ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Ranger RushKit
ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Ranger RushKit
Published: 5th August 2015 | Source: ASUS Republic of Gamers | Price: £139.99 |
ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Ranger RushKit
The ASUS Republic of Gamers brand has always been about delivering enthusiasts components which deliver both a high quality hardware and software experience, which over the years has gave the ROG brand great renown among PC gaming and overclocking enthusiasts.
Last year the Republic of Gamers brand became much more mainstream with the release of the ASUS Z97 Maximus VII Ranger, which gave users the same ROG quality and style at a price-point which was much lower than ever seen before from an ASUS ROG product. Even with it's relatively low price the MAximus VII Ranger never sacrificed on it's reliability or it's quality, making it a motherboard which was more than worthy of the ROG name.
Today we take a look at it's successor, the Maximus VIII Ranger, which supports Intel's newest Skylake CPUs on their Z170 socket and delivers many significant upgrades over over it's predecessor while maintaining it's affordable price of just £139.99.
From the outside of the box you could be forgiven for thinking that this board has the same old Republic of Gamers red and Black Style, but you would be wrong. ASUS's new Z170 series of ROG motherboard utilizes a more subtle black and red colour scheme, which makes this board look much more unique.
Today a wide variety of Red and black motherboards are available from almost all manufacturers, so this change goes a long way to differentiate ASUS' latest line of ROG motherboards.
Moving to the Z170 chipset we get some very significant upgrades in terms of storage capability, with the help of some PCI 3.0 express lanes on the chipset the M.2 slot on this motherboard operated at PCIe 3.0 speeds, allowing it to take full advantage of ultra fast NVMe based SSDs like Samsung's SM951.
Moving to the rear IO we see a lot of new things, first we see the addition of two USB 3.1 ports, one of which is full sized USB (the red USB port) and the other is using the new USB Type-C connector. In addition to this this motherboard contains 2 USB 3.0 ports, 4 USB 2.0 ports, an anti-surge Intel Gigabit LAN port, a PS/2 Keyboard/mouse port, external audio ports and an HDMI 2.0 and DisplayPort 1.2 port for connecting an external display to Intel Integrated Graphics.
This board comes with 2 SATA Express connections, which also double as 4x SATA 3.0 connections, which gives this motherboard the ability to be connected to 6 SATA 3.0 drives at once (2 dedicated SATA 3.0 connections and 4 from the 2 SATA Express connections). Alongside this motherboards ultra fast M.2 connection this motherboard is able to handle almost any of your storage needs.
Supreme FX 2015 Audio
This year ASUS has been working hard to deliver a greater on-board audio experience than they have ever before, featuring cutting edge isolation technologies to prevent electromagnetic interference and adding several new components in order to deliver a premium audio experience.
ASUS has added premium ENichicon audio capacitors, ESS Premier Stereo DAC ES9023, Dedicated clock, RC4580 2Vrms Driver, Impedance Sense IC, and De-pop Relay , to provide precision-engineered audio that is designed to deliver an experience which is on par with dedicated soundcards, and that is only the changes on the hardware side.
This Generation of ROG Maximus motherboards features new and improved ROG audio technologies such as brand Sonic Studio II audio tuning suite. With SmartEQ for enhancing the details of the music while casting or streaming, Perfect Voice to reduce noise artifacts and stabilize overall voice volume and Sonic SenseAmp, which detects headphone impedance and automatically adjusts the built-in amp all are designed to deliver the best audio experience ever placed inside a ROG motherboard.
Water Cooling Pump Header
One feature which is all new to this generation of ASUS motherboards is it's dedicated water cooling Pump header, which can function like a normal fan header or be used as a dedicated pump header for your water cooled PC.
Right now this function is exclusive to ASUS, allowing you to more directly control your pump with 4-pin PWM adjustment and dedicated water cooling options in the BIOS.
ASUS ROG Fan Stickers
One novel addition to ASUS' ROG motherboards is a nice set of ROG fan stickers, which can be used with your fan of choice to cover up an unwanted logo or the rather ugly stickers at the rear of most fans. This addition may be seen as entirely unnecessary by many of you but it is nonetheless seen by us as a very welcome addition, especially if you are looking to sneak a little more red and black into your build.
ROG RAMDisk and RAMCache
On the Software side ASUS has been working hard to allow their users to make the most out of their system, now offering their users free software so that users can use their own RAM Disk or RAM Cache solution, both of which will allow users to dramatically speed up their storage.
With RAMCache users will be able to dramatically speed up their existing storage solutions by allocating a cache of RAM to your Slower drives, this will allow frequently used files to be placed in the much faster RAM Cache which will allow these files to be processed much faster. RAMCache is very simple to use, requiring the user to simply decide how much RAM to Allocate to he cache, with everything else running in the backround.
RAMDisk will allow the user to allocate RAM as it's own storage device, which allows all files inside it to be read exceptionally quickly, speeding up loading times dramatically. All files inside the disk will be moved to specific locations on your hard drive, so that it can be quicly loaded onto your RAMDisk after your system boots.
One new addition to the 2015 version of ASUS' RAMDisk software is its Dynamic Memory Allocation, which allows unused memory in the RAMDisk to be dynamically released back in the system for use for traditional RAM tasks.
When spending money on a premium product, most people want to be provided with a premium user experience and be delivered a product which is highly durable, simple to use and has measures in place which will protect devices which are used alongside it. This is not too much to ask, right?
ASUS has created this generation of ROG boards to deliver the best user experience yet, with a new z170 CPU installation tool and their Q-connector and PCI-e Q-slot to allow users to more safely and easily install their CPU, GPU and external IO, provide TureVolt USB and DRAM Overcurrent protection to help prevent any damage being done to your RAM or external devices due to power fluctuations, providing additional backplates and a stainless steel rear IO to provide additional strength and longevity to the motherboard and even thicker Black Nickel plating to the IO in order to prevent scratches or cuts when it is used.
As ASUS' cheapest Z170 Republic of Gamers motherboard, it certainly is not lacking when it comes to premium features.
For the asking price of £140.99 the Republic of Gamers Maximus VIII Ranger is an easy sell, while it has a reduced featureset when compared to the more premium Z170 motherboard like the Maximus VIII Hero or the Z170 Deluxe it offers much more than any previous generation motherboard of this price.
With a PCIe 3.0 M.2 slot it is capable of running the fastest storage available at it's full speeds and with rear USB 3.1 connection and USB Type-C support it can even be used with the latest and greatest external options aswell.
The Audio side is one of the greatest talking points of this motherboard, receiving significant upgrades from the last generation of ROG motherboards, which on both the hardware and the software side should help make this motherboard's onboard audio be on par with dedicated solutions.
This motherboard is undoubtedly up to the high standards which are required to be part of the Republic of Gamers brand, with a highly premium look and feel and being backed up by fantastic software solutions like Sonic Studio II, RAMDisk and RAMCache, the ROG Maximus VIII Ranger is undoubtedly one of the most impressive Z170 boards that we have seen so far.
With a high quality aesthetic and a featureset to match, the Maximus VIII Ranger is a motherboard which we cannot wait to put through our motherboard testing procedure. As you can see in our main review, Intel's Skylake is a very impressive chip and we cannot wait to see what it can do in this value ROG board.