ASUS Maximus VI Hero Review

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ASUS, who were founded in 1989 have been one of the pioneers in computer technology for the past 2 decades and continue to grow and adapt to the ever growing market demand.  Back in 2006 ASUS launched what would be one of the most widely known brands in all of computing, the ROG or Republic of Gamers range.  This was designed to deliver hard core gamers with the innovation and tools they needed to be fully equipped to handle anything.  Even today, the ROG brand seems to be going from strength to strength and this is also due to the quality of the products.  They are highly regarded in the field of overclocking also with some of the ROG motherboards being some of the best and most desirable in the world, but they needn’t cost the earth…

ASUS have recently launched their latest line of Republic of Gamers Maximus VI motherboards to compliment Intel’s latest CPU range Haswell which operates on socket LGA 1150.  While being renowned for being top quality motherboards, they are also known for costing a premium but this is not the case.  ASUS have launched the Maximus VI Hero which costs around £160-165 and comes from the same DNA as the other Maximus VI boards, meaning the components are the same and that the quality remains the same.

Packed with such features like the Supreme FX audio chip, ASUS Suite III, ROG RamDisk and a host of other useful tools, the ASUS Maximus VI Hero certainly looks like a great board but how will it perform in our testing?  Is it a true Republic of Gamers board or does it feel somewhat cheap?  Let’s find out, starting with the 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 3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/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)
  • Operating System Support
    Windows® 8
    Windows® 7
  • 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, DMI2.7, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 2.7, ACPI5.0a Multi-Language BIOS
  • Manageability
    WfM 2.0, DMI 2.7, 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 )
  • Note
    *1: The PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (PCIEX4_3) supports up to x4 mode. It shares bandwidth with PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. The default setting is x1 mode.
    *2: The PCIe 2.0 x1 slots (PCIEX1_1/2/3) will be disabled when PCIe 2.0 x16 slot (PCIEX4_3 ) operates under x4 speed.
    *3: The supported functions depends on the CPU installed.
    *4: These SATA ports are for data hard drives only. ATAPI devices are not supported.
    *5: Support ASUS USB 3.0 Boost, UASP standard on the Intel native USB 3.0 is only supported under Windows® 8.
    *6: 2 x USB2.0 ports at mid-board shares with ROG extension (ROG_EXT) port.

On the front of the packaging, we have the legendary Republic of Gamers logo, branding and colour scheme throughout, with the name sake of the motherboard, the Maximus VI across the front.  The main colour scheme all red with different shades to give the packaging some dimension.  The box states the motherboard is SLI/CrossFire ready and that it supports the latest Intel Haswell CPUs.

On the front of the box, there is a flap which has a large viewing window so you can gaze through and check out the motherboard for yourself before purchasing.  This is great in a retail environment and really adds to the package delivered by ASUS.

Over on the rear of the packaging, we have the same ROG red theme throughout, with a more detailed explanation of the features and also a look at the rear I/O.  We have a detailed list of the specifications also which adds to the quality of the packaging in my opinion.

The Maximus VI Hero comes with the following accessories:

  • 6x  SATA cables.
  • 1x two-way SLI bridge.
  • Q-connectors.
  • Foam padded IO shield.

Taking an overall look at the ASUS Maximus VI Hero, we can clearly see the ROG on the southbridge heat sink and the red and black signature coloured DIMM slots.  The PCB is all black, which is always a great thing to see. We have the following PCI-Express configurations:

2 x PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slots (red)

1 x PCI-Express 2.0 x 16 slot (black)

3 x PCI-Express 2.0 x1 slots

The Hero makes use of the latest Extreme Engine Digi+ III which includes increased power efficiency in the MOSFETs, but while being smaller which is mighty impressive and is brilliant for sub-zero overclocking, with the ROG boards have come to be famed for.  The Maximus VI Hero also features 10k solid caps which are black and gold in colour and used all over the motherboard. When cheaper caps are used, their reliability tends to go down the pan but with ASUS, they have ensured that higher operating temperatures will no longer be an issue. This is particularly helpful for those wishing to push those overclocks to the limit.

Taking a closer look at the southbridge heat sink, we have the Republic of Gamers branding which comes with the territory of being an ASUS ROG board.  The heat sink is rather large which should aid in cooling one of the more vital components of the motherboard.

Here we have the PCI-Express lanes, in which graphics cards, RAID cards, sound cards etc. can be added to your system.  With the PCI-Express x16 lanes, you can run the following graphics configurations assuming you fill the slots from the top to the bottom.

1 x Graphics card = x16

2 x Graphics cards = x8/x8

3 x Graphics cards = x8/x8/x4 (3rd slot is Gen 2)

This gives users the option to use multi-GPU configurations for all those SLI/CrossFire nuts who demand the highest quality gaming performance.  There are also 3 x PCI-Express x1 slots for those who require them.

On the right side of the motherboard, we have 8 x SATA3 6GBps ports for storage devices such as SSDs, HDDs and even optical drives.  6 of the SATA ports are controlled by the Intel Z87 chipset and the other 2 by the AS Media AS1061.  The SATA ports are backwards compatible so there should be no issues with older SATA2 devices functioning as normal.

Taking a closer look around the CPU socket area, which as previously mentioned is LGA1150, we have the 6+2 digital power phase.  These are cooled by 2 relatively large heat sinks which look pretty stylish and fit in with the Maximus IV’s design.   The heat sink’s themselves having a single copper pipe which effectively transfers heat thus cooling the MOSFETs.  Behind the heat sinks there is the 8pin CPU power input.

On the top right of the motherboard, we have a reset and power switch, MemOK! Button and an LED Debug.  The LED Debug allows you to monitor the POST process and helps eliminate certain factors if there is a problem with the booting of the motherboard.  I feel these should be standard on all motherboards and can save a lot of time in troubleshooting problematic POSTs.

The chokes on the motherboard are capable of coping with 60A and up to 125c of heat.  These are gold in colour and stand out very well.  It is really nice to see ASUS packing the Hero with immense features and top quality components, especially on what I would call their entry model.

Here we have the Supreme FX chip, which makes drives the on-board audio of the Maximus VI Hero.  This contains shielding which separates and reduces interference from other components; this is also called the EMI protection cover.  The Supreme FX features 8 channel HD audio (7.1) and is supposed to deliver true audiophile grade performance; this should save costs on the need for an expensive sound card, a field ASUS are also very well known in.

On the rear I/O of the Maximus VI Hero, we have the following:

4 x USB3.0 ports

4 x USB 2.0 ports

1 x PS2 port for mice/keyboards

1 x BIOS Flashback button via USB

1 x Gigabit LAN connection (RJ45)

6 x Audio connections powered via the Supreme FX chip

1 x SPDIF (Optical connection)

1 x HDMI port

Given that Z87 has the capability of on-board graphics in the way of the iGPU on the Haswell CPUs, it would have been nice to see more than 1 x video input in the way of HDMI, maybe VGA, but this was not to be.  I personally do believe though that anyone looking to buy a ROG board would be using a dedicated graphics card but it would be nice to be given more of a choice.

Last but not least, we have the 4 x DIMM slots for the memory.  The Z87 chipset supports dual channel memory and this particular motherboard supports up to 32GB and allows you to use the 2800MHz memory+ meaning that this board is suitable for extreme overclocking.  These are red and black in colour and follow the Maximus VI Republic of gamers theme.

To give you an overview of the ASUS UEFI BIOS that comes on the Maximus VI Hero, I have taken various screenshots showing the various menu’s etc.  As you can see, it has an ASUS ROG theme and is all red which is another nice touch

CPU – Intel i7 4770K

Motherboard – ASUS Maximus VI Hero

Memory – Patriot Viper3 8GB (2400MHz CAS10) 2x4GB

Graphics – HD4600 (Onboard)

Cooler – Thermalright Silver Arrow SB-E Extreme

Storage – Intel 520 240GB SATA3 SSD

PSU – Enermax 1200w Platimax

With overclocking being one of my passions, I always take great pleasure in tweaking and trying to squeeze every little bit out of my hardware.  Having a ROG motherboard in my possession made me tingle as I was excited to see what I could do with it.

With the problems in thermal performance with Haswell, especially when overclocking on conventional air cooling, it’s a little harder to judge the performance of each motherboard so I decided to make it as simple as possible.  My experience wasn’t trouble-free, but this was mainly due to thermal constraints, meaning that I was only able to push it so far.

With that being said, I was able to hit 5GHz stable but I did require 1.45v for it.  Not many i7 4770k retail chips have been able to hit 5GHz regardless of voltage but I do feel with the proper cooling, this motherboard would be capable of 4.8GHz stable which the Maximus VI Hero is more than up to the task as at 5GHz under Prime95 load, the temperatures sky rocketed and wasn’t safe to continue.

Overall, I found the ASUS UEFI BIOS to be one of the best I have tested so far, due to the amount of options available and with how nice it flows overall.  I had no issues in making settings/overclock stick and although Haswell temperatures cause me headaches, overclocking the Maximus VI Hero did not!

 

So now I have had the chance to test out what ASUS are calling an entry level motherboard, but in reality it is a feature packed Republic of Gamers board. What are my final thoughts on the Maximus VI Hero?  Does it live up to my expectations or is it a disappointing addition to a big franchises catalogue?  Let’s find out…

Starting with the aesthetics, the Maximus VI Hero has all the hallmarks of a Republic of Gamers product, it is a ROG product and has the same DNA and the majority of the same features as its bigger brothers dubbed the Formula and the Extreme.  The red and black theme has become synonymous with the ASUS top-end products and it looks beautiful in my opinion.  From the black heat sinks all the way to the ROG labelled Southbridge heat sink, the board flows and with the red backlighting on the motherboard (can be turned off via the BIOS) it just has an epic red aura when powered on which is hard to replicate.  The small details matter, from the inclusion of 2 x 4pin fan headers for those powerful CPU coolers, to the ambient red LED lighting which can be toggled on and off, it’s a real delight and easily one of the best looking boards I have had on my test bench so far.

The performance was very interesting, although I wish I could have pushed the Hero further when overclocking, the results speak for themselves and in quite a lot of cases, comes out on top over a more expensive board.  Although it isn’t as conclusive as it could be and the scores are pretty even, it shows it is no slouch and that the board is made of true quality components.  The Supreme FX audio chip also gave good performance as I listened to a multitude of songs while using it and I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s probably one of the best all-round motherboards I have had the pleasure of testing.

Touching more on the features of the ASUS Maximus VI Hero, aside from the performance which is great, we have the inclusion of RAMDisk, which allows you allocate your RAM into storage which allows you obtain some of the fastest speeds possible.  Depending on the capacity of your memory, if you have 32GB for example, you could even put an entire game on and benefit from it or even a programme like Adobe Photoshop for the best possible performance available.  Other features which I found were useful include the LED Debug poster, which again I feel should come standard with all the latest and high-end motherboards, the Supreme FX audio which I feel has a noticeable improvement over a stock, bog standard on-board audio and I was impressed overall with what is being touted as an entry level board, which in my opinion could quite easily be called high-end motherboard!

The most amazing factor to take into consideration here is the price, coming in at around £160-165, it’s priced in what I would call the mid-range of pricing and oh boy, for your money you get one hell of a board.  This board could have easily been £200 and would still be appealing to gamers/enthusiasts alike.  ASUS have done nothing short of an amazing job with the Maximus VI Hero and it is worth every penny, obviously I would have liked to have seen more options in terms of video output and think it will hurt some people, but in my case, I always use a dedicated GPU with top end hardware and this is what I believe the Maximus VI Hero to be, a piece of top end hardware!

Thanks to ASUS for the sample and I really look forward to seeing more in the near future.

  • Performance
  • Design
  • Value

Summary

Overall, the Maximus VI Hero is an astounding board for the price you pay; this might be the entry level ROG board but it screams and oozes the quality you would expect from ASUS. It performs well, looks amazing and more importantly, costs around £160 making this board one of the best overall bang for buck boards on the market and a welcomed addition to the Maximus VI ROG series.

4.7

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