Asus' mini-ITX Z170 motherboard is packed edge-to-edge with features

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How many features can you pack into the restrictive confines of a mini-ITX motherboard? Whatever the answer, Asus is coming close to it with the Maximus VIII Impact, which it announced at an event in San Francisco on Friday. The tiny motherboard is densely packed with an impressive feature list, including some capabilities that you won’t even find on midrange ATX motherboards. As a member of Asus’ high-end ROG Gaming line, though, the Maximus VIII doesn’t come cheap. This is a premium $250 board in a damn miniscule package.

As you may be able to tell from the image above, the Maximus VIII Impact includes a built-in wi-fi adapter (802.11ac). It has a hefty VRM (voltage regulator module) mounted vertically at the top of the board, which offers some serious overclocking potential for both CPU and RAM. According to an Asus rep I spoke to at the event, they were able to push a Skylake CPU to its limits in the high 4GHz range on the Maximus VIII Impact.

Also included: USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C, an on-board sound card rather than a small sound chip, and a fan extension card for multiple fan inputs (which would be useful in a versatile mini-ITX case like the Cougar QBX).

In addition to its four SATA ports, the Maximus VIII Impact includes the recently-named U.2 connector, which Intel has used for its enterprise 750 SSD. The U.2 connector isn’t nearly as well-known as the up-and-coming M.2, but it could end up being the connector of choice for the fast solid state storage of the future, with included support for x4 PCIe speeds. If U.2 catches on, the Maximus VIII will definitely be a future-proof motherboard.

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Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter and Tested before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).