ASUS ROG MAXIMUS VIII EXTREME
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.