ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Reviewccokeman - May 26, 2014
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ASUS ROG Maximus VII Hero Closer Look:
AI Suite III alone contains some of the proprietary software package, but there is more to be seen outside of it. 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 discs and make/burn disk images. But that's not all you get...
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 III is ASUS' own traffic-shaping tool to improve ping time and reduce latency by managing the network traffic flow. Teamed up with a LAN Guard-protected Intel-based NIC, Game First III has been completely revamped with a new interface that is much easier to manage. You have four profiles that can be selected based on the type of traffic that will be hitting the network: Optimization to manage traffic with equal priorities; Game to allow gaming traffic to take priority; Media Streaming; and File Sharing. There are four radio buttons that allow you to manage the application list, monitor the network traffic by the top five applications, monitor real-time usage and total usage results, run a bandwidth test that goes to an external link for a popular speed test, and look at the basic information on your network connection.
KeyBot is a new tool designed to improve the functionality of your keyboard. To start, simply plug your keyboard into the ROG Connect (KeyBot) USB port on the I/O panel and enable the software. Once enabled, you get control at the hardware level to wake the system from an S5 state, use the F11 key for the CPU Level Up funtion, F12 to set the XMP profile of your modules, and the DEL key to boot directly to the UEFI BIOS. Those seem to be standard fare, but further on you get the ability to set macro keys, use the Smart Login feature to log in with a single key stroke, assign functions to the F keys, and setup shortcuts to open files or games. It all adds up to a tool that can make any keyboard you are comfortable with into a gaming powerhouse keyboard.
RAMDisk for 2014 is even more useful than previous iterations with its ability to dynamically manage the size of the RAM disk by releasing memory back to the system if needed. 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, whether working in the OS 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 16-32GB 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, so this is often a relatively cheap solution.
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 500-550MB/s range 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 when using 2400MHz memory. HINT: It's just brutally fast! And in case you were wondering, you do not lose data with this implementation; on system shutdown, all the data on the RAMDisk is written back to the disk drive and reloaded once the system starts up again.
ASUS' Realtek SupremeFX 2014 sound solution software gets a big upgrade with the addition of both Sonic SoundStage and Sonic Studio. Sonic SoundStage is a series of hardware-based profiles that can be dynamically changed by pushing a button on the lower end of the PCB, in the OS using SteamOS, the application, or via the ROG Front Base, if you have one installed. Sonic Sense Amp is used to detect the impedance of your headphones and amplify the signal accordingly for improved audio quality. Sonic Studio is a tuning suite that allows the end user to use the audio controls, including Reverb, Bass Boost, Equalizer, Voice Clarity, and Smart Volume to build a specific profile for their needs, which can then be saved and set as a profile. Inside Sonic Studio, you have the option of using the Virtual Surround radio button to give the impression of surround sound. After tooling through the settings, you can get a sound tailored to your liking.
Sonic Radar II is yet another tool that sees an improvement in the interface. 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 through 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 game-centric, full-featured software package.