The Layout -
The layout of any motherboard is important. Even simple mistakes in component placement or the signal traces can cause major issued in performance and stability. With the ATX form factor we find that this is even truer; the devices we drop onto them demand more and cleaner power while the signal speeds push faster and faster. Asus’ Gene series has always been built around a microATX form factor. This is not only to satisfy the small form factor enthusiast market but also as a gateway into the ROG lineup. You are still going to get many of the same high-end features that you find in the ROG line, but there will also be some things that are not going to be present (like three-way SLI advanced cooling etc.). Many of these are only removed due to the size of the board. With this in mind let’s start our walk around. The MVG is built around an Intel Z77 chipset; which means it can support any 1155 CPU. With this you also get support for dual channel RAM, SLI and CrossfireX. In the upper left hand corner we find the typical layout for most ATX boards. You have your 24-pin ATX power connector along the leading edge with the RAM slots right behind. On the MVG you also get your Memory GO button, a USB 3.0 header and a line of voltage read points. You will also notice the solid capacitors in use here. These are 10k capacitors and are quite a nice component choice (with the extra headroom for heat and current).
Moving around we find the cooling on the voltage regulation system to be very similar to what we have seen on the Sabertooth series. The fins of the heatsink are in a zigzag pattern and are coated with the same power coating we saw on the P67 Sabertooth. You will also notice that there are two CPU 4-pin fan headers visible here. This is for the all-in-one water cooling rigs and also for tower air cooler that work in a push-pull configuration. Before we move on I want to talk about something that most will miss here. If you look closely you will see the traces from the CPU socket to the RAM slots. This is one of the places that Asus stands head and shoulders over their competition. You can visibly see the attention to detail they have put into the trace tuning here. Much of this is to support things that will be available once Intel’s 3rd Generation Core i7 CPU hits the market, but it will still give you some excellent results with what you have now.
Continuing to move around the board we find the header for that handy little mPCIe combo card. It is right between the BIOS reset and the ROG connect buttons. As we mentioned before the MVG supports dual GPU CrossfireX and SLI. It also has a small x4 slot in case you wanted to add in a better audio card or other add-in card. Looking closer again you will see a very thick trace here. This is actually a segmentation line in the board that lights up and also separates the audio components from the rest of the board. Even though this is a small separation it will still help to keep the audio clean and also to improve stability.
The Z77 chipset is covered by another well designed heatsink. This also has the same powder coating that we saw on the power system cooling. We hope that this heatsink is up to the task though as we have already found that the Z77 can get pretty warm. The MVG also has four SATA 3.0 ports (two from the PCH and two from an ASMeida Controller. Asus chose to do this so they could use the other two SATA controllers on the PCH for the eSATA ports.
Looking at the I/O panel we find four USB 2.0 ports (the white one is for the ROG connect), four USB 3.0 ports (two are ASMedia and two are Intel), the rest is fairly typical and not that much to talk about.
Now as we walked around you might have noticed all of the 4-Pin fan headers. These are all PWN fan controllers and are supported by Asus’ Q-Fan controls; we will tell you more about these and a new feature in the next section. Overall the Asus ROG Maximus V Gene is an impressive motherboard and this is before we have even covered the major features.