ROG Maximus VIII Impact is a mighty mouse of a motherboard

Asus has a tradition of cramming as many goodies as it can into its top-end Mini-ITX motherboards, and the ROG Maximus Impact VIII carries that torch for the Z170 chipset. Like the Maximus VI Impact before it, the Maximus VIII includes heavy-duty power circuitry and high-end onboard audio components on daughter cards to maximize the goodness-per-square-inch factor.

Since this is a Republic of Gamers board, it's a given that Asus' SupremeFX Impact onboard audio suite is along for the ride. This iteration of SupremeFX includes an ESS Sabre ES9023P DAC and what's most likely Realtek's ALC1150 audio codec, plus an integrated headphone amp good for cans up to 600 ohms. The trio of analog audio outputs are LED-backlit for easy identification. Those components are paired with Asus' own Sonic Studio and Sonic Radar software.

Wired and wireless networking options abound on the Maximus VIII Impact. Intel's I219-V Gigabit Ethernet controller does the wired honors, while an unspecified 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter and Bluetooth 4.1 are built in for the cord-cutters.

The cherry on this premium sundae is a duo of USB 3.1 ports powered by Intel's Alpine Ridge controller: one Type-A and one Type-C. Asus provides four more USB 3.0 ports in the rear cluster and two more USB 3.0 ports from an internal header.

A single U.2 port offers four lanes of PCIe 3.0 next-gen storage connectivity, while four SATA 6Gbps ports look perfect for more SSDs or bulk mechanical storage. The dual DDR4 RAM slots can hold up to 32GB of memory at speeds up to a nosebleed-inducing 4,133 MT/s. The Maximus VII Impact will ship this month for $249.

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