ASUS Maximus VI Impact: Enthusiast Mini-ITX Motherboard

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Wireless 802.11n

For the WiFi performance test, we sent a large file transfer (700MB) over 802.11n to and from a machine connected via gigabit ethernet and timed the operation to calculate the average transfer rate. We also checked signal strength to the various wireless networks in our area by going to the MS-DOS command line and using the the "netsh" tool.

It should be noted that the 802.11n router servicing our lab is not the greatest, an Actiontec combination router/gateway from our ADSL provider. It is located in a central location, about a few feet away with only one wall between it and our test systems so it should produce ideal results.

Despite all the impressive specifications of the included Broadcom wireless adapter, they did not translate into superior real world performance. Downstream performance was similar to NICs currently shipping with a pair of Gigabyte mini-ITX mainboards. Upstream speed was about 40% worse and middle of the pack by comparison.

The reported signal strength was similar to the Intel Centrino 2230 and both adapters failed to detect two of the five SSIDs in the lab's vicinity. However, it's possible that they simply drop these less reliable connections from the list to avoid the possibility of hooking up to a network with low signal strength and risk dropping the connection.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Like other members of ASUS' Republic of Gamers series motherboards, the Maximus VI Impact is specifically designed for enthusiasts willing to put in the time, effort, and money to tweak their systems for peak performance. For this purpose, it delivers in spades, offering a mother lode of settings to play with, and a highly customizable power regulation system to help ensure stability. The CPU socket location is prime with enough clearance around it for a nice big cooler, and up to four fans can be controlled on an individual basis. It simply goes above and beyond what anyone would expect to get, not just from a mini-ITX motherboard (which typically is rather basic), but from any board of any form factor.

We're impressed with the attention to detail by the designers. There people responsible for the ROG program appear to be enthusiasts themselves, rather than a bunch of engineers instructed to throw a ton of features together into one high-end package. We've seen the DirectKey, MemOK, and diagnostic display on other models but they've always been on the board themselves. The Maximus VI Impact moves them to the outside making them easily accessible once the system is fully assembled. Features in the UEFI BIOS make things more convenient, like the favorites menu, presets, review before exit, etc. The inclusion of ramdisk software is appropriate for the target demographic, though a lack of memory slots limits its potential. The ability to output audio from a device through the system to the connected speakers without the PC being turned is a nice bonus that extends beyond their specified market; it would nice to see this on regular non-ROG models.

The ASUS Maximus VI Impact doesn't have any notable flaws and its feature-set is expansive, making it highly desirable. That being said, it's not for everyone. If you don't plan on playing with clock speeds, installing a big cooler, and controlling multiple fans, it's hard to justify the expenditure. The current street price of US$220 makes it the most expensive consumer mini-ITX board on the market. However, if you plan to use the board's extensive capabilities, it may well be worth the price.

Our thanks to ASUS for the Maximus VI Impact motherboard sample

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ASUS Maximus VI Impact is Recommended by SPCR

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