ASUS Maximus V Gene Micro-ATX Motherboard Review

We’ve had a lot of experience with ASUS’ Republic of Gamers branded boards. ASUS’ latest entry in the brand aims to prove that good things come in small packages. If you are looking for an Ivy Bridge board, don't discount the small Micro-ATX form factor as being less for the enthusiast.

Introduction

ASUS is definitely the most well known motherboard manufacturer on the planet. Like most companies, it offers a wide range of products for multiple market segments. However ASUS created the Republic of Gamer’s brand for its upper echelon products targeted specifically for gamers and hardware enthusiasts. All ROG designs are unique offerings rather than simple re-brandings or modifications of existing designs. The Maximus V Gene is another such entry for the brand. Like other "Gene" motherboards, this one is an Micro-ATX design which creates a powerful platform for high performance small form factor machines.

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The ASUS Maximus V Gene is based on Intel’s Z77 Express chipset. This feature rich solution ensures that the Maximus V Gene and any LGA1155 boards that use it, offer certain specific features like Intel’s QuickSync, Rapid Storage Technology, Rapid Start Technology, Smart Connect Technology, SATA 6G, built in iGPU, chipset and native USB 3.0, PCI-Express 3.0. Of course that’s just the basics offered by the chipset. The board itself supports many additional features such as an all digital 8+2 phase design with an addition 4 phases for the iGPU. ASUS also has its RC remote, RC poster, RC diagram, CPU TweakIt, ProbeIt, USB BIOS flashback, UEFI BIOS, USB 3.0 Boost, CPU level Up, MEM OK, EZ-Flash 2, eSATA, SLI, Quad-SLI, CrossFireX, and probably a few things I’m forgetting.

The Maximus V Gene is as feature rich as any other ROG board, but in a smaller package. The only concession with a board like this is the lack of expansion slots. To help combat this ASUS included a feature I hadn’t seen before. It has added an mPCIe/mSATA combination card which will accept mini-PCI-Express 2.0 devices and an mSATA SSD. This is an interesting feature I hadn’t seen before. mSATA slots on Z77 boards isn’t, but I’ve never seen one so cleverly devised. It ensures minimal real-estate on the PCB is used. And there isn’t much to spare as the mATX based Maximus V Gene has been packed full of features. It’s actually amazing that ASUS managed to put so many features on such a small PCB.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The board ships in the usual ROG packaging. Like the boards itself, the packaging is of premium grade as well. You’ll also find a rich bundle of accessories. Included in the box are the following items: Maximus V Gene motherboard, mPCIe combo card, SLI bridge, driver disc, do not disturb door hanger, user guide, ROG connect cable, Q-connectors, SATA cables, and I/O shield.

Board Layout

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Despite its form factor, the Maximus V Gene is laid out extremely well, making almost no compromises in design for its size. The only accommodation that stands is with regard to the SATA port placements. While testing these I found it difficult to reach these with a GTX 580 installed as four of the ports ended up being blocked by the card. Aside from this one issue, the board’s layout works extremely well.

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There is the usual problem with the CPU socket area being close to the DIMM slots, but this isn’t ASUS’ fault but rather the nature of the Intel beast.

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The DIMM slots are at least color coded which shows proper dual channel memory mode operation. Additionally ASUS has once again chosen to use its single sided retention mechanism for the memory slots which works very well in confined areas. This prevents having to remove the graphics card just to install memory modules.

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The Z77 Express chipset is located in the usual area directly in front of the expansion slot area and just behind the board’s six SATA ports. It is cooled with a simple passive heat sink as the Z77 Express chipset doesn’t really generate all that much heat on its own.

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The expansion slot area is minimal due to the size of the board. Two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots. With only one graphics card installed the primary slot operates with a full 16 lanes of bandwidth and both slots operate at x8 speeds with dual graphics cards installed. Additionally there is a single PCIe x4 slot included as well. This is a generation 2.0 slot only. And again the mPCIe 2.0 expansion slot is on the mPCIe combo card included with the board.

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The expansion slot area is clean. There are no legacy connectors here which is very good. We have our BIOS flashback button and ROG connect buttons as well as our dedicated USB 2.0 port for both features. Additionally we have 3 USB 2.0 ports, 4 USB 3.0 ports, eSATA port, display port, HDMI port, optical out, RJ-45 port, and six mini-stereo jacks with color coding and gold contacts.


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