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Now we know what were working with lets see what it has to offer. Being a mATX board means the case options are very large as the Maximus V Gene can fit not only in small LAN box style cases but also standard large and even super tower cases, although it does look a little silly in a huge case with a itty bitty board dropped in there.
The layout itself being an ROG board we have certain things we come to expect. Enthusiasts grade boards usually employ many features that most do not notice but love to death when using them such as board connectors at board edge to allow efficient cable management and routing. This allows for a huge headache relief as users can now hide wires and clutter away out of sight for the ultimate badass gaming build. With all components at the boards edge it also means in most cases a build can avoid having cables strewn across the board surface to reach a connector placed in an odd location such as by the IO panel. Those are the kind of things that makes us scratch our head as its obvious that the people doing the layout design on the board either have built enthusiasts grade systems or at the least has a feedback source providing this kind of feedback.
Here we have one of ASUS’ pride and joy with the Z77 offerings let alone the advanced features further offered by the ROG models. It is the VRM components which offer insane amounts of stability and overclocking while also offering impressive power savings and heat reduction technologies all built into the components as a standard. This is the DIGI+ system or the Extreme DIGI+ components as we reference them due to the ROG boards having a little extra magic sprinkled in when it comes to component selection to ensure that the extreme benchmarking crowd gets what they are looking for. These special features come from the specialized handpicked components that make up the Extreme DIGI+ II components which to make it simple means the best of the best were chosen in terms of capacitors and Digital VRM components to ensure that you always have the power you want when you want it with no compromises.
The storage end of the equation is sprinkled with some cool features as well as the board includes storage options for not just the PCH ports but it also offers an extra set of SATA III/6G ports to ensure that high speed devices are not neglected no matter the size of the board. While Asus does offer in many of their channel line of boards the ASUS SSD caching option for the ROG boards they do omit this feature in favor of a faster 3rd party controller to give better overall performance to SATA 6G capable SSD’s or drives rather than the slightly lower throughput controller with caching capabilities. Also being that the Z77 chipset much like the Z68 chipset supports Intel’s Smart response technology which is Intel’s caching capability built into the PCH ports natively.
Another feature which we have covered previously is the USB BIOS flashback which allows us to flash to the newest bios with a USB thumb drive without a cpu or memory even in the system so you could be on the newest bios as soon as you open the box by just plugging in power and utilizing the USB BIOS Flashback feature which can quickly and easily have you ready to run in no time especially in cases where you otherwise may have a CPU support issue causing no post and on traditional boards would have to hunt down or borrow a compatible CPU just to get the BIOS flashed. All in all this just seems like a much easier and more user friendly solution to a long time problem.
Looking at the other side of the power components we see that the power feed for the CPU is a single 8 pin connection which should easily feed the needs of the new Ivy Bridge processors with its lower overall power demand and all of your overclocking needs. We have seen another high end offering which had a 4 pin fitted to the board and for CPU power and while that may be sufficient for stock speeds and even some good overclocking when it comes to ROG, we know that good enough just never is so it just had to offer a full 8 pin power feed.
The rear IO panel has some nice connectivity options with some interesting inclusions and some stand apart options.
- BIOS reset Switch
- Pin Header for mPCIE/mSATA combo card
- ROG connect button
- 1x ROG Connect USB port
- 3x USB 2.0 ports
- 4x USB 3.0 ports
- eSATA 3G port
- HDMI/Displayport connections
- Intel 10/100/1000 Network port
- Audio ports including Optical SPDIF
There are many options here for connectivity and one of the most interesting being the inclusion of the mSATA/mPCIe combo card header which we will discuss shortly. Also worth mention is the audio which utilizes the specialized SupremeFX III solution which has the Island style PCB offering a completely isolated audio solution which will virtually eliminate pretty much any chance of interference from surrounding components. Also we notice that with Z77 there is now support for native USB 3.0 via the Intel PCH and knowing ASUS and their USB boost feature they did find a way to even improve that. Asus utilizes their USB 3.0 Boost technology to ensure that you will get the very best speeds possible for your USB 3.0 or even USB 2.0 Devices when plugged into a USB 3.0 port. One thing to note is that while Intel USB 3.0 only will support the Turbo mode for USB 3.0 boost ASUS still includes a proven performer in the Asmedia controller so that UASP supported devices can give near Thunderbolt or even exceeding Thunderbolt speeds when utilizing the correct solution such as the ASUS supplied Thermaltake BlacX 5G Dock and Corsair Force GT SSD that we received to showcase the UASP function. More info can be found on this technology here.
Here is an example of the stock speed or “Normal” performance of the Asmedia USB 3.0 controller with a high performance Runcore SSD Drive. We see about 258MB/s write and 241MB/s read for that drive which is pretty fast for an external docking solution but lets see what we can get with the ASUS USB 3.0 Boost technology.
When Switching to the UASP mode supported by the Asmedia controller we see the speed jump to a write speed of 376MB/s and reads in excess of 336MB/s which exceeds 100 MB/s by a simple software setting within the AISUITE utility. While that seems simple it definitely is something we know there is far more than meets the eye when it comes to what is done to make this work. Now lets see how the Intel USB 3.0 ports function.
Intel at default shows the same drive running a write of 278MB/s and reads of 270MB/s which tells us we have some serious performance potential here, but well stock is stock and we never leave anything alone so lets see what we can get with the Turbo mode enabled.
Here we see that the speeds jump up quite a bit here to writes of 357MB/s and reads in excess of 444MB/s which is a huge jump and we saw something even more interesting when tweaking memory speeds.
Here we see that by simply increasing memory speed from default to 2400MHz we found that the Intel controller jumped in performance to writes of up to 410MB/s and reads of 446MB/s so we have to assume that the Intel controller is caching some of its write process to the memory in some way so when it comes to performance memory we can now say that there are advantages to having that new 2000MHz+ memory kit whereas before gains from such kits would be marginal we are now at a point to where we can see real world benefits from these super high speed DIMMS
Now we see the GPU/DIMM post feature which enables users to see in the BIOS all detected GPUs and memory modules installed. This is a great tool for seeing what the board is recognizing during post which could let us know if there is a card issue or even a memory DIMM issue as it will either not show up or possibly even show an “Abnormal” state which signifies its detecting a problem with the installed component. This can especially be quite helpful when pushing memory and running into stability problems or blue screens as it can show if a module is possibly problematic.