Asus Maximus V Gene Review

ccokeman - 2012-02-29 16:43:57 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: June 28, 2012
Price: $209.00

Introduction:

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.

Closer Look:

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.

Closer Look:

The Maximus V Gene is the "Mini-Me" version of the full size Maximus V motherboard. While short in stature, it is not short on features, as we will soon see. As an uATX form factor board, it measures only 9.6 x 9.6 inches in size. Built around the Z77 chipset and LGA 1155 socket, the ROG Asus Maximus V Gene will work with either Intel Second or Third generation Core series processors, such as the Core i7 2600k (32nm) and Core i7 3770K (22nm). As a smaller form factor board, there are limited expansion options to a point, although ASUS has made some concessions to the size with added flexibility to maintain the graphics capabilities of the Maximus V Gene. The front side of the PCB has a layout that is typical of most Socket 1155 boards, just with less real estate to park the hardware. The black and red theme is used throughout, following the ROG theme. The back side of the PCB is bare, with the exception of the Foxconn CPU retention mechanism backing plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting with the I/O panel, we get to a few of the features that make this ROG offering unique in ways other than the ROG theme. To the far left is the CMOS clear button, followed by the header used for a mPCIe add-in card, which can be used to add a small mSATA SSD to take advantage of Intel's Smart Response technology for improved responsiveness, or any number of mPCIe devices, such as a Bluetooth or WiFi module. The ROG Connect button is up next and has several uses, including USB BIOS flashback and connecting to a laptop or netbook to allow external control of the operating parameters, including bclock and voltages, to allow on-the-fly tuning. Next up are three USB 2.0 ports and the ROG Connect port, used with ROG Connect software and cable, as well as with a flash drive when using USB BIOS flashback. A single eSATA port is next, along with a quartet of USB 3.0 ports, two controlled through the Z77 chipset with the other two controlled by an ASMedia controller. An optical SPDI/F port sits over the HDMI 1.4a port and full size DisplayPort 1.1a port that support Intel® InTru™ 3D , Insider™, and Clear Video HD Technology. The RJ-45 LAN Gigabit port is Intel-controlled. Last up are the gold-plated analog speaker connections for the Supreme FX III 8-channel audio solution, which supports EAX® Advanced™ HD 5.0 and THX® TruStudio PRO™. Expansion capabilities come in the form of a pair of 16x PCIe 3.0 ports (when used with an Intel Third Generation Core series processor), which support both Quad CrossFire and Quad SLI, as well as Lucidlogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology. Rounding it out is a single PCIe 2.0 4x slot.

 

 

On the bottom left side of the PCB is the area that houses the Supreme FX III sound solution components. To offer a richer sound solution, ASUS has created a buffer zone that separates the components on the PCB from the rest of the board by a PCB "moat" called the Redline PCB Moat. This system keeps the digital and analog sides of the solution apart, including the reference ground, to allow this onboard solution to effectively act as an add-in card without having to use an add-in device. PCB Shield is used to arrange the components of the Supreme FX III sound solution to reduce the chance of a reduction in audio quality through crosstalk. The audio processor is encased in a stainless steel cover to reduce any stray EMI signals from compromising the audio quality. A large 1500uF capacitor is used to ensure that the audio components have a steady supply of power even in the highest power drain situations. When powered up, the Red Line Moat is clearly visible and is an attractive feature of this board.

 

 

Along the bottom of the PCB are the components of the Supreme FX III sound solution, the front panel audio and SPDI/F headers, and the Start and Reset buttons for use either in or outside a chassis. Just to the right of the reset button is the ROG chip, followed by the LN2 jumper, Thunderbolt header for use when Thunderbolt devices are available (including sound solutions), the socketed BIOS chip, a pair of USB 2.0 ports, one of the five 4-pin Fan Xpert 2 controllable fan headers (two for the CPU and three chassis), the front panel connections, and the Debug LED.

 

 

 

Drive connectivity on the ROG Asus Maxumus V Gene comes in the form of six SATA ports: four SATA 6Gb/s and two SATA 3Gb/s. Starting at the bottom of the PCB, the first two are the ASMedia-controlled SATA 6Gb/s ports, followed by the Z77-controlled SATA 6Gb/s ports in red and the SATA 3Gb/s ports in black. This configuration supports Raid 0, 1, 5, 10 and Intel Smart Response Technology, Intel Rapid Start Technology, and Intel Smart Connect Technology. Above the drive connections is the onboard Z77-controlled USB 3.0 header that supports two ports. The 24-pin ATX power connection is next, followed by features that are both ROG staples and ASUS specific features. The "Go" button is used to enable ASUS's Mem Ok feature to run through a set of algorithms that change the memory timings and voltages to allow for a successful boot. By pressing it quickly, you can load the "Go" button profile set in the uEFI BIOS. The ProbeIt voltage check points are there for the extreme user to validate the voltages applied in the BIOS. You get the option of checking all the most tweaked voltages like vcore, vdimm, vccsa, and the IGP voltage. In front of the ATX 24-pin connector is a series of LEDs. These are another "Q" feature called Q-LED. These LEDs light up if there is an error detected during the boot sequence and serves as an additional diagnostic tool along with the "Go" LED that flashes if the Mem Ok feature has been enabled.

 

 

The ROG Maximus V Gene supports up to 32GB of DDR3 memory at speeds of up to 2666MHz(OC) in a dual-channel four-DIMM configuration, supporting Intel's latest XMP 1.3 standard. That is, of course, if your CPU's memory controller can handle speeds that high. ASUS has adopted a new T topology for the trace layout that feeds the four DIMM slots in lieu of the previous generation's daisy chain layout. This results in a shorter path to the CPU memory controller and leads to the potential of a 10+ percent increase in the overclocking margins when the CPU is not the limitation. Two phases of the 8+4+2 phase power circuit are dedicated solely to power the memory. ASUS has been using its  Q-DIMM socket retention system for some time now and it is still a system that removes the lower latches on the DIMM sockets that could otherwise cause problems with removing the memory modules with large video cards installed. It has previously proven its worth to me in more than a few memory benchmarking sessions illustrated in the second picture below. The close proximity of the top 16x PCIe slot makes this feature a necessity.

 

 

Around the top of the PCB, you can see the Extreme Engine Digi+ II controller for the system memory slots. This is a fully digital controller that is an improvement over the previous generation's analog solution. The power phases circuitry can be controlled via the AI Suite II software, including the current capabilities and voltage frequency. To the right of the DIMM slots are two of the Fan Xpert 2 controlled PWM fan headers. The 8-pin auxiliary CPU power connection sits at the top of the PCB behind the rear I/O connections.

 

 

Designed for use with Intel's Second and Third Generation Core series processors, the Maximus V Gene uses an LGA 1155 socket to mount the processor. On this board, the hardware is made by Foxconn instead of LOTES. Around the socket are the components of the Extreme Engine Digi+ fully digital, dual-driver 8+4+2 phase power circuit that feeds the CPU, integrated graphics processor, and DRAM. Eight phases are dedicated to the CPU, while four feed the IGP. There are a total of twelve alloy chokes around the CPU socket, one for each phase. The capacitors have been upgraded to 10K Black Mettalic Nihicon caps that show up to 5x the durability of standard Japanese capacitors. This part of the system is integral to managing the voltage and current loads imposed by overclocking.

 

The cooling solution used on the Maximus V Gene is a combination of a passively cooled heat sinks used to cover the components of the Extreme Engine Digi+ power circuit and the Z77 Intel chipset. Over the power circuits are a pair of large, extruded aluminum heat sinks interconnected via a heat pipe to vent as much heat out the back of the chassis as possible. The large heat sink that is used to cover the Z77 chipset is low enough that, even with a pair of cards in the 16x PCIe slots, there are no fitting concerns.

 

 

For a small board, ASUS managed to pack the Maximus V Gene chock full of features that even a full size ATX form factor board would be proud to own. It's got all the hardware to meet the needs of the extreme user, as well as the user just looking for a full featured board for a small form factor build.

Closer Look:

ASUS ROG motherboards, and ASUS motherboards in general, usually come with a full suite of tools that can be used in the operating system to improve functionality without having to resort to restarting the computer and working in the BIOS for things like overclocking or fan control. AI Suite II is one of the tools that ASUS has put a lot of time and effort into so that the look, feel, and end user experience is second to none. This all new interface came about at the time of Intel's P67 launch back in March of 2011. With this implementation tailored for the Z77 chipset motherboard, there are five areas to look through, along with the CPU Level Up tab. Starting with the Level Up function, there are three presets starting at 4.2GHz and going up to 4.6GHz as the maximum preset. Starting low and working through each preset will let you see where your chip falls in terms of scalability without having to resort to a lot of manual fine-tuning. A manual mode is also available if you want to really get your hands dirty and tweak everything yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ability to tweak the Digi+ VRM power control is found under the Tools tab. With the Z77 boards, you get to control the VRM power control, current limits, and voltage frequencies for the CPU and DRAM. The Smart Digi+ tab manages the settings for you, while the CPU Power and DRAM power tabs allow the user to manually configure the options to deliver higher overclocking margins. In the CPU Power tab, you can adjust the 5-step Load Line Calibration level, the Power Phase control, current limits, and voltage frequency. The DRAM section contains similar controls, including thermal, all with the intent of delivering smooth stable voltage control and improved overclocking margins.

 

 

 

ASUS EPU system delivers measurable energy savings when used to its maximum capabilities. There are three different presets to choose from with each offering a more aggressive approach to energy management. Auto, High Performance, and Max Power saving modes each work around five different aspects of power management to deliver power savings on this board that is built for users who do not worry about power consumption, but rather raw MHz and high end gaming. CO2 emissions reduced through the use of each of the profiles is shown on the right-hand side of the application.

 

 

Fan Xpert 2 is an improved utility that brings along an improved feature set, including Fan Auto Tuning, Fan Characteristics Detection, Fixed Fan Speed Mode, Fan Responsiveness Control, Fan Position Search, and Fan Header Rename. This allows the end user to build and use a specific fan profile for each of the fans attached to the system. It is a small part of the AI Suite, but is flexible in how it manages the thermal load of the chassis or CPU by the profiles assigned. Higher fan speeds would equate to improved CPU overclocking by way of lower temperatures. New for this board is the ability to let the AI Suite II software tune the fans. This way the system can tailor the fan speeds to offer the lowest speeds and noise when not under a heavy load and ramp up the airflow as needed to keep your hardware cool.

 

 

The Probe II section of AI Suite is full of monitoring tools that provide the end user the ability to monitor the system from within the Windows environment with five different tools: Alert, Temperature, Fan, Preferences, and Alert Log. The first tab, Alert, allows the user to set alert levels for system voltages. The Temperature tab is where the alert levels for system temperatures is set. Under the Fan tab, you have the same functionality, but with fan speed. The Preferences tab sets up how the alerts are displayed. The Alert Log shows when the alerts happened over a period of time, in graph form.

 

 

 

Sensor Recorder is used to display the voltage and fan speeds over a period of time. This is in addition to the alert tracking. AI Charger+ is an application that allows the user to charge both Apple and USB BC 1.1 compatible portable devices, such as Android-based phones and tablets, up to three times faster than through a standard USB port. You can use this feature while the board is in various power states. USB 3.0 Boost allows the user to improve the transfer speeds of attached USB devices by using several different protocols. By using an attached USB 3.0 external dock, you can see speeds close to the SATA 6Gb/s maximum transfer rates. Even USB 2.0 devices can see a boost in transfer speed using this feature.

 

 

 

To further expand on what kind of performance increases you can see by using the USB3.0 Boost feature, you can see the performance with and without the Turbo function enabled, using both the Intel and AsMedia controlled USB 3.0 ports. You can see tangible gains in both read and write performance of the drive by using the USB 3.0 Boost feature. This will result in less time needed to transfer large files.

 

Intel Controlled, Bot mode left, UASP Turbo mode right

 

AsMedia Controlled, Bot mode left, UASP Turbo mode right

 

Under the Update radio button, you can update the BIOS and change the boot logo that is currently displayed by the BIOS or in another saved BIOS. The Settings tab allows the end user to pick what items are shown on the AI Suite tool bar under "Application", while the actual configuration of the tool bar is managed under the "Bar" tab.

 

 

For the ROG user, ASUS builds in a few other useful utilities. There is a special ROG version of CPU-Z and a tool called Mem TweakIt. Everyone knows what CPU-Z is and its uses. Mem TweakIt is a tool to adjust the DRAM timing from within the Windows environment as a way to test and tune what combination of settings perform better before changing the settings in the BIOS.

 

 

ASUS WebStorage is a "cloud" storage tool that allows the end user to back up, retrieve and sync data from many different types of devices. 2GB of cloud storage is included for free with this service. In this increasingly mobile world, having access to your files from anywhere with a keyword means that showing off a treasured picture or listening to your music is just a connection away.

 

Lucidlogix Virtu MVP software is included with the Maximus V Gene and is used to enable the best of both worlds with regards to energy saving and discrete graphics performance. You get the energy efficiency of the integrated HD4000 Intel graphics when in 2D mode and the full graphics power of the discrete GPU when needed, all while connected to either the onboard GPU or the discrete GPU output. An additional feature of this offering is a boost in performance when in a hybrid mode. Under the performance tab, you can enable HyperFormance mode to enable this boost, along with enabling Virtual Vsync. Lucidlogix' definition of Virtual Vsync is as follows: "Skips non-disclosed frames, where the new frame is not rendered on the discrete graphics if the current frame rate is already faster than what the monitor can display. Rather, the last rendered frame stored at the frame buffer on the integrated graphics is sent to the monitor instead to save the processing power on the discrete graphics." The last tab of interest is the Applications tab, where you choose the mode you want the application to run in.

 

 

The included software package is one of the points of difference between the comparison boards. ASUS includes its ROG GameFirst packet management software to prioritize the content you send through the Intel NIC. It includes a new interface that is easier to use. Purchasing this software without the ASUS shell would set you back some additional coin, if you had to purchase it outright.

 

 

ROG Connect and RC TweakIt are programs that go hand in hand. RC TweakIt is used on a remote PC, such as a laptop or netbook and even on your Apple or Android-based smartphones, with the app being found in both the iTunes App store and Google Play store. This handy little utility is used through the ROG Connect cable with an interface that looks very much like TurboV Evo. RC TweakIt is used to boost performance on the host PC by adjusting it in the RC TweakIt program. In the screenshots below, you can see the effects of the adjustment in the ROG-themed CPU-Z screen capture and compare it to the RC TweakIt screen capture, and see both the host and remote computer have the same bclock setting. It is fun to play with via a laptop, but so much more fun via a smartphone. This should offer up some conversation the next time you visit a LAN party.

 

 

Last but not least, are two full featured applications that are value-added items. You get a fully licensed one-year subscription to Kaspersky Anti-Virus and a fully licensed version of DAEMON Tools disk emulation software so you do not hose up your game disks. When you add the cost of these two programs up, they would set you back about $40. Again, a value-added option.

 

 

 

Any which way you cut it, the value proposition is there for the package of software that ASUS brings to the table. The utilities are well thought out and they just work — more so now than in the past, as the combination of utilities are integrated into one suite for a truly fun user experience. Beyond the fun and usability, the ability to tweak in the OS cannot be overstated, as you can run into boot issues that can be surpassed when managing the settings in AI Suite II.

Closer Look:

ASUS continues the use of its UEFI BIOS implementation with this ROG series offering for the high performance mainstream user. You get much of the same functionality that has existed since the first UEFI bios on the P67-based Maximus IV Extreme, through the Z68, X79, and now Z77-based motherboards. Along the way, ASUS has added functionality in the form of using the F12 key to take a screenshot of the BIOS that can be saved to an installed flash drive for easy troubleshooting and sharing of settings - something seen on ASUS' own ROG site. A shortcut menu was introduced later on and is accessed by pushing the F3 key. Add in the F7 hotkey for accessing a specific feature and usability is increased. With the latest boards you have ASUS USB BIOS flashback that will allow the user to flash the BIOS while in a standby power state without the memory or CPU installed.

 

EZ and Advanced Mode:

The EZ Mode allows the user to make a limited amount of changes and is more to show what the time, date, and what the installed devices are. Advanced Mode gives the user the entire shooting match, with access to each and every setting and feature in the BIOS. Advanced Mode consists of six sub-menus to take advantage of and optimize the performance of the installed hardware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advanced Mode: Extreme Tweaker:

This section is fairly expansive and is where ASUS spends the time to make sure that if you want to look for it and use it, there is a setting for just about every parameter on each device installed in the system. Starting off, there are four predefined overclocking profiles that can be set in addition to any XMP profiles, CPU Level Up, or AI Overclock tuner settings. EPU power saving presets, voltages, DRAM timings, and "Tweaker" functionality for the CPU, Memory, PCH, and VGA can be found in this one tab in the BIOS. You can literally spend days in this section to understand what each setting does. We will dig a little deeper on the next page.

 

 

Main:

This section is sparse by comparison to the Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS. In this section, you'll be able to access the time, date, BIOS revision, iROG revision, CPU information, amount of installed memory, system language, and security features, such as admin passwords.

 

 

Advanced:

Under this tab, one can set the CPU configuration parameters, such as the bclock multiplier, enable Turbo Boost and Intel Speed step, C-states , SATA, USB, and have the ability to enable or disable the onboard device functionality. Under the SATA configuration, you can set the connection type for disk drives to AHCI, RAID or IDE, and turn on or off the hot swap feature. Under the USB sub-menu is the ability to configure how the USB interface is managed. Last but not least, is the onboard device configuration that allows the user to enable or disable the sound, Bluetooth, USB 3.0, LAN, and Boot Rom, as well as the USB 3.0 controller.

 

 

 

 

Monitor:

Under this tab is the monitoring functionality for the board. Here the voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures can be checked. The first sub-menu below Anti Surge support is the voltage monitor. This tab is to check the voltages delivered to all the key components of the system. You can verify the voltages displayed against what is actually delivered by measuring the voltage check points on the Maximus V Gene. Temperature Monitor lets the end user monitor temperatures on the board and installed components, as well as several optional sensors. Warning temperatures can be set to alert the user when a specific component's temperature exceeds the set warning level. It's a tool that does work, as the warning levels are displayed through the AI Suite. Fan speed monitor does just what the name implies and displays the speed of up to nine fans. The last tab is fan control, where you can enable ASUS Q-Fan controls and set fan speeds individually to meet the end user's needs.

 

 

 

Boot:

The Boot menu is where to set the sequence that the drives are polled for bootable media. The primary drive can be identified when more than one is installed. The full screen ROG logo can be enabled or disabled at POST, Wait for F1 if Errors can be enabled or disabled, the length of time the POST report shows can be altered, and the setup mode that the BIOS will open into can be set to EZ or Advanced.

 

 

Tool:

This section comes in real handy. ASUS' EZ Flash 2 utility is hands down one of the easiest ways to flash a BIOS. It has been imitated, but not duplicated. Search for the BIOS file on any installed media, choose the BIOS file, choose to flash the BIOS, and the process is automated from that point on. The only simpler way to flash would be to use the USB BIOS flashback feature. SPD Information shows the SPD profile on the memory DIMMs. Under ASUS OC Profile, the end user can save up to eight distinct profiles. The Go Button File is the group of settings used when the Go Button is pushed on the Maximus V Gene. These settings can be a good solid base file to start from after a failed overclock, but with the C.P.R. feature makes this a good safety valve.

 

 

 

Exit:

The Exit tab at the top right allows you to load optimized or safe default settings, save or discard changes made to the BIOS settings, launch the BIOS in EZ or Advanced mode, or launch the EFI shell.

Closer Look:

The Extreme Tweaker section of the UEFI BIOS is where the overclocking magic happens. ASUS gives the end user the tools to get the most from their hardware. To start, there are four different overclocking presets the user can choose to use and not move any further into the BIOS. Then there is the rest of the world that will look to adjust the parameters in the BIOS to varying degrees. After the presets are the start of the adjustments with the AI Overclock tuner, bclock and bclock strap adjustments, and clockgen reset feature to keep from shutting down completely after a bclock adjustment. Turbo Ratio is to set the bclock multiplier from this menu. EPU or the Energy processor function can be shut down, and then there are several drop-down menus for the DRAM Timing control, Digi+ Power control, CPU Performance settings, and the GPU DIMM Post indicator that can be used to show whether or not the installed hardware is detected and functioning. Further down this first part of the Extreme Tweaker section are the voltage tuning options. Several can be set manually or set by adding an offset to the base voltage. At the bottom of the page are the Tweaker menus that have options for the extreme or enthusiast user. The CPU, GPU, Memory, and PCH are options here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the DRAM timing control sub-menu, you can, as one would suspect, set the primary and secondary timings for the installed DRAM. To start, much like the main tab, there are a series of presets that can be used to tweak the memory performance characteristics using the Maximus Tweak feature or one of the 13 factory-tuned presets based on the modules used in the system. Shown here is just the top of this tab, as it gets further into the sub-timings menu as you dig deeper down the page. The Digi+ Power Control section is where the user can configure the load line calibration, the VRM switching frequency, current capacity, and overheat protection for the VRM circuits. The CPU Performance setting is where the bclock multiplier is set, as well as where Intel Speedstep and Turbo mode can be enabled or disabled. The wattage used by the cores before they throttle down can be adjusted in this section.

 

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GPU/DIMM Post is a functional area that allows the user to see if the memory modules are fully engaged and in operation. The slot assignment and speed are shown on the BIOS screen. The same is done with the GPU. The manufacturer and the slot in use are shown, as well as the PCIe lanes being used — in this example, 16.

 

The BIOS used on the Maximus V Gene is one that can be tailored to work with the novice as well as the enthusiast. Making a BIOS that is granular enough to meet the needs of the hardcore user while keeping it simple enough for the average user to work through is a challenge for the manufacturer, but ASUS pulls it together well. Navigation can be via keyboard, mouse, or a combination of the two.

Specifications:

CPU
Intel® Socket 1155 for 3rd/2nd Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® 32 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset
Intel® Z77
Memory               
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
* Refer to www.asus.com or user manual for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Graphic
Integrated Graphics Processor
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort ports
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz
- Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
Supports Intel® HD Graphics, InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD CrossFireX™ Technology
Supports LucidLogix® Virtu™ MVP Technology *1
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8, red) *2
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4 (black)
1 x mini-PCIe 2.0 x1 *3
Storage
Intel® Z77 chipset : *4
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
2 x SATA 3Gb/s port(s), black
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s port(s), red
1 x mini-SATA 3Gb/s port(s), black
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *5
ASMedia® PCIe SATA controller : *6
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
LAN
Intel®, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio
SupremeFX III built-in 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Output Signal-to-Noise Ratio (A-Weighted): 110 dB
- Output THD+N at 1kHz: 95 dB
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
- 1500 uF Audio Power Capacitor
- Gold-plated jacks
- X-Fi® Xtreme Fidelity™
- EAX® Advanced™ HD 5.0
- THX® TruStudio PRO™
- Creative ALchemy
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports
Intel® Z77 chipset :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z77 chipset :
8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black+white, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
2 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue)
Overclocking Features
mPCIe Combo™ (mPCIe/mSATA combo card)
ROG Connect :
- RC Diagram
- RC Remote
- RC Poster
- GPU TweakIt
Extreme Engine Digi+ II :
- 8-phase CPU power design + 4-phase iGPU power design
- 2-phase QPI/DRAM power design
ProbeIt
UEFI BIOS features :
- ROG BIOS Print
- GPU.DIMM Post
GameFirst
iROG
Extreme Tweaker
Loadline Calibration
USB BIOS Flashback
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Special Features
 
ASUS Hybrid Processor - TurboV EVO :
- CPU Level Up
ASUS EPU :
- EPU
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- AI Suite II
- Ai Charger+
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
ASUS EZ DIY :
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Back I/O Ports
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x eSATA 3Gb/s
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to ROG Connect)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x ROG Connect On/ Off switch(es)
Internal I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
2 x SATA 3Gb/s connector(s)
2 x CPU Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
8 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Go Button(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo header(s)
Accessories
User's manual
I/O Shield
2 x SATA 3Gb/s cable(s)
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x ROG Connect cable(s)
1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
1 x ROG Door Hanger(s)
BIOS
64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WfM2.0, DMI2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc
Drivers
Sound Blaster® X-Fi 2 Utility
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
ROG CPU-Z
ASUS AI Suite II
ASUS WebStorage
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor
uATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )
Note
*1: LucidLogix Virtu MVP supports Windows 7 operating systems.
*2: PCIe3.0 speed is supported by Intel® 3rd generation Core™ Processors.
*3: The mPCIe 2.0 x1 slot is located on mPCIe Combo™ expansion card.
*4: The mSATA 3Gb/s slot is located on mPCIe Combo™ expansion card.
*5: Supports on Intel® Core™ processor family with Windows® 7 operating systems.
*6: These SATA ports are for data hard drives only.
*7: Due to Intel® chipset limitation, P8Z77, P8H77 and P8B75 series motherboards do not support Windows® Vista operating system.

 

Features:

ROG Gaming Features

ROG Exclusive Features

Multi-GPU Technology

CPU Feature

Chipset Features

Rich Software Bundled

 

 


All information Courtesy of ASUS @  http://usa.asus.com/Motherboards/Intel_Socket_1155/Maximus_V_GENE/#overview


 

Testing:

Testing this latest Z77-based board from ASUS will involve running the ROG Maximus V Gene through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Boards:

 

Overclocking:

ASUS offers an incredible array of tools to allow the enthusiast and overclocker the ability to maximize the performance potential of their installed hardware through a comprehensive set of tools, including AI Suite II and an incredible UEFI BIOS implementation. The hardware side of things is equally robust using the ASUS Extreme Engine Digi+ II power management system. My 3770K is up for replacement, as it maxes out at right around 4.7GHz. Any higher and the thermals need something better than high end water to keep the chip cool. With that being said, I was able to use the same methods to overclock the CPU and memory that have been standard with the Sandy Bridge micro-architecture. Some of the boards I have tested have not allowed the bclock to be tweaked very high, but the ROG Maximus V Gene was able to go to 104+MHz at the speed limit for my 3770K. It did this with a slightly lower vcore of 1.30 versus the 1.325v to 1.350v I have used on other boards, showing how efficient and accurate the DIGI+ II voltage regulation is. Using AI Suite II in the OS, further tweaking of the bclock and voltages would result in speeds just over 4.7GHz for some screenshots, but nothing meaningful. The CPU Level Up function works as intended and is meant to work with the average CPU speed capabilities. Your mileage will vary, as with any overclocking.

I found that the Maximus V Gene was able to deliver memory speeds in excess of 2500MHz with the modules I have available. By using one of the 13 preset profiles, you can get a good feel for what your modules are capable of and then tweak a little further for better efficiency. Several boards I have tested have not been as flexible, with speeds up to even 2133MHz being unattainable, so the Maximus V Gene has some serious memory overclocking chops, reminiscent of its Extreme level brother, the X79 Rampage IV Extreme. If you end up with a group of settings that just do not work and prevent the board from booting, ASUS C.P.R. (CPU Parameter Recall) allows the board to boot after a power down cycle so you do not need to use the Clear CMOS button. When it boots up, the settings that failed are still in place allowing you to either reload a different OC profile to start tweaking from or just tweak what is already input in the fields. Whether you are manually tweaking for performance or just want a quick solid overclock, ASUS has you covered with a BIOS that is granular enough to get that last MHz or simple enough for the novice to use. Any which way you look at it, the tools are there.

 

Maximum Overclock:

Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.

 

Benchmarks:

Scientific & Data:

  1. Apophysis
  2. WinRAR
  3. Geekbench 2.1
  4. Bibble 5
  5. Office 2007 Excel Number Crunch
  6. POV-Ray 3.7
  7. ProShow Gold
  8. HandBrake 9.5
  9. Sandra 2011
  10. AIDA64 1.85
  11. ScienceMark 2.02
  12. Cinebench 10 & 11.5
  13. HD Tune 4.60
  14. PCMark 7

Video:

  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Civilization V
  3. Battlefield 3
  4. 3DMark11



 

Testing:

The first part of our testing will involve system-specific benchmarks.

 

Let's get started with Apophysis. This program is used primarily to render and generate fractal flame images. We will run this benchmark with the following settings:

 

 

The measurement used is time to render, in minutes, to complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Lower is Better

 

WinRAR is a tool to archive and compress large files to a manageable size. Here, we will test the time needed to compress files of 100 MB and 500 MB. Time will be measured in seconds.

 

ZIP:

  

  

Lower is Better

 

 

RAR:

  

  

Lower is Better

 

Geekbench:

Geekbench 2.1 is a benchmark that tests CPU and memory performance in an easy-to-use tool. The measure used for comparison is the total suite average score.

  

Higher is Better

 

Bibble 5:

This test consists of converting one hundred 8.2 MP RAW images to jpeg format. The file size is 837 MB. The measure used for comparison is time needed to convert the file in seconds.

  

Lower is Better

 

Through each one of the tests, the ASUS Maximus V Gene delivers performance that is comparable to the rest of the boards tested. The Apophysis and Geekbench scores show an edge over the rest of the boards at stock speeds.

Testing:

Office 2007 Excel Big Number Crunch: This test takes a 6.2 MB Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and performs about 28,000 sets of calculations that represent many of the most commonly used calculations in Excel. The measure of this test is the amount of time it takes to refresh the sheet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

Lower Is Better

 

POV-Ray 3.7: This program features a built-in benchmark that renders an image using Ray Tracing. The latest versions offer support for SMP (Symmetric Multi-Processing), enabling the workload to be spread across several cores for quicker completion.

  

Higher Is Better

 

ProShow Gold: This program is used to take a collection of images and stitch them together in a slide show, using a variety of transitions and effects, to make a compelling show you can share with friends and family. The workload consists of 29 high-resolution images that are stitched into a 3 minute video file.

  

Lower Is Better

 

HandBrake 9.5: is an open source application used to transcode multiple video formats to an h.264 output format. The test file size is 128 MB in size and 43 seconds in length.

  

Lower Is Better

 

Parity in the results is the theme of the day here, with minor fluctuations in the performance envelopes showing that the boards are indeed similar with identical hardware installed, at least from a performance perspective.

Testing:

SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Processor Arithmetic

  

  

Multi-Core Efficiency

  

  

 

Memory Bandwidth

  

  

 

Cache and Memory

  

 

 

Power Management Efficiency

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the CPU Queen test that looks for the solution for the "Queens" problem on a 10x10 chessboard. This tests the branch-prediction capabilities of the processor. The FPU Mandel test measures double precision floating point performance through computation of several frames of the "Mandelbrot" fractal.

  

  

Higher is Better

 

In the Sandra testing, the performance characteristics of each board are similar. The performance deltas between boards are small enough to not be noticed in every day use with the tests run. The AIDA64 testing shows the ROG Maximus V at the upper end of the range.

Testing:

ScienceMark tests real-world performance instead of using synthetic benchmarks. For this test, we run the benchmark suite and will use the overall score for comparison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

  

Higher is Better!

 

 

 

Cinebench 10 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

  

 

  

Higher is Better

Cinebench 11.5

 

  

Higher is Better

 

HD Tune measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers.

 

  

 

  

Higher is Better

 

  

 

  

Lower is Better

 

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

  

  

Higher is Better

 

Throughout the testing, the margins were close on all the tests. Where the ROG ASUS Maximus V Gene shows some differentiation in performance is the PCMark7 testing.

Testing:

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based on the two popular sci-fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species: the Alien, the Predator, or the Human Colonial Marine. The game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine, which supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physics. For testing, I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Higher = Better

 

Stock and overclocked, the ASUS Maximus V Gene delivers results that are at the top of stack.

Testing:

Civilization V is a turn-based strategy game. The premise is to play as one of 18 civilizations and lead the civilization from the "dawn of man" up to the space age. This latest iteration of the Civilization series uses a new game engine and undergoes massive changes to the way the AI is employed throughout the game. Released for Windows in September of 2010, Civilization V is developed by Firaxis Games and published by 2K games. Testing will be done using actual gameplay, with FPS measured by Fraps through a series of five turns, 150 turns into the game.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At 1680 x 1050, the Maximus V Gene shows excellent performance trends, but at 1920 x 1080 the opposite is true, though it still performs within the mean average FPS performance.

Testing:

Battlefield 3 is a first-person shooter video game developed by EA Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. Battlefield 3 uses the Frostbyte 2 game engine and is the direct successor to Battlefield 2. Released in North America on October 25, 2011, the game supports DirectX 10 and 11.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ROG Maximus V Gene represents the branding well in this game, with a measurable increase in performance over the comparison boards.

Testing:

3DMark11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series, with Vantage as its predecessor. 3DMark11 was designed solely for DirectX 11, so Windows Vista or 7 are required alongside a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition gives unlimited free tests on performance mode, whereas Vantage only allows for a single test run. The Advanced Edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all features of the benchmark, while the Professional Edition runs for $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing – one that tests physics handling and one that combines graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics Library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still remains a popular choice.

The new benchmark comes with two new demos that can be watched; both of which are based on the tests, but unlike the tests, contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and involves a number of vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and displays a location similar to South American tribal ruins, with statues and the occasional vehicle. The demos are simple in that they have no story, but really demonstrate testing conditions. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors, MSI and Antec, on the sides, helping to make the Basic Edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to find the performance of each card. The presets are used because they are comparable to what can be run with the free version, so results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In five out of six tests, the ROG Maximus V Gene shows a higher level of performance in this Futuremark test suite.

Conclusion:

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.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: