Are you looking to built a high end, high class Z170 rig? This board may be for you! Read now to find out more!
This is pretty similar to our recent Maximus VIII Ranger Review, with a few new additions. The box is very similar, with the majority of the parts being the same too.Inside the box you’ll get a pretty basic I/O shield, SLI bridge, 6 SATA cables, manual, stickers, Q-Connector and CPU installation tool. The motherboard is also inside it’s own box.
So, here it is. The board is very similar to the Ranger, except with the plastic shroud over the top, and the RGB lighting on the chipset, but incase you didn’t see that one, I’ll go over the details. You’ll get the Socket 1151 which fits all 6th gen (AND 6TH GEN ONLY) chips, 4 DDR4 RAM slots, the ability to do 3 way SLI or crossfire, a 32GB/s M.2 slot, SupremeFX sound, 2 SATA Express ports along with 4 more SATA ports, totalling 8 if you don’t use SATA Express, hardware Power, Reset and Clear CMOS buttons, and a nice addition, just under the 24pin (as in to the right of it in the above picture) is a set of Boot state LEDs, something my old Asus Crosshair V Formula has – and indicate if there was a problem with the board, CPU, RAM, VGA or boot device – a lot easier than the also included screen for debug codes!
Something I want to cover quickly is the plastic shroud covering some of the VRM heatsinks and rear I/O, while it looks really good, when handling the board you get the feeling it is a little flimsy and overall just not great. I don’t know if it is just because it isn’t attached all that well, and so can move around a little, but just doesn’t feel amazing – despite its looks!
While we are talking about the rear I/O, lets go over it. You have a PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard combo port, 4 USB2 ports, another CMOS Clear switch, DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.1 Type C and Type A, Gigabit ethernet and USB 3.0, and finally full 7.1 audio with SPDIF from the SupremeFX audio – which is pretty great by the way! Overall a pretty comprehensive I/O, and besides integrated WiFi or Dual NICs, it’s pretty great!
If you are interested in the lighting effects on the chipset, please do watch the video! But god damn it looks cool! The one thing that did puzzle me a bit though was that the LED lighting for the audio split PCB is solid red, regardless of the chipset colour, which to me seems like it could have been changed to that it all matched – but hey it looks cool!
And also a quick mention, the lighting control software is pretty cool, it’s a standalone application, and not only allows for multiple effects from Static to Rainbow, but also changing to music or the CPU temperature! You’ll also get a live preview of what the LEDs will look like on the left – which is pretty cool too!
Since I covered both the BIOS and AI Suite 3 in the Ranger review, I’ll just round it off quickly. The BIOS is pretty great, easy to overclock with, has a nice always-visible hardware monitor which is cool, and is fairly well laid out. AI Suite, if you don’t know, is a Windows application that allows you to manage fan profiles, overclocks (in windows), temperatures, and comes with additional features such as USB charging software to allow fast charging.
So, my verdict. It’s a great board. The lighting confused me a little, but overall it has some great features, great looks and is definitely worth it if you are looking for a show-piece Z170 motherboard that won’t entirely break the bank! Would you get one? Let me know in the comments below!