ASUS Maximus V GENE Motherboard Review

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mATX motherboards aren’t usually what you look at for squeezing ultimate performance out of your system. ASUS has been working to change that perception with their Maximus GENE series of Republic of Gamers motherboards for several generations now. Today we’ll see just how they were able to succeed in this generation with the ASUS Maximus V GENE.

Packaging and First Look

ASUS has foregone the window in this demure package for details on the motherboard’s features inside the flap.  That’s fine by most people; presumably many purchasers of ROG equipment do so online. Thus, until you open the box you don’t see the main attraction – and it’s a lot to look at in a very small package.

ASUS Maximus V GENE Box

ASUS Maximus V GENE Box

ASUS Maximus V GENE Box Rear

ASUS Maximus V GENE Box Rear

ASUS Maximus V GENE Box Flap

ASUS Maximus V GENE Box Flap

ASUS Maximus V GENE

ASUS Maximus V GENE

ASUS’ GENE series are their big-for-their-britches mATX ROG motherboards. They fit a ton of features in an extremely small package. These are good boards, not only for people that need a small form factor (SFF) build, but even for hardcore overclockers using sub-zero cooling.

ASUS Maximus V GENE

ASUS Maximus V GENE

ASUS Maximus V GENE

ASUS Maximus V GENE

It’s a good thing the GENE doesn’t skimp on anything too. ASUS still has an ace in the hole, releasing their Maximus V Formula (complete with built-in liquid cooling ability on its PWM heatsink) later this year. Until then, this is ASUS’ top of the line board. That it comes in a tiny package is no concern at all – this board does anything most people could need.

Specifications and Features

As all manufacturers are wont to do, ASUS has their super long specification list outlining every feature possible on the board at their web site. Rather than take up the vertical space, we’ll let you check it out there if you want.

Now we’ll get into the features. These are quotes from their web site, with the occaisional interjection.

First up is ASUS’ SupremeFX III. They have had SupremeFX on-board for a while now (it used to be a separate card). They actually went a little better than previous generations on the Maximus IV Gene, doing more to isolate it from the rest of the board than before.

SupremeFX III

Supreme Sound
The SupremeFX III™ onboard audio solution is an 8-channel HD audio equipped with a carefully selected 1500uF capacitor which provides clean, ripple-free audio power and – perfect for enveloping gaming environments. With a metallic EMI cover and special layout design on the PCB, advanced SupremeFX Shielding™ technology isolates analog audio signals from digital sources for exceptional clarity and high fidelity, while a gold-plated jack ensures rich notes reach your ears with minimal distortion.

A bounty of industry standards are supported, including EAX® 5.0 Advanced HD, Creative® ALchemy and THX® TruStudio™ PRO, so the same great audio experiences found in live performances, films and recording studios are reproduced faithfully right on the PC. When bundled with the Sound Blaster® X-Fi MB2 suite, the SupremeFX III™ is the perfect choice to provide an exceptional gaming experience with realistic sound effects.

In the networking department, ASUS continues to stick with Intel LAN. Their research showed enthusiasts prefer Intel to Realtek LAN solutions. As a matter of fact, I believe they have gone with Intel across their entire line at this point, so it’s not just limited to ROG boards either.

Intel Gigabit LAN

Experience the fast network connectivity!
The LAN solution from Intel has been long known to have a better throughput, lower CPU utilization as well as better stability. With the Intel Gigabit LAN solutions onboard, the ultimate network experience can therefore be delivered to its users like never before.

GameFirst

The speed you need to pwn
Low Internet latency allows you to frag more, and get fragged less. That’s why ROG has introduced GameFirst, a feature that manages the flow of traffic according to your needs so that you can still listen to online music, download and upload files, and engage in Internet chats without sacrificing the low ping times you need to pwn your opponents.

Their Extreme Engine Digi+ II power section is one of the best in the business.

Extreme Engine Digi+ II

Optimum power efficiency with premium components and intelligent digital design
The Extreme Engine Digi+ II has been upgraded and equipped with the finest Japan-made 10K Black Metallic capacitors, while the digital VRM design allows you to achieve ultimate performance with adjustable CPU and memory power management frequencies. Precise adjustments create greater efficiency, stability, double lifespan and performance for total system control.

ROG Connect is ASUS’ solid solution for overclocking on the fly with another computer. Most normal users will find this a neat toy, but hardcore overclockers that need this sort of control will find it irreplaceable (the normal example is while running 3DMark, changing CPU clocks on the fly between GPU and CPU tests).

ROG Connect

Plug and Overclock – Tweak it the hardcore way!
Monitor the status of your desktop PC and tweak its parameters in real-time via a notebook—just like a race car engineer—with ROG Connect. ROG Connect links your main system to a notebook through a USB cable, allowing you to view real-time POST code and hardware status readouts on your notebook, as well as make on-the-fly parameter adjustments at a purely hardware level.

Most overclockers prefer to overclock on their own, but if you want easy push-button overclocking, CPU Level Up is a good way to accomplish that.

CPU Level Up

A simple click for instant upgrade!
Ever wish that you could have a more expansive CPU? Upgrade your CPU at no additional cost with ROG’s CPU Level Up! Simply pick the processor you wanted to OC to, and the motherboard will do the rest! See the new CPU speed and enjoy that performance instantly. Overclocking is never as easy as this.

Virtu MVP has been a hot topic on HWBot since its introduction. What it does is use the iGPU for what it’s best at – computing – and let your discrete GPU do what it’s best at – rendering. It does well at helping you maintain solid framerates, but is not something that can really be tested and benchmarked, because it leads to artificially high scores.

In the ASUS paragraph below, they reference 60% higher 3DMark Vantage scores. This is akin to using NVIDIA’s PhysX to boost your Vantage score. The score goes up but it doesn’t really mean you’re getting upto 60% better performance.  Massman at HWBot put it best, so I’ll let him say in layman’s terms what this does.

1) Lucid combines any IGP with a discrete graphics card
2) The IGP’s task is to track down redundant frames
3) When there’s a redundant frame, the IGP tells the discrete graphics card not to render it. This means that instead of rendering the entire frame (=100%), the discrete graphics card might render a part of the (~25%) or not at all (0%).
4) Because some frames are not rendered completely, more frames can be processed (20% rendering instead of 100% = 5x faster).
5) The FPS counter goes up super-dooper fast.

For more details you can check out the Lucid whitepaper here. It’s interesting technology and a leap in the ability to smooth out gaming, but it is not directly benchmark-able vs. other solutions because the metrics we have to use basically show false positives. That’s not to say the technology isn’t good nor that it doesn’t help give you a smooth gaming experience, it just means we can’t fairly quantify that.

LucidLogix Virtu MVP

Up to 60% Hybrid Graphics Boost and 3X Faster Video Conversion
LucidLogix Virtu MVP featuring HyperFormance™ Technology boosts your discrete graphics card up to 60% beyond its original performance through the test of 3DMark Vantage. Designed for Intel® processor graphics and Windows® 7 PCs, it perfectly combines the performance of discrete graphics cards with fast computing iGPU. Also with the newly designed Virtual Sync, users can enjoy a smoother gaming experience by eliminating tearing artifacts. LucidLogix Virtu MVP could also dynamically assign tasks to the best available graphics resource, based on power, performance and system load. This allows users to fully utilize 3x faster video conversion with Intel® Quick Sync Video technology while retaining high-end 3D rendering and gaming performance, provided by both NVIDIA® and AMD graphic cards. When the discrete graphics card is not required, power consumption goes automatically down to near zero, making the system more environmentally-friendly. For users searching for perfection, LucidLogix Virtu MVP provides great graphical performance and the best flexibility and efficiency.

* LucidLogix® Virtu Universal MVP™ supports Windows® 7 operating system.
** Intel® Quick Sync Video feature is supported by 3rd/2nd generation Intel® Core™ processor family.
*** System Config: OS: Windows 7 64bit SP1 | MB: P8Z77-V DELUXE | CPU: CPU-1155-QB15-2700K-3.5G-Sandy BRIDGE100-8M |DIMM: DDR3 G.SKILL 17000CL9Q-16GBZH 4GB * 4 | Lucidvirtu MVP version: V2.1.110.19997 | On-board Intel VGA Driver version: V8.15.10.2598 | ASUS GTX580 Driver version: V8.17.12.8562

The other Lucid feature has to do with QuickSync, using Intel’s strong ability to make quick work of video editing/converting tasks. We went over that in our i7 3770K launch review in more detail, showing the strength of that capability.

Of course, you can use two GPUs on this board with the standard Ivy Bridge PCIe 3.0 interface of one card at 16x or two cards at 8x / each.

SLI/CrossFire On-Demand

Why choose when you can have both?
SLI or CrossFireX? Fret no longer because with the ROG Maximus V GENE, you’ll be able to run both multi-GPU setups. The board features SLI/CrossFire on Demand technology, supporting up to Quad-GPU SLI or Quad-GPU CrossFireX configuration. Whichever path you take, you can be assured of jaw-dropping graphics at a level previously unseen.

This is definitely a strong feature set for a board that is so darn small. Sure, mITX is smaller, but to basically shoehorn most of a full-ATX board’s features in an mATX board is pretty impressive.

Accessories

The accessories supplied are plenty to outfit this board with everything you need. There are four SATA 3.0 and two SATA 2.0 cables, the ROG connect cable, your standard manual and driver DVD, an SLI bridge, the backplate, handy-dandy stickers for data cables and a neat little mPCIe card shown below. Also included is a Do Not Disturb door hangar for gamers.

Ever-so-importantly, what is NOT included is that horrid ROG sticker! Now, I doubt any credit for its disappearance can be thrown my way even if I do mention it in all its glory every time one pops up, but it’s so nice to see its absence.

Accessories In the Box

Accessories In the Box

Accessories

Accessories

This was the Accesory box ace-in-the-hole – a mPCIe Combo card!

mPCIe Combo

mPCIe Combo

mPCIe Combo

mPCIe Combo

This handy little card is perfect for the true SFF builders out there that don’t want to sacrifice one square inch of space.

mPCIe Combo

Give Your PC A Power Up!
Hook up immediate extra connectivity to your mATX board and say so long to physical limitations. The special adapter comes with one mini PCI Express 2.0/USB 2.0 combo port, and one mini SATA port. This way, you can connect extra devices without taking up valuable space inside the case, and get the best of both worlds: a compact PC with bigger expandability. Various devices can now connect instantly with no physical hassles.

Plenty of accessories for plenty of motherborard. So far so good.

Up Close and Personal

First up, let’s check out expansion slots, of which there aren’t a lot. You just can’t fit a ton of expansion on an mATX board. The GENE comes with with two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. If you populate them both with GPUs, they operate at the Ivy Bridge default of 8x each.

There is also a PCIe 1.0 slot for, say, a sound card. As close as it is to the second 16x slot, you’ll probably find yourself choosing between SLI/CrossfireX and higher-quality sound. The onboard sound on the GENE is plenty for the majority of users though, so that’s not a big concern.

PCIe Slots

PCIe Slots

The bottom of the board has all you need there. On the left you can see the SupremeFX III sound section with quality capacitors to go with the audio codec. ASUS goes into detail on their ROG site about what SupremeFX III has to offer, which is akin to discrete sound, with the very large capacitor (1500μF) helping to filter the incoming power from the motherboard.

Interestingly, except where physical connection is required, the remainder of the sound section is physically separated from the rest of the board. That see-through PCB line is actually just that – translucent PCB that lets light come through from LEDs mounted on the back of the board. These can be disabled from the BIOS if you’re not a fan. I kind of like it.

To the right of the audio section we have onboard power and reset buttons, which would have been better in the upper right corner, especially if you’re running two GPUs. Physically being able to fit them there would have been difficult at best, if not impossible; which is likely why they are at the bottom. You can also see the single BIOS chip, front panel headers and POST code indicator.

Bottom Left

Bottom Left

Bottom Right

Bottom Right

For internal connectivity ASUS has taken an interesting approach. Rather than just use the standard two SATA 3.0 + four SATA 2.0 connections available from the Z77 PCH, they have opted to use the two default SATA 3.0 ports with only two SATA 2.0 ports. They then added another pair of SATA 3.0 ports via third party controller.

SATA Connectors

SATA Connectors

A lot happens in the upper right-hand corner of the board. There are four DIMM slots for dual-channel RAM which have insanely strong memory overclocking capabilities. ASUS outfitted the MVG with extra shielding on the memory lanes to facilitate operating at the speeds the Ivy Bridge IMC is capable of pushing.

Upper Right Coner

Upper Right Coner

On the left, we see ASUS’ signature QLED status indicators. These things are truly a godsend. After years of looking up POST codes, these little status lights take all the guess work out of where your settings are failing.

Next to these is the MemOK button / GO button, which is also a helpful tool. With Ivy Bridge, chances are you will want to toy with memory. The MemOK feature will save you countless times when doing so. The GO part of the button overclocks your system to a profile you apply in BIOS.

To the right, you have ProbeIt, where you can measure all pertinent voltages with a multimeter. Above and to the right you can see the DIGI+ VRM controller that allows fine-tuning of your power section from inside BIOS and inside Windows.

Q-LED Status Lights

Q-LED Status Lights & GO Button

ProbeIt & Digi+ VRM Controller

ProbeIt & Digi+ VRM Controller

There isn’t much in this photo other than to show that ASUS didn’t even skimp on fan headers, using precious real-estate to give the full capability of having push-pull CPU cooling fans onboard.

Dual CPU Fan Headers

Dual CPU Fan Headers

This is the location for hooking up the Mini PCIe / Mini SATA connector mentioned earlier. If you want to use it, don’t forget to secure it with the screw to ensure it doesn’t come loose. I can see the appeal of this feature. While people using this board for benchmarking or in a regular ATX case probably won’t use it, those who truly need the SFF-ability of this mATX board will find it quite useful.

mPCIe Connector

mPCIe Connector

mPCIe Connected

mPCIe Connected

mPCIe Connected

mPCIe Connected

Finally we have the rear I/O. Gone is the legacy PS/2 port you all know I love in favor of the mini-PCIe connector’s space. You still have plenty of connectivity though, with four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports (one is for ROG Connect) and an eSATA port.

For display purposes, you have both HDMI and DisplayPort connectivity. Rounding out the rear I/O are the single LAN port and sound connectivity.

Rear I/O

Rear I/O

 

Under the Hood

Now we’ll pull those heatsinks off and really get down to brass tacks.

Bare Board

Bare Board

Rear of Board

Rear of Board

The heatsinks make good, consistent contact. There was a little nick off of the MOSFET heatsink’s thermal pad which likely occurred during removal. The PCH heatsink has the signature ASUS nasty pink stuff that hates to let go. The heatsinks themselves are stout and won’t have any problem wicking away plenty of heat with sufficient case airflow.

Heatsink Contact

Heatsink Contact

Heatsinks

Heatsinks

Now it’s time for controllerama! First up we have the Intel LAN chip and the SupremeFX III Sound section, which was detailed earlier.

Intel LAN Chip

Intel LAN Chip

Sound Section

SupremeFX Sound

Next we have a pair of ASMedia chips. The one on the left facilitates the iGPU’s output via HDMI (see this link for what that little dealy does). The controller on the right is for rear USB 3.0 connectivity.

ASMedia HDMI/DVI Level Shifter

ASMedia HDMI/DVI Level Shifter

ASMedia USB 3.0 Controller

ASMedia USB 3.0 Controller

Next up is another USB 3.0 controller, which gives us the USB 3.0 front panel header (seen partially in the upper left of this image).

ASMedia SATA 6Gb/s Controller

ASMedia SATA 3.0 Controller

Now this is where this board shines. It has a very stout power section, with eight phases dedicated to the CPU and four to the iGPU. The phases come complete with ASUS’ upgraded ROG alloy chokes and stout MOSFETs.

Power Section

Power Section

Power Section

Power Section

Last up is the Intel Z77 PCH itself.

Z77 Platform Controller Hub

Z77 Platform Controller Hub

This is a very strong little board. Small package does not equal skimping on anything. Sure, you may miss a little bit of connectivity due to size restraints, but this board maintains it where it counts.

The UEFI

The ROG BIOS has been fine tuned since UEFI’s became standard. Now it’s just tweaking for various chipsets as they come out. They have the right template and there is no need to change that. For Ivy Bridge, we are given some features from the Rampage IV Extreme, which is impressive in itself, but the fact that they appear on the mATX GENE is even better.

The first menu you’ll see is Extreme Tweaker, where you’ll handle overclocking everything from BCLK to voltages. The main selections are as long as they are exhaustive.

The first sub-menu is where you get to one of my favorite parts of ASUS’ BIOSes – the extensive RAM tweaking section. They seemingly have sub-timings of sub-timings buried in there. The most impressive part is the sub-menu within the RAM timings menu – Memory Presets. This is one of those improvements carried over from the Rampage I mentioned, and it is a doozy. There is a RAM profile for any type of high-end RAM on the market and even some that have been off the market for a long time.

There are plenty of power and feature settings for the CPU as well. One of the sub-menus is in the Extreme Tweaker menu, the others are in the Advanced menu.

Continuing down the Extreme Tweaker sub-menus, we have another ASUS signature – DIGI+ Power Control. ASUS has the industry by the, ahem, short hairs here. I can’t say MSI for sure, but I’ve tested Intel, Gigabyte and ASRock boards and their power control doesn’t come close. You can even control most of this in Windows via AISuite II.

The Advanced menu is where you get to the nitty gritty of system operation. Most of this doesn’t have to do with performance but is essential to the operation of your system. The majority of the sub-menus are contained in the “other” section below.

ASUS has solid monitoring ability as well, giving you at-a-glance statuses of voltages, temperatures and fan speeds – all of which also transfers to Windows. The fan control in UEFI isn’t as extensive as other models, but if these controls aren’t fine-grained enough, you’ll get more detailed controls in Fan Xpert.

The Tools menu is another place overclockers will spend a fair bit of time. EZ Flash 2 carries over from their previous boards and there is no need to improve it. You can set eight BIOS profiles in O.C. Profile, which is plenty. SPD Information is handy if you find yourself needing to manually set sub-timings. This is also where you can set the system behavior when you press the Go button.

The remaining screens are your important but not performance-related settings. Feel free to peruse them at your leisure.

Another solid BIOS from the ROG team at ASUS, there is certainly nothing to complain about here. I’m still impressed they carried over the RAM profiles from the Rampage IV Extreme; kudos to them for doing that.

ASUS Software

ASUS’s AISuite is the best motherboard software suite I’ve ever used, bar none. It is as seamless as if you had UEFI access, right from Windows. The first tool is the one that will get the biggest workout by overclockers – TurboV EVO.  Here you control all the pertinent voltages, BCLK and your CPU multiplier. There are some fine-tuning items missing, but the majority of items anyone will use is right here.

TurboV EVO

TurboV EVO

TurboV EVO Multipier Control

TurboV EVO Multipier Control

Not to be outdone, the power section has its own controls too. The DIGI+ VRM controller has all of the important controls for your use in-OS as well. There are some missing that you must access through UEFI, but again, the bulk of what you need is present.

DIGI+ Home

DIGI+ Home

Smart DIGI+ Control

Smart DIGI+ Control

CPU DIGI+ Control

CPU DIGI+ Control

RAM DIGI+ Control

RAM DIGI+ Control

For the eco-conscious out there, we have the EPU control window.

EPU

EPU

Now we get to the fan control and monitoring part of the program. Fan Xpert 2 allows simple, push-button control of your fans in easy mode, or you can jump into the more advanced mode and control four of the fan headers (CPU, Chassis 1, 2 and 3) with fine-grained control over fan speed via temperature settings.

This is more impressive than previous offerings, which have allowed control of only two fans rather than four. Your control is either UEFI or software, not just software for a couple and UEFI for the rest.

Probe II and Sensor Recorder haven’t changed; with the former alerting you if any readings are outside parameters and the latter allowing you to monitor voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds over time. Both didn’t need changing and do their jobs very well.

Fan Xpert 2

Fan Xpert 2

Fan Xpert 2 Advanced

Fan Xpert 2 Advanced

Probe II

Probe II

Sensor Recorder

Sensor Recorder

AI Charger is very nice for those that use mobile devices. If your device supports the functionality, you can use this for quick charging. USB 3.0 boost isn’t something I can test without a USB 3.0 device, but it is something ASUS has a laser focus on to make the most of those that use USB 3.0 storage solutions.

AI Charger+

AI Charger+

USB 3.0 Boost

USB 3.0 Boost

The rest of the suite is more mundane. We have ASUS Update, which allows you to update your BIOS in Windows. This is strongly not recommended by Overclockers. While it probably works quite well, with ASUS’ superb EZ Flash II from within the UEFI, I’d very strongly recommend sticking to that solution.

My Logo allows you to change the boot screen, which is a nice little twist of customization.

ASUS Update

ASUS Update

MyLogo

MyLogo

Last up are the System Information and Settings windows. Note these are wider than our standard 1000 px width limit, just FYI.

System Information

System Information

Settings

Settings

AISuite continues to be the ultimate in Windows-to-motherboard interfaces. If they do change something, it’s generally for the better – like Fan Xpert’s improvements in this case. Keep up the good work ASUS software department!

ASUS doesn’t stop with AISuite though. They also have ROG Connect, which allows you to overclock from a remote PC connected by the supplied USB cable. Other than GPU TweakIt (which the MVG doesn’t have), the GENE’s RoG Connect looks identical to that from the Rampage IV Extreme, which is pictured below.

RoG Connect

RoG Connect

ROG Connect works just as well as TurboV EVO and also gives you the ability to monitor temperatures, voltages and fan speeds remotely.

Test Systems

Our test systems for today share a CPU and GPU, but the memory was different between them. You see, the Intel board does not like to take full advantage of Ivy Bridge’s memory capability. While we possessed the awesome G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2666 kit pre-launch, we were unable to use it because the board simply wouldn’t run there. The MVG fixes that problem, giving you that speed and more; thus it was benched using the memory Ivy Bridge and this board are capable of running.

CPU Intel i7 3770K
Motherboard Intel DZ77GA-70K
ASUS Maximus V GENE
RAM G.Skill RipjawsX DDR3-2133
G.Skill TridentX DDR3-2666
GPU AMD HD 6970
OS Windows 7 x64

Memory isn’t the only difference however. ASUS likes to set all cores at maximum turbo frequency when everything is set to Auto. I even tried to manually set it so Turbo was working as “normal” for the CPU and it would never load all four cores under 37x, so what you see below gives the Maximus V Gene an inherent advantage for multi-threaded benchmarks at stock, running 400 MHz higher than Intel when all cores are loaded.

For that reason, I’ve also left in the 4.8 GHz results from the Intel board so you can see clock-for-clock performance, which shows differences in the motherboards as well as the stellar memory overclocking capabilities of this board.

Maximus V GENE Ready to Rock

Maximus V GENE Ready to Rock

Overclocking for Stability

Speaking of clocks, this board pushed the same CPU to the same overclock. It could have gone farther but we’re keeping temps reasonable such that you could run this overclock on air if you wanted (rather than the water loop used for this review).

After speaking with ASUS and ElDonko from HardwareCanucks, I’ve decided to use AIDA64 for stress testing now too. LinX does well at heating stuff up to the max, but it doesn’t test out every instruction set at the same time like AIDA does. It also doesn’t have handy-dandy graphs. As you can see, the CPU is perfectly stable at its respectable 4.8 GHz.

4800 MHz / DDR3-2800 Stable

4800 MHz / DDR3-2800 Stable

What you also probably noticed was that the memory is overclocked for 24/7 use too! DDR3-2800, perfectly stable at the stock timings for that memory at its default voltage. G.Skill has some killer memory out now and its review will come a little bit down the road after I finish another motherboard.

Anyway, for 24/7 overclocking, this board easily reached 4.8 GHz on the CPU and DDR3-2800 on the memory. Impressive all around.

LLC Voltage Tests

It’s always nice to take out any unknowns when dealing with voltages to your CPU, so we’re happy to provide that service and test out the various LLC settings for you. Some boards even allow you to manually check the applied voltages with a multimeter, this one included via ProbeIt. Everything was kept the same in the overclock above, except the multiplier was dropped to 44x (to ensure stability when moving LLC lower). Set Vcore in BIOS was 1.285 V (green line).

MVG LLC Testing

MVG LLC Testing

There are five settings for LLC, all of which give you a different loaded voltage and this is the behavior you can expect. It’s not good or bad, other than to say it’s good that the option is there and that it holds the voltage so consistently.

Benchmark Results

All stock 2D benchmarks were run three times with the results averaged; 3D benchmarks were run once each. All overclocked benchmarks were run once.

We’re not going to dwell on these benchmarks very much. If the boards were clocked at identical MHz with no memory discrepancy, results would be very similar. The takeaway is this board’s ‘stock’ is going to be stronger in multi-threaded benchmarks because of the 400 MHz advantage and this board’s CPU-clock-for-CPU-clock results are going to be stronger because of its much stronger memory overclocking ability.

As a side note, you can click on all of these graphs to make them slightly larger and a bit easier to read.

Rendering and Compression

We’ll start of with what you can expect when running things in the real world.

Cinebench R10, Cinebench R11.5 & 7zip

Cinebench R10, Cinebench R11.5 & 7zip

PoV Ray & x264 Benchmark

PoV Ray & x264 Benchmark

Clock speed has an obvious advantage here, as does memory bandwidth; the latter less than the former.

3D Benchmarking

For motherboard reviews, I like to run the two more CPU bound 3DMark tests to see what influence the board has based on its capabilities. All Z77 boards are Ivy-spec PCIe 3.0 and with everything identical they shouldn’t vary much, if at all.

3DMark06

3DMark06

3DMark Vantage

3DMark Vantage

Clock speed makes for the biggest difference here.

2D Benchmarking

Now, we have benchmarker favorites SuperPi and wPrime.

SuperPi 1M and 32M

SuperPi 1M and 32M

WPrime 32M & 1024M

WPrime 32M & 1024M

SuperPi shows the smallest stock difference because of its single-threaded nature. Memory changes account for a slightly larger difference than normal, but some of that is mitigated because of the higher-speed memory’s looser timings.

Benchmark wins across the board for the Maximus V GENE. Its memory capability puts it in a different class than the Intel board. The differences aren’t earth shattering, but the they are measurable and palpable.

Pushing the Envelope

Pushing the Envelope is going to be short and sweet. Long story short, these CPUs need cold. Other than memory overclocking (which is very much improved), there isn’t too much this motherboard could do for the CPU that the Maximus IV Extreme-Z couldn’t do. I’m hesitant to show this before the memory review, because I don’t expect it will get any higher, but what the heck.

Maximum Validation - DDR3-2945.8

Maximum Validation - DDR3-2945.8

This board, combined with G.Skill’s killer DDR3-2666 kit reached an impressive DDR3-2945 on air with no special settings other than to give little more RAM voltage (1.75V) and then cranking up BCLK.

The MVG did manage to run WPrime 32M over 100 MHz higher than the MIVE-Z could.

WPrime 32M @ 5116MHz

WPrime 32M @ 5116MHz

The maximum frequency at which I could validate the CPU was 5211.8 MHz. This is on ambient cooling using a water loop.

CPUz Valid @ 5211.8 MHz

CPUz Valid @ 5211.8 MHz

As far as other ‘pushing the envelope’, you’ll have to accept my apologies. I have literally been unable to get away from work long enough to get some LN2 (which is annoyingly only open 8-5, M-F). What I’d ask you to do is consider HWBot when thinking about how good this board is at pushing things under sub-zero cooling.

To wit, the fastest SuperPi 1M time in the world is 5.187sec, set by AndreYang using a Maximus V GENE. Same with PiFast – the fastest time in the world is set with a MVG (also by AndreYang). Looking at multi-core, you don’t have to go past 2nd in the world for quad core CPU results to find the MVG. AndreYang moved up to the as-yet-unreleased Maximus V Formula to set the world record for WP32M. The top WPrime1024M result still rests with a Maximus V GENE. (All rankings referenced are as of May 11, 2012.)

It’s amazing really that this demure mATX motherboard is consistently at the top. If you need to push your 3770K under extreme cooling, this a very good board to do it with.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

Look up at the rest of this review. Does that sound like a mATX motherboard to you? No. In fact, I’d say it is just as capable as any motherboard on the market.

Which brings us to the only drawback really – it’s mATX. You know that when you’re looking at buying this board, but what does it mean? Well, you get less connectivity. They can only fit so much on an mATX board. Thankfully they went with performance-oriented features rather than trying to maintain eight to ten SATA ports or fifteen USB 3.0 ports (which would require more third-party controllers).

You also lose expansion capability. You just can’t squeeze an extra PCIe slot on there, or room for a third GPU, which would require a third party PLX or NVIDIA chip for the extra PCIe lanes anyway, taking up even more PCB. The only drawback to this board is that it’s small and you are required to make minor compromises in the connectivity

Other than that, which you know going into it when looking at an mATX board, this board has everything you could ask for. It has all the strength of a full ATX board. Its power section is strong enough to push CPUs to their absolute limit – under ambient and sub-zero cooling. Its memory capabilities are just out of this world. The included software is strong and seamless. Try as I might, there really isn’t anything to dislike about this board, which is why it is emphatically Overclockers Approved.

Click the Approved stamp for an explanation of what it means.

– Jeremy Vaughan (hokiealumnus)

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Discussion
  1. intex1233
    does the cpu level up feature work on non k processor like the i7 3770 no k, i'm planning to get this motherboard asus v gene


    There really isn't any point in a nice overclocking board like this with a non-K CPU. If you are getting it for the look or if it's crazy cheap, go for it, but it won't overclock, no.
    SupaMonkey
    I can put any sized MB in my rig and i don't want to crossfire. Is there any reason not to get this instead of its bigger and more expensive brother.


    I went through the same thought process as well. Never bought a mATX motherboard but this thing is just DAMN sweet. Powerful, lots of feature, perfect for my needs and the one GTX 670 I plan to run. I'm just a gamer and do blu-ray rips...so this thing is perfect for me.
    Even if you decide for SLI/CF then this board will be better than many cheaper full ATX size as it has 8+8+4 pcie , not like other 8+4+4. Just that last slot is working as pcie 2.0 but who cares ;).
    Eldonko
    Confirmation from ASUS:

    There is no current MSATA solution on the market that supports SATA3 ( 6G operation ). Including ours overall this is a fairly mute point as the drive is generally intended for SSD Caching. That being noted we have validated with RunCore, Patriot, Kingston and others on large mSATA modules 120 and larger for normal boot / OS drive and normal SSD performance is present ( BOOT, Application launching, Copy Performance etc ).


    :confused: Anand has a review of a 6 Gbps mSATA SSD right here: http://www.anandtech.com/show/5735/micron-c400-msata-128gb-ssd-review

    Not sure what motherboard they were using for the test, but it had identical performance to the regular SATA 3 drive, so clearly it's running at SATA 3 speeds...

    Sorry if I'm the only one who cares about this. :D
    Eldonko
    I was looking at the chipset diagram which says 6 x SATA "UP TO" 6Gb/s. Didnt realize there were only 2, but makes sense.


    It'd be hard to make that statement any more misleading. If it weren't for marketing decisions like that, we wouldn't have as much of a need as we have for independent reviews to sort this stuff out. :)
    Confirmation from ASUS:

    There is no current MSATA solution on the market that supports SATA3 ( 6G operation ). Including ours overall this is a fairly mute point as the drive is generally intended for SSD Caching. That being noted we have validated with RunCore, Patriot, Kingston and others on large mSATA modules 120 and larger for normal boot / OS drive and normal SSD performance is present ( BOOT, Application launching, Copy Performance etc ).
    Got it, you are right, it is SATA 2. I was looking at the chipset diagram which says 6 x SATA "UP TO" 6Gb/s. Didnt realize there were only 2, but makes sense. There is no controller on the module or on the board and it is direct to pch so has to be SATA 2.

    http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/chipsets/performance-chipsets/z77-express-chipset.html

    hokiealumnus
    Z77 can only support 2x SATA 3 ports (plus 4x SATA 2) - Reference chart. You had me worried for a second!

    That being the case, it would require a third-party controller, right?
    I think it's SATA II. There is nothing on this dongle to indicate it is SATA 3 (such as a controller). Without that, it could use the CPU's remaining SATA II capability (two ports of which are not used on the GENE, in favor of a third-party SATA 3 controller).

    Photos (click for larger):







    If the thing is mPCIe it's not any flavor of sata, it's PCIe.

    If it's mSATA (same connector, different wiring...) then there is a question of what generation SATA.

    EDIT:

    Maybe I should read the review! :chair:

    I bet that port shares with another, much like the eSATA ports usually do.
    I dont know for sure but I dont see why it wouldnt be 6Gb/s. There is no controller chip because mPCIe has a dedicated lane to pch and Z77 can support 6x SATA 3 natively. Since there are only 2 SATA 3 ports on the board it makes sense that the mPCIe is probably SATA 3 right? Will confirm with ASUS as Im curious now as well.

    hokiealumnus
    As far as the mPCIe expansion, I'm not sure its speed; I assume it is SATA II. SATA III would require a third party controller and it's doubtful they could fit that in the space. What I do know is that, even if it's SATA II, you'll be doing better for overall system performance than any SATA III mechanical drive on the market.