ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Motherboard Review

ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme ASUS is one of the top motherboard manufactures with product lines ranging from the very basic consumer to the high end enthusiast gamer.  Their Republic of Gamer's line builds in the best features that ASUS has to offer.  Today, we will be taking a look at their flagship motherboard the Maximus VIII Extreme.  It is designed to support the latest Intel Skylake processors, based on the Intel Z170 chipset.  Currently the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme can be found online for $493.37 with free shipping.  Let's take a quick look at what ASUS's flagship motherboard has to offer before seeing how it performs. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Full-View The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme is one of the most feature packed motherboards I have seen.  Networking, you have the option of the latest Intel Gigabit ethernet connection, or a wireless 3x3 AC with Bluetooth 4 connection.  For storage, there are up to eight SATA 6Gb/s (for of which are shared with SATA Express), two SATA Express, a 32Gb/s M.2 and the latest U.2 connector.  Video options range from 2-way SLI or 4-way CrossFireX.  Then we get to USB support, there is a total of six USB 2.0 (all internal headers), eight USB 3.0 ports (four are from internal headers), and four USB 3.1 (which includes one Type-C) connectors. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-OC-Panel-II That's before we even talk about the other features of the Maximus VIII Extreme!  ASUS has also included the OC Panel II with the Maximus VIII Extreme.  The OC Panel II, is exactly what it sounds like, designed to help overclockers by making things easier to access.  With the panel, you have access to making real-time adjustments to the motherboard, or you can use it as a system monitor keeping an eye on CPU Temperature, CPU Ratio, Clock Speed and Fan RPM.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RggE0cBs5Rs Features and Specifications
ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Specifications
 CPU Intel Socket 1151 for 6th Generation Core i7/Core i5/Core i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors Supports Intel 14 nm CPU Supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
Chipset Intel Z170
Memory  4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3866(O.C.)/3800(O.C.)/3733(O.C.)/3600(O.C.)/3500(O.C.)/3466(O.C.)/3400(O.C.)/3333(O.C.)/3300(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory Dual Channel Memory Architecture Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Graphic Integrated Graphics Processor- Intel HD Graphics support Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort 1.2 ports - Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz - Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2304 @ 60 Hz Maximum shared memory of 512 MB Supports Intel InTru 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology Supports AMD 4-Way CrossFireX Technology
Expansion Slots 3 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4, gray) 1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x4 mode, gray) 2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x1 (black)
Storage Intel Z170 chipset: 1 x M.2 x4 Socket 3, with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (both SATA & PCIE mode) 6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray, , 4 ports from 2 x SATA Express 2 x SATA Express port 1 x U.2 port Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10 Intel Rapid Storage Technology supports Supports Intel Smart Response Technology ASMedia ASM1061 controller: 2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), black
LAN Intel I219V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s), GameFirst technology Intel LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY) Anti-surge LANGuard
Wireless Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz Up to 1300Mbps transfer speed
Bluetooth Bluetooth V4.0
Audio ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC - Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking - SupremeFX Shielding Technology - ESS ES9023P DAC: dB SNR, dB THD+N (Max. kHz/ -bit) - TI RC4580 2VRMS audio OP AMP(s) Audio Feature : - Gold-plated jacks - DTS Connect - Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel - Sonic SenseAmp - Sonic Studio II - Sonic Radar II
USB Ports Intel Z170 chipset: 8 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 4 at mid-board) Intel Z170 chipset:  6 x USB 2.0 port(s) (6 at mid-board) ASMedia USB 3.1 controller: 2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, red, Type-A) Intel USB 3.1 controller: 2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, , Type-A + Type-C)
Back I/O Ports 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s) 1 x DisplayPort 1 x HDMI 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s) 1 x USB 3.1 (black)Type-C 3 x USB 3.1 (red)Type-A 4 x USB 3.0 (blue) 1 x Optical S/PDIF out 5 x Audio jack(s) 1 x Clear CMOS button(s) 1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s) 1 x ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth v4.0/3.0+HS)
Internal I/O Ports 1 x U.2 port 1 x AAFP connector 2 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.0 port(s) 3 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 6 USB 2.0 port(s) 2 x SATA Express connector: gray, Compatible with 4 x SATA 6.0 Gb/s ports 1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIE SSD) 4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s) 1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin) 1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin) 4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin) 1 x Thunderbolt header(s) 1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s) 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s) 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s) 1 x 4-pin EZ_PLUG Power connector(s) 1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector) 1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector 1 x MemOK! button(s) 1 x Slow Mode switch(es) 9 x ProbeIt Measurement Points 3 x Thermal sensor connector(s) 1 x DRAM channel jumper 1 x Power-on button(s) 1 x Reset button(s) 1 x BIOS Switch button(s) 1 x SLI/CFX button (2/3/4-way adjustments) 1 x Water Pump header (4-pin) 1 x LN2 Mode jumper(s) 1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s) 1 x Safe Boot button 1 x ReTry button
ROG Exclusive Start Button Reset Button LN2 Mode Extreme Engine Digi+ : - MicroFine Alloy Chokes - 10K Black Metallic Capacitors - OptiMOS MOSFET Mem TweakIt ROG Extreme OC kit : - ReTry button - Safe Boot button - Start button - Reset button - Slow Mode - LN2 Mode - PCIe x16 Lane Switch - Debug LED - EZ Plug - DRAM channel jumper ProbeIt KeyBot II - One-click Overclocking - X.M.P. - DirectKey - ClrCMOS - Power On UEFI BIOS features : - O.C. Profile - GPU.DIMM Post - Tweakers' Paradise - ROG SSD Secure Erase - Graphic Card Information Preview ROG RAMDisk iROG Extreme Tweaker USB BIOS Flashback Overclocking Protection : - COP EX (Component Overheat Protection - EX)
Warranty  3 Years
After a brief look at the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme packaging, we'll take a closer look at the motherboard and get to installing it.

ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Packaging

ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Packaging-Front ASUS sticks with it's basic packaging for the Maximus VIII Extreme, there isn't anything flashy about it.  The front of the box just presents the basic information with the ASUS branding, model and the key chipset features it supports.  The only feature that ASUS lists not related to the chipset features is the OCPanel II bundle. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Packaging-Back If you happen to need to know everything about the Maximus VIII Extreme, ASUS has that covered on the back of the packaging.  Here ASUS lists out the specifications, provides a view of the rear I/O panel and gives a glimpse of four other features. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Packaging-Internal Opening the box flap reveals more information on the Maximus VIII Extreme motherboard, that includes information about the OC Panel, audio, networking, aesthetics and several other advanced features.  On the other side, we see that ASUS has packed the Maximus VIII into a form fitted box, that is held in place with a clear plastic cover.  This provides the user a nice view of the motherboard, and the OC Panel II. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Accessories When you purchase a top of the line motherboard, you should expect a top of the line accessory pack; which of course ASUS has provided.  Included in the accessories are the standard rear I/O port shield, user manual, install disc, CrossFire and SLI bridges, eight SATA cables, ASUS front panel Q-Connector, ASUS ROG door hanger, and various labels. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Accessories-Plus In addition to the standard accessories, ASUS includes additional accessories with the Maximum VIII Extreme, this includes the OC Panel II, OC Panel 5.25" bay adapter, WiFi 3T3R antenna, fan controller and their new CPU installation tool.

ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Layout

ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Full-View Overall, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme has a black and gunmetal grey color scheme, with a few red highlights.  ASUS has installed a large cover over the Audio components that extends to become a rear IO port cover, and then changing again into a cover of a large heatsink system that surrounds three sides of the CPU socket working to cool the MOSFETS and VRM.   This motherboard is an eATX board, which makes it a little bit larger than standard ATX boards, measuring 12 inches x 10.7 inches; making it just a little more than 1 inch bigger. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-DDR-Section There is a lot to take a look at in this first section of the motherboard.  Here we find the four DDR4 slots that is capable of running 64GB of memory at 3866MHz when overclocked.  If you are using only two chips, you will want to use the grey slots (A2 and B2) first.  Starting along the right edge of the board, we have two fan headers (CPU_FAN and CPU_OPT), and in the corner a W_PUMP connector for a water pump.  To the left of the 24-pin ATX power connector is two SuperSpeed USB 3.0 internal headers, one vertical and one horizontal to the motherboard.  Below the 24-pin ATX power connector are a couple of tiny LED's that provide a quick status check on the CPU, Memory, GPU and Boot device. Immediately to the right of the ATX power connector is three buttons, MemOK!, a red "Safe Boot" button, and a white Retry button.  MemOK allows you to use non compatible DDR4 memory with the motherboard.  Safe Boot boots you into the BIOS when the system is unbootable, for example when an Overclock fails.  Retry is for overclockers, to forceably reboot the system while keeping the BIOS settings to try for a successful POST.  Below these buttons are voltage check points, allowing you to monitor your systems voltage with a multimeter.  Next we find the Slow Mode switch and LN2 mode jumper; both of these are designed for extreme overclockers.  Then we get to the debug Q-Code LED.  Above all of those, we have a black Reset and red Start buttons.  The jumpers are for the PCIe x16 Lane switch, allowing you to disable any of the four PCIe x16 lanes. If you want to disable any of the memory slots, there are two jumpers to do that. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Z170-Section In the corner of the motherboard that has the Intel Z170 chipset, we find that it has a large heatsink on it.  This heatsink includes the ASUS ROG logo, which lights up with an RGB LED.  We also find a large number of connections in this section.  To start, to the right of the SATA connections, is a PWM fan header labeled as CHA_FAN2 and the T_Sensor for an optional thermal sensor.  Moving to the left edge of the motherboard, we find the front panel connectors that we will use with the ASUS front panel connector.  Next we have two additional fan headers, listed as CHA_FAN3 and CHA_FAN4.  Next is another two pin T_Sensor, then two buttons.  The first button controls which of the two BIOS chips you are using, while the other indicates which of the PCIe slots are the recommended configuration for SLI/CrossFireX.  Then another PWM fan header listed as EXT_FAN for the add-on fan controller, and the USB 2.0 headers. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-SATA The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme has no shortage of storage options.  There are a total of eight SATA 6Gb/s connectors, which if you use either of the two SATA Express connectors.  Six of the SATA ports are provided by the Intel Z170 chipset, while the other two are provided by the ASMedia ASM1061 controller (the black ports).  There is also the latest U.2 connector that operates on a PCIe 3.0 x4 connection to provide the fastest data connection currently possible.  One thing to keep in mind, while the motherboard supports M.2, U.2 and SATA Express, the M.2 slot shares bandwidth with the U.2 and SATA Express 1 slot. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-PCIe-Section The PCIe slots include four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, and two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots.  Breaking the four PCIe x16 slots down, the first three slots are designed to run at x16 or dual x8 or x8/x4/x4, while the four slots runs at x4.   Going up the left edge of the motherboard, we find the header for the OC Panel (this includes a USB 2.0 header), Thunderbolt connector, EZ Plug (which is a four pin Molex power to provide extra power when using multiple graphics cards), and the front panel audio header. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-CPU-Section The final area we find a couple connections.  First we have the final fan header which is just above the exposed headpipe, and is listed as CHA_FAN1, and another thermal sensor header.  The CHA_FAN1 header makes a total of seven PWM fan headers on the motherboard.  Along the right edge of the board is both a four-pin and eight-pin ATX power connections.  The rear I/O cover is plastic, which also covers part of the large heatsink that is covering the power OptiMOS MOSFETS, dual DIGI+ PWM controllers, and the MicroFine alloy chokes.  The Japanese black metallic capacitors still exposed, they look great with their highly polished finish.  At first glance, I thought maybe the word EXTREME would be lit up like the ROG logo on the Z170 chipset, however it doesn't light up.  Would've looked really cool if it did. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Rear-IO Taking a look at the back panel I/O we find many usual items, and several unusual ones.  Starting from the left we have the Clear CMOS and USB BIOS Flashback buttons on motherboards designed to be overclocked, a BIOS reset button is a must have.  In the first USB cluster we have two USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1 Type-A connectors.  Next comes the integrated 3x3 dual band WiFi solution that supports up to AC at 1300Mbps.  Using Intels integrated IGP, you can use the included HDMI 1.4b and DisplayPort connections.  Next comes the Intel I219-V Gigabit Ethernet jack, a USB 3.1 Type-A and Type-C (with Thunderbolt 3 support) connectors.  A PS/2 Combo port provides support for a keyboard or mouse, along with two more USB 3.0 ports is in this grouping.  The final cluster is the audio cluster, which includes five 3.5mm audio jacks and a SPDIF port. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Back-of-MB The weight of the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme was noticed immediately when it was unpacked.  On the back of the motherboard ASUS has installed a couple of heatsink support brackets.  Of course we have the standard bracket for the CPU socket, but there are also three other support brackets; one for the Z170 chipset, and two for the large heatsinks around the CPU socket. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-OC-Panel-II The OC Panel II offers a wide range of features in either of the two modes.  In the internal mode, you get access to the display, which is designed to provide real time monitoring of temperature, system clocks and fan speeds, plus makes it easy to change performance mode.  In the external mode, you get access to the same information, however you have access to the buttons on the front of the OC Panel II, and the connections beneath the hidden door.  The OC Panel II comes with a fairly short cable, measuring 2ft 8in, and you are also supposed to connect a SATA power connector, while this won't pose any issues in the internal mode, I wonder how well that will work as an external device unless the system is in an open air test bed.  

Legit Reviews Test System

ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Test-Bench Intel Z170 Test Platform ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Benchmarks-CPUz Here is a quick look at the specific components used in the test system:
Intel LGA 1151 Z170 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing
Processor Intel i7-6700K Click Here
Memory Kingston 32GB DDR4 2666MHz Click Here
CPU Cooler Corsair H105 Click Here
Video Card eVGA GTX 970 SC Click Here
Hard Drive Intel SSD Pro 2500 180GB Click Here
Hard Drive 2 Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SSD Click Here
Power Supply Corsair CX750M Click Here
USB 3.1 Type C Kingston DataTraveler microDuo 3C Click Here
Operating System Windows 10 Pro 64-bit Click Here
Testing Process The above listed components will be installed on an open air test bed. Windows 10 will be a fresh install with all the latest patches, drivers and firmware available at the time we begin the testing. All testing will be done in a temperature controlled room that maintains a 72F (22.2C). A 24-hour burn in is done to allow the thermal paste time to cure before doing any thermal testing. Where possible, we will use integrated benchmarks, and run them three times averaging the results. In situations where there are no integrated benchmarks, we will use FRAPS to an analyze the performance, doing the same game run three times before averaging the FRAPS results. Installation Process The main portion of installing the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme goes along like every other motherboard.  The one major difference comes when you go to install the CPU.  Using the ASUS CPU Install tool, the CPU is placed in the tool and then placed onto the socket.  You leave the tool on the CPU, rather than removing it.  From there, no additional surprises came up. [gallery ids="175287,175286"] While there are many that will laugh at the notion of a CPU install tool, from a novice standpoint, I can see where it would be helpful.  Those pins on the CPU socket are easily bent, and if a little piece of plastic helps keep them from being bent accidentally by a novice, then the tool is a great idea.  From my personal viewpoint, outside of doing the motherboard reviews, I don't see much point to it.  Once the CPU is installed on the motherboard, there's no point to it.  For doing reviews though, this does make removing the CPU much easier. BIOS [gallery ids="175443,175629"] Like most modern motherboards, there are actually two different types of BIOS menu's, an Advanced and EZ-Mode menu's.  The Advanced menu system is where you can go in and fine tune the system to your particular needs, and is where most of us would spend our time.  The EZ-Mode allows making a few changes to the system, such as Performance mode (Normal, Performance, Silent), Boot Priority, Intel RST, XMP status and Fan Control.  Otherwise, it is a good place to get a high level overview of the system. There are many different screens to the Advanced BIOS menu, ASUS does a pretty good job at making things easy to find using many sub-menu's within their BIOS. [gallery ids="175628,175503,175502,175501,175500,175498,175499,175505,175506"] OC Panel II ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-OC-Panel-External-Mode There are two methods of using the ASUS OC Panel II, as an external device or installed in the 5.25" device bay adapter.  In the external mode ASUS has tried to make overclocking and system monitoring easy.  Here you have quick access to PWM control, power/reset, overclocking parameters and other ASUS ROG features.  Not to mention the additional features hidden beneath the panel which includes thermal sensors, fan headers, ASUS VGA Hotwire connector, and a pair of switches for "Slow mode" and Pause. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-OC-Panel-Internal In the second mode, it can be installed into a 5.25" device bay, and then it provides real-time system monitoring.  It provides an easy way to see the CPU temperature, BCLK, Ratio and fan speeds.  It also makes it easy to switch between the different performance modes, Turbo, Standard and Silent. Fan Controller ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Fan-Controller Enabling and using the included fan controller module is extremely easy.  There is a five pin cable that connects the module to the FAN_EXT header next to the USB 2.0 headers, connect a four pin Molex for power, up to three fans, three thermal sensors and you're all set.  Now all these fans will be individually controllable.  If however, you want them all to report as the same device, you can connect the four-pin PWM fan connector to a fan header on the motherboard instead of the five pin connector, then they will be controlled with whatever profile you select for that specific fan header.  In using the fan control module, the biggest issue is where to mount it within your case, there are a couple of holes to put screws through, but it's up to you to decide on the location and how to mount it.

ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme Overclocking

The hardware used to test the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme has been used throughout all of the Intel Z170 motherboards I have tested.  We have been able to overclock the Intel i7-6700K to 4.9GHz, and the Kingston Fury DDR4 kit up to 3000MHz.  While those have been the highest overclocks we have been able to achieve without going through extreme overclocking steps, the average overclock for this configuration is 4.7GHz on the CPU and 2900MHz on the memory. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-BIOS-Extreme-Tweaker By default the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme sets the CPU Ratio to "Sync All Cores", this makes all of CPU cores have the same ratio.  You can adjust this to have the cores each of a different ratio if desired, however for our testing, we will have them all set to the same.  To adjust the ratio, the Core Ratio Limit will be adjusted from the default Auto setting to the desired setting. Starting with a low overclock of 4.4GHz (Ratio set to 44), we will increase the Ratio by one until we are no longer able to get the system to successfully post.  At which time, the CPU Voltage will be increased to a maximum of 1.45V.  If we are able to successfully boot into Windows, we will run a few tests to verify stability.  If the system is unstable, we will lower the CPU Ratio by one until it is stable. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Benchmarks-CPUz-OC We were able to get the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme to boot with a Ratio of 50 (5.0Ghz), however it was unstable.  Lowering the Ratio to 49 we were able to have a stable system with a 4.9GHz overclock at 1.44V.  With further fine tuning, I have no doubt we would be able to get a higher overclock. We also wanted to see how the pre-configured Overclocking profiles were, so we selected the Gamer's Profile. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-BIOS-ET-OC-Presets-Gamers This profile took the CPU Ratio to 48, and stepped it down 1 per core.  In addition, it increased the voltage to 1.425V. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Benchmarks-CPUz-Gamers-OC Within Windows the system was stable at 4.8GHz using the Gamers Overclocking Profile, we also noticed that while the profile stated a 1.425V for the CPU core, CPU-z was reporting 1.44V.  Which was the same voltage we needed to get 4.9GHz stable. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Benchmarks-CPUz-Memory-OC The Kingston Fury DDR4 memory kit ran at it's rated XMP speeds right from the start, no tweaking was needed.  This same kit has been successfully overclocked to a maximum 3000MHz without increasing the voltage.  However, the average overclock of the memory kit has been 2900MHz, which isn't too bad of an overclock.  The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme was able to overclock the Kingston Fury memory beyond our expectations to 3100MHz, the timings were set to auto, so they changed a little.  We were able to get the system to boot at 3200MHz, however it was unstable and we quickly ran into a Blue Screen. EZ Tuning Wizard [gallery ids="175476,175479,175477,175478"] For those that want ASUS to look at their system and see what kind of overclocking should be possible, ASUS has included the EZ Tuning Wizard.  Within the Wizard you can auto overclock your system, or configure a RAID.  The CPU Overclocking goes through a couple of questions before doing some tuning.  These questions include how you use your system, and what type of cooling it has.  Then it provides an estimate on what type of performance change you can expect, this tool estimated a 15% performance increase.  If you apply the 15% to the 4.0GHz base clock speed you would get 4.6GHz or apply it to the "Turbo" speed of 4.2GHz and you would get 4.8GHz, which is pretty close to our maximum overclock.  

Value Added Software

Like most motherboards, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme comes with a CD that includes the necessary drivers and a wide range of "Value Added" Utilities. [gallery ids="175440,175438,175441,175439"] The installer is fairly straight forward, it offers an installation of Google Chrome, list of drivers that are needed includes the currently installed version and the version they are recommending, and the Utilities section provides a list of all the various software that ASUS provides.  This is where we ran into a bit of an issue, while all the software installs with ease, not every aspect of the AI Suite 3 installed with this menu.  We had to run the install in compatibility mode for Windows 8 in order to get all the advanced features of the AI Suite 3 to install, many of which are fairly important.  To fix this, ASUS is preparing a new version of DIP5 that installs correctly and also implements a few fixes; AI Suite 3 version 1.01.29 with DIP5 version 1.02.91 should be available very soon. [gallery ids="175589,175591,175587,175588,175590"] Within the AI Suite, the ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 5 application is one of the more robust tools provided by ASUS, and was the tool that gave us issues requireing us to install it in Windows 8 compatibility mode.  Here ASUS has tools designed to tweak your system.  The main screen of DIP5 provides a large amount of information.  Expanding to the full list of built-in tools, you will find tools such as TPU, ASUS's Windows based Overclocking tool; DIGI+ Power Control, provides the ability to control the power usage of the sytem; FanXPert, is a nice graphical way to control the various fans and water pump speed;  PC Cleaner looks at various junk files to free up disk space.  This is just a small number of tools that ASUS provides within the AI Suite. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Software-Lighting-Control ROG Lighting Control is installed as part of the ASUS AI Suite 3.  Here you are able to control the ASUS ROG logo on the Intel Z170 chipset.  There are four built in lighting profiles, Static (always on), Pulsating (Breathe effect), Strobing (On/Off), and Rainbow (color cycling).  In addition to the lighting profiles, you can also adjust the color of the log with two special effects, by Music and CPU Temperature.  As the LED's are RGB, you have two controls over the color, first is the main color scheme, which is chosen by a color wheel, the second is the brightness which is controlled by a vertical gauge. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Software-GameFirst-III The ASUS GameFirst III application, is a tool that will look at the various applications that you are running and will make a determination for priority processing of the packets depending on the mode you have set. For example, if Gaming is your priority, the Game mode will set games as the highest priority.  It will also tell you how much bandwidth each of the various applications use to help you determine which is the best mode for yourself.  Within the tool ASUS also has a Network Monitor tool built in that provides a high level overview of your bandwidth usage.  The Bandwidth Test links to OOKLA's SpeedTest.net to check your performance.  The last option is Network Information, here it shows information on the various network connection options such as WiFi, Ethernet, Bluetooth and any Virtual Adapters. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Software-Mem-Tweak-It ASUS Mem TweakIT is a Windows based tool to tweak the timings of your memory rather that just doing the tweaks within the BIOS.  There is also a bit of a competitive community built into the tool, as you can upload your results after you have validated it, showing off your timings to the rest of the community. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Software-Sonic-Studio-II Sonic Studio II is an audio suite that offers the ability to fine tune your audio stream depending on the type of audio.  Within the tool, you can adjust the sound with five controls, Equalizer, Reverb, Bass Boost, Smart EQ and Voice Clarity. The Surround option is a virtual 7.1 channel audio stream for 2 channel headphones.  In addition, the Perfect Voice tool reduces noise when using a mic so your fellow gamers can hear you more clearly.  The Casting Enhancer tool improves audio for streaming by reducing noise artifacts and leveling voice volume.

General Performance Testing

For general performance testing, we will be taking a look at a several benchmarks that will test the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme focusing on several key components, mainly memory and CPU utilization.  Several will also take into account the GPU, however it is generally not a key factor in the results. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Sandra-Memory The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme configured the Kingston Fury DDR4 kit without any issues, utilizing the XMP settings, even though this particular kit is not configured for the Z170 chipset.  The XMP settings, set the memory to run at 2666MHz with 15-17-17-35-2T timings.  The Kingston Fury kit received average scores within the Memory Benchmark, coming in about the middle of the Z170 motherboards.  What was surprising was that we were able to overclock the Kingston Fury kit to new heights with the ASUS Maximus VII Extreme motherboard.  From the previous maximum overclock of 3000MHz to 3100MHz.  This of course increased the memory bandwidth to new highs. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Cinebench Cinebench is one of the benchmarks that takes the GPU into consideration for it's scores.  Here the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme received top marks for the OpenGL part of the test, and near top marks for the CPU test.  Of course, as you might expect, overclocking the CPU greatly increased the CPU score. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-PCMark-8 PCMark 8's Home Advanced benchmark is a good benchmark for a typical home user workload.  In this test, we received a 3.5% increase in scores at base clock speed over the other Z170 motherboards.  However, at overclocked speeds, we only got a 1.8% boost in performance within PCMark 8. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-POV_RAY With a difference of 0.3% in scores, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme performed rather well within POV-RAY, which focus's on the CPU performance.  Once overclocked, the score increased to 2231.13, a 17.3% increase! ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-CPUz-174 In version 1.74 of CPUz their new integrated benchmark gave the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme high marks in both tests.  Which increased once we overclocked the CPU.  18.65% boost in the Multi-Core test, and 19.55% in single core testing. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-LanSpeed-Test The integrated Intel i219V ethernet connection performed about where we would expect it to.  The Read speed was a bit surprising, and was run multiple times to validate it.  Even though the network speed would fluctuate, it consistantly scored between 920MB/s and 931MB/s.  The Write speed is about average for what we have seen with the Intel chipset.  Since the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme also includes a wireless option, provided by Broadcom, we tested that as well.  The speeds of the wireless are not close to the ethernet connection, which is to be expected.  Testing the wireless on a 5Ghz channel to a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 we received scores around 250MB/s for both Read and Write tests. Legit Bottom Line:  For overall productivity performance, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme received average scores across the various benchmarking suites.  Once overclocked, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme did exceptionally well, boosting performance on average 17% or more!  

Gaming Performance Testing

3DMark Fire Strike Extreme ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-3DMark-Overall GTA V ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-GTA-V Dirt: Rally ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Dirt Witcher 3 ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Witcher-3 Thief ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Thief Gaming Performance Benchmark Results: In each of the games we tested, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme edged out a little more performance than the other Z170 motherboards.  While the difference in performance across each of the Z170 motherboards is minimal, anything that gives an edge in gaming is highly sought after.

Storage Device Performance

For testing the storage capabilities of the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme, we will use CrystalDiskMark 5.0.3.  Before any testing is done, the specific storage device will be formatted and the test system rebooted.  When appropriate, we will utilize the SanDisk Ultra II 480GB SSD with a rated speed of "up to" 550MB/s Sequential Read, and "up to" 500MB/s Sequential Write.  For testing M.2, a Kingston Predator 240GB will be used, this drive has a rated speed of 1290MB/s Read and 600MB/s Write.  Testing the USB 3.1 interface does no good at this point as there are no drives that can take advantage of the increased bandwidth.  We will check the Type-C connector out, using a Kingston MicroDuo 3c, which has a 100MB/s Read and 15MB/s Write. SATA 6Gb/s ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-CDM-SATA M.2 ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-CDM-M2 SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-CDM-USB-3 USB Type-C ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-CDM-TypeC Benchmark Results:  In most of the storage tests, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme performed as one of the fastest Z170 motherboards.  The M.2 Write speed it was 3MB/s slower than the fastest system and for SATA Read/Write speeds it had 25MB/s slower Read and .2MB/s slower Write speeds.  None of these differences is enough to raise any concern, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme still performed extremely well for the storage Read/Write tests.  

Power Consumption & Chipset Temperatures

Using a reliable P3 Kill-A-Watt meter, we monitored the power consumption of the test system throughout the testing phases.  During each test, we made note of the lowest and highest readings, these are the readings we are taking a look at. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Power Legit Bottom Line:  At Idle, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme was pulling 53W, placing it in the middle of the pack for the Z170 motherboards.  At load, it pulled down 241W, making it least power hungry motherboard when under a full load.  Even once it was overclocked to 4.9GHz it didn't draw much more power.  At idle it went from 53W to 70W, and under a load it went up to 269W, which placed it behind two other Z170 motheboards at base clock speeds for power consumption.  Well done ASUS! CPU Temperatures The testing environment was kept at a constant 72F (22.2C), we used HardwareMonitor to evaluate the CPU temperature during the testing phase, the highest and lowest reported temperatures are being reported. ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Charts-Temperature Legit Bottom Line:  Temperature wise, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme was a little warmer at idle, and slightly warmer than most under the load conditions.  Of course, as you might expect, when we overclocked the system, the temperatures rose.  What surprised us is that even at 4.9GHz, the CPU didn't get above 75C!

Final Thoughts and Conclusions

ASUS-Maximus-VIII-Extreme-Vendor The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme is one of the most feature packed Z170 motherboards I have seen.  With massive support for virtually every modern storage type, a top notch design, overclocking features that range from basic to expert level and ASUS legendary quality.  You will be hard pressed to find a better motherboard, of course with a price tag of $493 with shipping, it's not for everybody. Let's take one last look at what the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme supports.  For storage we have up to eight SATA 6GB/s, two SATA Express, M.2, U.2, Type-C, USB 3.1, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0; along with two internal USB 3.0 headers.  For graphics, this motherboard supports both NVIDIA Quad-SLI and AMD 4-way CrossFireX.  LAN connections it has you covered as well with both a Gigabit ethernet, Wireless AC 3x3 2.4/5GHz, and Bluetooth 4.0.  The OC Panel II and Fan Controller are a couple added features, providing a quick method to check the status of your system and control additional fans. [gallery ids="175697,175693,175690"] As much as you'd like to stay this motherboard performs significantly better than other Z170 motherboards in gaming performance, it doesn't change much between motherboards.  The gaming advantages with the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme comes in the form of the added features that includes the SupremeFX on board audio that will give you an advantage over the enemies, by allowing you to hear them coming early.  Sonic Radar increases that advantage by allowing you to see which direction the sound is coming from.  Online gaming is given an advantage with the Intel Gigabit ethernet, and ASUS GamesFirst utility which prioritizes the gaming traffic. Overclocking in the UEFI BIOS is a piece of cake, for those that are new to overclocking, ASUS has built in several pre-configured overclocking profiles to get you up and running fast.  For the experts, there are so many options to tweak, the LN2 boot mode, and the Retry button.  For our overclocking, we didn't do much to push the system to it's limit.  We simply increased the voltage to the CPU and the CPU Ratio.  While we were able to boot the system at 5.0GHz, it was unstable, at 4.9GHz it was perfectly stable.  With some further tweaking, I have no doubt we could get it past 5.0GHz.  Even so, a 22.5% boost without trying is impressive.  The Kingston Fury DDR4 memory was overclocked well beyond our previous experience from an average 2933MHz to 3100MHz simply by telling the BIOS to adjust the clock speed. The ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme is one of the best Intel Z170 motherboards you can buy for your Intel socket 1151 processor.  ASUS has a great reputation for building some of the most stable and reliable motherboards.  However, if you do happen to have an issue, ASUS backs their motherboards with a three year warranty. LR Recommended Award Legit Bottom Line:  If you are looking for the best Z170 motherboard, the ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme is hard to beat.  Few motherboards will be able to stand up to the quality, features and aesthetics of the Maximus VIII Extreme.  ASUS is always hard to beat, and this motherboard is certainly one of the best money can buy.