What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

ASUS Maximus IX Hero Motherboard Review

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Now that we have taken a look at both the ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming K6 and GIGABYTE AORUS Z270X-Gaming 5, it is time to check out one of the newest models from the highly lauded ASUS Republic of Gamers series. The Maximus IX Hero that are reviewing today represents the most affordable entry into the ROG family, with a suggested retail price of about $230 USD. Despite sitting behind the Maximus IX Code and the Maximus IX Formula - which feature various additions ranging from full-body shielding, to onboard Wi-Fi, to MOSFET water blocks, and greater RGB LED lighting - the Maximus IX Hero shouldn't be overlooked since it features a very healthy specs list.

Looking at the fundamentals, we see that the Maximus IX Hero features a 10-phase digital CPU power design with OptiMOS MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, 10K Black Metallic capacitors, three physical PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots with support for 2-way SLI or 3-way CrossFireX, three PCI-E x1 slots, six SATA 6Gb/s ports, and two full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 slots – at least one of which will support Intel’s upcoming Optane SSD product line. There are also two high-speed USB 3.1 ports, one Type-A and one Type-C, four USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, and one USB 3.0 header. Surprisingly, there is no internal USB 2.0 header, but we will gladly overlook that since this model features the very first USB 3.1 front panel header that we have ever seen. Those with newer cases that support this latest USB standard will finally be able to direct all of that speed to your case's front ports. Rounding out the connectivity is one Intel-powered gigabit LAN Port, and a M.2 Key E slot that supports M.2 Wi-Fi cards. Not only that, but they have integrated two antenna cutouts into the rear I/O panel. With these two additions, adding Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth to this motherboard should be a piece of cake.

While that is an impressive amount of inputs and outputs, what makes ROG models really interesting and special are the unique additions that you won't find anywhere else. For example, on this model audio duties are handled by the newest generation of SupremeFX onboard audio. This new implementation is obviously based on the new Realtek ALC1220 ten-channel HD audio codec and features audio-grade Nichicon capacitors. The codec has its own electromagnetic interference (EMI) cover and is also protected by a PCB-level isolation line, which helps keep noise out of the audio signal. Now those elements are fairly standard based on the Z270 motherboards that we have seen so far, except for the EMI cover. However, on the Maximus IX Hero, that audio signal is improved by a widely acclaimed ESS ES9023P DAC and is then further boosted by a dedicated TI R4580 headphone amplifier. We have seen these components used before, and the end result has always been excellent. Another benefit of SupremeFX is compatibility with the ASUS audio software suite that consists of Sonic Studio II and Sonic Radar II.

Do you like onboard headers? Because this motherboard has a lot of them. For starters, there are eight fan headers, some of which are of the high current variety that can support water pumps and high amperage fans. There are headers designed to help you monitor the temperature and flow rate of your liquid cooling system, there are temperature sensor headers. There is an ROG_EXT header that will allow you to plug in an ASUS OC Panel II device. There are also two RGB light strip headers, which we will explain down below. What about buttons, switches and jumpers? There are a lot of those too. There is an LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures), Slow Mode switch (drops the CPU multiplier to temporarily enhance system stability), Safe Boot button (powers off system, loads previous Safe Mode BIOS settings), ReTry button (hardware-level reboot similar to turning off your PSU), power-on Start button, Reset button, and a MemOk! button (initiates memory compatibility tuning process). There is also a clear CMOS button and ROG Connect button on the rear I/O panel.

This new model also features RGB LED lighting in the form of AURA SYNC. There are RGB LEDs integrated into the chipset and MOSFET coolers, and they can be all controlled using the AURA lighting control utility. These lights can be adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects, like pulsating with the beat of your music, cycling through all the colours, fading in and out, flash on and off, or just statically displaying one colour. There are also two RGB headers, each capable of powering a 12V/2A 5050 LED lighting strip and controlling it via the AURA utility. What makes this AURA SYNC implementation different than the regular AURA is that synchronize colours and effects with other SYNC compatible components, like graphics cards, keyboards, and mice. Overall, if lighting matters to you, this motherboard has customization options that very few other models can match.

If performance matters to you more than looks - as it should - this model is packed with various ASUS automatic overclocking features that have proven themselves to be extremely capable in the past. They are also quite difficult to implement perfectly right off the bat when a new processor generation is introduced, so we can't wait to see what ASUS have come up with and how well they work. I don't think we have ever been letdown by an ROG motherboard in the past, so let's see if ASUS have managed to extend that legacy.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_1.png
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Packaging & Accessories

Packaging & Accessories


Now that we have gone over the Maximus IX Hero's features and specifications in the intro, it is time to examine the packaging and then crack open the box to take a look at the bundled accessories. Let's check it out:

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_2th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_3th.png

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_4th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_5th.png

Click on image to enlarge

For this new generation, ASUS have unveiled a brand new box for their Republic of Gamers models. It is as red and black as ever, but now features a really sharp and modern look. We like it! By the way, the box is made of very high quality cardboard, it is unusually thick.

Aside from some logos, the only thing on the front is the large ROG emblem that will obviously be familiar to everyone. On the back of the box, you will find quite a bit of information regarding all of the interesting features that have been packed onto this model, and total specifications list. The only thing missing is a handy rear I/O panel diagram, which has become the norm on most motherboard boxes.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_8th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_9th.png

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_11th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_10th.png

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_12th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_13th.png

Click on image to enlarge

We mentioned the high quality box above, but it has to restated since ASUS have really created a premium experience with this packaging. The top of the box is actually a non-removable lid that is hinged so it not only opens smoothly and stays upright without support. Once you open that lid, there is also a nice welcome message inside.

When you do open the packaging, you are greeted with an inner box that contains two separate sections. The top half holds the motherboard, protected by a plastic shield, and the bottom half contains the numerous bundled accessories, software and documentation. Between those two levels is a sheet with a ton of ROG stickers on it. It's a new and pretty cool addition. Under that sheet of stickers was a drink coaster on top of the user guide. That user guide (which had the DVD inside) was sandwiched between the two side compartments that had all of the accessories. Overall, it was just a really sleek new experience.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_19th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_20th.png

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_21th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_22th.png

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_24th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_25th.png

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_27th.png
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_28th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_26th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_23th.png

Click on image to enlarge

As you would expect from such a Republic of Gamers model, the Maximus IX Hero Extreme comes with a sizeable accessories bundle. There is the usual User Guide and installation DVD, the aforementioned drink coaster, as well as some stickers that you can wrap around SATA cables to label individual connections. They have also thrown in an all-black rear I/O shield, four SATA 6Gb/s ports, a Q-connector to help connect the case wires to the front panel header, some screws and standoffs for the M.2 slots, and one high bandwidth SLI HB Bridge. That SLI bridge is a roughly $30 USD value, so it is a very nice addition to this bundle for those who plan on running two GeForce GTX 1070's or GTX 1080's.

This motherboard has also been outfitted with the AURA RGB lighting feature, but to extend that functionality there are two onboard headers on which you can plug LED light strips, using the included from RGB LED extension cable. ASUS have also included their CPU Installation Tool, which helps with the installation or removal of the processor from the CPU socket. Please check out our great showcase of this feature at the bottom of this page.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the Maximus IX Hero

A Closer Look at the Maximus IX Hero



MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_29.jpg

When we first pulled this motherboard out of the box, it gave us a flashback to the Rampage IV Black Edition. That model featured an all-black murdered-out aesthetic and the new Maximus IX Hero is closer to matching that than any other ROG model in recent history. With say that because the Hero has no red on it anywhere, but as you take a closer look it's really not all black. The various heatsinks are dark grey, as are some of slots, and ASUS have also silkscreened some crazy looking grey patterns onto the PCB. Overall though, it is an undeniably good looking motherboard.

It is based on the conventional full-size ATX form factor - 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm / 12.0-in x 9.6-in - so there are no compatibility issues to worry about with any properly designed case. The overall layout is very well-thought-out and there are no critical shortcomings that we can point out. All the buttons and switches, numerous connectors and ports are easily accessible and free from possible obstruction. We appreciate the fact that there is a huge amount of space between two primary PCI-E x16 slots, so there won’t be any issues fitting thick dual or even triple-slot graphics cards on this motherboard. We also like the placement of the M.2 slots, since many motherboards seem to place at least one slot directly under the primary graphics card, which is a problem because very high performance M.2 solid state drives have been known to throttle themselves when running too hot.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_30th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_31th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_32th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_33th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Since it is caught between heatsinks on two side and a row of capacitors on another, the CPU socket area definitely looks a little cramped. However, after having installed our large tower heatsink and the water block from a Corsair Hydro H100i all-in-one liquid cooler, we have come to the conclusion that it is really a non-issue for anyone not installing a giant LN2 pot. Feel free to check out our Installation section to get a better look at the clearances.

The Maximus IX Hero was designed with a robust all-digital 10-phase CPU power design featuring OptiMOS MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, and 10K Black Metallic Capacitors. There are eight phases dedicated to the CPU cores and two phases dedicated to the integrated GPU. There also two additional phases off to the side dedicated to the VCCIO (memory controller) and VCCSA (system agent). All ROG models exhibit excellent power handling and tuning capabilities, and very high overclocking potential, and what we are seeing here suggests more of the same.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_34th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_35th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

The new MOSFET heatsinks are very low profile, and they look fantastic. We could be wrong, but they look to be CNC machine milled and sand blasted on the sides, neither of which is cheap to do. While they don't have any fins to improve their overall surface area, since they are solid blocks of aluminium their ability to handle a small thermal load that shouldn't be an issue.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_38th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_39th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

As you can see, there are three CPU fan headers, once of which has been designed to handle the higher amperage load of a water pump. To the left of the fan headers is one of the two RGB headers, which is capable of powering a 12V/2A 5050 LED lighting strip and can link it to the AURA utility for full control over colours and effects.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_41th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_42th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

The four DDR4 slots can support up to 64GB of total system memory, and this model has been certified for overclocked memory speeds of up to DDR4-4000. Definitely check out our Overclocking Results section to see whether we were able to reach that very lofty level. Since this is an ROG model, ASUS have also implemented enhanced DRAM overcurrent protection (OCP) and short circuit damage prevention, so you will be able to push those new DDR4 modules as hard as you want without worrying that the memory slots will let you down. Like on all ASUS motherboards, this model features the handy Q-DIMM memory slots, which prevent any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of any nearby expansion card.

Next to the RAM slots is the debug LED display and the MemOk! button, which is initiates memory compatibility tuning process. It is handy whenever you are experiencing any memory related booting or even overclocking issues. One weird new addition is the 3D Mount, which as its name suggests, is a mounting point for any 3D printed parts that you want to add to the motherboard. We aren't exactly sure who would want to do this, but if interested you can read up on what ASUS has to say about it.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_44th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_45th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Next to the 24-pin ATX power connector is the first USB 3.1 front panel header that we have ever seen. Those with newer cases that support this latest USB standard will finally be able to direct all of that speed to the front USB 3.1 ports. This capability is courtesy of an ASMedia ASM2142 USB 3.1 Gen2 host controller, so it is legit and not just this rebranded USB 3.0 = USB 3.1 Gen1 nonsense.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_46th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Directly below the CPU socket is one of the two M.2 slots, with a full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface, theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, and support for SATA, PCI-E, and PCI-E NVMe M.2 solid state drives. It also supports Intel's upcoming Optane technology, but we elaborate on that below. This slot also supports RAID in coordination with the other M.2 slot.

Directly to the right of the M.2 slot is another one of those 3D Mount standoffs, so those with 3D printers can likely make some type of M.2 cover/shield/shroud.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_47th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_48th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_49th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

This motherboard features six SATA 6Gb/s ports, all of which are supplied by the Z270 PCH and as a result support RAID 0/1/5/10 plus Intel Rapid Storage Technology version 15. We are quite pleased that ASUS chose to do away with the essentially useless SATA Express ports. While effectively all Z170 motherboards had one or two SATAe ports, there just hasn’t been any products available and that is not likely to change. Likewise, there is no U.2 port on this motherboard, and given the fact that there is only one compatible SSD model available - the Intel 750 Series - it's really not a significant issue for most people.

We already showed you the top M.2 slot, and there is also a bottom one. It once again features a full-speed PCI-E 3.0 x4 interface, theoretical maximum bandwidth of 32Gb/s, and support for SATA, PCI-E, and PCI-E NVMe M.2 solid state drives. Since there is one additional mounting hole even M.2 22110 form factor SSDs - which are 110 millimeters long instead of the usual 80mm - can be installed. This slot also supports RAID in coordination with the other M.2 slot.

Thanks to the new Z270 chipset, at least one of these two slots is also Optane Ready. While Intel have not been particularly forthcoming with Optane-related news, we do know that due to the very high cost of 3D XPoint memory the first consumer product will likely be a small SSD cache device (offered in both 16GB & 32GB sizes) that will be referred to as a "system accelerator". While Intel has had a similar idea in the past - think Intel Smart Response Technology - Optane should make a more significant impact due to the ultra-low latency and ultra-high IOPS capabilities of 3D XPoint memory. However, only time will tell.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
A Closer Look at the Maximus IX Hero pt.2

A Closer Look at the Maximus IX Hero pt.2



MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_50th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_51th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

In the lower-right hand corner of the motherboard, there is the front panel header (irritatingly split into two separate headers), one of the two RGB headers, a system fan header, a temperature sensor header, the ROG_EXT header for ASUS ROG accessories, and the single USB 3.0 header. To the left of the SATA ports, you might spot three system fan headers, one of which is white. That particular header was designed to help monitor the flow rate of your liquid cooling system, while the 2-pin connectors next to it are designed to monitor the in and out temperature of the liquid.

The bottom edge of the motherboard is where you will find the power-on START button, reset button, Safe Boot button (powers off system, loads previous Safe Mode BIOS settings), ReTry button (hardware-level reboot similar to turning off your PSU), Slow Mode switch (drops the CPU multiplier to enhance system stability), and LN2 Mode jumper (helps remedy cold-boot bug during post at sub-zero temperatures).

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_54th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_55th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Much like Skylake and previous mainstream generations, Kaby Lake processors support sixteen PCI-E 3.0 lanes for graphics purposes. These lanes are divided across two separate PCI-E x16 slots thanks to a handful of ASMedia ASM1480 PCI-E 3.0 switches. The third mechanical PCI-E x16 3.0 slot operates at x4, and as far as I can tell, it doesn’t actually share it’s bandwidth with anything else. Likewise, it doesn't appear that anything affects the three PCI-E x1 slots, which receive their lanes from the Z270 PCH.

In a regular single graphics card setup, the first PCI-E x16 slot will obviously operate at PCI-E 3.0 x16. In a dual graphics card configuration, the first and second slots will operate at PCI-E 3.0 x8, which will still provide ample bandwidth for even the highest-end GPUs. This 2-Way configuration is the limit for SLI however, as NVIDIA doesn't support SLI on a PCI-E x4 slot, which as mentioned above is the limit for the third PCI-E x16 slot. If you install three Radeon graphics cards, the expansion slots will be running at x8/x8/x4 in PCI-E 3.0 mode. This is obviously not optimal since this last slot doesn't have a direct low latency connection to the processor, but Triple CrossFireX does work in theory.

A recent feature that is being adopted by all motherboard manufacturers are steel reinforced full-size PCI-E slots. On this model, ASUS have opted to to only add the steel sleeving and additional anchor points to the two top slots, since they are the only ones likely to hold graphics cards.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_58th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_59th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_60th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_61th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_62th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

The Maximus IX Hero features the latest iteration of the SupremeFX onboard audio solution, and we decided to remove the plastic shroud that runs on the left side of the motherboard to get a better look at it. By the way, under the plastic shroud is a little piece of PCB on which RGB LEDs are installed for the AURA feature.

While there is an EMI shield covering it, we know that this implementation is based on the new Realtek ALC1220 10-channel HD audio codec. What elevates this onboard audio above others is the use of the well-regarded ESS 9023P digital-to-analog converter (DAC), which is a 192 kHz/24-bit capable stereo audio DAC with a solid 112dB SNR (signal-to-noise ratio) and an integrated 2Vrms op-amp driver. This DAC is responsible for converting the digital data into clean and continuous analog signal. The audio passes through this very important chip before heading to the amplifiers, capacitors, and then the outputs. There is a Texas Instruments R4580 headphone amplifier, which supposedly has enough grunt to power 600 ohm cans. Last not but least, audio-grade Nichicon capacitors are used and it all leads to gold-plated audio jacks.

The PCB isolation line surrounds the audio section of the PCB and isolates it from the rest of the system. All of this serves to help to preserve the signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio and thus ensure the highest possible sound quality.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_66th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

This Hero model has very solid connectivity on its rear I/O panel. Starting from left to right, we have the Clear CMOS and ROG Connect button, DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 video outputs, four USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, one gigabit LAN port, one USB Type-A 3.1 port, one USB 3.1 Type-C port, and the five analog audio jacks (with gold inserts) plus the S/PDIF output.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_67th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_68th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_69th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_70th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_71th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_72th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

What's powering all these ports? Well starting from the top left there is an Intel I219V ethernet controller that is protected by a LANGuard surge protector, an ASMedia ASM1543 USB 3.1 Type-C switch, an ASMedia ASM2142 USB 3.1 Gen2 host controller, an ASMedia ASM1442K IC responsible for the HDMI output, and Nuvoton NCT6793D Super I/O monitoring controller. There are also a bunch of ASUS-exclusive chips on this motherboard, like the one responsible for the AURA feature or even the TurboV Processing Unit (TPU).

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_74th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Hidden under the plastic shroud but visible from the rear I/O panel is the M.2 Key E slot. This slot supports M.2 Wi-Fi cards like the Intel 7265NGW or 8260NGW, both of which support dual-band 802.11ac and have integrated Bluetooth. The rear I/O panel even has antenna cutouts, so it's unbelievably easy to install a pair of external antennas.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_75th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_76th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_77th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_78th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Aside from a pair of Winbond 25X20 serial flash memory chips, there are no other noteworthy components or other on the backside of the motherboard. All the heatsinks and the plastic shrouds are attached with metal screws, which is what we expect from an upper-end motherboard like this one.

While the PCB isolation line that surrounds the audio subsystem is quite visible, there are no LEDs mounted on the rear (or front) of the motherboard since the audio section is surprisingly not lit on this model.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Hardware Installation

Hardware Installation


In the Hardware Installation section we examine how major components fit on the motherboard, and whether there are any serious issues that may affect installation and general functionality. Specifically, we are interested in determining whether there is adequate clearance in all critical areas.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_81th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_82th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Since it has such an unobstructed CPU socket area, installing any type of cooling on this motherboard should be a breeze. No matter if we install it in the East-West or North-South orientation, our Prolimatech Mega Shadow cooler and its numerous bits of mounting hardware had no issues physically clearing the capacitors or the MOSFET heatsinks.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_83th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_84th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Unlike on most motherboards, we did not encounter any clearance issues between standard height memory modules and our large CPU cooler. The cooler's fan clips did not make contact with the nearest memory module, but obviously you will need to remove the clips and the fan in order to install/uninstall the RAM module placed in the first slot. However, when we swapped in very tall memory modules, there were clearance issues even in the farthest memory slots. The solution is obviously to find another way hold the fan in place, or to mount it on the other side of the heatsink.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_86th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_87th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Thanks to the expansion slot layout, there is a large gap between the DDR4 memory slots and the back of the graphics card, so there is no need to take out the GPU in order to release the clips and install/uninstall the memory modules. The 24-pin ATX power connector and the 8-pin CPU power connector are both ideally placed, so that makes assembling and disassembling the system just a tad easier.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_88th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_89th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_90th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_91th.jpg

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_92th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_93th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

This motherboard will hold one, two, or even three dual-slot graphics cards without difficulty. The cards will obviously extend past the motherboard length-wise, and that last card will overhang all the headers on the bottom edge of the motherboard. Since there is a decent amount of room between the primary graphics card and the heatsink, it was relatively easy to reach the PCI-E slot release clip. One of the welcome layout choices is that no matter how many dual-slot cards are installed, there are always two PCI-E x1 slots usable.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_95.jpg

The six 90-degree SATA ports are obviously accessible no matter how many graphics cards are installed.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_98th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_99th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Installing an M.2 SSD in the top M.2 slot is a trouble-free affair. You shouldn’t need to remove your CPU heatsink, but you will have to remove any graphics card installed the primary PCI-E x16 slot since the space between the heatsink and the back of the graphics card will likely be rather minimal.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_100th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_101th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Installing an M.2 SSD on the bottom M.2 slot is also simple. Obviously, any dual-slot expansion card installed in the secondary PCI-E x16 slot will cover the slot, so that card will need to removed before installing or removing any solid state drive.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_96th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_97th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

We were able to install our Prolimatech Mega Shadow heatsink without running into any issues. In fact, this one of the only motherboard where the large rear mounting bracket did not come close to at least one protruding solder point.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown


This new generation of motherboards carries forward the familiar ASUS UEFI bios layout. Although fundamentally similar to past versions, this latest implementation has obviously been tweaked with a bunch of new Kaby Lake-oriented features. As we have come to expect from ASUS, this is a very smooth and responsive UEFI BIOS, incrementally better than anything we've experienced from other manufacturers. The UEFI BIOS is divided across two distinct modes. The EZ Mode is simplified and features a mouse-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) for basic tasks, while the Advanced Mode has all the settings, options, and features that you could ever want. From within the EZ Mode you can switch to the Advanced Mode by pressing F7, and vice-versa to get back to the EZ Mode.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_102th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_103th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_104th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_105th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The EZ Mode makes pretty good use of the graphical user interface (GUI) and was designed to be used with a mouse. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced mode, but it is not meant to. It simply gives novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings. The Q-Fan Tuning feature can be found in both BIOS modes, but fundamentally it gives you full manual or preset-based control over the systems fans. The EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level. Basically, the wizard asks you how you generally use your system, what kind of CPU cooler you have installed, and based on your answer it comes up with an appropriate tuning level for your respective system. It worked perfect during our short time toying with it, and the fact that it never actually mentions "overclocking" should help alleviate some of the fears less knowledgeable users might associate with the word. The EZ Tuning Wizard can also be used as a very user-friendly way of setting up a RAID array.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_107th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_108th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

The My Favorites tab allows you to have all your most useful or most used settings in one place, so you no longer have to search through the whole bios to find what you need time and time again. My favorites used to come as a blank page, but now ASUS have included what it believes are the most used BIOS settings. You can obviously edit this selection, and add or remove any settings that you want.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_109th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_110th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The next tab in the BIOS is the Main section, which displays the standard storage devices and some basic system information. This System Information section lists some rudimentary specification info, including the BIOS date & version, the type of processor and the amount of memory installed. You can also set the system language, and an administrator and/or individual user password.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_111th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_112th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

Next up is the Extreme Tweaker section, which is where all the fun happens. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS opens up to reveal all of the essential system clock control options: CPU multiplier with an all-core and per-core option, BLCK frequency, CPU strap, memory frequency, memory timing options, and all the voltage options.

The OC Tuner feature allows novice users to automatically overclock their systems without having to mess around with clocks speeds, multipliers, and voltages. The are two options in this feature, a multiplier-only tuning mode or a multiplier and BCLK tuning mode. You can read more about this automatic overclocking feature in our Overclocking Results section.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_113th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_114th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_115th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_116th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

As its name suggests, the DRAM Timing Control section is where you will find all the memory-related settings. Within this section you can select and change all the memory settings, and each memory channel has its own section, from which you can alter the primary and secondary timings. It has just about every memory modifier that an enthusiast or overclocker would need to fine-tune their modules. There's really an overabundance of options and it is quite impressive.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_117th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_118th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The DIGI+ Power Control section has a whole slew of advanced power regulation settings for the CPU cores, CPU VTT and VCCSA (system agent/memory controller), and DRAM channels. This motherboard is setup well enough so that you should never actually have to tweak any of these settings though, unless you are really pushing the limits with phase-change or LN2 cooling. The exception to this is obviously Load-Line Calibration (LLC), which is a worthwhile feature that eliminates droopage on the CPU vCORE, and which we will take a closer look at in our Voltage Regulation section.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_119th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_120th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Internal CPU Power Management section is where you can enable or disable all the CPU-specific features like SpeedStep and Turbo Mode, as well as setting the Turbo limits. ASUS have really bolstered this section with an overwhelming array of CPU power tuning settings.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_121th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_122th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Tweakers Paradise sub-menus has a ton of fairly obscure settings that should come in handy in the hands of experts top-level overclockers. The only setting that might be familiar to your average well-versed power user is FCLK Frequency, which should be set to 1Ghz whenever possible to ensure best possible performance. ASUS sets this by default.


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_123th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_124th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Extreme Tweaker are the prodigious voltage options. As you would expect, all the key system voltages are present and accounted for, as far as bunch of other voltage options that we have frankly never even seen before. For some of the key voltages like the CPU Core voltage and the CPU Cache voltage, ASUS have allowed four separate entry modes. The Auto and Manual modes are self-evident, the Offset Mode allows you to specify how much higher (or lower) the voltage should be in reference to stock level, so something like +0.10V or +0.15V. The Adaptive Mode allows you to set both a base voltage and higher Turbo Mode voltage that is enabled under heavy system loads. This helps minimize the amount of voltage running through an overclocked processor when it's not under load.

Usually we would now say that we wish there were more drop-down menus in this section. Although can manually type in whatever you want, but that is not particularly useful when you don't know or don’t remember what the default voltages are. Thankfully, ASUS have thought about this, and they have included real-time voltage read outs next to all the key system voltages. This is an fantastic addition and we couldn't be happier to see it here.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
BIOS Rundown pt.2

BIOS Rundown pt.2


MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_125th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_126th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_127th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_128th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Advanced tab is where you can tweak countless settings and enable or disable all of the motherboard's components. The CPU Configuration sub-menu is where you can manipulate all the CPU-specific features like the Thermal Monitor, Hyper-Threading, Virtualization, Enhanced SpeedStep, Turbo Mode, C-States, etc.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_129th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_130th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_131th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_132th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_133th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_134th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_135th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_136th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_137th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_138th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_227th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_228th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Advanced Tab is also where you can enable/disable or just find all the various settings and options for all the onboard devices like the audio, LAN, USB 3.0, SATA ports, etc. As you can see, there is a bewildering and overwhelming array of settings and options here. It is downright remarkable.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_139th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_140th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_141th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_142th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_143th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_144th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Monitor section contains the anti-surge setting, but is mostly dedicated to monitoring the various voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds. This whole section is really quite impressive, it has all the essential temperature and voltage readouts, as well as truly excellent and comprehensive fan control functionality.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_145th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_146th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_147th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_148th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Boot tab is essentially where you set storage device priority, select the boot drive, enable/disable the full screen logo, and ton of other boot settings that can help with the installation or troubleshooting of various OS installations.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_149th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_150th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_151th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_152th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_153th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_154th.gif

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_155th.gif
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_156th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

ASUS EZ Flash 3 is a built-in utility that greatly simplifies the BIOS updating process. You can easily update your BIOS from a ROM file located on your hard drive(s) or USB flash drive(s). It's quick, painless, and it takes the worry out of BIOS flashing.

The ASUS Overclocking Profile feature gives users the option to save and switch between BIOS profiles, for example an everyday profile and a benchmarking profile. Not only is this infinitely quicker than manually inserting every setting, but the profiles can be saved and shared among other Maximus IX Hero owners.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_157th.jpg
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_158th.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

Before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It's a well thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is very handy for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
Last edited:

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Included Software

Included Software


Ai Suite III

The most important and all-encompassing utility in ASUS' impressive suite of software is the aptly named Ai Suite III. Whereas ASUS used to have a handful of standalone apps for different functions, many were consolidated under the Ai Suite moniker back in 2011. This system management utility is the hub from which you can monitor system clock speeds, voltages, temperatures, and fan rotation but more importantly it allows users to do both automatic and manual overclocking from within Windows. Although it's basic UI has been established for a while, ASUS regularly adds to the capabilities to this utility, so let's check it out.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_169th.jpg
Click on image to enlarge

There are six main sections that are the focus of the Ai Suite III utility, and they are all linked to the Dual Intelligent Processors 5. As a refresher, DIP5 refers to two co-processors - the TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) and the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) - that are tasked with for optimizing the system with a focus on either better performance and improved energy efficiency.

The 5-Way Optimization section is the coolest, and is where you will find the 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature. There is also the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) power saving or performance profiles, Fan Xpert 3 fan speed optimization status, DIGI+ VRM optimization, awesome new Turbo App functionality, and some display-only information regarding TurboV Processing Unit (TPU). We'll go into it in-depth below.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_170th.jpg
Click on image to enlarge

On the left hand side of the Ai Suite utility is an arrow that activates a pop-out menu when clicked. Here you will find features like PC Cleaner, which will scan your PC and get rid of junk files to free up disk space. The EZ Update tool allows users to update their motherboard's BIOS either directly from the internet or from a downloaded file.

System Information just contains a bunch of basic system information regarding your CPU, motherboard or RAM. You can also find you can find your serial number, BIOS version, etc. BIOS Flashback allows you to copy the content of BIOS1 to BIOS2, as well as force the use of BIOS1 or BIOS2.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_174th.gif
Click on image to enlarge

At the bottom is a static strip that displays information on CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperatures measurements, as well as CPU and case fans speeds. You can also set safe thresholds for voltages, temperatures and fan speeds as well as setting alerts to warn you of any serious fluctuations. It is essentially a replacement for the Probe II utility.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_175th.gif
Click on image to enlarge

Clicking on the 5-Way Optimization button reveals the coolest part of the whole Dual Intelligent Processors 5 utility. There is a certain level of fan optimization functionality in this section, but what's really interesting is the automatic overclocking feature. You have the option of 3 different overclocking levels depending on whether you have an unlocked processor or not. We don't want to reveal too much here, so go check out the Overclocking Results section to see how well this auto-overclocking feature worked.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_176th.jpg
Click on image to enlarge

The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) tab is where you can manually adjust the BCLK frequency, CPU multiplier and Cache/Uncore multiplier. You will also be able to change the CPU multiplier, either per core or as a group. There are also an impressive eleven adjustable system voltages. You can adjust all these settings on-the-fly without having to reboot the system.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_177th.gif
Click on image to enlarge

The EPU (Energy Processing Unit) tab is you will be able to fine-tune the various selection of power saving or performance profiles. This is a versatile feature for those who truly care about maximizing energy savings.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_178th.gif
Click on image to enlarge

The DIGI+ Power Control tab is where you will find the power options for the CPU, System Agent/Memory Controller, and RAM. There are adjustable settings for load-line calibration, current capability, voltage frequency, and phase control. There are different power controls for each memory channel since they are independently powered.

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_179th.gif
Click on image to enlarge

The Fan Xpert 4 tab is, as you might expect, where you can fully manage and optimize your CPU and system fans. While there are now a series of four fan presets (Silent/Standard/Turbo/Full Speed), you can also manually adjust the full fan speed curve to your preferences, or simply use the fully automated Fan Tuning feature.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Included Software pt.2

Included Software pt.2


AURA

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_190.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The RGB LEDs that are integrated into the chipset and MOSFET coolers can be controlled using the new AURA lightning control utility. The light can be adjusted to any number of different colours and customized to create cool lighting effects. The presets can cause the LEDs to change shades to indicate CPU temperature, pulsate with the beat of your music, cycle through all the colours, fade in and out, flash on and off, or just statically display one colour.


ROG CPU-Z

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_181.gif

Click on image to enlarge

ROG CPU-Z is a special edition of CPU-Z especially created to match the aesthetics of ASUS Republics of Gamers motherboards. It is kept as up-to-date as the regular version, and is available at the same place: CPUID.com


MemTweakIt

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_182.gif

Click on image to enlarge

MemTweakIt is memory tweaking tool which allows for modification of just about every primary and secondary memory timing within Windows, and without having to reboot the system. It's a joy to use and a great tool for overclockers.


GameFirst IV

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_183th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

GameFirst IV is a utility designed to help reduce latency courtesy of cFosSpeed traffic-shapping technology. This utility provides users with a lot of control and monitoring capabilities over every application that is accessing the network. It displays CPU usage, NPU usage, ICMP and UDP average ping, and the network utilization of every system process and program. This tool also allows you give priority to certain applications, and throttle or block others to free network resources for other applications. It is your one-stop tool for monitoring and controlling all network traffic.


Sonic Radar II

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_184th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The idea behind Sonic Radar II is simple enough, once configured in the above utility, it is basically a radar overlay that shows the positional location that sound is coming from in games. It is essentially a gaming aid, or a really useful tool for those who are hard of hearing or those who just can't have sound enabled in a given scenario (gaming at work anyone?).

Separate from Sonic Radar is a utility called Sonic Studio II, which is an audio suite that allows users control over six audio controls like Reverb, Bass Boost, Equalizer, Voice Clarity, Smart EQ (Smart Volume), and Virtual Surround. It also provides access to the Perfect Voice noise-cancellation feature and Casting Enhancer audio streaming.


KeyBot II

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_187th.gif

Click on image to enlarge

On each Republics of Gamers model you will find a KeyBot button on the top of the board, and a KeyBot microprocessor on the rear. ASUS is dubbing KeyBot as a free, instant keyboard upgrade. Users plug in their existing keyboard to the dedicated USB port on the rear I/O shield to engage the KeyBot chip, and a user-friendly utility allows for the easy programming of macro keys, assigning of function keys, or creation of shortcuts for everything from launching any of any application with a single press to multimedia playback control. Users will also be able to create and share their KeyBot profiles with friends, which should be great for games with complex macros. KeyBot also functions with the S5 sleep mode, so users can wake their PC and boot directly into the UEFI BIOS or enable/disable CPU Level Up with just one tap.


RAMDisk

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_188.gif

Click on image to enlarge

The Maximus IX Hero comes with the familiar RAMDisk utility. For those not familiar with what a RAMDisk is, it basically acts as a virtual drive that is much faster than even the fastest high-end solid state drive. The reason for this is that it makes use of unused system memory (ie: RAM), and turns a chunk of it into an OS-level storage partition that can be used to accelerate the performance and response times of installed or cached applications.


Boot Setting

MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_186.jpg

Click on image to enlarge

ASUS Boot Setting allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to repeatedly hit delete during the POST screen. It is a pretty hand tool when you are rebooting as often as overclockers tend to do.
 

MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
Nov 8, 2006
Messages
1,086
Location
Montreal
Test Setups & Methodology

Test Setups & Methodology



For this review, we are going to be testing the performance of the Maximus IX Hero in five configurations: default settings @ DDR4-2133, three automatic overclocks, and our manual overclock. The components and software are the same across all five configurations, and aside from manually selecting the frequencies, timings, and voltages in the manual overclock configuration, every option in the BIOS was at its default setting.

Intel Core i7 'Kaby Lake' LGA1151 DDR4 Test Setup​
MAXIMUS_IX_HERO_159.jpg

For all of the benchmarks, appropriate lengths are taken to ensure an equal comparison through methodical setup, installation, and testing. The following outlines our testing methodology:

A) Windows is installed using a full format.

B) Chipset drivers and accessory hardware drivers (audio, network, GPU) are installed.

C)To ensure consistent results, a few tweaks are applied to Windows 10 Pro and the NVIDIA control panel:
  • UAC – Disabled
  • Indexing – Disabled
  • Superfetch – Disabled
  • System Protection/Restore – Disabled
  • Problem & Error Reporting – Disabled
  • Remote Desktop/Assistance - Disabled
  • Windows Security Center Alerts – Disabled
  • Windows Defender – Disabled
  • Screensaver – Disabled
  • Power Plan – High Performance
  • V-Sync – Off

D) All available Windows updates are then installed.

E) All programs are installed and then updated, followed by a defragment.

F) Benchmarks are each run three to ten times, and unless otherwise stated the results are then averaged.


Here is a full list of the applications that we utilized in our benchmarking suite:
  • 3DMark Vantage Professional Edition v1.1.3
  • 3DMark11 Professional Edition v1.0.132.0
  • 3DMark 2013 Professional Edition v2.2.3491
  • AIDA64 Engineer Edition v5.80.4000
  • Cinebench R15 64-bit
  • FAHBench 1.2.0
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Benchmark
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • HEVC Decode Benchmark (Cobra) v1.61
  • LuxMark v3.1
  • Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
  • PCMark 8
  • SuperPi Mod v1.9 WP
  • Valve Particle Simulation Benchmark v1.0.0.0
  • WinRAR x64 5.40
  • wPRIME version v2.10
  • X3: Terran Conflict Demo v1.0
That is about all you need to know methodology wise, so let's get to the good stuff!
 
Last edited:

Latest posts

Twitter

Top