Asus Maximus V Gene Reviewccokeman -
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Having looked at a fairly large cross section of what ASUS has had to offer over the past few years from its ROG (Republic of Gamers) product stack, I have to say that the company keeps finding a way to bring a little something new to the feature set. The Maximus V Gene is a small form factor motherboard designed for use with Intel's latest Third Generation Core series Ivy Bridge processors. ASUS brings a wealth of improvements to the table. There are improvements to the power circuitry via its all new Extreme Engine Digi+ II all-digital power solution for the CPU, IGP, and DRAM. You get an improved 8-channel sound solution in the Supreme FX III onboard sound, which offers massive improvements in onboard sound technology. You get an onboard mPCIe card to add in a mSATA SSD to take advantage of Intel's Smart Response, Rapid Start, and SSD Caching, not to mention add mini PCIe devices. You get support for CrossFireX, SLI, and Hybrid graphics though the use of Lucidlogix Virtu software, which is supposed to offer an increase in performance of up to 60%! Rounding it out are native USB 3.0 and PCIe 3.0, all at a price point of right around $210. Add in the three-year warranty and you have a full-featured board for not a lot of money. Let's see what it has to offer in terms of performance to go with the good looks of a ROG board.
There is no mistaking a board that is part of the ROG product stack from ASUS. The specific theme consists of a maroon, red, and silver background, with the ROG logo prominently displayed. The product name is in bold print to easily distinguish which motherboard is in the package. Along the bottom of the front panel are specific supported features, including CrossFireX, SLI, and Hybrid graphics support via Lucidlogix Virtu software. The Maximus V Gene is PCIe 3.0 ready when used with one of Intel's Third Generation Core series processors. Inside the front flip-up panel, ASUS goes into detail on the benefits of some of the board's expansive features. The Supreme FX III audio solution, Intel NIC with improved GameFirst packet management software, Lucidlogix Virtu MVP hybrid graphics, ROG Connect, Extreme Engine Digi+ II power design, and the mPCIe combo card are all added value propositions that enhance the user experience. The back side of the package points out some of the features, as well as lists the motherboard specifications. Many of us purchase online without visiting a brick and mortar store, but for those of us with a Micro Center or Fry's around, the box certainly has visual appeal.
Inside the package, the board and expansive list of accessories are housed. The top half of the box houses the Maximus V Gene, while the bottom is divided and holds the balance of the bundle that includes the additional hardware and manuals to get the Maximus V Gene installed.
The bundle for the Maximus V Gene includes both the manuals and software, a "Do Not Disturb" tag for the door to let the world know you are gaming, and a set of labels to identify the cables feeding the disk drives. The hardware parts of the bundle do not look like a lot when put on the table, but what you do get get is all about function. Included are both SATA 6Gb/s and 3Gb/s cables, an SLI bridge connection, a ROG Connect cable, a Q-Shield, Q-Connectors for the front panel connections, and the part that brings a wealth of functionality, the mPCIe card. Most of this bundle will be familiar to ROG fans, but that final piece – the mPCIe card – adds a lot to the bundle, allowing the user to take advantage of SSD Caching by using the integrated mSATA slot on the card or by using a WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, or GPS device in the mPCIe slot. This would give a small form factor build that added bit of connectivity.
The Q-Shield is built to eliminate EMI interference through the I/O shield, as well as provide a means for ESD dispersal due to its design. Externally, it is painted black and is well labeled. The ROG connect cable is used to connect an external netbook or notebook for on-the-fly overclocking using ASUS ROG Connect software. In the past, this has proven to be a flexible solution for managing clock speeds without backing out of games on the home computer. By using a Bluetooth module on the mPCIe card, you can go a step further and use a supported smartphone for this task. The Q-Connectors have been copied by many a manufacturer, but ASUS puts down the claim as the first to implement this accessory. The Q-Connectors can be connected to the front panel switches and USB ports while the wiring is pulled away from the board. By putting the connectors where you can reach them, pushing the entire plug onto the board really helps us with large by huge hands.
You know the bundle is always going to hold something a little special and in this case it does, but what about the small form factor beast that accompanied the small parts? With a long list of features and a rich heritage to live up to, let's see what the ROG Maximus V Gene has to offer the end user.