Intel Z77 Chipset Launch Roundup
It comes as no surprise that ASUS use a familiar looking box for the Maximus V Gene, red like other products in the Republic of Gamers family. Inside we find a thorough bundle which includes plenty of drive cables, SLI bridge, IO shield, software disc, wiring stickers, USB cable, Q-connectors (wiring assists), door hanger and product documentation.
The bundle doesn’t stop there though as the Maximus V Gene also includes a mini-PCIe riser card, adding the option to install wireless or mSATA mini-cards inside our system.
The Maximus V Gene, like previous Gene boards, uses a compact micro-ATX PCB with this one measuring 9.6×9.6 inches. It is black in colour and the components used throughout match, with a few red flashes here and there.
ASUS use Extreme Engine DIGI+ 2 technology on this board which includes Japanese 10k Black Metallic capacitors for enhanced stability and reliability. This is backed by other enthusiast features such as status LEDs and voltage read points on the top right of the board. Technologies which will help beginners are present too, this includes the GO button which attempts to boot the system with safe settings should an incompatibility occur.
The power design is a 8+4 phase layout with 2 extra phases for memory. CPU Parameter recall is also present for overclocking recovery as is RoG connect for management of our board from a laptop. Then rounding off the key features is USB BIOS flashback for recovery from more serious issues should we push the board too far.
With this being a compact board there are fewer add-in card slots than we would find on a ATX model but key items are present. ASUS go with two PCIe 16x 3.0 slots which support CrossFire and SLI along with a singe 4x PCIe 2.0. As with other boards in dual GPU operation the two main slots run in 8x mode.
Beneath the PCIe slots we have onboard power and reset buttons then at the bottom right we find our drive connectors. There are six present here and four run off the Intel chipset (2x SATA 2, 2x SATA 3) with RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10 supported along with AHCI. The extra ports on the board us ASMedia for their controller.
At the top right we find the aforementioned voltage read points and status LEDs along with the 24-pin power connector and front panel USB 3.0 socket (Intel). Beside these are our four memory slots, these are of course split into a dual channel configuration allowing installation of up to 32GB and speeds well in excess of 2100MHz. all socket 1155 CPUs, including upcoming next generation chips are supported too.
Down at the back panel we start with two buttons, one for RoG connect functionality and the other to reset our BIOS. Beside these we have 4x USB 2.0, eSATA (ASMedia), 2x USB 3.0 (ASMedia), optical audio, HDMI, DisplayPort, Intel GB LAN, 2x USB 3.0 (Intel) and gold plated 3.5mm audio in/out.
The audio on this board is branded Supreme FX 3 and uses Creative certified technology for its 7.1 channels. ASUS enhance the controller using a specially selected 1500µF capacitor for clean, ripple free audio power and metallic EMI cover ensuing minimal external interference passes into the audio stream. For software EAX 5.0, Creative Alchemy and THX TruStudio Pro are all supported.
BIOS and Software
For anyone who has seen a RoG branded board before the Maximus V Gene BIOS should be familiar. Desipite being a compact board it features all of the same items as the larger versions wrapped in the RED GUI. We get a quick screen for the more simple changes and can also move into an advanced mode for enthusiast features in the Extreme Tweaker screen. This includes overclocking profiles which allow us to change our CPU speed with a few simple clicks.
Also included is EZ Flash 2 for quick and simple BIOS updates from USB.
ASUS offer a wide range of software with the board including a branded version of CPUz, Kaspersky Anti-Virus and DAEMON Tools Pro (standard). We can also add support for 3TB drives and the board is capable of tuning our internet use to maximise gaming traffic. Our key application is AI Suite which allows us to monitor and control our board within Windows. The setting which most stands out in here is CPU Level Up which allows us to overclock our 2700K processor to 4.6GHz with a few clicks and a reboot.
Finally the Maximus V Gene supports Rapid Start Technology (quicker boots), Smart Connect (updates to applications while powered down) and Lucid VirtuMVP (GPU enhancements).
On our test bench today is the Biostar Hi-Fi Z97WE which looks to deliver many of the features of the competition such as enhanced audio and M.2. support but at a more aggressive price point.
Last month Intel launched their Z97 chipset, essentially an evolution of Z87, which in many cases brought new features such as SATA Express and M.2 compatibility to the mainstream desktop market. There was of course no new CPU at that time with the existing socket 1150 processors working without issue in the new boards. Since then though Intel launched (along with some lower spec models) the Core i7-4790K, a model which sits at the top of their mainstream platform. Today we see how it compares to various other models when installed on Gigabytes Z97X Gaming 5 and paired with PowerColors new dual core 290X Devil 13.
Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming G1 WiFi-BK vs. MSI Z97 Gaming 5 vs Asus Maximus VII Hero It is probably fair to say that Intel don't stealth launch their products... sure they have NDAs but by the time those expire we know pretty much everything about a new product. Part of this is of their own...