Asus expands ROG lineup with an over-the-top mobo and GTX 980 Ti

Asus continues to expand the ranks of its Republic of Gamers legions. The latest recruits for the cause are the ROG Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly motherboard and the ROG Matrix GeForce GTX 980 graphics card.

Let's take a poke at that motherboard first. The Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly's name is about as long as its spec sheet. At first glance, this board looks pretty similar to the Z170-based Maximus VIII Extreme. Asus chose to go even further, though, by improving the mobo's audio circuitry and Ethernet connectivity.

The Extreme/Assembly's audio solution is based off an ESS ES9018K2M DAC, which allows for 32-bit/384 KHz playback. The main outputs are handled by two TI LM4562 op-amps, while a TPA6120A2 headphone amp can feed 6V RMS to cans with impedances up to 600 Ω. Asus includes a front-panel audio breakout box, too.

On the networking side, the Extreme/Assembly comes with a PCIe Ethernet card that Asus says should be good for handling speeds up to 10 Gb/s. The company expects the card to support the upcoming 2.5 Gbps and 5 Gbps standards over Cat 5E cabling, as well.

The Matrix GTX 980 Ti, on the other hand, is apparently pitched at serious overclockers. Asus says it picks out GPUs for these cards using an "exclusive sorting system to assure [their] overclocking potential." A jumper switch on the card enables additional overvolting options, while a Memory Defroster will heat up the card's VRAM after bouts with liquid nitrogen. An onboard BIOS reset button should help with failed overclocking attempts. Last but not least, the card's LEDs will light up according to GPU load.

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