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ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Hero (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Aug 5, 2015 2:54 pm
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASUS

Packaging and the Board




The box uses ASUS's classic ROG styling. Packaging is done well and the board is protected, there is a window on the box so you can see the board if you are buying it in a store.




Accessories include 6x SATA6G cables, IO shield, 2-Way SLI bridge, Q-Connector, CPU installation tool , ROG stickers, HDD/SSD label stickers, ROG case badge, ROG door tag, screw for M.2, driver DVD, and manuals. ASUS has designed a CPU installation tool so that novice users can feel safe installing the CPU. It pops onto the CPU and then you place the CPU in the socket, it helps you avoid "dropping" the CPU into the socket.





The Maximus VIII Hero has seven fan headers circled in blue, and all of them support both PWM and DC (voltage) control. This is a big deal, as I don't know of any other motherboard with all headers supporting both PWM and voltage mode. There is also a thermal sensor input, and I circled it in green. ASUS also provides a socket for their external fan expander, and it is circled in red. ASUS has really improved their fan control for Z170, and it is quite impressive.


What really caught my eye with the Maximus VIII Hero is the styling. Its heat sinks are beautiful, they are that perfect shade of silver/gray in between the gun metal black of the capacitors and gray of the shield and ports. ASUS did an excellent job with aesthetics, but you won't get to see all of it until you turn the motherboard on. While the ROG symbol on the PCH looks like its solid silver, there are actually RGB LEDs behind it that allow it to glow any color you want. The back of the PCB is bare for the most part, but there are 10 red LEDs that light up the audio isolation pathway. ASUS provided metal back plates for the drivers on the backside of the VRM.




The IO panel features only 4x USB 2.0 ports (the lowest one below the PS/2 connector is for USB BIOS Flashback), PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse, BIOS Flashback button, Display Port, HDMI port, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 2x USB 3.0, RJ-45 1GBit NIC port, and TOSLINK connector with gold plated audio jacks. Some people might be a little surprised to see so few USB 3.0 ports on the back panel, and ASUS could have added a few more. However, I believe that ASUS designed this board to be kind of like a barebones overclocker, and overclockers prefer chipset IO to hubs and controllers, and in that regard the USB 2.0 count on the IO panel becomes more acceptable.




The PCI-E layout is pretty simple; for starters all PCI-E slots are PCI-E 3.0. The gray slots are connected to the CPU's PCI-E controller and can provide a total of 16x lanes. A single card will run at 16x in the first slot, and two cards will run at 8x/8x in each of the gray slots. The topmost 1x slot is directly routed to the PCH, but the last 16x slot (4x electrical) and the other two PCI-E 1x slots share 4x of bandwidth. If you run all three slots then the last 16x (4x electrical) slot will operate at 2x, while the second and third 1x slots run at 1x. You can run the last slot at 4x, but the second and third PCI-E 1x slots will be disabled.




The Z170 PCH provides six SATA6Gb/s ports, so ASUS added two more through an ASMedia controller. There are two SATA Express ports which share four SATA ports with the PCH's ports. A USB 3.0 internal header is located right below the 24-pin connector as well for an easy reach for front panel USB 3.0 wires.




ASUS's SupremeFX is a very well equipped Realtek solution. The Realtek codec is located under an EMI shield which peaks out from below the plastic shield, Nichicon fine audio capacitors are used as well, and a relay is used to eliminate popping when you start up the system. This isn't the first time I have seen a relay used on a motherboard to avoid popping, but ASUS's implementation is better since they used a much quieter relay.




The M.2 slot on the Maximus VIII Hero is a 4x one and it supports even the longest M.2 drives. A second USB 3.0 internal header is located at the bottom of the board near the case connectors. The LN2 mode jumper is located right near the end of the last PCI-E 16x slot, and it will provide higher voltage levels and LN2 capabilities if enabled. Power, reset, and clear CMOS buttons are provided at the bottom of the board, and this is a good location especially if you plan on using liquid nitrogen on the memory slots. A header is also located near the power button for a Thunderbolt add-in card.




A POST code display is located at the top right corner of the motherboard and a MemOK button is located right above it. Behind the CPU VRM heat sink are three fan headers, and the motherboard has a single 8-pin CPU power connector located at the top most edge of the board.




The heat sinks make excellent contact with the PCB, even the backside protection bars help a lot. The shield over the IO panel and audio section is made of plastic, but it looks nice.

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