Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review

Manufacturer: Asus
UK price (as reviewed):
£169.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): $224.49 (ex Tax)

Asus Maximus VIII Gene ReviewThere weren't too many boards around for the Intel Z170 launch a couple of weeks ago, but they're starting to trickle through to reviewers and Asus has sent us a bunch to look at. We took a long look at them and one stuck out as being something we'd want to see reviewed first so here it is - the new king of micro-ATX - the Maximus VIII Gene.

Most of the ROG lineup has been revealed although we're still to have eyes on with the Maximus VIII Extreme and Impact. Nonetheless, the Gene is the first of the red and black clan to be put through its paces on bit-tech.

Of course, describing it as red and black is no longer accurate - the ROG range now sports an array of dark grey, silvery heat sinks that sport a hint of purple under certain lights. In short, they still look awesome and are perhaps a little less 'samey' than the standard red/black colour scheme that a number of other companies have also adopted. The Gene's heatsinks are massive too, with a similar stacked fin design to the ones we saw on the Z170-Deluxe.

The competition is fierce when it comes to aesthetics and Asus had to try something new here. It's getting in on the lighting act too with several red LEDs on the PCB to add some pizazz and these can be toggled on or off individually in the EFI. Sadly, unlike the Hero and Extreme the colour isn't changable - you're stuck with red and this is a shame given the Hero and Gene are pretty much the same price at the moment. Combined with some replacement heatsink logos in different colours, Asus could offer a truly switchable colour scheme, but for the Gene at least, it's mainly a red affair lighting-wise.

Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review
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You get the full complement of basic overclocking/testing tools, including power, reset and CMOS clear buttons, plus an LED POST code display. The general layout is almost identical to the Z97 model too, with the exception of the audio. This returns to the PCB as opposed to previously where a daughter card plugged into a proprietary connector on the PCB above the primary graphics slot. We're still dealing with a Realtek ALC1150 audio codec here, but Asus has included an up-rated DAC and headphone amplifier, Nichicon capacitors and isolated audio circuitry.

Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review
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Also present on the PCB is a water-cooling pump header - the same deal that we saw with the Deluxe. This essentially sends a constant 12V to the pump, so you can be sure the board's fan control isn't interfering with your cooling. Being a ROG board, this is a good addition, but we'd like to see Asus go one step further and support standard 18W Molex pumps in the ROG series, especially on the Formula/Extreme models. It's pretty popular to run a pump at 7V to cut noise as well so the ability to fine-tune the pump voltage and tie everything into the motherboard's fan control would be a fantastic feature to have.

Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review Asus Maximus VIII Gene Review
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