ASUS Maximus VIII Gene LGA 1151 Motherboard Review
ASUS’ Maximus VIII Gene is the latest in a long line of mATX powerhouses from ASUS’ Republic of Gamers brand. This motherboard is poised to offer an amazing feature set, class leading overclocking, and stability in a compact package. We’ve had great experiences with motherboards in the Gene line, so our expectations are high.
Motherboard Overclocking Software
ASUS’ AI Suite III is unsurprisingly, included with the Maximus VIII Gene. This software is what I would consider one of the best in the industry. The AI Suite III’s robust nature is a double edge sword, in that it’s not as easy to use as GIGABYTE’s EasyTune software or Intel’s XTU, but it’s far more capable than both. It is among the most robust, and capable of all the bundled software suites any manufacturer is packaging with their motherboards. This software isn’t necessarily the most intuitive, as it is fairly complex. At first a new user could be overwhelmed with options and features. Fortunately, the interface is good enough that apprehension at its complexities soon disappear. In short order, the capabilities of this software come into focus and you’ll find it’s not that hard to make use of it. Due to the massive complexity of the suite, we’ll primarily only talk about the performance options.
One of the newest additions to the Suite is the quick launch button. This button has additional icons that pop out of it enabling you to do several things quickly and easily. From here you can set performance profile presets, or launch he full AI Suite III application. A tab on the far left hand side of the button, is used to navigate the massive array of built in functions found within the AI Suite III software. The software is effectively divided into two sections in regards to tuning options. The top section is reserved for whatever categories and or settings your working with in regard to tuning. The bottom quarter of the application window is reserved for PC health information. The main application window provides a summary of various information and shows the categories of settings you can access. The 5-Way Optimization menu for example, allows for automatic tuning of the system.
One area where ASUS differentiates itself form the competition, is with regard to the ability to guide the automated overclocking process. There are settings which essentially allow you to tell the software what your overclocking goals are, and provide criteria to test how stable the system is. After that the software tries to find the best settings to accomplish the goals you’ve set for it. This works to varying degrees based on your specific configuration. I won’t say the logic is amazing or anything. I’ve often set the software to trying and hit 4.8GHz and found it only capable of hitting 4.4GHz or so. With some memory speed tuning in advance, it’s possible to get to around 4.5GHz or so but that’s about the best I’ve seen the software achieve in most cases. Also, the software does allow for power savings and fan tuning alongside the overclocking or performance tuning. You can tell the system to avoid tuning these aspects and go straight for CPU clock speed. It’s entirely up to the user.
The TPU menu allows you to set performance options manually. This includes things like choosing group or single core tuning. You can adjust all the necessary values such as turbo frequency ratio, and various CPU and memory voltages. The Fan Xpert 3 menu offers fan control within Windows that no other bundled software can match. Fan Xpert 3 allows for automated or manual fan tuning. Fan headers can even have custom names within the software. Fan spin up and spin down delays have been added to allow the user control over how fast the speed changes ramp up. This can aid people like myself, that simply can’t stand the sudden volume changes in the sound. I really don’t care too much about how loud the fans are so long as the noise is consistent. This setting allows me to do make sure the changes are gradual enough as to be either unnoticeable or at least, less annoying. If desired, automated tuning of the fans can be performed. Afterward you can see what each installed fan is capable of and tune accordingly. You may also select profile presets, and configure fan speeds that way.
The DIGI+VRM menu, allows for control over the power phases of the motherboard. The great thing about this menu is that it tells you what the settings are used for in a window pane on the right hand side. The settings in this menu are sometimes integral to fine tuning an overclock, but they aren’t as self-explanatory as those in the TPU menu. The Turbo App menu is a relatively new addition to the AI Suite III. This application lets you associate performance profiles with a given application. This has many applications of course, such as being able to associate low power configurations with relatively light workloads like word processing, and then set a higher performance profile up to run with something more demanding such as gaming.
The EPV menu allows you to configure power savings profiles. You can either set these up manually, or choose from preset profiles. Fan control can also be selected to operate in conjunction with a given performance profile. In the bottom quarter window pane, several of the PC health monitors can be expanded to show more information. In other cases, these can be expanded to allow the user to set warning thresholds for user specified, undesirable conditions.
Again, while the utility seems daunting at first, some time with it shows a fairly reasonable learning curve. New users should be able to adapt to the software relatively easily.