ASUS Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Motherboard Review: An Impressive Platform For Skylake

Introducing The ASUS Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme

The Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme motherboard is the latest in Asus' flagship line of enthusiast-class motherboards for gamers. It’s a top-end premium solution with a dizzying array of tuning options to supercharge your next build and tweak overall performance in games, networking and more. Our previous motherboard eval featured the Gigabyte Z170X-UD5 Ultra Durable, which was a budget-friendly Z170 motherboard that offered strong performance, without a ton of superfluous bells and whistles. Yet the Gigabyte board was quite the performer, holding its own in most tests and even coming out ahead of a couple of competing Z170 boards in others.

z170 ROG Maximux VII Extreme box
The Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme

The Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme is not for the faint of heart or those light on funds. For the premium cost of entry, however, builders are treated to a bevy of cool features and a ton of overclocking related options. Sure you get on-board radios for Bluetooth and the included Wi-Fi adapter, but some of the more alluring features include support for up to 64GB of DDR4 memory at overclocked speeds up to 3866+ MHz, 4 x USB 3.1 ports, M.2 Socket 3 Type M ports, 4 x PCIe 3.0 slots at 16x/8x/8x/8x for extreme multi-GPU configurations, SupremeFX 2015 7.1 channel audio, companion tuning utilities and much more. The motherboard's full list of specifications and features is presented below...

Asus Z170 ROG Maximus Extreme Motherboard
Specifications & Features
CPU:Intel Core i7 processors - LGA1151
Chipset:Intel Z170 Chipset
Multi GPU:Supports NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI Technology 
Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology
Memory:4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 Dual Channel memory architecture
Audio:ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
Connectivity:Intel I219V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), GameFirst technology
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
Up to 1300Mbps transfer speed
Slots:3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4, gray) 
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x4 mode, gray) 
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1 (black)
Storage:1 x M.2 x4 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray, 4 ports from 2 x SATA Express
2 x SATA Express port
1 x U.2 port
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
USB 3.1:ASMedia USB 3.1 controller:
2 x USB 3.1 ports (2 at back panel, red, Type-A)

Intel USB 3.1 controller:
2 x USB 3.1 ports (2 at back panel, , Type-A + Type-C
USB 3.0:Intel Z170 chipset: 
8 x USB 3.0 ports (4 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board)
USB 2.0:6 x USB 2.0 ports (6 at mid-board)
OC Panel II:2.6 " LCM display
EXTREME/NORMAL mode switch 
EXTREME Mode for subzero OC benching:
- VGA Hotwire, Subzero Sense, Slow Mode, Pause Switch, ProbeIt, ReTry button, Safe Boot button
2 x Thermal sensor connectors
4 x 4-pin extra fan connectors *5
NORMAL Mode for in-chassis usage:
- OC button, FanSpeed control button, LCM backlight on/off button
I/O Ports:
- POWER:1 x SATA power connector
- ROG_EXT port:1 x 18-1 pin data connection port
Form Factor:Extended ATX Form Factor 
12 inch x 10.7 inch (30.5 cm x 27.2 cm)
Price:$484 Currently At Amazon

One of the more visible inclusions with this mobo is the Asus OC Panel II. This sweet, little external device can be used for crucial system monitoring. There are several buttons on the front of the OC Panel II. Two of these are Safe Boot and Retry. Safe Boot restarts the system and takes you directly into the BIOS Safe Mode option. Retry is an instant hard re-boot option that eliminates the need to long press to your system's power button (or reach down to hit your reset button). The unit also displays temps, fan speed and even current BLCK and CPU ratio settings. But it also doubles as a fairly intricate tuning tool replete with OC controls and three preset options for CPU fan speed (Turbo, Standard and Silent). The front panel can be removed to reveal 4 x 4-pin fan headers (2 x PWM and 2 x full speed) and 2 x 2-pin temp sensors for additional cooling and monitoring of your system.

z170 ROG Maximux VII Extreme box2

For this evaluation, we are using a Skylake-based Core i7-6700K desktop processor with the Maximus VIII Extreme.  Skylake is currently the go-to solution for building cost-effective, high performing Intel-based rigs. Skylake makes use of up to 4-cores and 8-threads on the i7-6700K with the 6600K dipping down to a 4C/4T configuration. Skylake also features improved integrated video in the form of the Intel 530 HD iGPU, which supports Microsoft’s DirectX 12 API -- though with a high-end Skylake chip and motherboard like this one, discrete graphics will most likely be used.

z170 ROG Maximux VII Extreme bundle

Included with the Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme is a sizable array of accessories. Included with the motherboard, we have 4 x 2-in-1 SATA 6GB/s cable packs, bridges for SLI and CrossFire, a back I/O shield, Asus dual-band Wi-Fi antennas, a fan extension card with additional fan headers, a single Q-connector pack for quickly connecting system front panel connections, a ROG Door Hanger, 12-in-1 cable label stickers, ROG Fan Label stickers, a DVD for installing tuning software and utilities, a user guide, and the OC Panel II kit. The kit includes the aforementioned OC Panel as well, in addition to a screw pack, a case housing for 5.25-inch bay installation, and connecting cables.

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