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On Board Peripherals

The Intel Z170 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip has six SATA-600 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5), and the motherboard offers those sex ports only. One of those ports is shared with the M.2 slot. The SATA ports are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.

Notice that four of the SATA-600 ports are grouped in pairs and each pair can be used as two independent SATA ports or as a SATA Express port.

ASUS MAXIMUS VIIIFigure 4: the six SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset

The Intel Z170 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports and ten USB 3.0 ports. The ASUS MAXIMUS VIII RANGER offers eight USB 2.0 ports, four on the rear panel and four available through two headers located on the motherboard. There are six USB 3.0 ports, all of them controlled by the chipset: two at the rear panel and four through two headers. There are also two USB 3.1 ports, one Type A and one Type C, controlled by an ASMedia ASM1142 chip.

The ASUS MAXIMUS VIII RANGER does not support FireWire or Thunderbolt ports.

According to the manufacturer, a highlight of this motherboard is the SupremeFX 2015 audio circuit (7.1+2 channels, no more information provided), using also an ESS ES9023 auxiliary codec (112 dB signal/noise ratio for the analog outputs, 24 bit resolution, 2 Vrms amplifer, no more information provided) for the headphones output. The main chip is covered by a shield and entire the audio section is physically separated from the other circuits by a line that lights up in red (there is a line of LEDs on the solder side of the motherboard, near a translucent line). All the capacitors on this circuit are bipolar audio ones from Japanese manufacturer Nichicon. The audio outputs are independent for 5.1 analog speakers and gold-plated, and the motherboard comes with an optical SPDIF output on the rear panel.

Figure 5 shows the audio section of the motherboard.

ASUS MAXIMUS VIIIFigure 5: audio section

The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port, controlled by an Intel I219V chip.

In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared PS/2 keyboard/mouse connector, two USB 2.0 ports, a “BIOS flashback” button, two more USB 2.0 ports, DisplayPort output, HDMI output, two USB 3.1 ports (one Type A and one Type C), two USB 3.0 ports, one Gigabit Ethernet port, optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

ASUS MAXIMUS VIIIFigure 6: motherboard rear panel

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Rafael Otto Coelho is a physicist with a master’s degree in Education, and is a college professor in Brazil.