained in their respective slides below. Basically, you have audio forwarding even with the system powered off (Music PnP) and unwanted noise reduction (Perfect Voice).

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To enhance the gaming experience, a couple of newcomers have been added to the software included with some ASUS ROG motherboards. Sonic Radar is a utility that can be used “in-game” and is dedicated to the FPS gamers out there. With this utility, ASUS claims you can pinpoint the location of key sounds you hear while in-game. Sonic Radar places a radar type overlay on your screen to help you determine where a sound is coming from. It has three built in presets for Battlefield 3, COD Black Ops, and CS-S. There is also one generic preset you can customize to any FPS game you like.

The next newcomer is Gamefirst II, which is a cFos bandwidth prioritization software customized for ASUS. By way of traffic shaping, ASUS claims reduced latency and ping times. If you’re into this kind of thing, there is an Advanced Mode where you can fine tune the utility until your heart’s content.

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SSD Secure Erase and ROG RAMDisk are two new additions to the already stellar Maximus VI series motherboard BIOS. I’ve already had a chance to use the SSD Secure Erase on the Maximus VI Formula, and I can tell you first hand that this is a fantastic feature. The days of having to create bootable media containing a secure erase utility of some sort are gone. With this new feature it can all be done right from within BIOS… Awesome!

ROG RAMDisk gives you the ability to use excess system memory to create a virtual drive. Memory is even faster than a SSD, so by using RAMDisk for partial caching of files that typically drag down loading times, you should see some nice performance gains.

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The last slide here summarizes the main points that ASUS is wanting to drive home. At the bottom of the slide, you’ll see a list of just some of the free software included in the deal.

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Packaging and First Look

You can tell ASUS ROG packaging from a mile away, provided you’re at all familiar with ASUS products. The Maximus VI Impact is no different in this respect with the familiar red themed box. The packaging does an excellent job of providing the potential customer with detailed information on the product. The back of the box shows off some of the special features, along with the specifications. If you raise the flap attached to the box, you’ll find even more detailed information on several of the motherboard’s major attributes.

Note: All packaging and motherboard pictures were taken by hokiealumnus before forwarding the motherboard for review, thanks for the assist Jeremy!

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Box – Angle View

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Box Front

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Box Rear

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Box Flap Opened

Removing the box that resides inside, we get our first look at the Maximus VI Impact through a clear plastic cover. After removing the plastic cover and the motherboard, you’ll find the bottom of the box packed with the accessories.

Clear Plastic Cover, Impact Below

Clear Plastic Cover, Impact Below

Accessory Pack

Accessory Pack

The accessories are listed below and include everything needed to get the system up and running. I really like the included Q-Cable as it makes installing case wiring a breeze and provides additional cable management opportunities. Also of note is the ROG Cable labels that make identifying SATA cables easy to see.

  • 1 x User’s manual
  • 1 x ASUS Q-Cable
  • 1 x SupremeFX Impact audio card(s)
  • 1 x Optional 4-in-1 washers for CPU cooler backplate
  • I/O Shield
  • 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
  • 1 x ASUS 2T2R dual band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)
  • 1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
  • 1 x mPCIe Combo II card(s) with dual-band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac + Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS module

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Meet the ASUS Maximus VI Impact/Photo Op

Before we dive in for an up close tour of the Maximus VI Impact, let’s have a look at the full board from several different angles.

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Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact

Maximus VI Impact Back Side

Maximus VI Impact Back Side

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SupremeFX and mPCIe Combo Card Installed

SupremeFX and mPCIe Combo Card

SupremeFX and mPCIe Combo Card Installed

Up Close/Under the Hood

Beginning at the bottom of the Maximus VI Impact, we find this area dominated by the only available PCI-E X16 slot. At the left side of the slot, we can see the where the SupremeFX and mPCIe Combo II cards get installed.

Bottom Left area

Bottom Left area

There isn’t much else along the bottom edge, so let’s move over to the right side area. The lower area is home to the DirectKey and front panel headers, the front panel USB 3.0 connector, a 4-pin fan header, and the onboard start and reset buttons. Moving up, we come to the 24-pin ATX and 8-pin CPU AUX 12V power connections. From here, we can also see the two DIMM slots that support up to 16 GB of DDR3 memory and speeds that range from 1333 MHz up to 3000 MHz (OC). The DIMM slots also feature the Q-Dimm design, meaning a release lever on just one side. Just above the two DIMM slots are the four SATA 6 GB/s ports, all of which are native to the Z87 chipset.

If you look closely between the 24-pin power connector and the DIMM slots, you can see a series of four LEDs. This is the Q-LED feature that helps to quickly determine what component might be keeping the system from booting properly. The LEDs coincide with the CPU, memory, video card, and boot device. If any of those four items are keeping the system from booting, the corresponding LED will stay illuminated during boot.

Lower-Right Side

Lower-Right Side

Upper-Right Side

Upper-Right Side

The top of the Maximus VI Impact is where the vertically designed, all digital Impact Power module is located. It features an 8+2 power phase design (8-CPU/2-Memory) that features 60 Amp BlackWing chokes and 10K Japanese capacitors. At the very left edge, there is another 4-pin fan header and the LN2 Mode and Fast Boot jumpers. The LN2 Mode jumper can be useful when trying to get past a CPU’s cold boot bug.

Impact Power

Impact Power

Impact Power

Impact Power

Impact Power - Angle View

Impact Power – Angle View

Top-Left Corner

Top-Left Corner

On the left side of the Maximus VI Impact, we have the I/O area. Because board size is obviously limited, ASUS used this area to locate a few items normally found on the interior of a motherboard. Using an “Ipact Control” module, ASUS relocated the onboard LED, MemOk!, and DirectKey features here. The rest of the port assignments are described in the last two images below. Of note here is using the 7.1 channel capabilities requires you to use jack-retasking and incorporate the front panel headphone jack for side speaker functionality.

I/O Area

I/O Area

Impact Control

Impact Control

I/O Assignments

I/O Assignments

I/O Assignments

I/O Assignments

You already had a look at the rest of the board’s left side when we showed the mPCIe Combo II and SupremeFX slots, so let’s move on towards the center area. For a board this size, the CPU socket area has a lot of room for large cooling solutions. Just how much room you ask? Here is a picture of the Noctua NH-U12S CPU cooler installed in a push/pull configuration. The area is not only receptive to a cooler this large, but it also clears memory with rather large heat spreaders. Pretty impressive stuff right there!

CPU Socket Area

CPU Socket Area

Room For Large Coolers

Room For Large Coolers

Left of the CPU socket area is where you find the third chassis fan header, the CPU fan header, and the TPM header. From this vantage point, we can also see the nuvoTon NTC6791D sensing chip responsible for system monitoring capabilities and the Parade PS8201 chip that runs the HDMI port on the I/O panel. Located between the SupremeFX and mPCIe Combo II ports is the Intel I217-V Gigabit LAN Controller. Intel LAN is always a good thing!

Onboard IC's

Onboard ICs

Onboard ICs

Onboard ICs

No motherboard review would be complete without taking a look at what resides under the factory installed heatsinks – it’s just the way we do things around here! The two heatsinks are mounted over the Z87 PCH and the Impact Power module, both of which use a thermal pad as the TIM. Both heatsinks are held in place using the screw down method of retention, which I much prefer over the plastic push-pins. As you can tell by the second picture below, both heatsinks were making excellent contact with the intended target points.

Heatsinks Removed

Heatsinks Removed

Heatsinks Thermal Pads

Heatsinks Thermal Pads

With the heatsink removed from the Z87 PCH, we can see it doesn’t have any markings like we are used to seeing on previous generations. Instead, we have a shiny polished surface to look at.

Meet the Z87 PCH

Meet the Z87 PCH

The heatsink off of the Impact Power module gives us a good look at the 8+2 power phase design and the components that make it up. The 60 Amp BlackWing chokes are said to run 3-5 °C cooler because of the winged fin design ASUS has implemented. The center area of the chokes have a gold treated coating, which ASUS claims increases conductivity and minimizes power loss. Just below the chokes, you can see the Nichicon-GT Japan-made black metallic solid state capacitors. A 20% lower temperature endurance and a 5X longer lifespan are what ASUS claims these capacitors are capable of. The Impact Power design is meant to provide the same stability, overclocking, and voltage control found on larger form factor ROG motherboards – all within the size constraints of mITX. It’s certainly an impressive piece of power delivery to gaze at, we’ll see how well it performs later in the review.

Impact Power Undressed

Impact Power Undressed

Impact Power - Angle View

Impact Power – Angle View

… And finally a picture of the Maximus VI Impact in its birthday suit!

Naked Impact

Naked Impact

The UEFI BIOS

Let me say this straight out of the gate, the UEFI BIOS on the Maximus VI Impact is just as feature rich as its bigger brothers the Formula and Extreme – no shortcuts taken here! For quick access to some basic UEFI BIOS options, there is an EZ Mode area that fits the bill. Here you get basic system information, a few system performance options, and boot priority settings.

EZ Mode

EZ Mode

The advanced mode area is where most seasoned users will be hanging out. The first tab is called My Favorites, which gives you the option of creating shortcuts to your most visited areas of the UEFI BIOS. Off to the right side, you see a Quick Note and Last Modified button. They follow you on most every page you visit and can be used for taking notes or a quick refresher on what you have changed during the current session.

My Favorites

My Favorites

Next up is the Extreme Tweaker area, which is where you can really see that no sacrifices were made when compared to other boards in the ROG family. Everything to do with power management, overclocking, memory and CPU configuration are found in the Extreme Tweaker section. There are also several sub menus to play around with that give you even more finite control of things. The Overclocking Presets sub menu has several profiles you can try out ranging from BCLK adjustments to high memory frequencies. These profiles will be dependent on your CPU and memory capabilities as to whether they’ll work or not, but you can always try them out and make adjustments if needed for stability. The DRAM Timing Control sub menu is just that, memory timings… and a boat load of them. One of the highlights of this area is the Memory Presets area that has pre-configured profiles for many popular memory ICs. ASUS put a lot of work into these memory presets and they’re definitely worth checking out. GPU.DIMM Post is another sub menu that basically just gives you a quick run down on what your GPU and memory speeds are currently running at. The DIGI+ Power Control sub menu gives the user excellent control of the CPU and memory power phases. Even with the Haswell CPUs having the VRM on die, the DIGI+ Power Control still gives a good amount of seamless control over its functions. Finally, there is even a sub menu called Tweakers Paradise for you to explore. Below are all the different areas within the Extreme Tweaker section, peruse the thumbnails and you’ll easily see how feature packed this area of the UEFI BIOS is.

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The Main tab is mostly informational in nature, but you can set the time and date here along with any security options you see fit.

Main Section

Main Section

The Advanced section of the UEFI BIOS has 10 sub menus mostly dealing with system configuration. One highlight includes the ability to give each of the six SATA ports a unique name, which helps to quickly identify what drive is hooked to which port. You’ll find this feature under the SATA Configuration sub menu. Below are more thumbnail images for you to look through as most of these areas are pretty self explanatory.

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The Monitor area of the UEFI BIOS has lots of useful items. From here you can get real time information on voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. Under the Fan Speed Control sub menu, you have the option to control the CPU fan header and the three chassis fan headers. There are also a few fan speed profiles you can choose from if desired.

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Under the Boot section we have everything related to post behavior. This is where you will set your boot priority and BBS priorities. You can also enable and disable the DirectKey function from here and set either EZ Mode or Advanced Mode as your initial point of entry when visiting the UEFI BIOS.

Boot Section

Boot Section

Boot Section

Boot Section

Visiting the Tools area, we find more goodies to explore. The EZ Flash Utility is very handy and arguably the safest way to flash the BIOS. Simply load your BIOS file to the root of a USB device, and EZ Flash will find it and flash it. It’s that simple. ASUS is very proud of the SSD Secure Erase feature found on their ROG boards, and rightfully so. Being able to secure erase a SSD right from within BIOS is a huge time saver and pretty darn awesome! In the Overclocking Profile sub menu, you can save up to eight profiles and give them a unique name. It also has the capability to save profiles to a USB device, so in reality the number of profiles you can save is without limit. Under the SPD Information sub menu is where you can view JEDEC and XMP settings for the installed memory modules. Finally, under the ROG OC Panel H-Key sub menu you can setup several parameters that can be accessed when using the optional OC Panel. Once accessed by the OC Panel, they can be tweaked and configured as needed.

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The last area of the UEFI BIOS is the Exit section. From here, you can save or discard any changes, load optimized defaults, or even toggle back to the EZ Mode page.

Exit Section

Exit Section

Included Software

Once the Maximus VI Impact is loaded up with Windows, you’ll definitely want to pop the support DVD in and have a look at everything ASUS includes for software. Naturally, we have the AI Suite III package, which we’ll detail shortly. There are other software options worth trying out as well, most of which were touched upon in the features section of this review. Just for reference, here are a couple images showing what software is included on the DVD.

Available Software

Available Software

Available Software

Available Software

The AI Suite III package is a diverse set of utilities that allow you to get peak performance from your system. From the main menu, you can navigate to all the different areas of the suite.

AI Suite III Main Menu

AI Suite III Main Menu

Probably the most unique feature of all is the Dual Intelligent Processors 4 area. There are four areas here that deal with overclocking, power consumption, power control, and fan control. The 4-Way Optimization function works, but it’s been toned down a bit from what I’ve seen offered before. In the past, the 4-Way Optimization advanced settings allowed you to prioritize how it attempted the automatic overclocking. The available options were to either choose ‘ratio only’ or ‘BCLK first.’ You could also choose between a fast or extreme tuning, which could take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to complete, depending on which option you selected. The old version would raise the CPU speed, run a quick stability test, reboot, and try again with a higher setting. It would continue this process until it ‘blue screened’ out. With the version included this time around, you only have the option of choosing between a 4.2/4.4/or 4.6 GHz overclock, and it’s done via ratio increases only. So, basically it’s now limited to those three levels (exactly the same as the Level Up feature in the UEFI BIOS), and the entire process takes but a couple minutes to complete. It still goes through the EPU, Fan Xpert 2, and DIGI+ Power optimizations just as the previous version did, as best I can tell.

I went ahead and used the 4.6 GHz option; and within a couple of minutes, I was sitting at the desktop. So, I can say the 4-Way Optimization does work, albeit a little different from what I have seen in the past.

DIP4 Main Screen

DIP4 Main Screen

4-Way Optimization Previous Version

4-Way Optimization Previous Version

4-way Optimization Current Version

4-way Optimization Current Version

4-Way Optimization at  4.6 GHz

4-Way Optimization at 4.6 GHz

If automatic overclocking isn’t your thing, there’s nothing stopping you from entering each of the four areas and settings things up manually. Doing things manually will give you many of the same tweaking options found in the UEFI BIOS. The TPU tab is where you can adjust core ratio, BCLK frequency, and a host of different voltages. If you don’t like using sliders to adjust voltages, you can manually enter the value and they will turn colors as you enter into more risky territory. If you want to play around with CPU strap settings, there is an area in TPU for that too; but you’ll have to reboot if you make any changes. You can also save your settings as profiles for easy access at a later time. Also worth noting is the bottom of the screen where real time system monitoring can be viewed, and it will be viewable no matter where you go inside AI Suite III.

The EPU tab is geared towards power efficiency and has options for reducing voltages, controlling when the monitor turns off, and the sleep timer. You can set a default fan profile from here, but I’d recommend you use Fan Xpert 2 for this function. There are four EPU modes you can set up to match actual system usage (Auto, High Performance, Max Power Saving, and Away Mode).

The DIGI+ Power Control tab gives you the ability to control power delivery to both the CPU and memory. LLC, CPU and Memory power phase control, and CPU and memory voltage frequency control are all located in this section.

Fan Xpert 2 is widely regarded as the best fan control software there is and with good reason. You’ll want to go through the fan tuning process before doing anything else here. Once that is done, you can go about naming each fan connected to the motherboard, set fan curves, or use the four presets. All of these options will be fine tuned based on what Fan Xpert 2 ‘learned’ during the fan tuning process. Here again, you have the option to set profiles once you have things set to your liking.

TPU Settings

TPU Settings

EPU - Auto Settings

EPU – Auto Settings

EPU - High Performance Settings

EPU – High Performance Settings

EPU - Max Power Saving Settings

EPU – Max Power Saving Settings

EPU - Away Mode Settings

EPU – Away Mode Settings

DIGI+ Power Control - CPU

DIGI+ Power Control – CPU

DIGI+ Power Control - DRAM

DIGI+ Power Control – DRAM

Fan Xpert 2

Fan Xpert 2

The rest of AI Suite III has some cool utilities that make the whole experience of owning this board a lot of fun. There are a couple UEFI BIOS update utilities, USB 3.0 Boost, USB Charger +, and a system information utility. There are also a couple of Wi-Fi utilities that can give you a plethora of ways to use the included mPCIe Combo II card and its Wi-Fi Capabilities. Wi-Fi Go! is something everyone should check out, and I’ll direct you to the ASUS Wi-Fi Go! web page for a detailed list of what it can be used for. Most of the other utilities are self explanatory by sifting through the images below, enjoy!

USB 3.0 Boost

USB 3.0 Boost

System Information

System Information – Motherboard

System Information - CPU

System Information – CPU

System Information - SPD Tables

System Information – SPD Tables

USB Charger+

USB Charger+

EZ Update

EZ Update

USB BIOS Flashback

USB BIOS Flashback

Wi-Fi Go!

Wi-Fi Go!

Wi-Fi Engine

Wi-Fi Engine

Overclocking and Benchmarks

Test System

Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Impact
CPU Intel i7 4770K Haswell
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2666 MHz 2x4GB
SSD Kingston HyperX 3KSSD 240 GB
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card EVGA GTX 780 Classified
Cooling Swiftech Apogee HD CPU Water Block – 3X120 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump

Not a lot of motherboard size, but plenty of video card size in the pictures below! I had the room on my test bench, so I decided what the heck – let’s toss in some GTX 780 goodness!

Ready for Action!

Ready for Action!

Alternate View

Alternate View

A good 24/7 stable overclock for the i7-4770K CPU I have is 4.6 GHz, which also allows me to run the memory at a respectable 2400 MHz. Once the overclock was set up, a quick 15 minute run of AIDA64’s System Stability Test was in order. No problems passing!

asus-m6-impact-72

With our 24/7 stable overclock in hand, let’s get after some benchmarks.

We’ll use the previously reviewed ASUS Z87-A, Z87-Deluxe, Maximus VI Extreme, Maximus VI Formula, and the Intel DZ87KLT-75K at their respective stock speeds for comparison data. There is one caveat to be aware of though, the five ASUS boards were using the the multi-core enhancement feature (meaning the core speed was locked down at 3.9 GHz), while the Intel board was at true stock and using the Turbo Core feature. This won’t impact single thread benchmarks like SuperPI much at all, but multi-threaded benchmarks will tend to favor the ASUS boards. Additionally, all six comparison boards have the memory set to DDR3 2600. I also added our 4.6 GHz overclock to the test results, which should give a good idea of how well performance scales with increased CPU speed.

Normally, you won’t find much difference between motherboards when the components and speeds are all the same. I still like to run these benchmarks to make sure no performance issues are encountered. If something is amiss, it’ll make itself known here. First up are the rendering and compression tests, I’ll step aside and let the graphs speak for themselves.

Rendering and Compression Tests

Cinebench R10 Results

Cinebench R10 Results

Cinebench R11.5 Results

Cinebench R11.5 Results

7zip Benchmark Results

7zip Benchmark Results

PoV Ray 3.7 Results

PoV Ray 3.7 Results

x264 Pass 1 Results

x264 Pass 1 Results

x264 Pass 2 Results

x264 Pass 2 Results

2D Benchmark Testing

SuperPi 1M results

SuperPi 1M results

SuperPi 32M Results

SuperPi 32M Results

WPrime 32M Results

WPrime 32M Results

WPrime 1024M Results

WPrime 1024M Results

Just as it should, the Maximus VI Impact performed right on par with its larger form factor brethren. I’m quite impressed with how the scores scaled when overclocked too. Absolutely no issues found in these tests.

Just for grins, I ran the AIDA64 Cache & memory benchmark just to make sure everything was in order. Again, no issues found here and some good numbers were reported.

Results @ 4.6 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Results @ 4.6 GHz CPU / 2400 MHz Memory

Results @ 3.9 GHz CPU / 2600 MHz Memory

Results @ 3.9 GHz CPU / 2600 MHz Memory

All in all, a pretty darn nice showing by the Maximus VI Impact in our benchmarks. Certainly nothing to complain about on the performance front.

Pushing the Limits

Just as with all my other previous Z87 motherboard reviews, 4.8 GHz is about all I can get out of this finely crafted piece of Intel silicon. I’m able to run a quick SuperPi 1M and WPrime 32M test, but that’s about it. Here are those results, which show a little better SuperPi 1M time and a sub five second WPrime 32M result. The one thing I’m confident in relaying to you is that the CPU is definitely the limiting factor here, not the motherboard!

SuperPi 1M @ 4.8 Ghz / 1600 Mhz

SuperPi 1M @ 4.8 GHz / 1600 MHz

WPrime 32M @ 4.8 GHz / 1600 MHz Memory

WPrime 32M @ 4.8 GHz / 1600 MHz Memory

Conclusion

Currently, the Maximus VI Impact is available for $229.99 at Newegg, making it the most expensive Z87 based mITX motherboard. Even at that price, it’s only $10 more than the EVGA Z87 Stinger, which does not have a mPCIe Combo card included nor a few other features that the Impact has. So, in a nutshell, the price is very reasonable for everything you get.

The slogan “Accept no Compromises” was attached to the marketing material we received with the Maximus VI Impact. This is obviously intending to get the point across that just because the Impact may be small in size, it still packs one heck of a punch. After spending a few days with this board, I can honestly say ASUS did a great job bringing an enthusiast level motherboard to the mITX market. All the same UEFI BIOS options that the M6E and M6F have are available on the Impact. There was certainly no compromises made there. The included mPCIe Combo II card and the SupremeFX audio solution add even more value to the Maximus VI Impact, and the same can be said for the AI Suite III software package.

Whether you’re a hard core gamer, serious overclocker, or someone who is looking to built an energy efficient HTPC, the Maximum VI Impact can fit those needs and everything in between. I think ASUS has not only set the standard for an enthusiast level mITX motherboard, but also set it quite high. If you’re looking for a multifaceted mITX motherboard that does it all, this might just be your ticket.

Overclockers_clear_approvedClick the stamp for an explanation of what this means

Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. I had the chance to tinker with this thing a bit before sending it to Dino and let me just say, this is the best mITX motherboard there is. It's basically a Maximus VI Formula, squished down so that it has only two RAM slots and one PCIe slot. Best. mITX motherboard. Ever.
    Plus, it looks adorable with a Classified mounted in the PCIe slot. ;)
    This really looks like a great board and a perfect buy for my needs, but I really dislike that you need Java installed on your machine to be able to configure it. Besides screwing up the DPC (which is critical as I produce and DJ music) it is also the biggest backdoor and security risk you can have.
    It is almost beyond stupidity and carelessness for security and their customers that Asus forces you to install such software package with such a bad track record as Java. When almost all vendors and websites has stopped using it (for very good reasons) - Asus does the oposite and starts using it. Wierd.
    I was almost sure this was the perfect fully featured board for my mini-ITX build until I read that it needs Java installed. Too bad I have to search for another board, and I am not sure I will find anyone this such good hardware as this one (looks really awesome otherwise).
    br,
    martin