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While the ASRock Z170 OC For­mula was de­signed with over­clock­ing in mind, the ASUS ROG Max­imus VIII Ex­treme is an all-round pre­mium board that is in­tended to of­fer the best per­for­mance to both gamers and over­clock­ers. It is also one of two E-ATX boards in this shootout – ASUS ap­par­ently needed more space to cram ex­tra good­ies on board.

The board uti­lizes a 13+2 phase power de­sign that has full con­trol over all el­e­ments of power de­liv­ery to the CPU, like the Vcore and Vsa volt­ages. This means smoother and more sta­ble power for the CPU, which should trans­late into higher and stabler over­clocks. An ad­di­tional 4-pin ATX 12V power con­nec­tor is also present to de­liver even more power for ex­treme over­clocks.

One unique fea­ture is the in­clu­sion of a ded­i­cated U.2 port lo­cated be­side the eight SATA 6Gbps ports, which means there is no need to go through the has­sle of get­ting an M.2-to-U.2 adapter if you want to in­stall a 2.5-inch form fac­tor PCIe 3.0 x4 drive.

There is also just a sin­gle M.2 socket on­board, which may seem a bit want­ing com­pared to what other man­u­fac­tur­ers are of­fer­ing. How­ever, it’s pos­si­ble that ASUS is try­ing to avoid a sit­u­a­tion where the M.2 drives end up over­heat­ing be­neath a crowded multi-GPU ar­ray. This would also ex­plain why ASUS has lo­cated the M.2 socket to­ward the outer edges of the board, where it is less likely to be af­fected by heat from the graph­ics cards.

A bun­dled 3x3 Wi-Fi mod­ule adds sup­port for 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth 4.0, al­low­ing you to take ad­van­tage of the lat­est AC1900-class routers as well. The on­board Supre­meFX 2015 au­dio has also been up­graded over last year’s so­lu­tion. ASUS has added a to­tal of four new dis­crete com­po­nents – an on­board DAC, a ded­i­cated clock, a TI RC4580 op-amp, and a de-pop re­lay – to pro­vide bet­ter per­for­mance for live stream­ing ap­pli­ca­tions and high-im­ped­ance head­phones. In sum, this means a cleaner au­dio sig­nal that is free from jit­ter, the abil­ity to drive head­phones up to 600 ohm, and the elim­i­na­tion of loud pop­ping noises when you plug in your au­dio com­po­nents.

Round­ing out the pack­age is a spe­cial area called the OC Zone that hosts a se­lec­tion of but­tons, switches, and volt­age read­out points to make over­clock­ing eas­ier. For in­stance, the ReTry but­ton ad­dresses the is­sue of lock­ups dur­ing POST by set­ting the sys­tem to con­tin­u­ally at­tempt to re­boot un­til it suc­ceeds.

The ded­i­cated U.2 port en­ables you to eas­ily in­stall 2.5-inch PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs.

The ad­di­tional 4-pin header pro­vides ex­tra power to ex­treme over­clock­ers.

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