Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview - Has the King Returned?

Written by Antony Leather

October 20, 2015 // 3:13 p.m.

Tags: #asus-impact #asus-maximus-viii-impact-review #best-itx-board #lga1151 #mini-itx #skylake #skylake-itx-board #z170 #z170-itx-board

The vast majority of other features are where they were last time - both power connectors, USB 3 header, SATA ports etc - they're all in the usual places. The rear I/O panel, as we mentioned earlier, still sports the same overclocking riser we saw on the Z97 version, except the Keybot and Soundstage buttons have been replaced with the displaced power and reset buttons. You also get onboard 802.11ac WiFi plus the usual included magnetic antenna.

Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview - Has the King Returned? Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview
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By far the biggest and perhaps most controversial feature change is with the storage. You still get four STA 6Gbps ports, but in place of an M.2 port (this was even able to support bootable SSDs in PCI-E 3.0 x4 mode on the Z97 version), Asus has switched to U.2 instead. Including a U.2 port (formerly known as SFF-8639) is a useful move - there aren't many drives to choose from at the moment, but unlike the already defunct SATA Express it's an up and coming standard for sure that offers an easier-to-use interface than fiddly M.2 ports, which are actually designed primarily for mobile use.

Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview - Has the King Returned? Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview - Has the King Returned? Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview
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The downside is that M.2 is here now and with drives such as Samsung's SM951 and the up and coming 950 Pro offering massive speed bumps over SATA 6Gbps, the jury is definitely out as to whether this was a good move. Yes, the Impact represents the pinnacle of mini-ITX motherboards and is decidedly niche as a result, but we'd absolutely expect it to be paired with the likes of the 950 Pro, which in itself will likely retail for noticeably more than the SATA 6Gbps equivalent, so is a premium item too.

Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview - Has the King Returned? Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview - Has the King Returned? Asus Maximus VIII Impact Preview
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So, there we are. Let us know your thoughts on the new Impact in the comments and stay tuned for our full review.
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