Great power in small size.
The Micro ATX motherboard market is squarely targeted towards HTPC users, and as such doesn’t always seem to carry the high-end specs reserved for regular ATX sized boards. What I’ll be looking at today is the ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z mATX motherboard, from the Republic of Gamers pedigree.
As with all ROG motherboards, the Gene-Z is dressed in all black and red, with onboard buttons and debug LED, 2x PCIe x16 slots for SLI or CrossFire and all kinds of functionality for easy overclocking. Of course, no ROG board would be complete without the big heatsinks covering the 8+4 VRM circuits.
To start off, the Gene-Z features a Z68 chipset, so Intel’s SSD caching comes standard. You’ll also be getting the LucidLogix Virtu chipset which allows you to use the integrated GPU on your Intel Sandy Bridge CPU for better transcoding (using Intel’s Quick Sync) or playing games and running HD video content.
There are a total of 10 USB ports on the back (8x USB2.0 and 2x USB 3.0) with a further two USB 3.0 headers on the motherboard itself. Another two eSATA ports and a Clear CMOS button complete the rear I/O panel. My only complaint here would be that there’s no DVI connection in the back, only one HDMI port. That and there are only two SATA III (6gbps) ports, the other four ports are SATA II.
As far as overclocking is concerned, this who affair is made extremely easy with the UEFI BIOS on the Gene-Z, with default overclocking values for out test Core i7-2600K being 4.2GHz and 4.6GHz from the stock speed of 3.4GHz. Obviously all the voltage and memory settings are taken off automatically; however for our review I still overclocked the system manually to 4.7GHz.