ASUS Maximus VI Impact: Enthusiast Mini-ITX Motherboard

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Software & Fan Control

Like all ASUS boards, the Maximus VI Impact ships with AI Suite, a collection of utilities to control and monitor various settings. However, as a ROG variant, it uses a special version with some fairly high-end features.

Neophytes may want to try ASUS' built-in 4-way optimization function which automatically determines suitable settings for overclocking, not just CPU frequency and voltage, but also power regulation to ensure stability during load, and also a separate profile when the system is idle, tuning the system to be fast and free of tweaking-related issues, while maintain an efficient power envelope. Fan control is also bundled into this process, checking fan speeds adjusting the curves accordingly to fit the rest of the settings. Manual control is a journey through a deep rabbit hole similar to what you find in the UEFI BIOS. Everything can be tweaked with a high level granularity, including load-line calibration and phase control. You can even detail how CPU voltage shifts in response to load in a dynamic fashion.

There are other software add-ons included with the board but the only thing that really stands out as notable is ROG RAMDisk, ASUS' own ramdisk software which can use up to 80% of the system memory as a high performance cache. It's not new technology but the application is free and is comparable in capability to paid alternatives. The process involves making a virtual drive using a preset amount of RAM and directing it to sync with a folder of an often-used application. It's a nice extra but it's better suited for larger motherboards with more DIMM slots — the 16GB cap on system memory hampers its effectiveness with large modern gaming titles.

Fan Xpert 2, the most advanced first party fan control software makes an appearance here with a more refined iteration than previous boards. The same functionality remains but you can now also dictate fan spin/up down time to adjust how long it takes for the fan to make speed changes, altering how smoothly the fans ramp up and down. The UI has also been consolidated to make it easier to navigate. Fans are scanned to determine usable speeds and each header can be individually controlled dynamically in response to CPU temperature or statically with a single non-changing setting according to the user's specifications.

It's a killer app in our opinion but the same limitation of the UEFI BIOS carries over. Regardless of the characteristics of the fan, it doesn't allow you to slow them down below the designated 40% and 60% speed thresholds for the CPU and Chassis fans respectively. The system basically doesn't want to bring the fan speed down to anywhere near the point where it will stop spinning completely, making the minimum speeds artificially high. Lower speeds may be achievable in the future via SpeedFan, but the current version of this utility does not support the Maximus VI.

Storage Subsystem Performance

To test storage subsystems, we used CrystalDiskMark, the 1000 MB setting with 0x00 fill test data, and a Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB solid state drive (compressible data produces the best possible speeds out SandForce drives). The drive was connected using an Icy Dock external dock which supports eSATA and USB 3.0 (limited to 3 Gbps and 5 Gbps respectively).

SATA 6 Gbps

As the Maximus VI Impact relies on the native Intel chipset for SATA and USB 3.0 functionality, its performance is more or less identical to most series-8 boards, so we've used the results of the Gigabyte GA-Z87N-WIFI to represent the entire chipset.

Intel's SATA controller hasn't really changed from the previous generation, like the Gigabyte Z77X-UD3H and Intel DQ77KB. AMD's controller is definitely a step behind in both sequential and random read/write performance when working with large block sizes. Fortunately for AMD, switching to Intel can only achieve notable measurable gains if a very fast SSD is used; in day-to-day operation it's unlikely you'll notice any difference.

USB 3.0

The Z87's USB 3.0 solution is also a bit faster overall than AMD but the difference is not significant. Both controllers represent a significant bottleneck despite the much higher theoretical throughput limit of 5 Gbps (625 MB/s) throughput limit.

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