As far as motherboard sub-brands go, Asus' R.O.G. series of motherboards are part of what must easily be the most recognized series of motherboards. The latest mATX addition to the series is the Maximus V Gene based on Intel's Z77 chipset and it brings with it a couple of interesting features that made us scratch our heads a little.

As far as motherboard sub-brands go, Asus' R.O.G. series of motherboards are part of what must easily be the most recognized series of motherboards. The latest mATX addition to the series is the Maximus V Gene based on Intel's Z77 chipset and it brings with it a couple of interesting features that made us scratch our heads a little.

In general the Maximus V Gene builds in the Maximus IV Gene, it has two x16 PCI Express 3.0 slots as well as a single open-ended x4 PCI Express 2.0 slot and Asus stuck with the standard two SATA 6Gbps and four SATA 3Gbps ports offered by the chipset. There are headers for two USB 3.0 ports and four USB 2.0 ports as well as a POST80 debug LED and power and reset buttons.

The rear I/O looks fairly basic with four USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 pots – of which two are via an ASMedia host controller – an eSATA port, Gigabit Ethernet, 7.1-channel audio with S/PDIF out and a DisplayPort and HDMI connector. You also have a couple of buttons here, one that should clear the CMOS and one that allows you to connect the white USB 2.0 port to another computer for diagnostics as with previous R.O.G. boards. However, what's interesting with this board is what you don't see on the picture above.

Taking a closer look, you'll see a pin header at the top of the PCB labeled mPCIe-Combo. This allows a small module – picture below – to be inserted that can house not only a half-size mini PCI Express card, but also an mSATA SSD. The design is actually quite clever, except for the small fact that it has to be attached to the motherboard before it's installed into the chassis. This is due to the fact that the riser card has to be screwed in place through a hole in the motherboard.

As you can see on the picture below, the raiser card fits neatly, but it's not clear as to how you'll attach the antennas from a Wi-Fi card or a TV-tuner, although it's likely that Asus will at least add some kind of holes in the I/O shield for Wi-Fi antennas. We're not entirely sure how popular this feature will be with gamers, but it's at least a different take on things and it adds more expansion options to this mATX motherboard. The Maximus V Gene should launch alongside all of Asus' other 7-series motherboards towards the end of April.