ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Reviewccokeman -
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ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Conclusion:
From a pure performance perspective, there is not really a lot to drive you away from your Z87-based Maximus VI Hero or Gene motherboard. However, there is so much more available from a software, hardware, and usability standpoint that makes buying the Z97-based Maximus VII Hero a better option than the last gen Z87-based boards in ASUS' product stack. As far as performance and overclocking goes, the differences between a Z87-equipped board like the Maximus VI Gene and the Maximus VII Hero are minimal and come down to how the board is tuned and the memory you run in it. So let's get to it.
Overclocking on the Z97-based Maximus VII Hero is as good as it gets with my CPU. It seems it does not like combinations above 4.65GHz using 2400MHz memory modules. This is exactly where the M7H gets it to with a minimum of effort on my part. Set the XMP Profile for the Patriot DIMMs, adjust the CPU multiplier, Ring ratio, CPU Voltage and Cache voltage, let the rest ride, and then restart. Sure I can manually tune the memory for a bit better latency and tighter timings, but the board does well enough on its own for all intents and purposes thanks to ASUS' back-end testing. It actually gets easier than that if you must know, depending on how aggressive you want to get with your chip. You can use ASUS 5-Way optimization tool for a fool proof 4.2GHz+ clock speed by clicking one button. CPU Level Up options are still included in the BIOS in three flavors as well: 4.2GHz, 4.4GHz, and 4.6GHz. All three work well with the on-board tuning algorithms. But wait, there's one more option. Inside ASUS' newly revamped UEFI BIOS, under EZ Mode, you can use the EZ Tuning mode that takes end user input about the intended usage scenario and cooling, then gets to work tuning the system, even down to the fan profiles used in Fan XPert III. ASUS makes overclocking easy, plain and simple. WIth the ROG Maximus VII Hero, you can go as mild or as wild as you want. Using the ASUS ROG OC Panel brings a few more options if you want to hit the extreme edge. 'Nuff said.
Overclocking aside, ASUS' Maximus VII Hero has a lot more to offer when comparing it to ASUS' Z87 offerings. First we get a full-on revamp of the company's best in class UEFI, with a new EZ Mode that is so loaded with features you do not even need to hit the Advanced section of the BIOS for any basic setup and tuning tasks. You get all the system information, manual and Q-Fan tuning, Boot Priority, EZ-Raid switch for RAID setup, and monitoring of the CPU temperature and voltage. The Advanced section of the BIOS does not change much, but has an all new look that is an improvement over the previous design. It's as smooth and easy to navigate as previous revisions. If you have used it, you know what I am talking about. Key software additions abound with the addition of KeyBot, Sonic SoundStage and Sonic Studio in the SupremeFX control panel, and ASUS Home Cloud server. Existing ROG software gets an update as well, with all new interfaces and functionality in AI Suite III, Sonic Radar II, USB Boost 3.0, Game First III, and RAMDisk. The latter now allows the amount of memory allocated to the RAMDisk to be dynamically reallocated to system usage if not being used and back when needed. In addition, AI Suite gets a new 5-Way optimization tool that now adds the Turbo APP to change performance levels dynamically by application, so you don't always have to run your CPU on the edge.
On the hardware side, ASUS put together a solid SupremeFX sound solution that can change the Sonic SoundStage profiles via a hardware switch or SteamOS. Or, if you purchase the ROG Front Base, you can choose right on the panel. ASUS added hardware-level ESD protection to the LAN port that improves ESD protection by 100% over traditional ports. Sound Sense Amp is an ROG invention that senses the impedance of your installed headphones (between 65~150 ohms) and adjusts the headphone amplifier accordingly. With True Volt USB, you get a full, steady 5V through two dedicated pathways in the PCB to feed the front panel and rear panel USB ports. You also get dedicated over voltage control to the DIMM sockets with a resettable fuse if you decide that the memory needs that next little step up to get stable. There is just so much built in at the hardware level to ensure the gamer and enthusiast get the experience they expect.
ROG boards often come with a price premium over other boards just because of the quality design, hardware selection, and impressive gaming-centric software package built in. At $229, the Maximus VII Hero is priced competitively in the category ASUS is targeting. For that price, it will be tough to find a board that offers more in terms of software and innovation for the gamer. If you are planning a new build based on Intel's 4th or 5th generation Core series processors and are an avid gamer, the Maximus VII Hero is calling your name.
- ROG feature set
- New software and updates
- Improved interface
- 5-Way optimization
- ROG forums
- ROG Front Base
- ROG OC Panel