Perhaps the most interesting part of Asus’ smallest gaming motherboard is its rear I/O area, though it must be said that in terms of connectivity there’s nothing too special here. You get a PS2 port, FireWire and eSATA connectors, and eight standard USB 2.0 ports. Notable by its absense, though, is USB 3.0, which is hardly ideal in such a high-end motherboard but given this board has been out for a while and USB 3.0 is only just arriving, it’s something we can forgive – here’s hoping a refresh will soon rectify this.
However, where the Maximus III Gene starts to come back into its own is with the features that can be found here. First among these is a small button marked with a circular arrow which acts as a clear-CMOS switch. While not essential, it’s a great addition to any enthusiast board and easy to access (though obviously it doesn’t compare to the ingenious wired remote found on the Asus P7P55D-E Premium).
Next up is ROG Connect, which features both a dedicated button and a proprietary USB port (though it can operate as a standard USB port too) oriented perpendicular to the rest. ROG Connect takes overclocking to a whole new level, allowing you to fine-tune pretty much everything on the fly using a laptop or secondary computer as a ‘controller’ – we did mention this board is high-end, right? It makes a certain sense though, as with netbook ownership going through the roof these days it’s far from unreasonable to assume that anyone who can afford a premium motherboard will likely have a second machine at their disposal. We’ll get to how well it works in just a bit.
As you might expect from a premium board such as this, the BIOS is more extensive than Asus’ already-prestigious usual efforts. Making it plain that enthusiasts are first and foremost in the Maximus III Gene’s targeting, the first tab in the BIOS is Extreme Tweaker. As its name suggests, this lets you overclock, overvolt and otherwise alter a whole boatload of settings, manually or automatically and with a series of presets to boot. For example, “CPU Level Up” can be set between Auto or three different “Crazy” presets (though none of these are quite high enough to warrant the name).
Manual is usually best though, and just like with the excellent Asus Sabertooth 55i TUF motherboard, overclocks with the Maximus III Gene were limited only by our cooler. Thus it was no problem getting our Core i7 870 CPU to run at 4.3GHz (from 3.6GHz) by merely ramping up the bus speed, and for our Core i5 750 results were even more impressive: 4.2GHz (from 3.2GHz) was easy to attain without even altering voltage or any other settings than the BLCK, and the system ran rock solid.