[section_title title=”Closer Look”]Closer Look
Taking a closer look at the ASUS Z97 MAXIMUS VII HERO motherboard, the first thing that draws me in is the lovely red ROG design. Aside from the updated heat sinks (compared to the Z87 version), I feel the board looks a lot cleaner and neater with the new sleek heat sinks. The board itself is ATX form factor and has 3 x PCI-Ex lanes (from top to bottom)
1 x PCI-Ex x16 Gen3 (red)
1 x PCI-Ex x8 Gen3 (red)
1 x PCI-Ex x4 Gen2 (black)
Aside from that, the VII HERO supports both SLI and Crossfire for the best gaming experience/performance. The board also has 3 x PCI-Ex x1 slots for devices such as raid controllers, dedicated sound cards and additional networking devices.
Here is a closer look at that newly designed ROG Southbridge heat sink which not only looks great, but when the board is powered up, it glows red and looks the business; this can be turned off in the BIOS if you don’t like it, although I love it.
Here is a closer look at the other heat sink which not only covers the MOSFETS but also towers over the power phases which can be seen with the gold tops. The VII HERO also features a 2 phase digital power design for the memory which is supported by the ASUS DRAM power utility; a nice thing to have nevertheless. Also in view is the 8pin 12v CPU power socket which powers the CPU socket area.
In the top right hand corner of the motherboard we have a couple of nice features and 1 new feature compared with the previous VI HERO (Z87) motherboard. The LED debug is pretty common nowadays on high end boards and I really do like the inclusion of the start/reset buttons; fantastic in open case scenarios such as test benches. The MEMOK button returns but the new feature comes in the way of KeyBot. As previously mentioned, it upgrades your current keyboard to suit ROG style functions such as the ability to assign macro buttons to F1-10 to launch things like multimedia playback. This requires you to plug your keyboard into the KeyBot USB port on the rear of the motherboard and in my opinion, this is quite a nifty feature and one that should raise a few eyebrows with gamer’s looking for an easier experience.
Here we have the 8 x SATA 6GB/s ports which allow users to get the most out of their SATA SSD/HDDs. The controller also features RAID support for RAID 0,1,5,10.
In terms of rear I/O, the MAXIMUS VII HERO comes with the following ports:
4 x USB 3.0
2 x USB 2.0
1 x Set of audio jacks
1 x HDMI with support up to 4kHD @ 24Hz
1 x DVI-D
1 x VGA
Not as many rear I/O connections as I would have expected but plenty of options there. It is supported with the ability to have an extra 2 x USB 3.0 and 5 x USB 2.0 ports via headers found in the middle area of the motherboard.
On the left hand side towards the bottom of the motherboard, is the Supreme FX audio chip. This is powered by the ALC1150 audio processor and has ROG SupremeFX shielding technology to avoid any nasty static or electrical interference. This also powers the ASUS Sonic Rader II which I took a look at in the previous Z87 MAXIMUS VI HERO review.
Last but not least we have the new addition to the Z97 chipset in the way of the PCIe M.2. This is designed to give the most advanced and fastest storage solutions room to breathe with bandwidth of up to 10GB/s; absolutely blistering and certainly a feature to look out for when they become more readily available.
Here is a lovely shot of the ASUS Z97 MAXIMUS VII HERO on the test bench in all its glory to show off the illumination; I absolutely love it.