ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z Review
Published: 29th June 2011 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
So is the change to the Maximus IV sweet as Aristotle prophesied or does it leave a bitter taste?
Probably the first thing to get your head around is the fact that the extra Z at the end makes all the difference. This isn't a cut-down version of the previously reviewed (to great acclaim) Maximus IV Extreme, but rather this is a distinctive version based around an as-yet unreviewed Maximus IV Extreme-Z.
The major changes with the Gene-Z are the same as those we've previously seen on Z68 boards when compared to their P67 predecessors. Firstly we have the inclusion of Intel Rapid storage Technology. There is also Lucid Virtu which can be used in two modes and transparently switches between your discrete (add-on) graphics card and the integrated graphics to save power in 2D situations. Given how most graphics cards de-clock significantly when in a Windows desktop environment this isn't really a deal maker or breaker, unless those few extra watts of power are critical to you. Finally on older H67 boards you couldn't overclock whilst using the integrated graphics, but with the Z68 chipset you can.
The BIOS is a UEFI number and the all the usability benefits that are prevalent in that solution. We cannot overstate how much nicer this is to use when compared to the keyboard-only BIOS of old.
Design-wise the Gene-Z is amazingly compact. We can't recall an mATX board in which the GPU has seemed so close to the CPU Cooler. Kudos to ASUS for ensuring the tolerances are so precise that there aren't any actual issues, but visually it's quite arresting if you're using an extra-large CPU Cooler to see the solder on the back of the GPU within a few millimetres of an equally metallic lump of aluminium. This aside it's a very attractive board, even if the plain black heatsinks and lack of lighting aren't as spectacular as the Maximus IV Extreme.
Performance is just a notch below the very best motherboards around. It couldn't quite push our 2500K to a stable 4.9 GHz, instead we had to settle for a 4.8 GHz clock. With the CPU at these speeds the Gene-Z was a bit of a mixed bag. In some tests the results were outstanding whilst in others, although never reaching particular lows, it wasn't quite up there with the cream of the crop.
At the time of going to press we haven't got a price yet, but judging from previous Gene boards we'd expect it to be around the £160 mark and assuming this is the case it's worthy of the OC3D Silver Award. If it's around £130 it would be good enough value for a Gold, and at £180 or above we'd thing a Bronze. The performance is that right on the money, if that money is where we expect.