- Packaging, Specifications and Contents
- Motherboard Overview
- BIOS and Setup
- Test Setup and Testing Methodology
- Futuremark Benchmarks
- Storage Benchmark: AS SSD
- Memory Benchmark: Maxxmem2
- USB 3.0 Transfer Tests
- Overclocking Impressions
- View All
Intel has a fairly straightforward roadmap. Each year is a new architecture followed a shrink of the architecture the next year, this has been known as a “Tick-Tock” cycle. This year we are greeted with the “Tock” in the form of Haswell. These new chips come with their own new sockets (LGA 1150) and new chipsets (Z87, B87, H87 and so forth). With every new product launch from Intel, the market is flooded with a new generation of motherboards from all vendors, each with its own USP and each trying to make a niche for itself in the overcrowded and oversaturated market, and this is where our journey begins today.
Asus has done a fantastic job of segregating its products to fit all the price brackets. Best known of all these sub-brands is the infamous Republic Of Gamers or ROG as its more affectionately known. The ROG lineup consists of broadly two product lines, the Rampage line which caters to the socket 2011 and the Maximus line which caters to the other sockets. The Maximus line is further divided into the Extreme (Top End no holds barred, everything except the kitchen sink type motherboard), Formula (The slightly less potent cousin of the Extreme), Gene (The M-ATX cousin of the Formula) and this year it also includes the Impact (A potent M-ITX board).
Today, we shall take a look at the Gene and see if it can deliver its promise of being the a small, but powerful motherboard given its M-ATX form factor.
The Gene comes in the signature red theme coloured box we all know and associate with the ROG brand. The box is well labeled all over, and the reverse side has a good amount of literature about the motherboard. Upon opening the box, we are greeted by the motherboard which is enclosed in a cardboard container of its own and has a plastic top cover.
Below this, we find the given accessories with includes the driver CD, manual, 6x SATA cables, a bunch of stickers for the HDD’s, the I/O shield, an SLI cable, some Q-Connectors, a ‘Do Not Disturb’ door hanger and finally the M-PCIe II combo card.
The combo card is special and can handle an NGFF SSD along with a standard Wi-Fi card. Its a nifty little thing if you ask me.
The board is simply outstanding when it comes to the build quality. I have tried to cover the whole board while taking pictures, but what I cannot do is make you feel the board itself. The heatsinks are very nice, and are similar to the Ceramix coating ASUS used on some of its past Sabertooth boards. The board has 10k Black Metallic Caps and 60A ‘BlackWing’ Chokes.
For the less informed, these components are top notch quality and result in superior power delivery which helps greatly in highly overclocked and high stress scenarios. Now lets break down the board into different parts and go over it bit by bit.
The top right corner is heavily populated, primarily by the 4 DIMM RAM slots. We also find the 24-Pin ATX power connector along with the internal USB 3.0 header. We also see the Q-Code indicator LED here and the ASUS special Mem-OK button. I cannot tell you how much of a blessing that button has been during my OC sessions with the board.
We also see that the board has an LN2 jumper for those days when you feel like going extreme and using some copious amounts of liquid nitrogen. It goes to show, that the ROG heritage is available even to those who cannot spend an arm and a leg on the higher end boards.
Moving to the bottom of the board, we can clearly see the 2 PCI-e 3.0 x8 slots in red. These can be used for both CrossFireX or for SLI. We can also see the start and reset buttons which once again, come in very handy for those benching sessions.
The PCH is covered with a really nice heatsink which has the ROG branding all over it, with its traditional red and black colour scheme. We can also see the 8 SATA3 6.0G ports, 6 of which are from the Intel PCH and the 2 others come from the AsMedia chip.
As we can see here, the bottom-left-side of the board also houses the onboard sound chip, known as the SupremeFX. It is isolated from the rest of the PCB with RED LEDs. This isolation results in less interference from the electromagnetic field and hence the sound produced is much better.
The motherboard has 6 layers of PCB.
The I/O panel houses a clear CMOS button along with the ROG connect button which allows overclocking to be done using a second device or computer. The LAN port is an Intel Gigabit Port, which is generally regarded of being the best port in the market at the moment.
Here we can see the PCI-e combo card mounted to the board itself. As said before, the card can hold and NGFF SSD along with a WIFI/Bluetooth combo card.
Here are some pics of the board that is interesting to go over. Incase I forgot to mention it, the CPU socket is made by Foxconn.
The BIOS has been completely redesigned from the ground up in this generation of boards. It is UEFI based and still carries the ROG colours, but that’s where the similarities between this and the last generation of boards stops. Many, many more functions have been added and can be found below. You can literally spend a few days tweaking settings here and messing about, till you are satisfied with the results.
This is a wonderful BIOS to work with and offers so much to overclockers. I have included a snap from each page of the BIOS so that you can get a sense of the settings available to you. BIOS version used was 0711 available from the ASUS support website. It was the latest at the time of testing.
‘My Favorite’ Menu
|CPU||Intel i7 4770K (Haswell)|
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VI Gene Z87|
|Memory||Kingston HyperX Beast 2400C11/ Corsair Vengeance|
|OS Drive (SSD)||Kingston HyperX 120GB|
|GPU||ASUS Nvidia 570GTX CUII|
|Chassis||CM HAF XB|
Note: The Kingston RAM had compatibility issues with the BIOS version 0711 and is not mentioned on the boards QVL for memory. It would not POST at anything more than 2133 even with very loose timings of 14-14-14-32 2T. Hence the Corsair RAM was brought in to run the overclocked results. This is purely a sub-timings issue and this was proved by the fact that the RAM works perfectly on the Gryphon Z87 Board and also on a 6800K AMD platform.
The benchmarks used are as follows:
3DMark 11 Benchmark
PCMark 7 Benchmark
PCMark 8 Benchmark
AS SSD Benchmark
USB 3.0 Transfer Test
Tested with 1.34GB Assorted photos folder, 11.34GB ISO Transfer and 1.27 zip file transfer.
3DMark 11 is a DirectX 11 video card benchmark test for Windows that is designed to measure your PC’s gaming performance. 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of DirectX 11 features including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.
PCMark 7 is a complete PC benchmarking solution for Windows 7 and Windows 8. It includes 7 tests combining more than 25 individual workloads covering storage, computation, image and video manipulation, web browsing and gaming. Specifically designed for the full range of PC hardware from netbooks and tablets to notebooks and desktops, PCMark 7 offers complete Windows PC performance testing for home and business use.
PCMark 8 is the latest version in our popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes battery life measurement tools and new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft. Whether you are looking for long battery life, or maximum power, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance for your needs.
I forgot to do a benchmark using 11.34GB ISO, but this should give you an idea:
Note – Due to my fault, the data for the SSD to USB, ISO transfer is unavailable using TeraCopy like it is for everything else. Instead,I have provided a screen grab of the default windows copy tool doing the task.
The overclocking was extremely easy. it took me only 5 minutes to get it running at 4.2Ghz up from the default 3.5GHz and also to set the ram to 2400 and then to 2666. i have attached the screenshots below of some of the settings i changed to achieve these settings. These can be used as a template but do remember not all CPU/RAM ic’s are made equally and that your mileage will probably vary.
When I first got the board, I was sure that I would be blown away- And I was. This little board has been crafted with some amazing components that truly shines in pushing the limits. In my mind, this board like most others out there will have no issues doing faster speeds than most other boards larger than it in size are currently doing, but what makes this so special is the fact that it does so with such ease, that overclocking has gone from a long drawn out affair to something so easy that it literally took me 5 minutes at most to get the RAM running at 2666MHz. I even pushed for 28xx and got achieved it, all be it with another 5 minutes.
However,there are some things I would change about it. While I absolutely love the BIOS it is just a little too much, as it is easy for someone new to overclocking to get lost within its long and confusing clutches. I also would like to see a version of the Gene ship with the complete Wi-Fi bundle as this would make it so much more appealing to the LAN party crowd.
Don’t get me wrong, the PCIe combo card is absolutely wonderful and finding a wireless card for it should be no trouble. The problem lies with finding the antennae required to bridge the gap from the card itself to the rear I/O shield. ASUS could probably sell the board without the Wi-Fi module itself but retain the wires. I also would like ASUS to drop the NGFF SSD slot and get a PCI-E SSD slot instead as they are far easier to procure and are also way faster then NGFF. Apart from these small niggles, the board is rock solid and offers a boat load of features.