The initial Z170 chipset motherboard offerings from ASUS included several options from their Channel and ROG series. We’ve already had a look at a couple Channel series motherboards in the Z170-Deluxe and Z170-A, so it’s time to step it up a notch and have our first look at a ROG Maximus VIII series motherboard. Currently available in the ROG series are the Maximus VIII Hero, Ranger, and Gene with the higher-end Formula and Extreme motherboards to follow this fall. Today, we’ll be looking at the Maximus VIII Gene, which is a mATX form factor motherboard offering many of the same features you’ll find on the larger ATX/EATX Maximus VIII motherboards. Let’s get started and see what the Maximus VIII Gene has to offer.
Specifications and Features
The specifications below were shamelessly plucked from the ASUS product page. As you can see, everything you’d expect from a Z170 chipset motherboard is present and accounted for. Officially, memory support goes as high as DDR4-3733 MHz with a total capacity of 64 GB. Multi-GPU support for up to Quad-SLI/CrossfireX is present, although you’d need a pair of dual-GPU graphics cards to obtain that. There are plenty of storage options including six SATA 6 GB/s ports, two SATA Express ports, and a M.2 socket that supports both SATA and PCI-E mode. Additional storage options are available through the eight USB 3.0, four USB 2.0, and two USB 3.1 connections. The audio is provided by the ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-channel HDA CODEC. Lots of goodies packed into this mATX form factor motherboard for sure!
|ASUS Maximus VIII Gene Specifications|
|CPU||Intel® Socket 1151 for 6th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors|
Supports Intel® 14 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
|Chipset||Intel Z170 Express Chipset|
|Memory||4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3733(O.C.) / 3600(O.C.) / 3466(O.C.) / 3400(O.C.) / 3333(O.C.) / 3300(O.C.) / 3200(O.C.) / 3000(O.C.) / 2800(O.C.) / 2666(O.C.) / 2400(O.C.) / 2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory|
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
|Expansion Slots||2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8, gray)|
1 x PCIe 3.0 x4
|Graphic||Integrated Graphics Processor|
Multi-VGA output support : HDMI/DisplayPort 1.2 ports
– Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz
– Supports DisplayPort with max. resolution 4096 x 2304 @ 60 Hz
Maximum shared memory of 512 MB
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
|Multi-GPU Support||Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology|
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
|Storage||Intel® Z170 chipset : |
1 x M.2 Socket 3with M Key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support both SATA & PCIE mode
2 x SATA Express port(s)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Intel® Rapid Storage Technology supports
|LAN||Intel® I219V, 1 x 10/100 LAN Controller|
Intel® LAN- Dual interconnect between the Integrated LAN controller and Physical Layer (PHY)
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX 2015 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC|
|USB||Intel® Z170 chipset :|
8 x USB 3.0 port(s) (6 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z170 chipset :
4 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB 3.1 port(s) (1 at back panel, black, Type-C)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
1 x USB port(s) (1 at back panel, red, Type-A)
|Back I/O Ports||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)|
1 x DisplayPort
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
1 x USB 3.1 (black)Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 (red)Type-A
6 x USB 3.0 (blue)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
5 x Audio jack(s)
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
|Internal I/O Connectors||1 x AAFP connector|
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
2 x SATA Express connector: gray,
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M Key design, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (Supports both SATA & PCIE SSD)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
4 x Chassis Fan connector(s) (4 -pin)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
1 x System panel(s) (Q-Connector)
1 x 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Water Pump header (4-pin)
1 x LN2 Mode jumper(s)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x Safe Boot button
1 x ReTry button
|OS Support||Windows 10 64-bit|
Windows 8.1 64-bit
Windows 7 32-bit/64-bit
|Form Factor||Micro ATX Form Factor|
9.6 inch x 9.6 inch ( 24.4 cm x 24.4 cm )
After looking at the specifications above, it might be helpful to know exactly where a lot of these items are located on the motherboard itself. The board overview below will give you most of that information, as well as additional motherboard features. Below that, you’ll find the block diagram.
One major feature of the Maximus VIII Gene (henceforth, M8G) is the newest rendition of the SupremeFX audio solution – now called SupremeFX 2015. There have been several improvements over the 2014 iteration, which are outlined in the first slide below. In a nutshell, several ICs have been added to improve jitter, audio clarity, current and voltage regulation, and that annoying popping you sometimes hear during system start-up and shutdown. The 2015 version of SupremeFX also offers op-amps capable of driving headphones up to 600 ohms and an ESS Hi-Fi Sabre DAC. The DAC is a 24-bit stereo converter that’s powered by the industry leading Sabre DAC technology.
Complimenting the SupremeFX 2015 audio solution are the Sonic Studio II software and a few other utilities. Sonic Studio II includes Casting Enhancer, which is said to reduce noise artifacts, improve music quality while casting/streaming, and add a bass boost effect. Perfect voice is another utility found within Sonic Studio II and provides noise reduction, a volume stabilizer, and a microphone volume detection utility called Noise Gate. Sonic SenseAmp is for automatic detection of headphone impedance and will adjust the built-in amp automatically to your headphone’s specifications. Sonic Radar II is an in-game overlay that can help determine what direction game sounds are coming from. Designed for First Person Shooters, it can be helpful in determining where sounds like gunshots, footsteps, and call-outs are coming from.
LAN connectivity is provided by the latest Intel i219V controller – a favorite among gaming enthusiasts. The Intel LAN is complimented by the RJ45 LANGuard feature, which provides improved throughput and surge protection at the LAN jack. The supporting network optimization software is called GameFirst III and allows for complete control over bandwidth prioritization.
The M8G aesthetics no longer include a lot of red coloring like earlier ROG offerings, which affords ASUS the opportunity to add customizable lighting to the motherboard. You can select between six different schemes and an almost unlimited number of color options, which makes integration into almost any themed build possible.
ASUS goes to great length to provide features that offer ease of installation and protection from premature motherboard failure.
The ASUS Pro Clock feature is a dedicated BCLK generator that allows a BCLK frequency range up to 400 MHz (CPU dependent). The Intel standard is limited to 170 MHz BCLK, but we’ve easily been able to get ASUS Z170 motherboards up to 220 MHz BCLK or more.
ASUS is pretty much leading the way on support for the fastest DDR4 memory speeds. The M8G is said to support beyond DDR4 3733 MHz, even with all four DIMM slots populated.
There are plenty of other features to explore once we get to the UEFI BIOS, bundled software, and up-close sections of the review. For now though, let’s get the box on the workbench and have a look around.
The same overall appearance as previous generation ROG packaging is carried over to the M8G. There is a tremendous amount of information available as you tour the retail packaging. Not one to leave a lot of unused real estate on their packaging, ASUS gives the potential customer a great idea of what they’re buying into if they can actually hold the box in their hands before purchasing.
With the box top opened, you find the M8G sitting on a cardboard bed with a hard plastic cover on top of it. Below the cardboard bed is where all the accessories are located – here’s what you’ll find.
|• User’s manual|
• ASUS Q-Shield
• 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cables
• 1 x M.2 Screw Package
• 1 x CPU installation tool
• 1 x Supporting DVD
• 1 x SLI bridge
|• 1 x Q-connector (1 in 1)|
• 1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Labels
• 1 x 2 Hard Drive Labels
• 1 x 6 KeyBot Stickers
• 4 x ROG Fan Stickers
• 1 x ROG Door Hanger
• 1 x ROG Case Badge
Below is a series of pictures taken once the M8G was completely unpacked. Aesthetically, there are a few changes from the Z97 series M7G. Gone are the red SATA ports, DIMM slots, and PCI-E slots, which were replaced with a dark gray color. The heatsinks have been redesigned somewhat and are now the only place you’ll find the ROG red highlights. The black PCB and overall color scheme is much more adaptable to various themed system builds because of this new design. Nice job here!
The ASUS Maximus VIII Gene Up Close
Beginning at the bottom edge of the M8G, we find a lot going on. From left to right are the front panel audio header, the start and reset buttons, the retry and safe boot buttons, and the ROG EXT header. The retry button can be used in those instances where an overclock has locked the system up to the point that pressing the reset button has no effect. When pressed, it forces the system to reboot and retains the BIOS settings for another try at a successful boot. The safe boot button is used to enter the BIOS in safe mode; but it also retains the BIOS settings, so you can make any adjustments from where you last left off. The ROG EXT header is for connecting an OC Panel or Front Base optional accessory. If you currently own an OC Panel, you don’t have to upgrade to the OC Panel II. A simple firmware update will allow you to keep using your existing OC Panel, and we assume the same holds true for the Front Base accessory. If you don’t have a device to hook up to the ROG EXT header, the right portion can be used as an additional USB 2.0 header.
Further to the right, we see a USB 2.0 front panel header, a T-Sensor connection, the LN2 mode jumper, the EXT Fan header, a 4-pin PWM fan header, and the case wiring connection points. The LN2 mode jumper will help alleviate the cold boot bug when extreme cooling is used. The EXT Fan header is used with the optional Fan Extension Card.
Moving over to the right-side edge, we find the six SATA 6 GB/s ports and two SATA Express ports, which are all native to the Z170 chipset. Next in line are the front panel USB 3.0 header and the 24-pin ATX power connector. Rounding out the right side are two more 4-pin PWM fan headers and the MemOK! button. The MemOK! button can be useful in situations where the installed memory isn’t compatible. Pressing the button will attempt to find a bootable set of memory parameters and allow the system to post. We can also see the four DIMM slots from this vantage point, which support up to 64 GB of DDR4 memory at speeds up to 3733 MHz. ASUS typically under-specs their memory speed support, so it wouldn’t surprise us if it actually handles memory speeds faster than that.
The top of the M8G is where the post code LED display and three more 4-pin PWM fan headers are located. One fan header is intended for the CPU fan, another for an optional CPU fan (think push/pull setups), and another for a water pump. The water pump fan header is set to run at full speed by default. Also located at the top area is the 8-pin CPU AUX 12V power connector, which is perfectly placed for optimal cable management.
The left side of the M8G has all the back panel I/O connections and everything related to the SupremeFX 2015 audio solution. At the I/O area, we start with the Clear CMOS and BIOS Flashback buttons. Next to those are the ASMedia controlled USB 3.1 ports, which include a Type-A and Type-C. Six native USB 3.0 ports and a pair of display connections (HDMI and DisplayPort) are also available. A mouse/keyboard combination PS/2 port and the Intel LAN jack are next in line, followed by the block of audio jacks. You might see a bit of a comeback for the PS/2 port as it removes the Windows 7 installation hassle with regard to the USB drivers not being present. The audio jacks support up to 7.1 surround sound and offer an optical out port.
We already covered most of the SupremeFX 2015 audio features above, but here is a close-up look at the bits that make it up. As you can see, the SupremeFX audio has EMI shielding and a PCB separation line to reduce interference from other onboard components. The SupremeFX 2015 audio solution uses the Realtek ALC1150 CODEC as its basis. Here is a list outlining the components and features the SupremeFX 2015 audio offers.
• TI Audio Headphone AMP provides a wide operating voltage and high output current to meet all types of headphone impedance resulting in true-to-life tonality and sound imaging.
• Impedance Sense IC supports up to 600ohm – auto-adjusts output gain to suit the headphone drivers being used.
• NEC De-pop Relay used to prevent DC “thumps” when the system is powered on or off. Time-delays the output latching to occur after the rails have settled.
• SupremeFX shielding is a combination of physical isolation and trace layout techniques that reduce crosstalk between analog/digital domains and noise interference from external sources to preserve a pure audio pathway.
• Left/Right Channel Track Separation Layout technique to separate left/right audio channels to reduce crosstalk.
• Stainless Steel EMI protection cover protects the HD audio chip from external noise interference.
• Nichicon premium Japan-made audiophile grade capacitors provide warm, natural, and immersive sound with exceptional clarity.
Moving in towards the center of the M8G, we land at the PCI-E Expansion slot area. There is a pair of PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots and one PCI-E x4 slot. A single GPU will run at x16 speed, and two in SLI/CrosFireX will run at x8/x8 speeds. Between the two PCI-E x16 slots is the M.2 port, which supports both SATA and PCI-E x4 SSDs.
The CPU socket area is clear of any major obstructions and should be able to handle just about any cooling solution – both air and water. The attractive heatsinks over the MOSFETs have red highlights with “Gene” inscribed on the left side heatsink. If you look just below the left side heatsink, you’ll see yet another 4-pin PWM fan header.
The chipset heatsink carries the same color scheme as the MOSFET heatsinks and has a ROG logo engraved in it.
The passive cooling solution includes a pair of MOSFET heatsinks joined by a heatpipe and another heatsink covering the Z170 PCH. At the back of the motherboard are two cooling plates for an additional layer of MOSFET cooling. All of the heatsinks are attached with screws and use thermal pads for thermal interface material. Everything was found to be making excellent contact with their target points.
With the M8G now in its birthday suit, we can have a closer look at some of the circuitry. ASUS uses a 10-phase CPU/iGPU power phase design on the M8G, which uses the all digital DIGI+ VRM/EPU controller for voltage regulation. Now that voltage regulation has been removed from Skylake CPUs, the function has fallen back to motherboard manufacturers. As you’ll see when we explore the UEFI BIOS, the DIGI+ VRM separates ASUS from others on the market with its finite control of power delivery. There are a couple additional power phases for the memory, which utilize a uP1540P VRM.
The below pictures outline several ICs found on the motherboard to provide many of its functions. Below each picture is a brief description.
The ASUS ROG UEFI BIOS
The UEFI BIOS found on ASUS ROG motherboards has a long history of being as feature rich as they come. ASUS raised the bar even further with a few new features added to their Z170 UEFI BIOS. We’ll get to those as we tour the BIOS, but let’s start with the EZ Mode area. If you’re looking for a quick way to get basic system parameters set, EZ Mode has just what you need. From here, you can set boot priorities, control fan speeds, and get basic system/monitoring information. The EZ Tuning wizard can be accessed by pressing F11, which will take you through the process of an automatic overclock and guide you through setting up a RAID array. Just answer a few questions, and you’ll be on your way. The EZ Mode section also provides access to the Q-Fan Control feature. Q-Fan Control allows you to manually control fans speeds based on a graphical interface or choose from several available presets. Another cool feature EZ Mode offers is called EZ System Tuning, which has three presets – Normal, Optimal, and Power Saving. You can select any of those three presets, and it will tune your system accordingly.
Pressing F7 gets you into the Advance Mode area of the UEFI BIOS where the first tab is My Favorites. In the past, this section was empty; and you were on your own to populate it with shortcuts to your most visited areas of the UEFI BIOS. ASUS has since populated the My Favorites section with the most likely candidates for frequent visits. You can add to their list or even remove all their shortcuts and start fresh if you like. Once the ASUS shortcuts are removed, there is an option to restore them if you decide you want them back. Adding your own shortcuts is easy to accomplish using the built-in Setup Tree Map.
The Main Tab provides BIOS version and processor information and also has the language, time, date, and security settings.
Extreme Tweaker is the next tab and is where all your overclocking options are – and boy are there a ton! Voltages, BCLK speed, CPU multipliers, and everything memory related are all found here.
Five sub menus let you dive deeper into memory timings, the DIGI+ VRM power phase controls, CPU power management, DRAM REF voltages, and a special section called Tweakers Paradise with an even deeper level of options. Inside the memory timings area, you’ll find a sub menu called memory presets. ASUS spent a tremendous amount of time optimizing timings and sub timings for many of the popular memory ICs on the market. So, if your memory kit contains the ICs in this list, you should definitely try it out. If that’s not enough for you, the DRAM REF voltage area provides options that delve deep inside each DIMM slot’s rank and BL voltage.
The DIGI+ VRM sub menu gives you a tremendous amount of control over CPU power delivery and is one area where the ASUS UEFI BIOS separates itself from others. Some of the options include LLC, switching frequency, power duty control, power phase control, plus a lot more.
From top to bottom, the entire Extreme Tweaker area has enough options to keep even the most demanding overclockers satisfied. For those that might be a bit intimidated by the plethora of options here, take solace in knowing the vast majority can be left on their auto setting. ASUS does a great job with their “auto” rules throughout, meaning you can likely leave any option on its auto setting if your’re not familiar with it.
The Advanced tab has 11 sub menus dealing mostly with system configuration. We’ve been through these option countless times in other ASUS motherboard reviews, so we’ll concentrate on what’s new this time around. The ROG Effects isn’t really new, but it now has additional options to coincide with new lighting features included on the M8G. The SupremeFX audio’s separation line illuminates and so does the onboard and PCH LEDs. You can enable or disable any of the lighting you wish. Another new item is the HDD/SSD SMART Information sub menu. From there, you can get real-time information on the SMART status of your HDD or SSD.
Sliding over to the Monitor tab, we see real-time voltage, temperature, and fan speed values. The Q-Fan sub menu is where you’ll find the industry’s best UEFI BIOS fan control options – bar none. It doesn’t matter if you have 3-pin or 4-pin fans because the level of control remains the same regardless. Each fan can be assigned to any monitored temperature as its source, including the onboard T-Sensor. If you purchase the optional Fan Extension Card, anything hooked to it can also be controlled within Q-Fan. A new addition to Q-Fan is the ability to adjust step up and step down delays, which can help eliminate rapid fan speed fluctuations and the noise associated with that. You can also enter the Q-Fan Tuning feature from here, which will give you a graph style set of controls as we showed you earlier.
The Boot tab contains all the system post behavior options, including HDD BBS and boot priority options. You can also choose between EZ Mode or Advanced Mode as your initial UEFI BIOS entry point.
The Tool tab contains several useful utilities worth taking a look at. The EZ Flash Utility has been upgraded to version three and now offers the ability to flash the UEFI BIOS via the internet. It will ping the ASUS servers for new firmware, download if available, and then flash. Secure Erase is a utility that allows you to secure erase a SSD right from within the UEFI BIOS. This can be a big time saver as you don’t need to install additional software or boot from a CD to accomplish the task. The Overclocking Profile utility lets you save up to eight UEFI BIOS profiles or an unlimited number to a USB storage device. The OC Panel H-Key feature allows you to add and save CPU core voltage, CPU input voltage, BCLK Frequency, and CPU ratio parameters to the UEFI BIOS. Once saved, they can be synchronized with your OC Panel. The ASUS SPD Information utility gives you JEDEC and XMP information on the installed memory. Finally, the Graphics Card Information utility provides statistics on your GPU’s bus interface and vBIOS. The GPU Post sub menu will show you what PCI-E slot your card is installed in and the speed at which it’s running at.
The Exit tab has your usual suspects with the addition of a pop-up window that appears when you choose Save Changes & Exit. The pop-up window will give you a list of all the changes you made during your current session.
While there have long been other utilities that can take advantage of unused memory and use it as cache for HDDs, ASUS has been hard at work providing their own solution called RAMCache. This adds a second layer of software to take advantage of an over-abundance of system memory that’s not being used to its full potential. The first layer was the RAMDisk software ASUS released some time ago that allowed you to make a storage drive from excess memory capacity. RAMCache, however, places frequently used files in the speedier memory cache. This makes access and load times extremely fast for any files that have been “cached.”
KeyBot II is another recent addition to the ASUS software family. With an onboard microprocessor at its heart, KeyBot II can turn any mundane USB keyboard into a multi-function device that will rival much more expensive keyboards. Recording macros, creating keyboard shortcuts, and integration with AI Suite III’s DIP5 feature are just a few capabilities KeyBot II offers.
In partnership with Overwolf, ASUS is offering a ROG skinned version of the popular gaming overlay software suite. The overlay apps include instant messaging, a web browser, and game recording, just to name a few. The ROG skins should be available to download from the Overwolf App Store soon.
AI Suite 3 is a full featured set of desktop utilities to help you get the most performance possible from your system. Whether your goal is power efficiency or high performance, you’ll find everything you need here. Once AI Suite 3 is launched, you find a slide-out navigation menu on the left side that will take you to any of the included utilities.
The Dual Intelligent Processors 5 feature takes center stage and is where you’ll find several different options to explore. If you want to let DIP5 do all the work for you, simply click on the 5-Way Optimization button and set your parameters. The entire optimization process is customizable, which lets you base you overclock on CPU temperature, CPU voltage, or CPU frequency thresholds. Per-core or all-core overclocking can be done, and you can choose to overclock the CPU multiplier only or a combination of CPU multiplier and BCLK. The EPU and Fan optimization can be included in the process or excluded if you wish. While there are a lot of different automatic overclocking utilities out there, none offer the level of control DIP5 does.
If you’re more of a hands-on type person, you can manually perform everything 5-Way Optimization does by visiting the TPU, EPU, DIGI+ VRM, and Fan Xpert 3 areas of DIP5. The TPU options include BCLK, CPU and Cache ratio adjustments, and a good deal of voltage control options too. Profile saving is available for quick access to your favorite overclocks. EPU offers quick and easy power efficiency options through three different power scenarios – Performance, Power Saving, and Away Mode. DIGI+ VRM provides a good deal of CPU power delivery options, including VRM switching frequencies, power phase control, LLC, etc. Fan Xpert 3 brings along the same fan control options found in the UEFI BIOS, but with a couple additional options. Each fan can be assigned a location to match where it’s installed in your case, which makes for easy identification. The fans should be run through the auto tuning procedure, so Fan Xpert 3 can “learn” the high/low RMP values. Once that is done, you’ll get the most from your customized settings. Each fan can be tied to a specific monitored temperature (source), and a graphical interface lets you decide fan speed versus temperature ratios. The spin up and spin down time delay options are also available. Fan Xpert 3 pretty much makes the added expense of a fan controller a thing of the past. Turbo App is another utility found in DIP5 and allows customized settings to be applied to any application on your system. Once an application is added to the Turbo App list, you can assign CPU frequency, network priority, and audio settings to take effect each time the application is launched.
The rest of AI Suite 3 we’ve discussed many times in the past and is pretty self explanatory as you peruse the thumbnail images below. However, there are a couple new additions for the Z170 motherboards. One of the new items is a utility called PC Cleaner, which will scan your system for unwanted/junk files and then offer to remove them. It’s a lot like the popular CCleaner program, but with ASUS style! The other new addition to AI Suite 3 is Mobo Connect, which allows you to share a PC’s keyboard/mouse with a smart device.
Benchmarks and Overclocking
Here are the components used in our Skylake/Z170 test system.
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VIII Gene|
|CPU||Intel i7 6700K Skylake|
|Memory||G.SKill Ripjaws V DDR4-3600 MHz 2X4 GB kit|
|SSD||ADATA Premier SP610 512 GB SSD|
|Power Supply||Corsair HX1050 Professional Series|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified|
|Cooling||EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump|
|OS||Windows 7 Professional x64|
We’ll use our typical benchmarks to test compression, rendering, video conversion, memory performance, and 2D performance. Being the third ASUS Z170 chipset motherboard we’ve reviewed, we don’t expect a lot of performance difference if history tells us anything – especially considering all the components in the test bed are identical, except for the motherboard of course. We’ll provide screenshots of the stock and overclocked benchmark runs and then spot check the results against other Z170 motherboards we’ve reviewed. Should there be any abnormalities discovered, we’ll be sure to report them. Stock testing was performed with the CPU set to its turbo speed of 4.2 GHz and the memory set to its XMP profile speed of 3600 MHz.
Overclocking was pretty straight forward through the UEFI BIOS as is the case with most ASUS enthusiast motherboards. With the CPU voltage set to 1.44 V and a few adjustments to the power delivery options, we achieved a perfectly stable 4.8 GHz. At that speed, we were also able to keep the memory at its XMP profile speed of 3600 MHz. The i7 6700K we have has been through a few motherboard reviews now, and 4.8 GHz seems to be the sweet spot for 24/7 stability while still using a safe voltage.
Compression, Rendering, and Video Conversion Benchmarks
Cinebench R10 – R11.5 – R15
x264 Pass 1 and 2
PoV Ray R3.73
7zip Compression Benchmark
Wprime 32M and 1024M
SuperPi 1M and 32M
Aida64 Cache & Memory
After going back and looking at results from previous ASUS Z170 chipset motherboards we’ve reviewed, the Maximus VIII Gene actually performed a little better overall than the Z170-Deluxe and Z170-A. Not on all the benchmarks, but most of them. One benchmark that really stood out was Intel XTU where we saw anywhere from 4% to 6% better performance out of the M8G when compared to the other two ASUS motherboards. All’s well on the performance front!
Pushing the Limits
As we typically find with the CPU we possess, getting to the desktop at 5.0 GHz is possible, but only a run of SuperPi 1m can be accomplished. Anything multi-threaded results in a blue screen. Even so, that’s still pretty impressive and holds a lot of promise for those wishing to go cold (LN2).
When you stop to think about it, the amount of features ASUS crammed into the M8G’s mATX form factor is really quite amazing. Unless you’re looking to install more than two graphics cards, the M8G’s performance can match or exceed larger form factor motherboards ASUS offers. All the latest Z170 chipset features are available and further improved upon with the likes of KeyBot II, the SupremeFX 2015 audio solution, and the Pro Clock feature. Unparalleled fan control can be accessed through the UEFI BIOS or by using AI Suite 3’s Fan Xpert 3 utility. There is a host of other software available for gaming, bandwidth prioritization, and audio, which all add even more value to the M8G.
Aesthetically, we really like the changes made for the ROG Z170 series motherboards. With the LED lighting control, you can really customize the color scheme to any themed system build and utilize some pretty cool lighting effects too.
Overclocking was a breeze to accomplish, and the M8G was willing and able to take our CPU as far as it can go. The UEFI BIOS offers an almost endless supply of tweaking options that will keep even the most seasoned overclocker satisfied.
As far as pricing goes, the ASUS Maximus VIII Gene is currently selling for $229 at Newegg, which is a fair price for everything you get. There are only a couple other Z170 mATX boards available right now, but neither offer as good an audio solution or SLI support (CrossFireX only). With the previous generation Maximus VII Gene still selling for $200, we feel the higher price for the additional features the Z170 chipset offers is well worth the additional cost.
If you’re looking to get into the Skylake/Z170 platform and like the idea of a smaller form factor build, ASUS has shown there is no need to sacrifice performance or features in lieu of a smaller motherboard.