ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Reviewccokeman -
» Discuss this article (5)
ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Introduction:
The ASUS ROG brand has morphed from a purely hardware centric build that featured everything including the kitchen sink, with ASUS now introducing lower entry points into the ROG line-up with slightly less hardware bells and whistles. ASUS pays attention to the feedback given online in any number of forums to get a good idea as to what its customer base is looking for in terms of feature set and reliability. The Maximus VII Hero is ready for sale at e-tailers at $229 and expands on the feature set for the gamer. The board is released concurrently with the Maximus VII Ranger and Gene, with Formula and Extreme models to follow in the future.
ASUS ROG Z87 offerings were excellent performers in their own right and now Intel and its board partners have introduced the Z97 PCH-equipped socket 1150 offerings, which includes the Maximus VII Hero I have here today. Not only do you get improvement through the Z97 PCH, but you get software updates to the ROG standbys, along with new implementations including Keybot, a new UEFI BIOS interface, and improved hardware.
ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Closer Look:
The packaging theme for the new Maximus VII Hero mirrors that of previous ASUS ROG releases. A deep red coloring easily sets the ROG Maximus VII Hero apart form other manufacturers' offerings in brick and mortar locations, making it easy to find on the shelves. The Republic of Gamers logo sits at the top left, the Maximus VII Hero is printed across the middle, and the bottom left lists compatibility with Intel's Fourth Generation Core series processors, both NVIDA SLI and AMD Crossfire, and resolutions up to 4K, along with an indication that it is Windows 8.1 ready. The back side of the box shows a breakdown of the I/O panel, the basic specifications, and highlights some of the features that set the ASUS ROG series apart from the competition.
Much like most of the ROG line, the front panel opens up to reveal a clear panel that shows off the board inside, providing you a feel for what you get. ASUS takes the opportunity and open space to educate the end user on the technologies that create a point of difference and how they benefit the gamer. In this case, we have: Supereme FX audio, with some new enhancements to both the software and hardware; Gamefirst III improvements, as well as NIC hardware level improvements with LanGuard; Keybot as a new tool to improve functionality, making any keyboard a gaming keyboard; and Gaming Gaurdian, which is a feature most of you will recognize wrapped into a new package.
ASUS ROG boards come with a full set of accessories that are tailored not only to the board, but a gaming feature set. The Maximus VII Hero comes with a detailed manual, "Do Not Disturb" door tag, SATA data cable labels, and the driver/software disk. You get a total of six SATA 6Gbps cables with locking ends, three of which have 90 degree ends. The Q-Shield I/O panel is designed to reduce EMI interference and protect against cuts from poorly cut out openings. Q-Connections have been used and pioneered by ASUS to make installing front panel connections to the motherboard easier. An SLI bridge connection is included in case you decide to run a dual-GPU solution from NVIDIA.
While not included in the package with the Maximus VII Hero, ASUS' newly released ROG Front Base is an available accessory that further expands the ROG feature set by allowing you to have a ton of control at your fingertips on a four-inch LCD panel. You get the normal stuff like speaker, mic and USB connectivity, but ASUS just adds on from there with multiple displays, CPU Level Up function, sound profile changes, and more. In the future we will look to get one of these and put it through its paces. Most readers will be familiar with the ROG OC Panel; an overclocking and monitoring tool available for use with the Z97 ROG lineup. With this tool, you get a ton of extreme overclocking options as a standalone tool. Pricing currently sits at $79 for the ROG Front Base and $99 for the OC Panel. Not bad prices for the added functionality you get. Both the ROG Front Base and OC Panel are fully compatible with all the Maximus VII series Z97 boards.
Since Intel has pretty much gotten out of the motherboard business, it has left all the innovation and build-outs to its board partners. The Z97 chipset launch is the first since this occurred. Intel's Z97 PCH brings support for upcoming and current socket 1150 processors. The chipset includes PCI Express M.2 storage options, which allows transfer speeds of up to 1 GB/s (as fast as SATA Express), are supported with Intel® Smart Response Technology, and can be used as a primary boot device. Intel Device Protection with Boot Guard is a new technology that "prevents repurposing of the platform to run unauthorized software, Protects against execution of boot block level malware and is rooted in a protected hardware infrastructure." Three specific types of Boot Guard are available: Measured Boot, which measures the boot block into the system storage device or TPM module; Verified Boot, which "cryptographically verifies the platform Initial Boot Block (IBB) using the boot policy key"; and Combined Boot, which uses both options. Also new for the Z97 chipset is support for Intel's Rapid Storage Technology 13, which allows "support for a single 16GB SSD to enable dynamic cache sharing". Basically, this allows the system memory image to be dynamically written to a caching SSD during deep sleep conditions. With a "resume" command, the image is written back into the memory and the caching SSD resumes full functionality as the cache SSD.
ASUS ROG offerings have always offered a complete mix of hardware and software options put together to deliver excellent performance, reliability, overclocking, and gaming specific features for gamers and hardcore enthusiasts alike. With this launch, I expect that trend to continue.