ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene Review

ccokeman - 2013-12-05 19:10:38 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: January 30, 2014
Price: $199

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Introduction:

Last year I had the opportunity to look at ASUS' ROG entry into the mainstream market with the Maximus VI Hero and later the upper echelon of the socket 1150 ROG lineup, the Maximus VI Extreme. Each of these boards hit definite price points in the Republic of Gamers product stack. Missing from the lineup at launch was a small form factor board for the ROG enthusiast. Sure ASUS had the form factor covered with its TUF series Gryphon Z87 and the Z87M-Plus, but again the ROG enthusiast was left out in the cold. Now ASUS has corrected this problem with the introduction of both the Maximus VI Gene for the mATX crowd and have even added a mini-ITX board into the ROG fold with the Impact.

Today, though, I will be looking into the ROG Maximus VI Gene, a board that has all of the ROG specific features demanded by the ROG user, but in a smaller footprint. When reducing the footprint, it's surprising how little functionality you lose. Ultimately it comes down to a pair of SATA 6Gbps ports, the loss of the ability to run a four card graphics solution, Native DisplayPort connectivity, and not much else outside of the pricier point for entry into the ROG realm that comes in at $199.

For that price the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene comes equipped with all the latest features, including ASUS' own high end Supreme FX audio solution, Extreme Engine Digi+ III with Blackwing chokes and 10K Black capacitors, Game First II used in conjunction with Intel networking, Dual Intelligent Processors 4, Sonic Radar, Quad Crossfire or SLI support, and so much more out of the Republic of Gamers feature set. I have a good idea how this review will turn out after playing with a large portion of the ROG product stack over the past seven years. Let's see if there are any surprises with the Maximus VI Gene.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Closer Look:

From a packaging perspective, the Maximus VI Gene fits tightly into the ROG mold with a brick red scheme throughout the packaging. The front panel features minimal information, but does show that across the bottom that the Maximus VI Gene is equipped with an Intel Z87 chipset, supports both AMD's CrossfireX and NVIDIA's SLI technologies, as well as native support for resolutions up to 4K. The back panel illustrates the specifications and highlights the main components of the feature set, such as the included mPCIe Combo card, Supreme FX sound solution, Extreme Engine Digi+ III, and multi GPU support. A representation of the I/O panel is shown to illustrate the I/O connectivity. While you get a ton of information on the back panel, ASUS expands on the included feature set on this ROG offering when you flip open the cover of the front panel. You get in-depth explanations on the RAMDisk software, mPCIe Combo card, the Supreme FX sound, and gaming specific technologies like Game First II and Sonic Radar. You get enough information to make an informed decision on your purchase. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inside the package the ROG Maximus VI Gene and the accessory bundle share space on two separate levels. One for just the board and the other specifically for the accessory bundle. It's a common arrangement that ensures everything gets to its destination unscathed.

 

 

I'll dig into the hardware on the next page, but first let's take a look at the accessory bundle. As an ROG offering you know that you are going to get a top shelf set of accessories. Holding true to this expectation, what you get for non-hardware parts includes a detailed manual, driver and software disc, door tag to let the rest of the family know you are gaming, drive cable labels, and an ASUS ROG case badge to show off your loyalty. The hardware potion of the bundle includes a total of six SATA 6Gbps data cables, three of which have 90 degree connections; a set of ASUS Q-Connections for the front panel connectivity and a single USB 2.0 header; the Q-Shield used to limit EMI interference through the I/O panel; SLI bridge connection; and lastly the mPCIe combo card that features both a mini PCIe 2.0 slot and M.2(NGFF) slot. This option allows the end user to purchase a Bluetooth or WiFi module for use in the mini PCIe slot to add wireless connectivity to the MVIG, while the M.2 slot can be used with the latest M.2 form factor SSDs taking advantage of Intel's Smart drive technologies.

 

 

 

 

The ROG branding is revered by gamers and overclockers for what it has to offer them. Specific features that play to those needs such as Game First II network traffic management, Supreme FX sound with Sonic Radar ,and solid build quality that starts with a well engineered power system in Extreme Engine Digi+ III. Let's see how the ROG Maximus VI Gene performs, but first a look at the hardware and software that makes the package come to life.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Closer Look:

The ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene is built upon the Intel Lynx Point Z87 PCH for use with Intel's socket 1150 Fourth Generation Core series processors including the Core i7, i5, and i3. Visually you get the full red and black ROG experience with branding across the heat sink package and jet black PCB. ASUS uses a proprietary fiber weave in the PCB to reduce EMI interference and moisture resistance. The back side of the PCB has a pair of retaining brackets / heat sinks for the Extreme Engine Digi+ III power control circuitry. If you look closely you can see the parting line for the Redline moat that isolates the Supreme FX hardware from the rest of the PCB. Also seen on the back of the PCB is a ROG labeled IC that sits between the two 16x PCIe slots. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O connectivity consists of, from left to right, a header for the add-on m-PCIe Combo II riser card that adds an M.2 slot for use with an SSD and a mini PCIe slot for use with available Bluetooth or WiFi modules. Next up are the ROG Connect and Clear CMOS buttons, a quartet of Z87 controlled USB 2.0 ports, four Asmedia controlled USB 3.0 ports, Optical S/PDIF output, a single HDMI 1.4 port supporting max resolutions of 4096x2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560x1600 @ 60 Hz, the single Intel I217V controlled Gigabit LAN port supporting GameFirst II technology, a pair of Z87-controlled USB 3.0 ports that support the use of ASUS USB 3.0 Boost technology, and the outputs for the Realtek 1150-based SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC.

As an mATX board the ROG Maximus VI Gene is going to be somewhat limited in its expansion capabilities, with a pair of 16x PCIe slots and a single PCIe 2.0 x4 slot. However, Quad GPU technology is supported for both SLI and CrossfireX using a pair of Dual GPU cards, including ASUS' latest forray into dual GPU single PCB cards, the Mars 760. When both slots are occupied they run at x8 / x8. In front of the expansion slots is the hardware for the Supreme FX audio solution. The codec is shielded to prevent EMI interference and the audio solution is surrounded by a "red line moat" used to isolate the sound components from the rest of the PCB. ELNA Japanese made audio grade capacitors are used along with an op amp that works together with Perfect Voice technology to deliver an audiophile grade solution.

 

 

Additional connectivity and features are along the bottom of the PCB. An optical S/PDIF output sits above the front panel audio connection, onboard power and reset buttons are used when the chassis is open or on a tech bench, the ROG Extension connection will allow the use of ASUS Overclocking Command Center or OC Panel with this board, a single USB 2.0 header supporting two ports, TPM Header, Direct Key button and jumper seen just above the button, a 4-pin PWM controlled fan header used with Fan Xpert 2, and the front panel connections.

 

 

A total of eight SATA 6Gbps ports are available, six by way of the Z87 PCH supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, 10. Port 5 is disabled when the mPCIe Combo II card is used and the M.2 port is in use. The additional 6Gbps ports are handled by an ASMedia® ASM1061 controller. North of the SATA ports are a USB 3.0 header supporting two ports, the 24-pin EATX power connection, another 4-pin fan header and the Mem OK button. Pushing the Mem OK button allows the board to go through a series of adjustments to allow a successful POST sequence. The top right corner of the PCB has the LN2 mode jumper to eliminate cold bugs when running the processor at sub zero temperatures. The Q-LED displays the post codes to help run diagnostics with a failed boot, a tool that proves its worth when pushing the limits of your hardware. Just under the Q-LED is the Extreme Engine Digi+3 controller and part of the power circuit that features 60A Black Wing Chokes and Nichicon 10K Black Capacitors. Dual channel memory configurations of up to 32GB and speeds of up to DDR3 300MHz are supported. ASUS' 2nd Generation T-Topology trace layout improves memory overclocking margins by up to 5% in dual DIMM configurations and up to 10% in single DIMM configurations as long as the CPU's memory controller can handle the configuration. ASUS says it best here: "The new 2nd Generation T-Topology design further optimizes its layout and termination to minimize coupling noise and signal reflection effect to seek for further room in high frequency DRAM O.C."

 

 

 

Across the top of the PCB is the Q-Code LED, voltage measurement points for all of the pertinent voltages including vcore and vDIMM, the top heat sink of the heat pipe interconnect cooling system for the Digi+ 3 system, a pair of CPU fan headers, and the 8-pin auxiliary CPU power connection. To the far right is the socket for the mPCIe 2.0 Combo II riser card. At the back of each external connection point are a series of diodes used to mitigate the impact of an ESD on the board components.

 

 

The ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene is built for use with Intel's Fourth Generation Core series processors designed for use in the LGA 1150 socket, including the Core i7 4770K used in this review. Across the mainstream line up the Socket 115X CPU heat sink mounting points have remained unchanged, allowing the end user the ability to save some cash and re-purpose the cooling solution from a previous Intel socket 115X build. "ASUS uses an 8+2 phase power circuit on the Maximus VI Gene with eight phases dedicated to the CPU and two for the DRAM. ASUS' Extreme Engine Digi+ III all digital controller is used. This fully digital design allows the controller to have full control over the on-die Integrated Voltage Regulator to control Switching Frequency, Thermal Management, Fault Tolerance, Power Efficiency, Phase Switching Capability, Power Response, and Current Slope. Supporting this controller are ASUS' 60A rated Black Wing Chokes that feature a gold plated coil with metal cooling fins, a NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET package, and Nichicon 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. The goal here is to improve efficiency, current delivery, and long term stability."

 

ASUS' heat sink package on the ROG Maximus VI Gene is fully functional and meshes well with the theme of the board. Covering the NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET package is a two-piece heat pipe interconnected solution that stays relatively cool without additional airflow running at stock speeds. When overclocking a fan helps drop the temperatures back to ambient to improve stability. Covering the Z87 PCH is a slotted passive heat sink covered with the ASUS Republic of Gamers logo. The design is low enough that it does not cause any fit issues when dual GPU solutions are used. This heat sink stayed cool under load at all times and seems to need little in the way of airflow to get the job done.

 

 

As an ROG board the Maximus VI Gene delivers everything you need in terms of feature set and long term reliability. When you put the MVIH, MVIE and MVIG side by side and compare the features, you see a solid hardware base across the three offerings that differs slightly to hit each price point without influencing the core feature set. Hardware is not all you get with the ROG offerings. Although on its own the hardware is a pretty solid package, ASUS provides a comprehensive set of software offerings that add value and functionality. Something we dig into on the next few pages.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Closer Look:

The software package can help make or break the implementation of a gaming specific motherboard. In the past the ROG hardware has always been top notch but the software has been one of the added value components of the package that sometimes goes unnoticed. With the Maximus VI Gene, ASUS has delivered a robust software package including AI Suite III, Kaspersky Antivirus, Daemon Tools, Game First II, RamDisk, Secure Erase, and so much more.

AI Suite III: Let's start off with AI Suite III, the latest version of ASUS' popular software package that aggregates almost all of the software package into one simple to use tool. If you are familiar with AI Suite you no doubt have gotten used to the application and how to navigate through it. With this revision we get an all-new look that takes a few minutes to learn the layout and then it's right back to the familiar tools. The main screen contains a lot of information about each of the four key features in the 4-Way optimization tool: TPU, EPU, Digi+ Power Control, and Fan Xpert2. The secondary menu is reached by clicking on the arrow at the top right of the window. This menu contains the rest of the functionality of the AI Suite III tool set. The 4-Way optimization is just that and allows the system to be tuned for the best performance, cooling, and noise levels, and is accomplished by clicking on the radio button in the left window. Using this feature we get a nice conservative yet realistic overclock based on the variability of the samples ASUS has tested with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4-Way Optimization tool worked flawlessly to deliver a nice overall tune, but we can always do better, or so we think by manually tuning the system. Under the TPU section of the main window we can adjust the CPU ratio, CPU Strap settings, voltages by manual or adaptive modes, save and load profiles, as well as get into the warning setting mode by clicking the arrow in the bottom left CPU speed window. Here you can set the warning thresholds for voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and set the desired temperature display by unit type, Fahrenheit or Celsius.

 

 

 

The EPU tab is all about managing the power profiles and rules for the system. There are four preset profiles under EPU: Auto, High Performance where power consumption is not a large concern, Max Power Saving, and Away modes that are designed to minimize the power profile by adjusting sleep timers, fan speeds, and the wattage level to run the processor at, in this case the applied wattage is 42W or half of the 84W TDP of the installed i7 4770K. Be aware that setting the wattage level will reduce the overall CPU speed and system performance as you might expect.

 

 

 

Digi+ Power Control allows the user to set Load Line Calibration levels, CPU Current controls, Active Frequency switching, and CPU Phase control for the CPU with Current controls, Voltage phase, and frequency controls for the ultimate in manual tuning. If manually tuning the system is not your bag then the 4-Way optimization tool takes care of it for you. ASUS' auto rules are setup to deliver the best possible performance without any user interaction.

 

 

Fan Xpert 2 is a utility that manages the fan speeds dynamically to provide the best possible noise/cooling ratio based on thermal need. Connecting your fans to the five onboard 4-pin fan headers allows the utility to tune the fan speeds by finding the minimum and maximum values for the installed fans. This way Fan Xpert 2 can slow down the fans' speeds to reduce the overall noise signature when max cooling is not required, as well as increasing the speeds when max cooling is needed. It is an interesting tool to watch as it goes through the tuning algorithms but the end result is as you would expect. If the self tuning feature is not to your liking you also have the option of using four preset profiles.

 

 

Once you get past the performance tuning DIP4 section you have a wealth of other feature to use. AI Charger+ is a USB 3.0 fast charging tool that supports BC 1.1 compatible devices including iOS devices. Enabling this option will allow a 3x speedup as long as you are connecting a supported device. I found my Google Nexus charged fully in less than an hour when connected to the high current USB 3.0 port. EZ Update is used to check ASUS' servers for the latest CrashFree BIOS 3 BIOS and motherboard hardware drivers. USB Charger is a more flexible application where you can choose your device type and enable fast charging while in a sleep state by connecting your charging plug to the ROG connect port on the I/O panel.

 

 

System information gives you basic information about the installed hardware including the CPU, Motherboard, and memory SPD settings. USB BIOS flashback is a tool introduced on the last generation boards that proves its worth. You can use this functionality without the DRAM or CPU being in their sockets to update the system BIOS. As long as power is applied to the board, the flash drive is installed in the ROG Connect port, and the USB BIOS flashback button is pushed, the BIOS will flash the CrashFree BIOS. As a tool it can come in handy if you manage to corrupt the BIOS from some spirited overclocking. USB 3.0 Boost is a truly unique tool that uses optimizations to the BOT protocols and UASP support to drive improved USB 3.0 performance.

 

 

AI Suite III is an excellent and fully functional tool in its own right as we have seen on the MVI Hero and Extreme, but there is more to the software package available on the Maximus VI series including the Gene.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene Closer Look:

While AI Suite III contains most of the software package, it does not include all of the software included with the ROG Maximus VI Gene. Added value software is included that bought separately would increase the end user costs. ASUS includes a full version of Kaspersky's highly rated antivirus software with a one year subscription. Daemon Tools disk virtualization software is also included to help save your game discs and make/burn disk images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MemTweakit is used to set the memory sub-timings from within the Windows environment. This tool features an efficiency score that will help you improve the memory performance of the modules installed. ASUS is currently working on a solution to get it working on the Haswell architecture. In the past this tool has been a great addition to the ROG software package. ASUS has its own ROG skinned CPU-Z utility that sets up a point of difference from the standard version. The Boot setting tool is used to enable FastBoot and utilize the DirectKey function from within the OS environment rather than opening the chassis up or mounting an additional switch somewhere on the chassis. You will need this tool to get into the BIOS when FastBoot is enabled, since keyboard support is disabled during the FastBoot process.

 

 

Game First II is ASUS' own traffic shaping tool to improve ping time and reduce latency by managing the traffic flow of ACK packets. You get an easy to follow EZ mode as well as a more granular look in the advanced mode. The EZ mode has presets that allow you to setup the traffic management for VOIP, File Sharing, Gaming, or Media Streaming.

 

 

RAMDisk is a new addition to the ROG package. The premise with this tool is that access to DRAM is much quicker than accessing an HDD or SSD to load files that you need either working in the OS and/or during gaming. RAMDisk is a utility that takes excess DRAM capacity and creates a virtual disk so that you can drastically improve load times of applications or maps during gaming. ASUS makes this tool simple enough for even the novice to use. Most of us are not fully utilizing the 16 or 32GB of DRAM In our systems, so why not take advantage of a way to improve the computing experience? At this point DRAM is still relatively inexpensive. Creating an 8GB virtual drive is as simple as choosing the capacity with a slider and applying the change. After a reboot you can click on the Junction tab and add the applications or maps or games you would like to accelerate and you are done. Newer solid state drives with the latest controllers can have sequential read/write results in the 500 to 550MB/s range with that result at the high end of the spectrum. Running Crystal DiskMark on the RAMDisk virtual drive gives a graphic example of just how fast this solution can be when using 2400MHz memory. It's just brutally fast.

 

 

Sonic Radar is a new tool in the ROG arsenal as well. Some have alluded to this software being used as a cheat, but if you are using surround sound speakers or a headset with surround capabilities you are doing the same thing; using the sound system and your ears. Sonic Radar is a graphic representation of the sounds you hear. The key is the visual interface that works to point out the sounds directionally; a bonus if you are not utilizing a surround speaker system or headset. There are separate modes that can be optimized for footsteps, bombs, or gunfire. Shortcuts can be used to move the interface or change the transparency level, as well as toggle through the user modes. Overall it's a pretty cool tool for those of us that are less than good at FPS gaming. As you can see in the screen shot below there is a ton of ambient noise in this section of Metro: Last Light.

 

 

That wraps up the look at this full featured software package that is fully game centric.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Closer Look:

ASUS sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd in many ways from the software and hardware packages, but one of the best things it does over the past few generations has been the implementation of the Crash Free UEFI BIOS. Starting with the P67 chipset launch, the UEFI BIOS has been getting smoother and easier to use with new features added as each new generation is released. New for the Z87 chipset and Haswell launch are some really cool features, such as a more in depth EZ mode and a Last Modified tab that tracks changes as you work though the BIOS presenting the user with a map to the options used to generate the performance settings or even just the mundane changes. You get Quick Note to leave yourself messages in the BIOS or to list specific settings so you can remember them. F4 shortcuts menus for your favorites, SATA Port renaming, and what has to be one of the top additions to the ROG lineup is the ability to Secure Erase drives from within the Crash Free BIOS 3.

EZ Mode is used when you really do not want or need to spend the time going through the advanced section of the BIOS. It can be daunting to the novice user, but the more adept can take advantage of the tuning abilities found in the Advanced section. All of the basics are in place to set the boot order, EPU and fan profiles, and illustrate the hardware that is installed in the Maximus VI Gene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you move into the Advanced mode there are a total of eight tabs to explore with the first section being My Favorites. Here is where you get some of the new tweaks to the Crash Free BIOS. You can build a series of short cuts that allow you to jump straight to certain functionality. In this case I put shortcuts in place for AI Overclock tuner, DRAM Frequency, and the CPU Core and Ring voltages. You add shortcuts by pressing the F4 button and browsing for the items to add. Using this tool you can put all of your most used options in one place. Quick Note allows you to leave yourself notes as to what may or may not work or just simple reminders. Last is the Last Modified tool that captures each adjustment made in the BIOS, essentially leaving you a set of bread crumbs so that you can keep track of all the work you have done in the BIOS.

 

 

The Main page option shows the system time, date, BIOS revision and build date, installed CPU and processor speed, memory capacity, system language, and security options including passwords. Not the section you will sped a lot of time in, but nevertheless provides valuable information and functionality.

 

The Advanced tab provides a way to manage much of the system functionality. The CPU configuration tab is used to modify the CPU operating parameters outside of the frequency and voltages. PCH Configuration is where you can enable or disable Intel's drive enhancements and PCIe assignments. Onboard device configuration is used to enable or disable onboard hardware. SATA Configuration is used to set up drive operating parameters as well as showing the port availability. ROG Effects allow you to enable or disable the ROG Pulse, Supreme FX, and onboard lighting.

 

 

 

 

The Monitor section is just what the name implies. Here Anti Surge support can be turned on or off. Under each category you can view the operating characteristics and current state of the pertinent voltages, the fan speeds, temperatures, and enable or disable the fan speed controls. As well as Fan Xpert 2 manages things, this should be left alone unless you are looking for full manual control.

 

 

 

 

Boot: Under this section Fast Boot can be turned on or off, SATA and USB ports can be enabled or disabled, and DirectKey functionality can be enabled to access the BIOS with Fast Boot enabled. Logo display at boot can be turned off so you can view the P.O.S.T. sequence. EZ or Advanced mode can be set as the first screen upon opening the BIOS. Wait for ERROR F1 messages can be turned off (I find this helpful when not running a fan off the CPU fan header), and lastly the boot sequence can be set up here.

 

Tool: Outside the Extreme Tweaker section this section is one of the most useful areas of ASUS' UEFI Crash Free BIOS. ASUS EZ Flash utility is a simple to use option for flashing the BIOS on ASUS motherboards that has yet to fail on me after years of use. A new feature for a new age in disk drives is the Secure Erase function that gives you the ability to secure erase your drive to improve performance. When using this feature with my Corsair Force GT Drive it showed as locked and needed a reboot to unlock the drive. After a reboot the Secure Erase finished as planned. No longer do you have to work through several means to run a secure erase. ASUS OC Profile lets you save and/or load profiles from the BIOS save files or from a USB Flash drive. Coupled with the Last Modified tool you can make sure you save those important changes. ROG OC Panel H-Key adjusts a finite number of options including CPU core voltage and frequency.

 

 

 

 

The Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS is where you will spend a good majority of your time if you are used to overclocking manually. This section provides all of the CPU and DRAM specific settings to get the most from your hardware. Up front ASUS has said the auto rules for the vast majority of settings are tuned well enough that no manipulation or adjustments are needed for most of the settings. In fact I used only the CPU vcore, CPU Ring voltage, DRAM Voltage, DRAM Frequency, CPU and Cache ratio, and the basic timings to reach a 4.7GHz overclock on the CPU I have. However you have access to pretty much every option as far as voltages, Load Line Calibration, current limits, and overrides.

The top of this section shows the current state of the hardware. AI Overclock tuner can be set to Auto, Manual, or three preset speeds that mirror the vast majority of CPU capabilities on the market. DRAM Timing Control allows the end user to tune the timings of the installed modules for improved frequency margins or outright performance. GPU DIMM Post shows the installed DRAM Modules current frequency as well as the installed discrete GPU type and PCIe Lane allocation. Digi+Power control is used to set and apply a value for LLC along with the current limits, phase controls, VRM Switching frequency, and more. Again the auto rules are pretty good. Tweakers Paradise lets you get a little more granular as far as power settings go. Towards the bottom of the page we finally get to the voltages that can be tweaked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASUS' UEFI Crash Free BIOS are pretty much the standard by which all others are measured when it comes to usability right out of the box. I had no issues navigating through the BIOS with several different mice; the mouse clicks and selection works every time. ASUS ongoing support is one thing many of you are aware of, but if not the long term BIOS support is there for ASUS and especially ROG-inspired motherboards like the Maximus VI series including the Gene. ASUS has its own forum that encourages members to participate in the ROG Exchange process that puts tried and tested BIOS settings packages out and available to try for all users. The ability to upload a BIOS from a file is key to this ability. If by chance you corrupt the BIOS using ASUS' USB BIOS Flashback procedure the end user can recover the BIOS in about two minutes, easily squashing the fear of a permanently hosed up board due to bad BIOS flash.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Specifications:

CPU
Intel® for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 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® Z87
Memory
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333(O.C.) MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
Graphic
Integrated Graphics Processor
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x4
1 x mini-PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage
Intel® Z87 chipset : *2
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Intel® Z87 chipset :
1 x M.2 (NGFF) Socket 2 on mPCIe Combo II expansion card(s), black
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller : *4
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
LAN
Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio
ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
- High quality 115 dB (Line-out at rear) and 104 dB SNR stereo playback input (Line-in)
Audio Feature :
- SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
- ELNA premium audio capacitors
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Sonic Radar
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports
Intel® Z87 chipset : *5
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset : *6
8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.0 controller :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
ROG Exclusive Features
mPCIe Combo II (mPCIe/M.2 combo card)
Extreme Engine Digi+ III :
- 8 + 2 phase power design
- NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET
- 60A BlackWing Chokes
- 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
ProbeIt
UEFI BIOS features :
- ROG BIOS Print
- GPU.DIMM Post
- Tweakers' Paradise
- ROG SSD Secure Erase
ROG RAMDisk
GameFirst II
Extreme Tweaker
Special Features
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization :
- The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
CPU Level Up
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger+
- USB 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-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back I/O Ports
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Coaxial 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 0 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 0 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM connector(s)
8 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 8-pin EATX 12 V Power connector
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
10 x ProbeIt Measurement Points
1 x LN2 Mode header(s)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo II connector(s)
Accessories
User's manual
I/O Shield
6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
1 x mPCIe Combo II expansion card(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
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc
Drivers
ROG GameFirst II
ROG RAMDisk
ROG CPU-Z
ROG Mem TweakIt
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
ASUS WebStorage
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor
Micro ATX Form Factor
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Features:




 

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/MAXIMUS_VI_GENE/#overview

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Testing:

Testing ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene motherboard will involve running it 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 NVIDIA drivers for the NVIDIA GTX 770. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings making this point a valid concern so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Socket 1150

 

Comparison Motherboard:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Needless to say, ASUS delivers a wide selection of options for the overclocking enthusiast on their ROG line up. Manually tuning the settings is going to get you everything your chip is able to deliver as far as core clock and memory speed, albeit at the expense of higher operating temperatures. Manually tuning the Maximus VI Gene I was able to reach 4.64GHz on my 4770K. Not quite its maximum stable clock speed, but close enough. A lot of research goes into making the BIOS on the MVIG work without a lot of input from the end user. To get 4.64GHz stable running the memory at 2400+MHz, most of the settings were left on auto with the exception of the vcore at 1.268v, Ring voltage at 1.25v, System Agent voltage at 1.265v, and the memory voltage set to 1.66v. Internal PLL voltage was enabled, load line voltage set to eight and the rest were left on auto. Only the primary memory timings were set manually at 10-12-12-30. My chip is capable of 4.7GHz, but I just could not get it there on the Maximus VI Gene.

Manual tuning aside, ASUS provides a few other avenues for increased clock speeds. By having a large pool of processors on hand, ASUS has the ability to provide a comprehensive suite of tools to take all the guess work out of overclocking. Using the 4-way optimization tool in AI Suite III, you can get a nice, conservative overclock that is on the lower end of the overclocking range all at the push of a button in the 4-way tool. Going conservative in this tool is a necessity due to the wildly varying overclocking results on the Haswell-based processors. A 4.2 Ghz overclock is, like I said, conservative, but CPU thermals and stability are easily achieved by using the 4-way optimization tool.

If using a tool in the operating system is not your bag, ASUS has a set of overclocking settings in the BIOS called CPU Level Up. In this tool you get three levels of core clock speed overclocking: 4.2GHz, 4.4GHz and 4.6GHz. Each level changes all of the settings in the BIOS to facilitate a stable overclock as long as your cooling can handle the load. Something it could not do for me with the 4.6GHz profile. Even when using a dedicated water loop the CPU would throttle when running Prime 95 using the 4.6GHz due to the voltage applied by the tool. The results with the 4.2GHz and 4.4GHz profiles were perfectly stable and kept thermals in check. Should you choose to go full tilt on CPU speed and decide sub zero cooling is the way to go, ASUS provides a wide selection of pre-programmed profiles in the BIOS. Using water cooling you can stick to manual tuning for the best 24/7 results.

 

4.2Ghz OC 4 Way Tool    4.4Ghz OC CPU Level up

 

4.6Ghz OC CPU Level Up    4.64Ghz OC Manual Tuning

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed overclocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the over-clocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. X.264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Disk Mark
  7. ATTO 2.47
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro: Last Light
  3. DiRT 3

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Testing:

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

  

  

 

  

 

SiSoft Sandra 2013 is a diagnostic utility and synthetic bench marking 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.

Overall Score

   ]

 

Comparing the performance of the Maximus VI Gene to the Z87M Gaming shows some surprising results, with the MVIG getting out performed at each turn. Although the margins are slight, the real world impact proves negligible. A surprising result nonetheless.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Testing:

Cinebench 11.5 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 3.0 is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

  

  

 

Looking across the comparison boards the performance variances are minimal to non-existent between full size and comparable m-ATX form factors.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Gene Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4K blocks, 512K blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATTO 2.47: will be used to measure USB 3.0 performance using an SSD attached to an external USB 3.0 drive dock.

  

  

  

  

 

Disk drive performance is similar between the MVIG and Z87M Gaming in the Crystal Disk Mark tests, with the Maximus VI Gene shining in the 4K performance tests. USB 3.0 data throughput on the Maximus VI Gene is greatly improved by enabling ASUS USB 3.0 Boost technology. In this test the throughput from the external drive housing is significantly higher than the competitors' designs.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Testing:

LAN performance will be tested via a utility to gauge the performance of the onboard network solutions. The motherboard being tested will be connected via a Gigabit switch to another system with an integrated Gigabit network solution on board.

iPerf is a small lightweight utility run from the command prompt and can be used to measure both TCP and UDP performance on a network. iPerf is cross platform software and open source. The test is configured to run for 20 seconds with a window size of 256 KB and four simultaneous streams that should be able to saturate the TCP link on a good NIC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.25 is used to test the sound solution on board each motherboard. Nothing beats a good set of ears and headphones but this is a graphic representation of the capabilities of the installed hardware. Sampling mode is 24-bit 44kHz.

 
MSI Z87M Gaming
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
ASUS ROG MVIG
Frequency Response dB
+0.46,-0.10
+0.52,+ 0.30
+0.42-+0.03
Noise Level dBA
-91.0
-91.3
-99.8
Dynamic Range dBA
91.0
91.2
99.6
Total Harmonic distortion %
0..130
0.131
0.463
Intermodulation distortion +noise
.266
0.259
0.463
Stereo Crosstalk,db
-89.4
-91.6
-94.9
Intermodulation distortion + noise (Swept Freq) %
0.323
.323
.430
Frequency Response (Swept Sine), db
+0.1,-0.1
+0.1,-0.1
+0.1, -0.2

Using the Killer E2205 controller allows the Z87M Gaming to deliver improved bandwidth. Both the Z87M and Z87-GD65 Gaming use the same Realtek ALC1150 codec and deliver results that show up as very good in the testing.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

Settings

 

 

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro: Last Light is the followup to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

In these gaming tests, what you get is performance parity between these gaming centric motherboards. The margins between the results for each board are small enough that you will not notice a .5 to 1 FPS difference during game play. The synthetic results show a decided performance bent towards the Maximus VI Gene.

Asus ROG Maximus VI Conclusion:

As the third offering in ASUS Z87 ROG product stack I have looked at, you can see the apple does not fall far from the tree. You get all the overclocking performance and utilities that come on the full size ATX form factor ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero and ASUS ROG Maximus VI Extreme without losing much in the way of overall feature set. In fact for the most part 90+% of the people looking for an M-ATX form factor gaming centric motherboard, the ASUS ROG Maximus VI Gene will have you covered. As far as graphics abilities go, Quad GPU support for NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossfireX lets the end user populate the PCIe slots with a pair of dual GPU cards, like the ASUS GTX 760 Mars, or if you have the coin a pair of AMD-based HD 7990s to drive an SLS multi monitor setup. If a multi monitor setup is not ideal for your usage scenario there is always the option of moving up to a 4K display, such as ASUS own PQ321Q. The vast majority of users use a single discrete video card, however ASUS has multi GPU covered for the best mix of options for the majority of gamers.

Using an add-in sound card adds expense to a build, but traditionally was a better option than using marginal onboard sound. ASUS has improved its onboard sound solutions over the years and continue to do so on this version of its Z87-based product stack. ASUS' Supreme FX sound solution is built to rival some of the discrete sound cards on the market using a shielded Realtek 1150 codec as the base of the system. Next the audio circuitry is isolated with ASUS red line moat to reduce EMI interference at the hardware level. Not to mention the added bling factor you get during operation. ELNA audio capacitors and an op amp are used to provide a "warmer" audio experience while gaming, watching hi-def content, or just listening to your favorite tunes. Launched with the Z87 ROG product stack, Sonic Radar is an in-game tool that shows a graphic representation of where the sounds are coming from. Some may consider it cheating, but if your ears cannot pick up the position of sound due to poor performing headphones than this should help out the end user.

While built and marketed to meet the needs of the gamer, an ROG motherboard such as the Maximus VI Gene also is built from the ground up to meet the needs of the extreme overclocker, something I found out while looking at the ASUS ROG Blitz Extreme back in 2008. As time has has gone by the feature set and build quality has improved markedly. Using ASUS' all digital Extreme Engine Digi+III 8+2 phase power circuit on the Maximus VI Gene, we have a board that is equipped with 60A rated Black Wing Chokes with gold plated coils, 10K Nichicon GT Black Caps, and NexFet PowerBlock to deliver improved voltage regulation, longer lifespan and higher efficiency. To that end overclocking no longer has to involve a myriad of adjustments in the BIOS to get that lat bit of clock speed.

ASUS' in-house tuning is good enough that you really only have to set just a couple voltages and set your clock and memory multipliers to reach good solid overclocks. Manual tuning is going to allow higher clock speeds, but the auto option gets you most of the way there. However you can use ASUS 4-way optimization tool in AI Suite III or the CPU Level Up tool to to do the work for you with three clock speed options available. Memory overclocking is top notch on the Maximus VI Gene and Z87 platform, with even mediocre chips able to run modules up to 3000MHz. Keep in mind, though, that Haswell overclocking is different from previous Intel processor families and most of your limitations are going to be at the hardware level with the added juice not worth the squeeze. Needless to say ASUS has overclocking covered from the novice up to the hardcore enthusiast.

The hardware is only part of the story when you get down to it. The CPU/memory combination is going to delver similar performance across different manufacturers' motherboard. No surprise there really. Points of difference are going to come down to looks, the accessory bundle and software package. The Maximus VI Gene comes with an impressive accessory bundle that includes everything needed to fully take advantage of the board's capabilities, with some ASUS specific pieces such as the Q-Connectors and Q-Shield. ASUS software package includes full versions of Kapersky Antivirus and Daemon Tools; a $40 added value to the package on top of all the cool tools that just work. ASUS RAMDisk, SSD Erase, Game First II, Sonic Radar, Boot Setting, and AI Suite III are all added value tools that leverage the hardware's capabilities.

At $199 the M-ATX ROG Maximus VI Gene delivers everything you would expect from the full ATX form factor ROG boards, but at an even better price point. There is still a price premium over competing brands, but for this price you really cannot go wrong when choosing the Maximus VI Gene if you are looking to put together an ASUS Republic of Gamers build.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: