ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Review

ccokeman - 2013-05-26 19:43:38 in Motherboards
Category: Motherboards
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: June 20, 2013
Price: $229

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Introduction:

ASUS ROG motherboards have been the cream of the crop for a while now with distinct hardware and software features that make them the go to boards for the hardcore gamer and overclocking enthusiast for reasons well documented in the past. One thing that comes with this extreme end of the enthusiast platform has been the sticker shock that goes along with the branding. ASUS is set to change that perception and bring in a board that serves as a gateway into the ROG experience for a price well below what you are used to, at a competitive current price of $229 or a full $170 less than the Maximus VI Extreme. Lower price should equate to a smaller feature set, but in the case of the Maximus VI Hero we get the majority of the ROG feature set as well as a comprehensive software package that is designed around the needs of the gamer.

Introduced with the Maximus VI Hero are tools like Sonic Radar and Perfect Voice that are part of the Supreme FX sound solution. ASUS Ramdisk and Secure Erase work to improve drive and file access performance, as well as a new 4-Way optimization tool in AI Suite III that works to fully optimize the system. Add in the rest of the software and you can see where this goes. Let's dig into what ASUS brings to the table with this new entry into the ROG fold.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Closer Look:

The visuals of the ASUS ROG packaging remain unchanged over the past couple generations, giving the end user a familiar look. The red background with the product name in a bold font across the front, in this case Maximus VI Hero. The top left has the ROG logo while along the bottom of the front panel are the certifications that this motherboard supports the use of both NVIDIA's SLI and AMD's CrossfireX multi-GPU solutions. The back panel illustrates some of the unique features of the Maximus VI Hero including the Supreme FX audio, Extreme Engine Digi+III, the multi-GPU capabilities, and the inclusion of ASUS' new Sonic Radar software. Further down are a break out of the I/O panel and the specifications. The lid on the front panel flips open to not only show off the M6H but the back of the flap goes into depth on several of the ROG specific features including Extreme Engine Digi+III voltage regulation circuit, the RamDisk and ROG Game First II software, and at the top the Supreme FX HD audio solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The M6H and the accessory bundle are stored in a two level configuration with the motherboard on the top level and the accessories on the bottom. The accessory bundle contains the documentation, software, and hardware needed to get the M6H installed and running without having to purchase additional items. Included are the manual, driver and utility disk, label kit to identify the disk drives, a Do Not Disturb sign for you door, six SATA 6Gbps data cables (three straight and three 90 degree), an SLI bridge, Q-connectors, Q-Shield, and an ROG case badge that is a much better looking part than included in the past. The Q-Shield is equipped to minimize or eliminate EMI emissions from the I/O area to reduce any interference into the audio or video signals. The Q-Connectors have been a unique point of difference until the design was utilized by other manufacturers but still proves to be the best way to put the front panel connections onto the motherboard.

 

 

 

Even though the Maximus VI Hero is the gateway board into the ROG universe, it is far from a stripped down motherboard. The motherboard and its software package help make the board more attractive to gamers who ultimately are the target market. Let's dig into the board and its software package to see what ASUS brings to the table at the $229 price point.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Closer Look:

ASUS Maximus VI Hero is built upon the Intel Z87 PCH for use with Intel 22nm Fourth Generation Core series processors that fit in the LGA 1150 socket. As an ROG product, the Maximus VI Hero features the customary red and black color scheme that just looks right and has served the brand well, as seen by the competition adopting the look. The Maximus VI Hero is an ATX form factor motherboard measuring 12" x 9.6" so it should fit every chassis designed for the ATX form factor. The board is laid out well with everything in the usual areas. The PCB continues with its exclusive fiber weave technology and is a pitch black rather than the black coloring that turns brown under a bright light. The back side of the PCB has additional support/cooling plates under the VRM circuits. These and the rest of the cooling solutions are held on with spring loaded screws instead of push pins. A feature more and more companies are adopting in lieu of push pins, at least ot the enthusiast level.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The I/O panel houses a PS/2 combo mouse/keyboard port, a pair of the four USB 2.0 ports, USB BIOS flashback button, the second pair of USB 2.0 ports with the bottom port used for the USB BIOS flashback functionality, the optical S/PDIF port, HDMI 1.4 port, four SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports, Intel I217V managed Gigabit LAN, and the Supreme FX audio ports. Expansion capabilities include a pair of PCIe 3.0/2.0 16x slots (Red) that support multi-GPU strategies from NVIDIA and AMD. These slots run at 16x with one slot populated and 8x x 8x when both are populated. The third PCIe 16x slot in black is PCIe 2.0 compliant and runs electrically at x4 while the remaining 1x PCIe slots are PCIe 2.0 compliant.

In front of the PCIe slots is the Supreme FX audio solution that is fully isolated from the PCB to reduce EMI intrusion into the sound solution. If you look closely you can see the outline of the "Red Line Moat" that lights up a bright red when the system is powered up. The sound codec is covered in a metal shield to again reduce EMI intrusion into the sound stream. ELNA premium audio capacitors are used to enhance the sound delivered to the end user. Perfect Voice is a new technology used and supported on the ROG Maximus VI Hero that, when enabled, reduces the effects of ambient noise on your conversations. Behind the I/O port at each connection point there are small diodes that are used to keep damage from an ESD to a minimum. In fact this system is used for each external connection point.

 

 

 

Along the bottom of the PCB we find a large cross section of the connectivity for the Maximus VI Hero. From the left is the EMI-shielded Supreme FX sound solution, front panel sound connection, S/PDIF out connection, Trusted platform module header, ROG EXT header that is used to connect to the OC Panel (offered separately) for a more hands on overclocking experience, a pair of USB 2.0 headers, TGM header, Clear RTC jumper, Direct Key button used to boot directly into the BIOS (useful when Fastboot is enabled), one of the five 4-pin controllable fan headers, the front panel connection for use with the front panel Q-connector, and the DirectKey jumper to connect an external switch to use with the DirectKey functionality.

 

 

Moving up the right side of the PCB are a total of eight SATA 6Gbps ports; six through the Z87 PCH and two at the bottom of the stack by way of an ASMedia ASM1061 controller. The ports to the right are managed by the Intel Z87 PCH and support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10, as well as offering support for Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology and Intel® Smart Connect Technology. Further up is the front panel SuperSpeed USB 3.0 header, 24-pin ATX power connector, O-LEDs, Mem OK button, Power and Reset buttons, another one of the five hardware controlled fan headers, and the Debug LED. The Mem OK button is used for tuning the timings and voltages for memory modules that may not be supported or have stability issues. In front of the Reset button is the Extreme Engine Digi+ III controller. Just behind that are some of the 60A Black Wing Chokes and Nichicon 10K Black capacitors that feature an improved lifespan over the previous gen 5K capacitors.

Dual Channel four DIMM memory configurations in capacities up to 32GB and DDR3 2800 (OC) are supported on the Maximus VI Hero. ASUS 2nd Generation T-Topology trace layout improves memory overclocking margins by up to 5% in dual DIMM configurations and up to 10% in single DIMM configurations as long as the CPU's memory controller can handle the configuration. ASUS says it best here: "The new 2nd Generation T-Topology design further optimizes its layout and termination to minimize coupling noise and signal reflection effect to seek for further room in high frequency DRAM O.C." As proof I was able to push my G.Skill Trident modules up another 50MHz over the previous best of 2600MHz.The Q-Clip design makes installing or removing the memory modules much easier when the system is populated with a large discrete video card.

 

 

 

Along the top of the PCB are the primary and secondary hardware controlled CPU fan headers, the top section of the VRM heatsink and 8-pin auxiliary CPU power connection. Some motherboard have an additional connection here to ensure there is no shortage of current for the CPU.

 

 

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero is designed for use with Intel's Fourth Generation Core series processors including i3/i5/i7/Pentium/Celeron using the LGA 1150 socket. While the socket changes with this generation, the heat sink mounting points remain the same as socket 1155/1156. ASUS uses an 8+2 phase power circuit on the Maximus VI Hero with eight phases dedicated to the CPU and two for the DRAM. ASUS' Extreme Engine Digi+ III all digital controller is used. This fully digital design allows the controller to have full control over the on-die Integrated Voltage Regulator to control Switching Frequency, Thermal Management, Fault Tolerance, Power Efficiency, Phase Switching Capability, Power Response, and Current Slope. Supporting this controller are ASUS' 60A rated Black Wing Chokes that feature a gold plated coil with metal cooling fins, a NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET package, and Nichicon 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. The goal here is to improve efficiency, current delivery, and long term stability.

 

The heat sink package used on the Maximus VI Hero is fairly robust with a heat pipe interconnected system over the 8+2 phase VRM circuit and a large flat passive sink that sits over the Z87 Express PCH. The design of the cooling package compliments the look of the board and is fully capable of managing the thermal load of the VRM and PCH. During my overclocked testing the VRM circuit stays at room temperature with a low CFM fan blowing over the heat sink.

 

 

The ROG Maximus VI Hero has all the hardware features that motherboards in the ROG lineup are known for from strong multi-GPU graphics solutions to solid components selection and hardware level implementations of the components. The hardware is not all that makes up the ROG package so let's see what ASUS has included with the software package.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Closer Look:

The software package can help make or break the implementation of a gaming specific motherboard. In the past the ROG hardware has always been top notch but the software has been one of the added value components of the package that sometimes goes unnoticed. With the Maximus VI Hero, ASUS has delivered a robust software package including AI Suite III, Kaspersky Antivirus, Daemon Tools, Game First II, RamDisk, Secure Erase, and so much more.

AI Suite III: Let's start off with AI Suite III, the latest version of ASUS' popular software package that aggregates almost all of the software package into one simple to use tool. If you are familiar with AI Suite you no doubt have gotten used to the application and how to navigate through it. With this revision we get an all new look that takes a few minutes to learn the layout and then it's right back to the familiar tools. The main screen contains a lot of information about each of the four key features in the 4-Way optimization tool: TPU, EPU, Digi+ Power Control, and Fan Xpert2. The secondary menu is reached by clicking on the arrow at the top right of the window. This menu contains the rest of the functionality of the AI Suite III tool set. The 4-Way optimization is just that and allows the system to be tuned for the best performance, cooling, and noise levels, and is accomplished by clicking on the radio button in the left window. Using this feature we get a nice conservative yet realistic overclock based on the variability of the samples ASUS has tested with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 4-Way Optimization tool worked flawlessly to deliver a nice overall tune, but we can always do better or so we think by manually tuning the system. Under the TPU section of the main window we can adjust the CPU ratio, CPU Strap settings, voltages by manual or adaptive modes, save and load profiles, as well as get into the warning setting mode by clicking the arrow in the bottom left CPU speed window. Here you can set the warning thresholds for voltages, temperatures, fan speeds, and set the desired temperature display by unit type, Fahrenheit or Celsius.

 

 

 

The EPU tab is all about managing the power profiles and rules for the system. There are four preset profiles under EPU: Auto, High Performance where power consumption is not a large concern, Max Power Saving, and Away modes that are designed to minimize the power profile by adjusting sleep timers, fan speeds, and the wattage level to run the processor at, in this case the applied wattage is 42W or half of the 84W TDP of the installed i7 4770K. Be aware that setting the wattage level will reduce the overall CPU speed and system performance as you might expect.

 

 

 

Digi+ Power Control allows the user to set Load Line Calibration levels, CPU Current controls, Active Frequency switching, and CPU Phase control for the CPU with Current controls, Voltage phase, and frequency controls for the ultimate in manual tuning. If manually tuning the system is not your bag then the 4-Way optimization tool takes care of it for you. ASUS' auto rules are setup to deliver the best possible performance without any user interaction.

 

 

Fan Xpert 2 is a utility that manages the fan speeds dynamically to provide the best possible noise/cooling ratio based on thermal need. Connecting your fans to the five onboard 4-pin fan headers allows the utility to tune the fan speeds by finding the minimum and maximum values for the installed fans. This way Fan Xpert 2 can slow down the fans' speeds to reduce the overall noise signature when max cooling is not required, as well as increasing the speeds when max cooling is needed. It is an interesting tool to watch as it goes through the tuning algorithms but the end result is as you would expect. If the self tuning feature is not to your liking you also have the option of using four preset profiles.

 

 

Once you get past the performance tuning DIP4 section you have a wealth of other feature to use. AI Charger+ is a USB 3.0 fast charging tool that supports BC 1.1 compatible devices including iOS devices. Enabling this option will allow a 3x speedup as long as you are connecting a supported device. I found my Google Nexus charged fully in less than an hour when connected to the high current USB 3.0 port. EZ Update is used to check ASUS' servers for the latest CrashFree BIOS 3 BIOS and motherboard hardware drivers. USB Charger is a more flexible application where you can choose your device type and enable fast charging while in a sleep state by connecting your charging plug to the ROG connect port on the I/O panel.

 

 

System information gives you basic information about the installed hardware including the CPU, Motherboard, and memory SPD settings. USB BIOS flashback is a tool introduced on the last generation boards that proves its worth. You can use this functionality without the DRAM or CPU being in their sockets to update the system BIOS. As long as power is applied to the board, the flash drive is installed in the ROG Connect port, and the USB BIOS flashback button is pushed, the BIOS will flash the CrashFree BIOS. As a tool it can come in handy if you manage to corrupt the BIOS from some spirited overclocking. Network iControl allows you to set up the applications you want to effectively manage access to the available bandwidth. USB 3.0 Boost is a truly unique tool that uses optimizations to the BOT protocols and UASP support to drive improved USB 3.0 performance.

 

 

 

AI Suite III is an excellent and fully functional tool in its own right, but there is more to the software package.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Closer Look:

AI Suite does not include all of the software package included with the Maximus VI Hero. Added value software is included that bought separately would increase the end user costs. ASUS includes a full version of Kaspersky's highly rated antivirus software with a one year subscription. Daemon tools disk virtualization software is also included to help save your game disks and make/burn disk images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MemTweakit is used to set the memory sub-timings from within the Windows environment. This tool features an efficiency score that will help you improve the memory performance of the modules installed. ASUS is currently working on a solution to get it working on the Haswell architecture. In the past this tool has been a great addition to the ROG software package. ASUS has its own ROG skinned CPU-Z utility that sets up a point of difference from the standard version. The Boot setting tool is used to enable FastBoot and utilize the DirectKey function from within the OS environment rather than opening the chassis up or mounting an additional switch somewhere on the chassis. You will need this tool to get into the BIOS when FastBoot is enabled since keyboard support is disabled during the FastBoot process.

 

 

Game First II is ASUS' own traffic shaping tool to improve ping time and reduce latency by managing the traffic flow of ACK packets. You get an easy to follow EZ mode as well as a more granular look in the advanced mode. The Easy mode has presets that allow you to setup the traffic management for VOIP, File sharing, Gaming, or Media Streaming.

 

 

RamDisk is a new addition to the ROG package. The premise with this tool is that access to DRAM is much quicker than accessing an HDD or SSD to load files that you need either working in the OS and/or during gaming. RamDisk is a utility that takes excess DRAM capacity and creates a virtual disk so that you can drastically improve load times of applications or maps during gaming. ASUS makes this tool simple enough for even the novice to use. Most of us are not fully utilizing the 16 or 32GB of DRAM In our systems so why not take advantage of a way to improve the computing experience? At this point DRAM is still relatively inexpensive. Creating an 8GB virtual drive is as simple as choosing the capacity with a slider and applying the change. After a reboot you can click on the Junction tab and add the applications or maps or games you would like to accelerate and you are done. Newer solid state drives with the latest controllers can have sequential read/write results in the 500 to 550MB/s range with that result at the high end of the spectrum. Running Crystal DiskMark on the RamDisk virtual drive gives a graphic example of just how fast this solution can be using 2133MHz memory. It's just brutally fast.

 

 

Sonic Radar is a new tool in the ROG arsenal as well. Some have alluded to this software being used as a cheat but if you are using surround sound speakers or a headset with surround capabilities you are doing the same thing using the sound system and your ears. Sonic Radar is a graphic representation of the sounds you hear. The key is the visual interface that works to point out the sounds directionally; a bonus if you are not utilizing a surround speaker system or headset. There are separate modes that can be optimized for footsteps, bombs, or gunfire. Shortcuts can be used to move the interface or change the transparency level as well as toggle though the user modes. Overall it's a pretty cool tool for those of us that are less than good at FPS gaming. As you can see in the screen shot below there is a ton of ambient noise in this section of Metro: Last Light.

 

 

That wraps up the look at this full featured software package that is fully game centric.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Closer Look:

ASUS sets itself apart from the rest of the crowd in many ways from the software and hardware packages, but one of the best things they do over the past few generations has been the implementation of the Crash Free UEFI BIOS. Starting with the P67 chipset launch, the UEFI BIOS has been getting smoother and easier to use with new features added as each new generation is released. New for the Z87 chipset and Haswell launch are some really cool features such as a more in depth EZ mode and a Last Modified tab that tracks changes as you work though the BIOS presenting the user with a map to the options used to generate the performance settings or even just the mundane changes. You get Quick Note to leave yourself messages in the BIOS or to list specific settings so you can remember them. F4 shortcuts menus for your favorites, SATA Port renaming, and what has to be one of the top additions to the ROG lineup is the ability to Secure Erase drives from within the Crash Free BIOS 3.

EZ Mode is used when you really do not want or need to spend the time going through the advanced section of the BIOS. It can be daunting to the novice user but the more adept can take advantage of the tuning abilities found in the Advanced section. All of the basics are in place to set the boot order, EPU and fan profiles, and illustrate the hardware that is installed in the Maximus VI Hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you move into the Advanced mode there are a total of eight tabs to explore with the first section being My Favorites. Here is where you get some of the new tweaks to the Crash Free BIOS. You can build a series of short cuts that allow you to jump straight to certain functionality. In this case I put shortcuts in place for AI Overclock tuner, DRAM Frequency, and the CPU Core and Ring voltages. You add shortcuts by pressing the F4 button and browsing for the items to add. Using this tool you can put all of your most used options in one place. Quick Note allows you to leave yourself notes as to what may or may not work or just simple reminders. Last is the Last Modified tool that captures each adjustment made in the BIOS, essentially leaving you a set of bread crumbs so that you can keep track of all the work you have done in the BIOS.

 

 

The Main page option shows the system time, date, BIOS revision and build date, Installed CPU and processor speed, memory capacity, system language, and security options including passwords. Not the section you will sped a lot of time in but nevertheless provides valuable information and functionality.

 

The Advanced tab provides a way to manage much of the system functionality. The CPU configuration tab is used to modify the CPU Operating parameters outside of the frequency and voltages. PCH Configuration is where you can enable or disable Intel's drive enhancements and PCIe assignments. Onboard device configuration is used to enable or disable on board hardware. SATA Configuration is used to setup drive operating parameters as well as showing the port availability. ROG Effects allow you to enable or disable the ROG Pulse, Supreme FX, and onboard lighting.

 

 

 

The Monitor section is just what the name implies. Here Anti Surge support can be turned on or off. Under each category you can view the operating characteristics and current state of the pertinent voltages, the fan speeds, temperatures, and enable or disable the fan speed controls. As well as Fan Xpert 2 manages things, this should be left alone unless you are looking for full manual control.

 

 

 

Boot: Under this section Fast Boot can be turned on or off, SATA and USB ports can be enabled or disabled, and Direct Key functionality can be enabled to access the BIOS with Fast Boot enabled. Logo display at boot can be turned off so you can view the P.O.S.T. sequence. EZ or Advanced mode can be set as the first screen upon opening the BIOS. Wait for ERROR F1 messages can be turned off (I find this helpful when not running a fan off the CPU fan header), and last the boot sequence can be set up here.

 

 

Tool: Outside the Extreme Tweaker section this section is one of the most useful areas of ASUS' UEFI Crash Free BIOS. ASUS EZ Flash utility is a simple to use option for flashing the BIOS on ASUS motherboards that has yet to fail on me after years of use. A new feature for a new age in disk drives is the Secure Erase function that gives you the ability to secure erase your drive to improve performance. When using this feature with my Corsair Force GT Drive it showed as locked and needed a reboot to unlock the drive. After a reboot the Secure Erase finished as planned. No longer do you have to work through several means to run a secure erase. ASUS OC Profile lets you save and/or load profiles from the BIOS save files or from a USB Flash drive. Coupled with the Last Modified tool you can make sure you save those important changes. ROG OC Panel H-Key adjusts a finite number of options including CPU Core voltage and frequency.

 

 

 

 

The Extreme Tweaker section of the BIOS is where you will spend a good majority of your time if you are used to overclocking manually. This section provides all of the CPU and DRAM specific settings to get the most from your hardware. Up front ASUS has said the auto rules for the vast majority of settings are tuned well enough that no manipulation or adjustments are needed for most of the settings. In fact I used only the CPU vcore, CPU Ring voltage, DRAM Voltage, DRAM Frequency, CPU and Cache ratio, and the basic timings to reach a 4.7GHz overclock on the CPU I have. However you have access to pretty much every option as far as voltages, Load Line Calibration, current limits, and overrides. The top of this section shows the current state of the hardware. AI Overclock tuner can be set to Auto, Manual, or three preset speeds that mirror the vast majority of CPU capabilities on the market. DRAM Timing Control allows the end user to tune the timings of the installed modules for improved frequency margins or outright performance. GPU DIMM Post shows the installed DRAM Modules current frequency as well as the installed discrete GPU type and PCIe Lane allocation. Digi+Power control is used to set and apply a value for LLC along with the current limits, phase controls, VRM Switching frequency, and more. Again the auto rules are pretty good. Tweakers Paradise lets you get a little more granular as far as power settings go. Towards the bottom of the page we finally get to the voltages that can be tweaked.

 

 

 

 

 

Any way you cut it the BIOS on an ROG motherboard from ASUS is the best implemented on the market. There are no problems navigating through the BIOS with different mice and it just works right out of the box. What you will also get (something you know already if you currently own an ASUS motherboard) is long term support for the motherboard with continual updates as new CPU revisions and bug fixes are implemented.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Specifications:

CPU
Intel® Socket 1150 for 4th Generation Core™ i7/Core™ i5/Core™ i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors
Supports Intel® 22 nm CPU
Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0
* The Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 support depends on the CPU types.
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset
Intel® Z87
Memory
4 x DIMM, Max. 32GB, DDR3 2800(O.C.)/2666(O.C.)/2600(O.C.)/2500(O.C.)/2400(O.C.)/2200(O.C.)/2133(O.C.)/2000(O.C.)/1866(O.C.)/1800(O.C.)/1600/1333 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
* Hyper DIMM support is subject to the physical characteristics of individual CPUs.
* Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Graphic
Integrated Graphics Processor
- Supports HDMI with max. resolution 4096 x 2160 @ 24 Hz / 2560 x 1600 @ 60 Hz
Supports Intel® InTru™ 3D, Quick Sync Video, Clear Video HD Technology, Insider™
Multi-GPU Support
Supports NVIDIA® Quad-GPU SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD Quad-GPU CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8, red)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (black) *1
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1 *2
Storage
Intel® Z87 chipset :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10
Supports Intel® Smart Response Technology, Intel® Rapid Start Technology, Intel® Smart Connect Technology *3
ASMedia® ASM1061 controller : *4
2 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), red
LAN
Intel® I217V, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Audio
ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC
- Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
Audio Feature :
- SupremeFX Shielding™ Technology
- ELNA premium audio capacitors
- Blu-ray audio layer Content Protection
- Sonic Radar
- DTS Connect
- Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
USB Ports
Intel® Z87 chipset : *5
6 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
Intel® Z87 chipset : *6
8 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 4 at mid-board)
ROG Exclusive Features
Extreme Engine Digi+ III :
- 8 + 2 phase power design
- NexFET™ Power Block MOSFET
- 60A BlackWing Chokes
- 10K Black Metallic Capacitors
UEFI BIOS features :
- ROG BIOS Print
- GPU.DIMM Post
- Tweakers' Paradise
- ROG SSD Secure Erase
ROG RAMDisk
GameFirst II
Extreme Tweaker
Special Features
ASUS Dual Intelligent Processors 4 with 4-Way Optimization :
- The tuning key perfectly consolidates ASUS-exclusive DIGI+ Power Control, TPU, EPU, and Fan Xpert 2 optimize the digital power setting, system performance, power saving and whole system cooling configuration
CPU Level Up
ASUS Exclusive Features :
- USB BIOS Flashback
- MemOK!
- AI Suite 3
- Ai Charger
- USB Charger+
- USB 3.0 Boost
- Disk Unlocker
ASUS EZ DIY :
- ASUS O.C. Profile
- ASUS CrashFree BIOS 3
- ASUS EZ Flash 2
ASUS Q-Design :
- ASUS Q-Shield
- ASUS Q-Code
- ASUS Q-LED (CPU, DRAM, VGA, Boot Device LED)
- ASUS Q-Slot
- ASUS Q-DIMM
- ASUS Q-Connector
Overclocking Protection :
- ASUS C.P.R.(CPU Parameter Recall)
Back I/O Ports
1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)
1 x HDMI
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
4 x USB 3.0
4 x USB 2.0
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
6 x Audio jack(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
Internal I/O Ports
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x TPM connector(s)
8 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x S/PDIF out header(s)
1 x 8-pin EATX 12 V Power connector
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x System panel(s)
1 x DirectKey Button(s)
1 x DRCT header(s)
1 x MemOK! button(s)
1 x Power-on button(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x Clear CMOS jumper(s)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
Accessories
User's manual
I/O Shield
6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
1 x SLI bridge(s)
1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1)
1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s)
1 x ROG Door Hanger(s)
BIOS
64Mb UEFI AMI BIOS, PnP, DMI2.0, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.5, ACPI2.0a Multi-Language BIOS
Manageability
WfM 2.0, DMI 2.0, WOL by PME, PXE
Support Disc
Drivers
ROG GameFirst II
ROG RAMDisk
ROG CPU-Z
ROG Mem TweakIt
Kaspersky® Anti-Virus
DAEMON Tools Pro Standard
ASUS WebStorage
ASUS Utilities
Form Factor
ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

 

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Features:



 

All information courtesy of ASUS @ http://www.asus.com/us/Motherboards/MAXIMUS_VI_HERO/#overview

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Testing:

Testing ASUS' ROG Maximus VI Hero motherboard will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and  AMD Catalyst 13.6 drivers for the XFX HD 7970. In the past we had locked the clock speed on the processor to eliminate any easily controlled variables due to processor speed. However there is a difference in how each manufacturer handles the CPU default and boost speeds creating opportunity for one board to deliver a higher level of performance. This variable is a point of difference between boards. The majority of users will run the stock settings making this point a valid concern so we are changing up the test methods to capture this difference.

Testing Setup: Socket 1150

 

Comparison Motherboard:

 

Overclocking:

Overclocked settings:

 

Overclocking and performance enhancements are at the core of the ROG ecosystem. As such ASUS provides the end user a variety of ways to improve the performance and responsiveness of their system. Let's start with the BIOS. Manually tweaking the BIOS for the best performance can be a daunting task with all of the options available in the BIOS. ASUS provides the tools with granular voltage options so that you can set the voltage to exactly where it needs to be without an over shoot due to that lack of granularity. With Intel's Haswell architecture, trimming that extra millivolt or two can make a difference in the thermals. This I saw first hand when testing the OC presets; 4.2GHz and 4.4GHz stayed within the thermal envelope with the preset voltage. At 4.6GHz the auto voltage setting was a tad too high, creating temperatures that hit 100 °C and throttled the CPU clock speeds. Under load the voltage applied was as high as 1.366v. I was able to trim that back to 1.345v set manually in the BIOS. Doing so kept the thermals below 95 °C after two hours of the Blend test in Prime 95 v27.9. Voltage is the root of the heat. If you plan on overclocking a custom water loop is going to be recommended, especially when going over 1.275v or using the adaptive vcore options.

ASUS has really done its homework here with a set of auto tuning rules that really make the days of spending days tweaking the BIOS for the highest clock speeds with lowest voltages a thing of the past. About the only things you really need to tune in most cases will be the voltage needed by your CPU and DRAM, the basic timings and speed for your DRAM, and the CPU and CPU cache ratios. Pretty simple actually. Outside of manually tuning the performance parameters and the presets in the BIOS you have the 4-Way optimization tool in AI Suite III. Using this tool to overclock resulted in a clock speed of 4.2GHz that proved to be stable in all of my testing. This clock speed is not that aggressive most likely due to the wide variance in clock speed and voltages needed based on ASUS' in-house testing of a large cross section of Haswell processors. That being said there are some ratios that apply to the amount of chips that can do 4.6GHz and over of less than 30%.

Overclocking my Intel Fourth Generation Core i7 4770K consisted of adjusting the core clock ratio to 47, setting the cache ratio to 47, and the DRAM speed to 2133MHz with the XMP settings of 9-11-10-28 using 1.65v. I then proceeded to run stability tests to check which voltage I would need to apply on the ROG Maximus VI Hero and found that I needed the same 1.35v I needed on the MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming and Intel DZ87KLT-75. That was kind of discouraging initially but at least I could boot at 4.8GHz on this board and run some SuperPi 1m tests, but nothing really stable due to the amount of voltage needed to get to the number. DRAM overclocking on the Maximus VI Hero proved to be pretty robust with the same 2400MHz 2x4GB set of G.Skill Trident able to run up and over 2600MHz at 2652MHz while running 4.7GHz on the CPU. Something not all chips will do as you can have a chip that does high memory speeds but not high CPU speeds, with the opposite proving true as well. Finding a chip that does well in both CPU speed and memory speed is a rare gem indeed.

 

 

 

Maximum Core Clock Speed:

Each CPU has been tested for stability at the listed over-clocked speeds. These clock speeds will represent the level of performance shown by the over-clocked scores in the testing.

 

 

Benchmarks:

  1. PCMark 7
  2. SiSoft Sandra 2013
  3. Cinebench 11.5
  4. x264 5.1
  5. AIDA 64 3.00
  6. Crystal Diskmark
  7. ATTO
  8. iPerf
  9. Rightmark Audio Analyzer
  1. 3DMark
  2. Metro Last Light
  3. DiRT 3

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Testing:

PCMark 7 is the latest iteration of Futuremark's popular PCMark system performance tool. This version is designed for use on Windows 7 PCs and features a combination of 25 different workloads to accurately measure the performance of all PCs from laptops to desktops.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

 

  

  

 

  

 

SiSoft Sandra 2013 is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful. For this benchmark, I will be running a broad spectrum of tests to gauge the performance of key functions of the CPUs.

Overall Score

  

 

As I saw when testing the MSI Z87-GD65, the ASUS Maximus VI Hero seems to do an even better job of managing the boost clock speeds to offer a higher level of performance right out of the box when compared to the Intel and MSI mid range gaming solution. The margins are not drastic but measurable.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Testing:

Cinebench 11.5 is useful for testing your system, CPU, and OpenGL capabilities using the software program, CINEMA 4D. We will be using the default tests for this benchmark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

X.264 Benchmark: This benchmark is used to measure the time it takes to encode a 1080p video file into the x264 format. The default benchmark is used with an average of all four tests on each pass taken as the result.

  

  

 

AIDA64 Extreme Edition 3.0 is a software utility designed to be used for hardware diagnosis and benchmarking. I will be using the Cache and Memory benchmark tool to measure memory performance.

 

  

  

  

  

 

In this series of tests the margins in performance are small enough that the real world impact of the margin would not be felt. Overclocking does help improve performance on all three boards tested.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ATTO 2.47: will be used to measure USB 3.0 performance using an SSD attached to an external USB 3.0 drive dock.

  

  

  

  

 

ASUS' Maximus VI Hero delivers excellent drive performance from both the Internal SATA drive as well as awesome USB 3.0 performance. ASUS' USB 3.0 Boost tool is an added feature that delivers much improved USB 3.0 performance.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Testing:

LAN performance will be tested via a pair of utilities to gauge the performance of the on board network solutions. The motherboard being tested will be connected via a Gigabit switch to another system with an integrated Gigabit network solution on board.

iPerf: is a small lightweight utility run from the command prompt and can be used to "measure both TCP and UDP performance on a network. Iperf is cross platform software and open source". The test is configured to run for 20 seconds with a window size of 256 KB and four simultaneous streams that should be able to saturate the TCP link on a good NIC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rightmark Audio Analyzer 6.25 is used to test the sound solution on board each motherboard. Nothing beats a good set of ears and headphones but this is a graphic representation of the capabilities of the installed hardware. Sampling mode is 24bit 44kHz.

 
Intel DZ87KLT-75
MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming
ASUS ROG M6H
Frequency Response dB
+3.65,-2.33
+0.52,+ 0.30
+0.23,+0.12
Noise Level dBA
-91.3
-91.3
-91.5
Dynamic Range dBA
91.3
91.2
91.5
Total Harmonic distortion %
0.481
0.131
0.436
Intermodulation distortion +noise
1.393
0.259
0.365
Stereo Crosstalk,db
-69.7
-91.6
-89.2
Intermodulation distortion + noise (Swept Freq) %
0.465
.323
.311
Frequency Response (Swept Sine), db
+1.3,-2.4
+0.1,-0.1
+0.0,-0.1

Looking at the LAN testing results the Maximus VI Hero, the Intel DZ87KLT-78, and the MSI Z87-GD65 are all in the same performance envelope. Audio results show that the Supreme FX Realtek  ALC1150 controlled sound package does well in the testing, but a series of numbers does not fully quantify what your ears hear.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Testing:

3DMark: The just released version of Futuremark's popular 3DMark suite is designed to let a wider range of the user base the ability to make a comparative analysis of the gaming prowess of their systems from entry level PCs to notebooks and Extreme Gaming PCs.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DiRT 3 is the third iteration of this series. Published and developed by Codemasters, this game uses the EGO 2.0 game engine and was released in the US on PC in May of 2011.

Settings

 

 

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro Last Light is the followup to the extremely popular game Metro 2033. Developed by 4A games and published by Deepsilver, this game uses the 4A game engine. In this game set a year after the missile strike on the Dark Ones you continue on as Artyom as he digs deeper into the bowels of the Metro.

 

 

Settings:

 

 

 

The gaming results show us that at stock speeds the ROG Maximus VI Hero is up to the task of delivering excellent gaming performance. When system based factors are included in the test as in the Cloud Gate results, the M6H is a step ahead but is on even footing when the GPU becomes the limiting factor.

ASUS ROG Maximus VI Hero Conclusion:

When I first saw this board and heard it was a gateway product into the ROG universe I was curious as to which features would get left by the wayside to reach an affordable price point. A price point that was not really out of reach for the majority of users looking to jump into an ROG motherboard. Traditionally the ROG motherboards are halo products designed for the hard core gamer and enthusiast, usually with a price to match. Not so here with the ASUS Maximus VI Hero that comes to market at a more friendly $229 that puts it right into a nice price bucket. What you get for that price is a board that comes with all the hardware capabilities of the ASUS Z87 product stack coupled with a comprehensive software package that provides added value and functionality for the end user.

To start with, as a gaming centric board sound and graphics capabilities are going to be high on the list of must haves. Here ASUS delivers with up to Quad SLI and CrossfireX using a pair of multi GPU cards such as the GTX 690 or just released HD 7990. ASUS' Supreme FX sound solution is implemented well including the isolation of the sound solution from EMI interference at the hardware level. ELNA audio capacitors are used to provide a richer experience that comes across quite well while gaming, watching a Blu-ray movie, or just listening to music. The sound is crisp and clear, plus you get the redline moat visuals for some added bling factor. Supreme FX audio also supports a new tool for gamers called Sonic Radar to help improve the gaming experience even further by taking the sounds generated in-game and providing a graphic representation of where they come from. One last bit on the sound is Perfect Voice, a tool used to improve VOIP by reducing ambient noise intrusion.

The software package includes added value items like Kaspersky Antivirus and Daemon tools that would easily add at least $40 in additional cost if purchased separately. Game First II packet management software, ASUS RamDisk software, Secure Erase built into the BIOS, Memtweak, and ASUS AI Suite III are software tools that provide immense value and usability. Using these tools can improve gaming performance by reducing latency and improving ping times, reduce load times for maps and levels, allow cleaning up an SSD's free space, and tuning the system for optimal noise and performance levels. Each of these tools worked as advertised and did not crash or fail. AI Suite III proved to be a nice upgrade from the last iteration and once I found out where all of the tools were it was just as simple to use as AI Suite II.

Overclocking is the bread and butter of a ROG motherboard from ASUS. The Maximus VI Hero has that overclocking DNA built in deep down into the product. You have ASUS' all digital Extreme Engine Digi+III 8+2 phase power circuit that utilizes 60A rated Black Wing Chokes with gold plated coils, 10K Nichicon GT Black Caps, and NexFet PowerBlock to deliver improved voltage regulation, higher efficiency, and a longer lifespan. Voltage regulation was really tight on this board and fell almost spot on to what was set manually. Haswell memory overclocking is much better than on Ivy Bridge, which was no slouch in its own right. ASUS T-Topology 2 technology improves memory overclocking by up to 10% with a single DIMM and up to 5% with two DIMMs installed. The fact that I was able to further overclock my set of G.Skill 2400MHz rated Trident modules up past 2600MHz is the proof of concept I needed.

As far as CPU overclocking is concerned the limiting factor for my Core i7 4770K is the chip itself and the thermals it pushes out with a full-on water cooling system. The M6H easily reached the max clock speed of 4.7GHz for my CPU by manually tuning the vcore, ring voltage, and ratios. Manually tuning the system works well with all the options you would ever need in place and ready to use. However ASUS spent a lot of time and effort to ensure the auto rules for the CPU voltages and DRAM timings were up to par. That they were with a system that performed admirably and reliably. Tuning by way of the preset options in the BIOS and 4-Way optimization tool in AI Suite resulted in good solid overclocks that can be managed by the majority of the CPUs on the market.

When you get to the end of the rainbow you have a board with ASUS ROG pedigree encompassing a full-on ROG gaming centric software and hardware package, and features the great looks of its predecessors with performance to match. At $229 ASUS is making a statement that everyone can get into an ROG board.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: