Asus Maximus V Gene Reviewccokeman -
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The one thing in common with all the Z77 boards I have tested is that they all fall into a specific performance envelope based on the installed hardware. Any which way you cut it, your hardware is going to only give you what it can. Better power regulation can make that maximum speed more stable, but in the end the margin will be about the same. So what sets one board apart from the other at this point? It really all comes down to feature set, functionality, and price. Let's tackle price first, as the ROG boards usually command a significant premium over the mid range boards in ASUS' product stack. Believe it or not, the Maximus V Gene is offered for $189, in the prime $100-$200 range at popular e-tailers. For the features you get, it is an incredible value at that price point. That added value comes not only in the included hardware part of the bundle, but with fully licensed versions of Kaspersky Anti-Virus software, a basic version of DAEMON Tools, and an improved version of ASUS' GameFirst packet management software, which includes an easier to use GUI. You also get a fully functional uEFI BIOS implementation that works as intended without the lagging mouse functionality of some competing implementations. In this BIOS you get both an "EZ" mode and an Advanced mode that is granular enough to make just about any hardcore tweaker happy, while allowing the novice to get in and out on one page. Flashing the BIOS using either the USB BIOS flashback feature or ASUS EZ Flash in the tools section of the BIOS are simple chores and really could not be easier. Staying with the BIOS, ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall) is as good as it has been over the past few generations. If you get a little or lot out of bounds with the BIOS settings, a simple power down and restart will get you back in the BIOS with the previous settings intact.
Features onboard include 4-pin PWM controlled fan headers for all chassis fans, which works with the latest FanXpert 2 software in AI Suite II. With the Z77 boards in ASUS' product stack, you get an automatic fan tuning feature that can be implemented to manages fan speeds for both low noise when max cooling is not needed, to full-on fan speeds when it is needed most. It is pretty interesting to watch it run through its paces. While not used by many users, the ProbeIt measuring points offer the extreme user the opportunity to verify the voltages applied in the BIOS and the effect of the five-step load line calibration from the Extreme Engine Digi+ II fully digital power control circuits. Longevity of the components has been upgraded with the use of 10K Black Metallic caps that offer five times the durability of standard Japanese capacitors. ASUS stepped up with an improved sound solution in its Supreme FX III onboard solution. This onboard solution is designed as though it was a discrete sound solution with exclusive features, such as a 1500uF capacitor, EMI shielding, and PCB Moat lighting showing off how the board's analog and digital parts of the solution are separated from the PCB. It's a cool feature that again comes down to added value.
When it came to overclocking the ROG Maximus V Gene, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it could deliver all that my chip has to offer in terms of clock speed, bclock tuning, and memory capabilities. So far, the Maximus V Gene has offered up the highest bclock overclocking speed I have gotten on my 3770K at over 104.2MHz using a 45 clock ratio. It has also delivered the highest memory speed I have seen to date at just over 2500MHz. Not bad for a $190 board. Manual tweaking of the BIOS is not the only way to overclock the Maximus V Gene. You can use the CPU Level Up function in the BIOS or in AI Suite to use the one-click method of overclocking to make it easy for the novice to set it and forget it. ASUS has come a long way in this respect, making the tool work well for the masses. A ROG exclusive is ASUS ROG Connect/RC TweakIt software that enables the ability to remotely tweak bclock and voltage settings to increase performance. With the ROG Connect cable, this is done through a laptop or notebook. Another avenue to enable this utility would be to add a Bluetooth module to the mPCIe riser card so that the RC TweakIt application can be accessed through a supported smartphone.
As a mATX board, one would think that the discrete graphics options are limited. Not so with the Maximus V Gene. You get full support for CrossFireX and SLI, up to Quad CrossFire and SLI by using two multi-GPU cards, such as the HD 6990 or the GTX 690. Those are some pretty expensive cards to slap into a small form factor PC, but the potential is there. Hybrid Graphics using Lucidlogix MVP software is used to deliver a boost in gaming performance. An ASUS exclusive is that this software used on an ASUS board does not require an online activation.
ASUS ROG motherboards are always full of features and this one is no different. The addition of the mPCIe riser card gives the user added options for functionality, including adding an mSATA SSD to take advantage of Intel's Smart Response technology or ASUS' SSD Caching application. You can put in any number of modules to expand the capabilities of the board. The bottom line here is that the ROG Maximus V Gene offers full size performance and features in a small form factor. If you take into account the good looks and functionality, you really have a board that can do it all.
- Supreme FX III audio
- Multi-GPU support
- Included software
- Feature set