ASUS Z170 Maximus VIII Gene Review
Published: 7th October 2015 | Source: ASUS | Price: £169.99 @ OCUK |
There used to be a time, until fairly recently, when you clearly had two choices. You either brought a full form-factor system and enjoyed all the benefits that entailed, or you were space-limited and thus brought an mATX offering with the understanding that you were compromised on performance. A little like how city cars aren't massively useful on the motorway. Everything had its place.
Those days are well and truly gone, and the ASUS Maximus VIII Gene only reinforces how outmoded that line of thinking is. Yes it might be a compact package, but it wants for nothing.
A quick glance through the specifications shows how much technology ASUS have stuffed onto the Gene. Start at the top end of proceedings and we have both types of connector for the latest USB 3.1 protocol. 10GB/s of bandwidth is enough to make even the most storage hungry user stop and think, let alone the benefits it brings to data transmission from future media. Inside the Gene supports the fastest M.2 drives with all their ability to make even the fastest SATA offerings look positively slow.
The two elements of the Gene that really shine though are the power phases, and the onboard sound. The SupremeFX has been at the top of the onboard sound market for a while now, with ASUS on an endless quest to replicate the audio quality of their soundcards on a motherboard. It's a brave move considering that the only people they are likely to put out of business is themselves. Or at least their Xonar department. Seeking constant refinement ASUS have further improved the quality of the SupremeFX until it's reached a point where only the most dedicated audiophile will notice the difference between the Gene and a dedicated audio solution.
Our only negative point was we struggled to get 3600MHz memory running with either of the 4.8GHz over clocks without leaving some of the crucial motherboard volts on auto. We have had this memory running on several boards now so know what the CPU requires to get it all running and stable but sadly (we think its bios) we couldnt get it all singing on safe volts on the Gene. Dropping the memory back to 3466MHz and everything was back as we would expect it to be and stable with really good volts.
At the risk of leaning on the "small but perfectly formed"/"pocket rocket" tropes, the power phases of the Gene are the highlight of an already excellent package. It might only be an mATX board but the overclocking capabilities are up there with the very best. 4.8GHz out of our i7-6700 is hardly anything to be sniffed at, and the memory overclocking is even more impressive, producing more bandwidth than you are ever likely to saturate.
At a sniff under £150 the ASUS Maximus VIII Gene is a spectacular entry into the z170 pantheon and deserving of our OC3D Gold Award.