Preview: ASUS ROG Maximus V Gene - Intel Z77 Packed in mATX Format

ASUS ROG Maximus V Gene - Intel Z77 Packed in microATX Format

Feature Packed Intel Z77 microATX Form Factor Board

The Intel Z77 Express chipset will be the main component of most DIY-class motherboards in time to come; hence, understandably, the main bulk of boards arriving at our offices are based on this new chipset. We have just previewed the MSI Z77A-GD65 and from ASUS, the P8Z77-V Deluxe. Now we present the ASUS ROG Maximus V Gene, which is the first microATX gaming motherboard to hail from the prestigious lineage of Republic of Gamers (ROG).

The sprightly looking board is small in stature, but jammed pack with features to satisfy the needs of gamers and power users looking for that something special when building their next gaming rig. After all, the main advantage of standard ATX boards is to allow usage of more expansion cards which is fast becoming unnecessary these days other than cramming multiple graphics cards. The Intel Z77 Express chipset along with the LGA1155 CPU socket supports the current and the upcoming third generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 CPUs. The processors themselves still support only a single PCIe x16 link that can be split into dual x8 links. For that reason, this class of boards can easily get by with the mATX board size by featuring dual PEG slots, which by the way are PCIe Gen 3 ready and spaced for 2-way SLI or CrossFire setup. The board also manages to cram quad DIMM slots to support overclocked memory modules (DDR3 modules that are rated up to 2666MHz) up to a maximum capacity of 32GB.

This microATX powerhouse features the new Intel Z77 chipset, which supports Intel's latest LGA1155 CPUs. With official PCIe Gen 3 support courtesy of the new processors, the board has other exclusive features like Extreme Engine DIGI+ II power control design, SupremeFX III gaming audio, Intel Ethernet with ROG GameFirst software and the newly added mPCIe Combo card.

The two PCIe Gen 3 PEG slots, the first slot from the top operates at x16 for single card  usage and at x8 when both PEG slots are filled. The second PCIe Gen 3 slot operates at x8. Do note that full PCIe Gen 3 support is only possible if the board is paired with a third generation Intel Core i3/i5/i7 CPU. The lone black PCIe 2.0 slot operates at x4 mode.

The ASUS ROG Maximus V Gene is bundled with LucidLogix Virtu MVP software with its familiar Virtu GPU-tasking capabilities that is touted to dynamically assign tasks to either the integrated graphics processor of the CPU or the GPU of a discrete graphics card. This version has added two 3D features: Virtual Vsync to reduce screen tearing and HyperFormance to increase frame rates.

 

True to Republic of Gamers Core

Besides sporting the familiar color scheme of ROG lineage, the board features ROG Connect, allowing power users to tweak their rigs with another computer or notebook that is attached via a USB cable. You can refer to our previous coverage of this function for more information.

The ROG Connect controller chip sits above onboard start and reset switches.

According to the board's specifications, its Extreme Engine Digi+ II has been upgraded and equipped with 10k Black Metallic capacitors (made in Japan), coupled with its digital VRM control for fine-tuning CPU and memory performance.

In front of the MOSFET IC heatsinks, beyond the ferrite chokes, we see the 10k Black Metallic capacitors that supposedly offer a 5x longer lifespan with ten thousand hours at 105 degrees Celsius and 20% better low temperature endurance - specifically selected for extreme cooling scenarios.

For single channel operation, the top black DIMM slot is to be populated first. Given the current prices of RAM modules, it shouldn't be hard to populate all four slots for maximum dual-channel memory operation effectiveness.

All the red SATA ports are 6Gbps compliant but only the middle set is powered by the Intel chipset. The red set on the far left are powered by an ASMedia ASM1061 controller onboard. The black ports on the right are SATA 3Gbps connectors that are controlled by the Intel chipset

The board sports well rounded connectivity and functionality (some unique to ASUS) as seen by the variety of connections and ports on the board and the rear-I/O. However note that display connection options are down to just HDMI and DisplayPort as ASUS is expecting the prospective buyers to run the system with discrete graphics card(s).

Here we've a shot of the the rear I/O ports, with the mPCIe expansion card mounted between Clear CMOS and ROG Connect buttons. The white USB 2.0 port doubles up as the ROG Connect port. The pair of blue USB 3.0 ports below the LAN port supports ASUS USB 3.0 Boost Mode, which uses the UAS Protocol (UASP) to boost data transfer speeds.

The mPCIe expansion card allows you to mount mPCIe module on one side and an mSATA module on the other. According to the manual. ASUS sugggested mounting a mPCIe Wi-Fi module for wireless connectivity.

The mounted mPCIe expansion card for the installation of both a mSATA and mPCIe components. We wonder it would be more practical to bundle an ASUS Wi-Fi GO! card instead. Even mSATA isn't the most useful of options for power users who would rather opt for an SSD storage subsystem than a SSD cache. These features do add to the cost unnecessarily even if they are unique differentiators.