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

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Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme Summary & Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme motherboard is an absolute beast. It may not have broken any official performance records. However, overclocking-wise, hitting 4.8GHz on a Z170-based board is a first for us using such a simple ratio-based method. It also remained rock solid even in games and our PCMark8 synthetic benchmarks when overclocked to that speed. 

This ASUS motherboard is decked out from top to bottom with more features than we can list. However, the notable head-turners include the handy OC Panel II external tuning and system monitoring hardware utility, the Extreme Engine Digi+ core voltage power controller and the SupremeFX 2015 audio processing engine. Many of these are premium, sought-after features not found on many motherboards currently. On the storage front, not only do you get eight SATA ports, but the board also features M.2  and U.2 storage support, which should take care of your high speed NVMe storage needs. And we can't forget Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support via the included adapter and a bevy of software utilities.

z170 ROG Maximux VII Extreme summary
Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme - Find It At Amazon, Currently $484.99

We did run into a couple hurdles during our testing, but nothing too off-putting. We had a problem with PCMark 8 hanging and not fully launching, forcing us to kill the process in the Task Manager. We quickly nailed the problem down to the Sonic Studio II software utility used for managing the SupremeFX 2015 audio processor at the desktop. The application makes itself a startup item upon installation. Changing this in the Task Manager allowed us to complete PCMark 8 testing without a hitch. There was also an automatic BIOS update, which froze and prevented us from entering the Windows 10 desktop or BIOS. For this I simply used the ROG exclusive Safe Boot button to enter a Safe Mode BIOS environment while keeping the existing BIOS upon restart. At that point all was right with the world and there have been no issues since. Regarding software and utilities, users will find a battalion of tuning and system management utility options on the included disc.   

Pricing:

Like we said, you get more with this board than we can shake a tube of thermal paste at and, as a result, the Maximus VIII Extreme commands a hefty price -- $484.99 at the moment. The closest comparison on the market, for which we've laid hands on is easily Gigabyte's Z170X-Gaming G1. It features a similar price tag and feature set. Where they bundle a 5.25-inch USB 3.1 bay, Asus serves up the OC Panel II. Each offers multi-GPU support, though Gigabyte features support for 32 PCIe lanes thanks to its integrated PLX bridge chip (PLX8747) on a 3-Way SLI/CF configuration and dual M.2 storage support. Asus hits back with NVMe U.2 support, a better UEFI, and some incredible voltage control for overclocking overachievers. No surprise, things get pricey real quick with all those top-end features.

But honestly, neither of these boards are for the budget builder who's merely looking to slap together an average PC. The Asus Z170 ROG Maximus VIII Extreme motherboard is for the tireless system builder who can't or won't stop tuning and tweaking, who is always on the hunt for increased performance. For you, we can attest, this premium motherboard will keep you entertained for a good long while.
hothardware recommended

hotnot
  • Great performance
  • Handy & intuitive OC Panel II
  • M.2 and U.2 storage support
  • 4-way multi-GPU support
  • Onboard 4K DisplayPort & HDMI
  • Extreme Engine Digi+  
  • Bluetooth & Wi-Fi support
  • Fantastic UEFI BIOS and OC tuning
  • SupremeFX 2015 audio codec
  • 8x Fan Headers + fan header add-in card
  • TB Header for Thunderbolt I/O card
  • Expensive
  • Optional startup utilities may conflict w/ some programs

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