The first of its kind, the ROG MAXIMUS X Hero edition, has landed. The entry level of the most enthusiastic motherboard line-up ASUS has to offer. But do not be fooled! This Hero edition has nothing of an entry level, and was not afraid to challenge its more expensive sisters!
- Review Price: 240.00 USD
- ATX Form Factor
- Intel Z370 chipset
- Intel LGA 1151 socket “v2”
- 4 x 4133MHz DDR4, maximum 64GB
- 3 x PCI-E x16, 3 x PCI-E x1
- 1 x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 2.0, 4 x USB 3.1 (1st Gen), 1 x Gigabit Ethernet, 1 x HDMI (1.4b), 1 x DisplayPort (1.2), 5 x audio, 1 x optical S/PDIF
- 2 x M.2, 6 x SATA 3
- 2x SLI, 2x CrossFire support
Since there is really nothing new between the Z270 and the Z370 based chipset motherboards, and since it is EXACTLY the same components, layout and technology that you will find from a series to another, manufacturers really had nothing much to do but to change some packaging and titles. But some others took the opportunity to focus on the actual design of their motherboards. And that’s precisely what ASUS has done with the MAXIMUS X Hero edition.
To be honest, it had been hard for me to raise any form of excitement for this coming series. But hey, I love to be wrong!
Let’s start with the obvious!
- This is an ATX (24.4 cm X 30.5 cm), so chose your case accordingly!
- Equipped with the new Intel Z370 chipset… which is nothing else but a Z270 chipset (more on that later).
- Can ONLY run 8th Gen.Intel processors. The so-called Coffee Lake CPUs.
Even though this is none of the Asus’ fault, I am fuming on the idea that compatible hardware, has been made incompatible for marketing reasons. The 6th and 7th Generation Intel processors (Skylake and Kaby Lake) are fully able to run on Z370 based motherboards… but Intel has deliberately disabled its support to push its latest generation forward. I can go on and on.
Note that the back has no protective plate, so show some care when handling the motherboard.
The CPU socket
So here I go again.
This is the very same LGA 1151 socket that you would find on a Z170 or a Z270 series. It is the very same chipset too. Yet you will not be able to use Z170 and Z270 compatible chipsets with Z370 chipsets and their so-called LGA 1151 “v2”.
This makes me mad! So mad! But that’s Intel decision.. not Asus’so I’ll move on.
The PCIe slots
We have an impressive 6 individual 3rd Generation PCIe present on this board.
X3 single slot and single speed
X 16 slots with different speeds.
In a single GPU configuration, the first 16 slot PCIe (the closest on to the CPU), can deliver 16 full BUS speed. It is the only one able to do so. Make sure to use it for optimal GPU performances.
In a dual GPU configuration, the two first 16 slot PCIe will share bandwidth and will deliver up to 8 full BUS speed individually.
The last 16 slot PCIe is capped at a nominal 4 BUS speed, no matter the GPU configuration.
Since the first 2 16 slots, PCIes are the one most likely to receive GPUs, they have been metallically re-enforced for a better support.
Nothing groundbreaking here, as usual, we have our 6 3.0 SATA plugs. They deliver up to 6 Gb/s of data swap. Perfect for your SSDs.
The IO Back-plate
Finally, an integrated I/O shield on an entry level! I have been complaining about this, over and over again. But finally, it is here :).
It might not sound like a big deal for many, but for a guy who grew up on 386 builds, and had many of its fingers scarred by generations of these animals, it is HUGE!
Starting from the left we have :
- Clear CMOS and BIOS button
- 1.4b HDMI and a 1.2 DisplayPort output for our CPU integrated GPU
- x2 2.0 USBs, with transfer rate up to 480 Mb/s
- x4 3.1 (1st Gen.) USBs, with transfer rate up to 5 Gb/s
- x2 3.1 (2nd Gen.) type A and Type C USBs, with transfer rate up to 10 Gb/s
- a surged protected Gigabit Ethernet plug
- 5 Supreme FX audio out + 1 optical SPDIF outlet.
As usually found on Asus boards, you can expect a higher sound rendition with the Supreme FX sound audio chipset. Worth noting, Asus has added the third generation of its already widely use Sonic Radar III and Sonic Studio III, which aims to please audio producing users more than gamers really!
Two Optane ready M.2 SSD connectors:
- up to 80 mm (closest to the CPU, hidden under a sandblasted aluminum heat-shield)
- up to 80 mm (under the Z370 heat shield)
And they individually can (supposedly) transfer data up to 32 Gb/s. But of course, this will be limited by the heat the sticks will produce doing so. Keep in mind that they WILL thermo-throttle. But Asus tried to limit this by adding an optional fan of the first M.2 SSD connector (will require a 3D mount) and a thermo-pad on the back of the central heat shield. Both M.2 SSDs have now different heat dissipation options. Coudos to Asus for that!
So yes! M.2 SSDs can be the main source of storage on this board!
64 GB DDR4 Ram, overclock-able up to an impressive 4,133 MgHz! (XMP must be enabled). Obviously, that’s 32 GB per channel, and 16 GB per memory slot.
Q-LED and Soldered Buttons and other stuff.
Now, entry levels who show up with no less than 5 individual PWM fan connectors impose respect! But it also has a fan extension connector, just in the case, you know… you’d want to add 8 more of them!
And yes, we do have a Q-LED screen. And any enthusiast knows this option is not an option! Going through complex builds means that you will more than likely meat a failure of some sort on your first boot. And this little screen will save you both time and sanity when troubleshooting it. A MUST!
I also love the fact that we have not less than 5 soldered buttons on the board. Again, easy to start up your board for test runs without the need of front panel buttons. Let’s note that we do have a Retry and Safe reset button, first time I see this on an entry level board. Well done Asus… Well done indeed.
And of course the looks. This board comes with no less than 3 integrated RGB strips hidden under :
- The IO roof
- The M.2 SSD heat shield (brilliant)
- The Z370 chipset heat-shield.
Of course, they are all AURA compliant. Meaning that we will be able to sync there different lighting effect through ASUS proprietary sync software (which you’ve guessed it, is called AURA).
But that is not enough!!!
You can also add LED strips exports on your board. We have no less than 3 of them available to us. Again, one more than usually available on previous Hero editions! And let us note that, also for the first time, amongst them 3 connectors, we have an RGB addressable connector.
For the ones who might not know it, and addressable LED strip will allow you to control the light intensity and color of every individual LED on that strip! Fancy!
I will go quick. Asus did achieve a lot with the ROG MAXIMUS X Hero edition. It managed to narrow the gap between the Hero and its next upgrade, the MAXIMUS X Code.
And surprisingly, even though there were no real technological advancements between the Z270 and the Z370 chipset motherboards (don’t get me started), Asus managed to deliver some real advancements and exciting features not present on its previous Hero iterations:
- Integrated I/O shield
- Addressable RGB connector
- more soldered buttons (Safe Reset and Retry)
- better integrated RGB strips (more LEDs per strips)
We also have a real custom water-cooling motherboard. We have flow in and flow out sensors, AIO pump connectors, flow meter connector, etc.. etc..
This board got everything you’ll need to OC the heck out of your expensive K-type CPU, and won’t cost you an eye and an arm. Actually, it’ll keep you at a cool 240 USD at review time!
CPU & northbridge support