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ASUS Maximus VII GENE Z97 Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
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After taking a look at a few full-sized Z97 motherboards, we thought it was time to focus on something a little more compact. With this in mind, today we will be putting the new ASUS Maximus VII GENE under the microscope. As you will see, this fun-sized Micro ATX Z97-based model packs an impressive number of features and capabilities into a compact design, and might even make you think twice about the need for a standard ATX motherboard.

As we have come to expect, this new GENE model is a fully featured Micro-ATX motherboard with dual PCI-E x16 expansion slots for full 2-way CrossFire and 2-way SLI support in x8/x8 configuration. Despite an obvious shortage of PCB space, ASUS have upheld this model's RoG gaming roots by including an upright PCB module that houses the new SupremeFX Impact II sub-system. This audio module houses a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel HD audio CODEC protected by an EMI cover, ENLA audio capacitors, and PCB-level analog and digital signal separation. It should be every bit as competitive as the SupremeFX 2014 audio found on the larger motherboards, and it supports the same Sonic SenseAmp, Sonic Studio, Sonic SoundStage, and Sonic Rader II features.

This model also comes with an 8-phase CPU power design with NexFET Power Block MOSFET, 60A Ferrite Chokes, and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. Basically, the same high-end components that you see on all RoG models. It features similar connectivity features as well, with an M.2 slot, an impressive eight SATA 6Gb/s ports, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 headers, and one gigabit LAN port powered by an Intel I218-V NIC. Video output is limited to a sole HDMI port, since the rear I/O panel has to make room for the usual plethora of aforementioned ports as well as the RoG-specific Clear CMOS button and ROG Connect On/ Off switch.

Overclockers and those who run their system on an open test bench definitely won’t be disappointed with this model, it features a Q-Code debug LED display, LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures), power-on Start button, reset button, MemOk! button (initiates memory compatibility tuning process), thermal probe header, and even a ProbeIt area with an assortment of voltage read points. This last feature is surprising since the GENE is actually the only model in the entire Republic of Gamers lineup to have them. Overall, you don’t have to give up anything by choosing a small form factor motherboard. This latest GENE model is absolutely packed with features, many of which we haven’t even mentioned yet, so keep on reading.

 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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Specifications & Features

Specifications & Features



Before we get up-close and personal with the new Maximus VII GENE through pictures, testing, and analysis, let’s take a look at this motherboard's specifications as per ASUS's website.



As mentioned in the introduction, this motherboard has quite a few noteworthy features, and we will be examining some of them in-depth in the coming pages, especially the improved automatic overclocking functionality and a closer look at the audio sub-system.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
1,106
Location
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The Z97 Chipset; The Evolution Continues

The Z97 Chipset; The Evolution Continues


By now nearly everyone is familiar with Intel’s tick-tock strategy where every die shrink of a previous microarchitecture is succeeded by a new architectural revision. Hence the recent 22nm Haswell will soon be replaced with Broadwell, a family of chips based on Haswell’s design but built using a 14nm manufacturing process. This pattern of constant updates is realistic within the CPU world but the processor’s partner chipsets have always seemed to lag behind. Many will come to this conclusion when looking at Intel’s latest chipset, the LGA1150-based Z97.

Z97 actually presents an interesting case study in how certain key elements in a motherboard’s toolkit have moved forwards while others have retained the status quo since Z87 was rolled out in 2013. In the course of a year graphics and networking interfaces just haven’t evolved while storage technology has been given a boost of adrenalin through the ratification of SATA 3.2. This means in its most basic form Z97 and its associated H97 sibling are identical to their predecessors but have some additional storage compatibility bolted on to keep pace with current trends.

One interesting aspect of Z97 is its launch timeframe which was pulled forward. Instead of being introduced alongside Broadwell in Q4 of this year, Z97 can be considered a mid-life refresh that preempts (and fully supports) Intel’s upcoming Devil Canyon CPUs. Broadwell compatibility is built in as well.


To many of you the block diagram above will look eerily similar since it’s nearly identical to the one posted in our Haswell / Z87 article. Every Z97 board will board full backwards compatibility with 4th generation Haswell and 5th generation Broadwell processors as well as the upcoming Haswell refresh, code named Devil’s Canyon. This grants the board access to 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes which can be split into two x8 lanes for SLI and Crossfire support or a one x8 and two x4 setup for applications that require more accessory PCI-E lanes. There’s also the usual 1600MHz DDR3/3L compatibility alongside a display output for multi monitor support from the processor’s integrated GPU core.

The Processor Graphics communicates with and ultimately outputs its display signals to the PCH via the FDI or Flexible Display Interface. This runs in parallel with the DMI interface, a link between the CPU and the PCH that features four bi-directional PCI-E lanes that can operate at speeds of up to 2 GB/s. This results in 4 GB/s of aggregate bandwidth if both upstream and downstream lanes are used to their theoretical maximum. These features have been staples within Intel’s chipset design for years now.

Moving down to the PCH itself, we have the usual capabilities for up to six SATA 6Gbps ports, six USB 3.0 ports (or 14 USB 2.0) and up to eight PCI-E 2.0 lanes. The “up to” designation is derived from Intel’s use of a purpose-built Flexible IO interface which we’ll talk more about on the next page. In short, Flex IO allows four of the PCH’s PCI Express lanes to be used for either PCI-E or SATA / USB 3.0 functionality depending on a motherboard manufacturer’s design goals.

While the integrated 10/100/1000 MAC, its partner Ethernet connection and the Intel HD Audio controller aren’t anything new, the addition of Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology support for PCI Express storage devices is a pretty major addition. With it, PCIe-based SSDs will now have access to RST’s broad support toolkit which includes everything from RAID implementation to power management and other key features. Typically many of these were gained through ad hoc drivers from PCIe SSD manufacturers but now Intel is adding compatibility at the chipset level.


The H97’s layout follows very much the same guidelines as Z97 but with features that are targeted towards system integrators and corporate clients rather than enthusiasts. The main differentiators here are a lack of dual graphics card support and no integrated backbone for the optional Extreme Tuning Utility but the addition of Intel’s Small Business Advantage Platform and Identity Protection Technology. Motherboards based around the H97 PCH will likely be seen at significantly lower price points than those using Z97.


Most clients will likely look at both of these platforms’ primary capabilities and overlook a key option being added by Intel this time around: Device Protection Technology. This feature may be optional for motherboard manufacturers but we hope to see it being implemented on more systems. Device Protection and its associated Boot Guard institute a boot block at the hardware level against malware attacks. This prevents repurposing of the platform to run unauthorized software but is only available on Devil’s Canyon CPUs rather than existing Haswell processors.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Messages
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Location
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SATA Express & M.2 Through Flex IO

SATA Express & M.2 Through Flex IO


While there may not be many additions to Z97 from a functionality standpoint, the porting of Intel’s Rapid Storage Technology into the PCIe interface has some major implications for the PCH’s storage subsystem. First and foremost, it has allowed motherboard manufacturers to incorporate M.2 and SATA Express onto their boards.

Both M.2 and SATA Express are rolled into the new SATA 3.2 specification which was ratified last year. Both use a combination of standard SATA and a PCI Express bus alongside AHCI and NVMe interface standards for an ultra fast 10 Gbps data pathway. That represents a major performance uplift in comparison to current SATA 6Gbps drives.


The implementation of SATA Express and M.2 has been achieved through the use of Intel’s Flexible IO interface. Essentially, the PCH houses a total of 18 ports which are split into three predominant groups: four SATA, six PCIe 2.0 and four USB 3.0 which make up the main connectivity options. The PCIe ports are typically used for connection to third party controllers or providing secondary PCI Express functionality to supplement the motherboard’s primary x16 slot(s).

Flex IO steps into this equation by providing four additional ports that are configurable. #5 and #6 can be used for either a pair of PCIe 2.0 lanes or USB 3.0 while ports #13 and #14 are either PCIe 2.0 or SATA 6G. The only limitation here is the Flex ports have to be paired up and maximum number of PCI Express lanes can’t exceed eight. This means if #13 and #14 are configured for PCIe, #5 and #6 will need to use USB 3.0 and vice versa.

On some boards, these additional Flex I/O ports will be combined with the six static ports and paired up with a PLX port multiplier to deliver an additional eight PCI-E 3.0 lanes for triple GPU support. This means sacrificing dedicated bandwidth towards Thunderbolt, additional networking capabilities and other controllers


Motherboard builders can use those configurable Flex IO ports and provide a two lane PCI Express 2.0 interface to a compatible SATA Express / M.2 controller. This grants SATA Express and M.2 a theoretical bandwidth of 10Gbps but both interfaces can’t be used at the same time; it’s either one or the other. In addition, due to PCH limitations, there is a lack RAID compatibility, though some boards will use a PCI-E multiplier chip and support up to two SATA Express ports. RAID is still possible through the use of two M.2 drives running in parallel within a secondary enclosure that’s linked to the motherboard via the SATA Express interface.

As you might expect the implementation of these high speed storage standards is completely different when moving from one board to another. For example, some motherboards will disable secondary PCI-E slots when either an M.2 or SATA-E drive is detected while others will use the aforementioned port multiplier approach so the storage interfaces remain independent of other functions.

With all of this talk of high speed interfaces, there are still some limitations here. Since Intel has limited the Z97’s PCI Express lanes’ bandwidth to the 2.0 standard, any SATA 3.2 devices will be granted only a fraction of their available bandwidth without the use of expensive bridge chips and other, more exotic solutions. While dual lane controllers are the norm now, quad lane units which double the available bandwidth will be available in the coming months. This could leave Z97’s version of SATA Express and M.2 at a distinct disadvantage against add-in-board style PCI-E drives which can use more lanes and thus provide significantly higher performance.


Another bit of good news here is the backwards compatibility of SATA Express with the existing SATA 6Gbps standard. Since the SATA-E port is composed of two SATA connectors alongside a plug for the PCIe communications, its two 6Gbps connections can be used for standard drives as well.

M.2 meanwhile is essentially a small form factor version of SATA Express that is compatible with Intel’s Smart Response Technology’s caching or it can be utilized as a primary storage interface. Due to the costs involved in higher capacity M.2 SSDs, we can’t see this being used as a primary means of storage for most systems. However, it could be extremely beneficial in the mATX and mini ITX markets where space is at a premium.

Another big question lies in Z87’s lack of SATA Express and M.2 support. There isn’t anything stopping Z87 motherboards from incorporating either of these but since the SATA 3.2 standard was ratified so close to that Lynx Point’s rollout, the necessary controllers and associated SSDs weren’t available until only recently. That means most Z87 boards didn’t include M.2 ports until the architecture’s final months. SATA Express was left off the table entirely due to Intel’s lack of PCIe-based support in their Rapid Storage Technology software stack. This has all changed with Z97 so we’ll likely see M.2 and SATA Express, both cornerstones of the SATA 3.2 interface, quickly become defining features.
 
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MAC

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Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories



Now that we have gone over the Maximus VII GENE features and specifications, it is time to examine the packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the bundled accessories. Let's check it out:



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The compact packaging is the usual Republic of Gamers fare, nearly identical to what we saw with the Maximus V GENE. It still stands out among the many variations of largely black packaging that most companies use. The tiny box also comes with a top flap, which provides some worthwhile insight regarding this model's ample features and capabilities.



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When you open the box, you are greeted with a plastic window revealing the motherboard in all its glory. There are two separate inner sections, the first obviously holds the motherboard itself, while the bottom half contains all the accessories.



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The GENE's accessories bundle is pretty standard fare, consisting of a user manual, installation guide, driver and software DVD, Republics of Gamers sticker, black nickel plated rear I/O shield, 2-way SLI bridge connector, six SATA 6Gb/s cables, and Q-Connector front-panel connectors. Where things get interesting are with the included SupremeFX Impact II audio module, which we will detail thoroughly in the Closer Look section.
 
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MAC

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A Closer Look at the Maximus VII GENE

A Closer Look at the Maximus VII GENE




The Maximus VII GENE is a small form factor motherboard based on the Micro ATX standard. As such, it measures a relatively compact 9.5" by 9.5", which makes it equal in width but 2.5 inches shorter than a typical ATX motherboard. Despite the small PCB size, ASUS have managed to fit a decent assortment of expansions slots and headers, while maintaining a clean and user-friendly layout. Specifically, we are pleased that the ATX power connector, 8-pin CPU power connector, eight SATA ports, and USB headers are all conveniently placed at the edge of the motherboard. While our initial impression is very positive, let's take a closer look at the individual sections.




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This model comes with an 8-phase CPU power design with NexFET Power Block MOSFET, 60A Ferrite Chokes, and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors, all of which are part of the new Extreme Engine DIGI+ III design. Basically, the same high-end components that you see on all the 9-series Republic of Gamers models.

What really stands out on this model is that if you take a close look under the angular and gritty MOSFET heatsinks you will see the world’s first dual-colour PCB, in this case with a matte black and red finish. It is a cool little aesthetic touch, but we wish it was backlit to create a visible effect when the motherboard is installed in a case.



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Here we get a closer and unobstructed look at the red PCB area, as well as at the custom gold chokes, NexFET Power Block MOSFETs, 10K Black Metallic capacitors, and even the DIGI+ EPU VRM controller.



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The four black and red DDR3 memory slots are fed by a standard 2-phase power design, and support overclocked memory frequencies up to DDR3-3300. The MemOk! button initiates a memory compatibility tuning process if there are memory issues preventing a system from booting up. Like on all ASUS motherboards, the GENE features the handy Q-DIMM memory slots, which prevent any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card.

While the 24-pin ATX power connector is in its usual spot, the top-right corner of the motherboard is filled with goodies. From the Q-Code debug LED display, to the LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures), the aforementioned MemOk! button, and the ten ProbeIt voltage read points, which are obviously a boon for serious overclockers.



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The M.2 slot is one of the cool new features of the Z97 chipset, and as implemented on this motherboard, it can provide up to 1GB/s of storage bandwidth...if you have a fast enough SSD. This M.2 slot supports both 2260 and 2280 type devices, which is to say SSDs that are 22mm wide and either 60mm or 80mm long. Since this is an all-new it does sound like gibberish, but the M.2 NGFF (Next Generation Form Factor) is a standardized form factor, so don't worry too much about compatibility. Furthermore, like all the Channel Series models it supports M.2 SSDs featuring either SATA and PCI-Express based controllers, ensuring compatibility with the SATA-based M.2 SSDs on the market right now and the higher-performance PCI-E based M.2 models that will arrive later this year. It should be mentioned that the M.2 slot (and mini PCI-Express slot) shares bandwidth with the PCI-E x4 slot, so you if install an expansion card in that slot it will disable the M.2 slot, and vice-versa.

There is an internal front-panel USB 3.0 header, which can be used to connect up to two USB 3.0 ports to the front-panel of any compatible case, and is supplied by the Z97 chipset itself instead of a third-party controller.



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The Z97 PCH chipset is cooled by decent-sized passive heatsink that features a cool party trick in the form of a PCB mounted pulsating light. Six of the SATA 6Gb/s ports are native from the chipset and support RAID 0/1/5/10, while the remaining two are supplied by an ASMedia ASM1061 PCI-E SATA controller and are are RAID 0/1/10 capable.

One of the distinguishing features – or lack thereof – of all current Republic of Gamers models is that none support SATA Express. This might seem like a weird omission since it is one of the key selling points of this new generation of motherboards, but it all comes down to prioritizing PCI-E lanes. There are only 16 PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU and a small fixed number of PCI-E 2.0 lanes from the PCH. Obviously, you don’t want to borrow any from the CPU since they are used for the graphics card(s) (x16 or x8/x8), so that leaves you with the (maybe) 8 lanes from the PCH. One solution is to include a PLX chip, which acts as PCI-E multiplier, but it adds a fair bit of latency and thus there is a performance penalty. ASUS puts an emphasis on the pure performance of the RoG models, so the PLX is out of the question. As a result, one of the new high-speed interfaces had to sacrificed and its two PCI-E 2.0 lanes used elsewhere.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the Maximus VII GENE pt.2

A Closer Look at the Maximus VII GENE pt.2





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When it comes to graphics capabilities, this compact GENE model is a fully featured motherboard with dual PCI-E x16 expansion slots for full 2-way CrossFire and 2-way SLI support in x8/x8 configuration. As previously mentioned, the PCI-E 2.0 x4 slot shares bandwidth with the M.2 and mini PCI-Express slots, so if you use make use of the x4 slot the motherboard will automatically disable the two others. The KeyBot microprocessor is obviously dedicated towards the new KeyBot features, which ASUS refers to as a free, instant keyboard upgrade (more on this in the software section).

The power-on Start and Reset buttons are located on the bottom edge of the motherboard, as well it the KeyBot button. The Sonic SoundStage button gives users a means of switching between four hardware-level audio-profiles in real-time based on the game genre being played. You might notice the socketed BIOS chip, which is a terrific addition since ASUS can simply ship you a new BIOS chip for easy replacement should an update go terribly wrong.



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SFX_Impact_II header is where you can plug in the included SupremeFX Impact II audio module. This module houses a Realtek ALC1150 8-channel HD audio CODEC protected by an EMI cover, ENLA audio capacitors, and PCB-level analog and digital signal separation. It should be every bit as competitive as the SupremeFX 2014 audio found on the larger motherboards, and it supports the same Sonic SenseAmp, Sonic Studio, Sonic SoundStage, and Sonic Rader II features. SenseAmp is particularly interesting since is detects headphone impedance and adjusts the built-in amp automatically. This ensures that headphones are properly driven/powered given their specific Ohm rating, which is something that your average user realistically has no knowledge of.



Starting from left to right, we have the Clear CMOS button and ROG Connect button, a combo keyboard/mouse PS/2 port, two USB 2.0 ports, digital S/PDIF audio output, HDMI output, an Intel I218V-powered LANGuard gigabit LAN port, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, two additional USB 3.0 ports, and the audio outputs on the SupremeFX Impact II audio module.



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The inclusion of a mini PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slot is pretty awesome since it allows users a great deal of flexibility with regard to expanding the capabilities of the motherboard. You could install something like an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 dual-band WiFi + Bluetooth card, an mPCI-E SSD, or even something more esoteric like a GPS module.


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There are some VRM components on the motherboard's backside but they are covered by a backplate. The controller that we see here works in coordination with the front-mounted KeyBot microprocessor.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
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Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation



In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.


When installed in the East-West or North-South orientation, our Prolimatech Mega Shadow had no issues physically clearing the MOSFET heatsinks, and we don't foresee any obstacles with even the largest of coolers


In the traditional North-South orientation, we did however have a clearance issue with the memory modules since the fan clips prevented the installation of our tall memory modules in either of the two memory slots nearest to the CPU socket. The solution to this problem is either to use lower profile memory modules, not to use the fan clips, or to simply install the fan on the other side of the heatsink, thereby blowing hot air to the front of the case instead of the back. Naturally, none of these are ideal solutions.


Thanks to the clip-less on one side Q-DIMM memory slots, the small gap between memory slots and the back of the graphics card, so there is no need to take out the GPU before installing/removing memory modules. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both ideally placed, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system just a tad easier.



Given its key location in the upper left-hand corner of the motherboard, the mini PCI-Express slot doesn't pose any installation issues. However, you might need to get creative when it comes to running any antenna cables from a Wi-Fi card to an external antenna.


When you install the SupremeFX Impact II audio module it does come pretty close to the first PCI-E x16 slot, but as you can see there is a decent amount of clearance between it and the back of the graphics card. Having said that, graphics cards with particularly thick backplates might pose a problem.




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This board will hold two dual-slot graphics cards without issue. The cards overhang the motherboard, but the edge-mounted SATA connectors and various headers are still easily accessible. If you do install a dual-slot expansion card in the second PCI-E x16 slot it will block the headers at the very bottom of the motherboards and make access to the various buttons a little more difficult.



The eight 90-degree SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed or how long they are.



The Prolimatech Mega Shadow's large mounting bracket installed perfectly, and it did not really come too close to the rear-mounted MOSFET backplates.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,106
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown



As you would expect, a new generation of motherboards brings forth a new UEFI bios. Although fundamentally similar to past versions, this new bios has been aesthetically revamped, reorganized, and bolstered with a bunch of new user-friendly features. Furthermore, and perhaps most impressively, this is a very smooth and responsive UEFI BIOS, noticeably better than anything we've experienced in the past. It's not necessarily lightning fast, since there are some deliberate/intentional transition delays when switching between the various sections, but none of the lag and stuttering that we've put up with in most other UEFI BIOS. The UEFI BIOS is divided across two distinct modes. The EZ Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode has all the settings, options, and features that you could ever want. From within the EZ Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F7, and vice-versa to get back to the EZ Mode.



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The EZ Mode makes pretty good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. The Q-Fan Tuning feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but fundamentally it gives you full manual or preset-based control over the systems fans. The EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level. Basically, the wizard asks you how you generally use your system, what kind of CPU cooler you have installed, and based on your answer it comes up with an appropriate tuning level for your respective system. It worked perfect during our short time toying with it, and the fact that it never actually mentions "overclocking" should help alleviate some of the fears less knowledgeable users might associate with the word.



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The My Favorites tab is a fairly new addition to the bios. As you might have surmised, it allows you to have all your most useful or most used settings in one place, so you no longer have to search through the whole bios to find what you need time and time again.



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Next up is the Extreme Tweaker section, which is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with an all-core and per-core option, BLCK frequency, CPU strap, memory frequency, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.

The OC Tuner feature allows novice users to automatically overclock their systems without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. The are two options in this feature, a multiplier-only tuning mode or a multiplier and BCLK tuning mode. You can read more about this automatic overclocking feature in our Overclocking Results section.



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As its name suggests, the DRAM Timing Control section is where you will find all the memory-related settings. Within this section you can select and change all the memory settings, and each memory channel has its own section, from which you can alter the primary and secondary timings. It has just about every memory modifier that an enthusiast or overclocker would need to fine-tune their modules. There's really an overabundance of options and it is quite impressive.



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The GPU.DIMM Post sub-menu is where you can double-check what memory slots are populated, and what frequency the modules are running at. Likewise, you can see what PCI-E slots are in-use and what mode they are operating at. There is also a cool feature called the PCIe Lane Simulator that allows users to simulate any PCI-E lane arrangement for testing purposes.



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The DIGI+ Power Control section has a whole slew of advanced power regulation settings for the CPU cores, CPU VTT and VCCSA (system agent/memory controller), and DRAM channels. This motherboard is setup well enough so that you should never actually have to tweak any of these settings though, unless you are really pushing the limits with phase-change or LN2 cooling. The exception to this is obviously Load-Line Calibration (LLC), which is a worthwhile feature that eliminates droopage on the CPU vCORE, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.



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The Tweakers Paradise sub-menus has a ton of fairly obscure settings that should come in handy in the hands of experts top-level overclockers.



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The Internal CPU Power Management section is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like SpeedStep and Turbo Mode, as well as setting the Turbo limits. ASUS have really bolstered this section with an overwhelming array of CPU power tuning settings.



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Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Extreme Tweaker are the prodigious voltage options. As you would expect, all the key system voltages are present and accounted for, as far as bunch of other voltage options that we have frankly never even seen before. For some of the key voltages like the CPU Core voltage and the CPU Cache voltage, ASUS have allowed four separate entry modes. The Auto and Manual modes are self-evident, the Offset Mode allows you to specify how much higher (or lower) the voltage should be in reference to stock level, so something like +0.10V or +0.15V. The Adaptive Mode allows you to set both a base voltage and higher Turbo Mode voltage that is enabled under heavy system loads. This helps minimize the amount of voltage running through an overclocked processor when it's not under load.

Usually we would now say that we wish there were more drop-down menus in this section. Although can manually type in whatever you want, but that is not particularly useful when you don't know or don’t remember what the default voltages are. Thankfully, ASUS have thought about this, and they have included real-time voltage read outs next to all the key system voltages. This is an fantastic addition and we couldn't be happier to see it here.
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2




The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also set the system language, and an administrator and/or individual User password.




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The Advanced tab is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, Enhanced SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, etc.







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The Advanced Tab is also where you can enable/disable or just find all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the audio, LAN, USB 3.0, SATA ports, etc.



The Monitor section contains the anti-surge setting, but is mostly dedicated to monitoring the various voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. This whole section is really quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, as well as truly excellent and comprehensive fan control functionality.




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The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.



ASUS EZ Flash 2 is a built-in utility that greatly simplifies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s) or USB flash drive(s). It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.

The ASUS Overclocking Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other Maximus VII GENE owners.



Before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It's a well thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is very handy for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
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