Asus Skylake Z170 Motherboards: Maximus VIII Gene vs. Z170-A

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Aside from the colors, the BIOS interface of the two boards are practically identical to one another and to the last generation of Asus 9-series chipset boards, so if you've used an older Haswell model, everything will look familiar. This is not a complaint as the UI is well refined and the available options are exhaustive. There are also some nice touches like a favorites menu for bookmarking frequently changed settings and a brief review of altered settings to confirm before exiting.

By default, the BIOS launches into EZ Mode, a simplified interface combining all the basic information and options required to get a new build up and running. On the Z170-A, the electric blue color scheme is soothing and pleasing to the eye.

On the Maximus VIII Gene, the grey background is duller with some brush-like texture to give it some character.

For power users, the Advanced Mode is really what you want to access every frequency, voltage, and power setting available, major or minute. If you want to see all the options presented, check the manual, as there are just too many to present here.

The only complaint about the UI is the ample spacing between settings. On most of the screens you can only see 10~12 options on one page and you have to scroll down multiple times to see it all. Old-timers may experience nostalgia for the days when the BIOS was just text and numbers.

The two boards have seven 4-pin fan headers, two designed for the CPU (CPU & CPU_OPT), one for a water pump, and four for case fans. They're all individually controllable aside from CPU_OPT which just mirrors the behavior of the main CPU fan header. There are three more controls available if you connect Asus' fan extension card accessory.

They can all be configured to use PWM control as well, which is rare as most boards only provide voltage control on non-CPU fan headers regardless of how many pins are physically provided.
Fan profile presets are provided or you can tweak the fan curve with manual settings. The four chassis fan headers can also respond to any of the three onboard temperature sensors.

Another pleasant sight is the presence of Q-Fan optimization which allows fan calibration directly in the BIOS. This is especially useful for non-Windows users.

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