ASUS Maximus VII Gene micro-ATX Motherboard Review

Generally speaking ASUS Republic of Gamers motherboards set the bar extremely high in all categories. Fortunately motherboards have nothing in common with films and generally the sequels are as good if not better than the originals. In films this is almost never the case. Does ASUS have another hit with this micro-ATX sized motherboard?

Introduction

ASUS is probably the most well known motherboard manufacturer with a long history of producing quality motherboards. Of course in the last several years ASUS has branched out into areas like routers and monitors. While ASUS is certainly making a name for in those markets, it is motherboards that the company is best known for. ASUS makes a ton of different models but those made under the Republic of Gamers brand are a cut above the rest. ASUS’ designs are not only unique in the ASUS product stack but these often push the envelope and even give you a preview of what’s to come on ASUS’ mainstream motherboards at a later date. Innovation usually begins in the ROG line and then trickles down. A good example of this is ASUS’ Z97 Deluxe which uses last generation’s ROG audio solution.

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The Maximus VII Gene is a micro-ATX motherboard based on Intel’s Z97 Express chipset which by itself isn’t all that impressive as it is an incremental upgrade to the Z87 Express chipset. On the other hand ASUS isn’t known for resting on its laurels. While ASUS could have effectively switched the chipset on the last generation motherboards with few changes to the design, ASUS went a different route and made quite a few changes this generation. Naturally an improved 8+2 phase power design, incorporating 10k black metallic capacitors, NexFET MOSFETs, and 60A ferrite chokes round out the improved electrical system.

Other improvements include improved OP-AMP in the audio subsystem, ESD guards for LAN, audio, keyboard/mouse port and USB ports. ASUS has enhanced its Dual Intelligent Processors system as well. This 5th generation variation of the design enables 5-Way Optimization vs. 4-Way in the last generation. Of course this ties into both hardware and software. Automated overclocking through software and hardware has been dramatically improved over the Maximus VII Gene’s predecessor. Much of what was done behind the scenes is now done in the open and allows for the behavior of the automatic overclocking to be influenced by the user. Features like ProbeIt, MemOK!, USB 3.0 boost, DIGI+ Power Control etc. were retained. Specific to the ROG series ASUS has also given us a new KeyBot feature which allows mapping of macro functions to any regular keyboard.

The Gamer’s Guardian features are a collection of features which make using the Maximus VII Gene less painful and ensure a longer lifespan. Easy to use retention clips on PCI-Express slots, 1-sided clips on the DIMM slots facilitate easier and less painful memory installation and removal, stainless steel I/O ports, ESD protection, 20% increased temperature endurance and a manually resettable fuse for your DRAM and connection ports. These are just a few of the features that the Maximus VII Gene offers.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The packaging for the Maximus VII Gene is what you’d expect from any ROG motherboard. The box art is unchanged since the last iteration of the Maximus Gene. The flap on the box provides specifications and a list of features. The box is packed full of accessories. Inside you will find the following items; User's manual, I/O Shield, 6x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1x SLI bridge(s), 1x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1) , 1x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s), 1x ROG Door Hanger(s) and an audio riser card.

Board Layout

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The layout of the Maximus VII Gene is nothing short of spectacular. ASUS managed to get a lot of features onto the motherboard despite the relatively small mAXT PCB. Despite the size you won’t feel like you’re missing much of anything by not going with a full size ATX model.

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The CPU socket area is one interesting point cosmetically. ASUS has introduced the first dual colored PCB on the market. The area around the CPU socket is red while the rest of the board retains the traditional ROG "black" PCB. It’s hard to see but this shows an incredible attention to cosmetic detail. The CPU socket area is as clear of obstructions as ASUS could make it. The MOSFET cooling hardware is substantial but still shouldn’t interfere with the installation of most CPU cooling hardware. The hardware has screws holding it in place and making good contact with the MOSFETs. The heat sinks have a matte finish and are well made.

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ASUS continues to evolve the cosmetics of the ROG line. The white locking tabs of the memory slots on last generation’s motherboards are now color matched to the slots instead of being white. The four 240-pin DDR3 slots support a maximum of 32GB of RAM and are color coded to denote proper dual channel memory mode operation. ASUS uses a two-phase power solution for the memory modules alone and equilateral trace paths to the CPU socket and memory controller. This ensures maximum overclocking potential and should ensure that your RAM behaves the same regardless of which slots you use.

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The chipset itself has a fairly basic heat sink on it. It’s flat and also sports a matte finish to match the style of the MOSFET cooling hardware. The logo seen on the heatsink does light up when the system is powered on. Directly in front of the chipset are the onboard SATA ports. Behind the chipset you’ll find a removable BIOS ROM chip. The use of a removable BIOS ROM shows attention to detail which isn’t common in today’s industry.

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The expansion slot isn’t something that’s a real conversation piece. The first improvement over the last Gene motherboard is the change to color matched locking tabs for the PCI-Express slots. Being mATX you can’t really expect a lot in terms of flexibility. Still there aren’t any glaring flaws in this area. You have two PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots which can operate in an x16/0 or x8/8 mode. A PCI-Express x4 slot is also provided for additional connectivity. There is a proprietary connector reserved for the audio hardware. This is out of the way so as not to cause clearance problems with the standard expansion slots.

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The I/O panel is packed with connectivity options. The I/O panel has a BIOS Flashback button on it, ROG connect button, PS/2 keyboard/mouse combination port, 4x USB 2.0 ports, 4x USB 3.0 ports 1x HDMI port, 1x optical out port, and 1x RJ-45 LAN port.

Lastly we have the included SupremeFX Inmpact II audio card which can be mounted securely onto the PCB via included mounting screws.

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ROG knows the importance of flawless audio آ– pristine effects and full-range soundtracks make the game. This devotion to the best audio is applied to all our Maximus VII boards, including micro ATX (mATX) models. SupremeFX Impact II is our dedicated audio hardware for mATX Cutting-edge isolation technologies minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI) and exceptionally premium components deliver best-in-class audio. The original SupremeFX Impact II was acclaimed by both our customers and the media SupremeFX Impact II employee even finer components and superbly clever software innovations for gaming and multimedia experiences beyond compare!