Thursday, July 24, 2014

My second ROG board is here - Maximus VII Gene

Gene

In the previous post I mentioned that I managed to sell my Maximus VI Hero motherboard that I bought only last year. The reason for selling this was to move to a small form factor PC. This board a was an ATX board.

The board that I bought to replace it was the micro-ATX model of the same series, but with the newer chipset. The newer chipset, the Intel Z97 chipset didn't offer much over its predecessor, the Z87, but since I was buying a new board I didn't feel like going with the older chipset even though it would have saved few bucks. The new board would give me the opportunity to move to Broadwell when it finally comes out. But I doubt I will ever upgrade to Broadwell as it wouldn't bring anything other than power consumption optimisations to the table.

The next question you might throw at me is why I went with a Micro ATX board when there are Mini-ITX options. Simple answer is that I am already set on the case, which is the Silverstone Sugo SG09 or SG10 (the price will decide which one I would settle with), and it is primarily a Micro ATX case. It does support Mini-ITX boards too, but Micro-ATX form factor would give me more options. Besides this case is smaller than most of the Mini-ATX cases such as the Corsair 250D and Bitfenix Prodigy. Of course there are smaller cases but such as the Coolermaster Elite 130 or Fractal Node 304, but the cooling capabilities of these smaller cases are mediocre compared to the one I chose. Besides, the SG09 is only about 20% larger than them.

There is another reason as well. My current case only supporting up to Micro ATX boards. It doesn't support mini-ITX motherboards so I would have to buy the new case altogether and try to sell the old case later on. I didn't want to go that route.

A micro ATX board was the ideal choice all around.

Now that I have the new motherboard with me, I quickly went down to business. Switching motherboards is a tedious task because you have to take out almost every component in the case and put them back again. It's like building a new PC from the scratch. The fact that the board arrived in the evening, having to help feed the baby (now he is weaning) and do other various chores in the house weren't helping the situation get any better.

But I finally managed to install the motherboard and get the PC up and running before going to bed. I had to do that some how because I couldn't lets any of the stuff laying around. They would most definitely end up in the babies stomach.

I didn't reinstall Windows though. I decided to keep using the old installation until I got my overclock stable, and then move to a cleaner environment. I had to install a could of drivers - LAN, chipset and audio though.

There are few things that I really have to mention, which might be beneficial to a prospective buyer of this motherboard.

  • The Silverstone HE01 cooler's heatsink goes over the add-in audio daughter-board. But there is a lot of clearance, so no installation issues there. The fan also doesn't come in contact with the daughter-board because of the circular nature of it. It is not a square shaped fan.
  • The HE01 interferes with the top most PCI-E slot. OMG! What? The reason why I settled with this cooler was because it was the largest but most compatible dual tower cooler out there. It seems the socket placement of the Gene isn't great. But there was hope. The heatsink itself didn't interfere with the slot. Only the fan mounting clip did. Even that was only touching the back of the graphics card and wasn't blocking the installation of it. It was possible to install the fan clip after covering it up with insulation tape. However, I guess a graphics card with a back-plate would have a hard time fitting in there. Or I could simply not use that particular clip. But considering how much CFM this fan can generate, I wouldn't want to hook it up with just one fan clip.
  • Installation of the front audio cable was difficult. Well, it seemed that you have to install the cable to the header on the daughter board, which meant that you have to route the cable right across the motherboard. The cable was long enough, but I noticed this only after installing the graphics card which meant that I had to take it out to to plug in the cable. But I found out that you could instead have plugged the cable to a special header on the motherboard. This wasn't that clearly stated in the manual and I indeed was in a hurry to get it done with. I'll probably use the motherboard headers the next time.

Remember, in the last post I mentioned that one of the reasons why I went with this board was because it had one particular feature in it. BIOS Flashback. With that feature, you can update the bios even without a CPU plugged in or with an unsupported CPU plugged in. The board came with an unsupported version of firmware - version 506 - but it still booted the PC up fine. I updated the firmware to the latest version just to be safe.

There was one issue though. It is regarding the CPU cooler. I will discuss about it in the separate post.

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