I always enjoy M-ITX motherboards as they concentrate the main features needed for a motherboard into an absolute tiny package. More recently manufacturers, such as Asus here, are managing to condense an even more insane amount of features into these motherboards and these efforts are increasingly producing impressive results.
What I am going to preview here is the Asus Maximus VI Impact, which is Asus’ top of the line gaming M-ITX motherboard. First I am going to have a brief look at some of the features of the motherboard, before moving onto what you actually get in the box on Page 2.
• 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 specifications of this motherboard are in themselves are exceedingly impressive - and a little too long to put in this article - but it sets itself apart from other motherboards by including several nice features, including the SupremeFX Impact sound card.
Using a differential design and four op-amps the card aims to improve audio fidelity and clarity over normal on-board solutions. Analog signals from the SupremeFX audio chip are split into two identical but opposing phases (see the image below). The high-fidelity operational amplifier (op-amp) then combines them while filtering out noise and interference, providing a clear audio stream with double the intensity.
Not just intent on improving the audio output Asus have also improved the noise cancellation for voice communication, featuring Noise Gate technology which is aimed at removing noise during pauses in speech or during silence, you then have your more normal Noise Reduction technology which balances the audio against the ambient noise.
The Maximus board also allows you to connect an audio device to the microphone in port on the front of you case to allow it to benefit from the Supreme FX Sound card whilst the machine is switched off! So you can amplify your output and benefit from your PC’s speakers.
Just in case improved audio is not enough you are also have an additional piece of software which is designed to give you an edge in gaming. The Sonic Radar overlay shows you a graphic display of where noises originate from, this includes gunshots, footsteps, and vehicles. The Sonic Radar has a few pre-sets so you can filter the sounds it detects, so you can limit it to footsteps only for example.
Also included is software to help overclock the system and software which allows enabling of power saving features. Utilising dual processors you have Auto Tuning, which if Asus are to be believed can automatically overclock a processor to within 95% of its potential, and can be configured to prioritise the multiplier or BCLK in its method.
You also have ROG Ramdisk, similar to other RAMDisk technologies, which means that it can provision space from unused RAM memory to make a temporary storage space which is far faster than your normal hard drive. Applications are then loaded into this space to take advantage of the increased speed.
To help further with speed Asus also supply you with an SSD Secure erase tool, which allows you to thoroughly delete all the data on your SSD in order to recover lost performance and boost back to factory speeds.
In addition to the Intel GBe Lan, which has Asus’ GameFirst II bandwidth prioritising technology Asus has seen fit to include an additional Wireless card which is able to support Wireless AC technology for better connectivity and speeds where supported technology is used.
On the back panel, as you can see in the image above you are also covered for connectivity, Asus has included 4 USB 2.0 and 4 USB 3.0 with the ability to add more via the headers internally on the motherboard. You also have quick access to indicator lights to diagnose issues if they arise as well as a nice and easy clear CMOS button for when you overclock just a little too much.