Review Price £135.41
Asus ROG Maximus III Gene Micro-ATX Motherboard - Layout & Slots
Layout of the Maximus III Gene is also excellent. Primary slots are red for easy identification. There are no less than five fairly easily accessible fan headers which are fully speed-controlled from the BIOS. No ports are obscured with a full-length graphics card installed in the primary PCIe slot, and even with two 5870s in CrossFire you'll only lose access to a single SATA port, leaving six free.
Four memory slots take DDR3 RAM overclocked up to 2,133MHz, though this is pretty much standard across Asus' range. Also standard is the company's QDIMM system, which means that there is only one latch holding memory sticks in, making it easier to install and remove them. Likewise MemOK! is an old familiar, and of the three it's perhaps the best feature, as it automatically tunes memory for optimum compatibility and operation at the touch of a button (here labelled 'go!', though on most Asus boards it's just labelled 'MemOK!').
To the left of the snazzy ROG cooler we have six angled SATA ports and a single port facing straight up running off a separate JMicron controller, though this will be completely obscured if a second graphics card is installed. There is no sign of legacy connectors such as floppy or EIDE, which is a welcome exclusion. Below this are three USB headers, a FireWire header, and headers for additional audio connections.
Nestled in between these you'll find LED-backlit Start and Reset buttons. They're differentiated clearly: the reset button is smaller, black and convex, while the start button is red, larger and concave. A clear-CMOS button can be found around on the rear I/O, but we'll get to that in a bit.
In terms of PCI slots you get two red PCIe x16 slots with Asus' unique easy-to-use latches, a PCIe x1 slot and one older PCI slot. Unfortunately using a dual-slot graphics card will block the PCIe x1 slot, though the second x16 slot will still be usable for expansion cards and with a high-grade sound-chip built in on the Gene, one of the more common reasons people might need one is removed.
As is essential for any board with gaming aspirations, the Maximus III Gene supports both CrossFire and SLI multi-card setups. Though you only get x8 bandwidth on each slot, this is good for a P55-based motherboard, as far too many sport x4-speed secondary graphics slots (which make a mockery of 'CrossFire ready' claims). Also, the x8 bandwidth will be more than adequate for all but the highest-end graphics card combinations.