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ASUS Maximus VIII Hero Z170 Motherboard Review

AkG

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During the Z87’s heyday ASUS introduced a new addition to their Republic of Gamers motherboard lineup: the Maximus Hero. This newcomer was carefully crafted to interest consumers who may have craved the PC gaming / enthusiast ethos of the RoG namesake, but could never justify the steep cost of entry.

To create the new Hero boards, ASUS changed up their RoG formula (no, not the famous Formula motherboard) by taking their usual 'everything and the kitchen sink' and 'budget is of no concern' philosophy and paring it down somewhat. If the RoG Formula and Extreme boards were the gaming versions of their Deluxe series, the Hero was very loosely based upon the more affordable but still perfectly capable PRO models. Essentially, ASUS kept the basic DNA of their extreme overclocker-friendly and gamer-centric RoG boards but packed in predominantly essential features rather than a bunch of stuff most folks would never use. This design philosophy quickly endeared the Hero series to folks who usually skip the RoG boards and opt instead for Pro or Deluxe models.

For the new Z170 / Skylake generation ASUS has decided to continue this tradition of a value-focused gaming platform by creating the Maximus VIII Hero. The heart and soul of this new board is its Z170 chipset and DDR4 capabilities but unlike ASUS’ entry-level mass market motherboards, the Maximus VIII Hero brings to the table incredible RAM overclocking abilities. Specifically, most Z170 boards top out at DDR-3400, but this one allows for DDR4-3600 speeds - or a whopping 68.7% above Intel's Z170 DDR4's default speed of 2133.

On the storage side of the equation the Maximus VIII Hero brings to the table eight SATA 6Gb/s ports, <i>two</i> SATA Express ports, a four lane capable M.2 port (with built in NVMe U.2 support) and USB 3.1, including Type C USB 3.1 ports. Also on the hardware end, it boasts a cutting edge ASUS BIOS, a new DIGI+ VRM that boasts 10K metallic black caps, and MicroFine Alloy chokes, and OptiMOS MOSFETS. Mix in some understated good looks, a three year warranty backstopped by one of the most well-known companies in the industry, ASUS's AI SUITE III and its superior automatic overclocking abilities, and the Maximus VIII Hero has a lot of features that both mainstream users and PC gaming enthusiasts alike will crave.

As you can imagine, while it does have a laundry list of drool-worthy features, it is the asking price which makes the Maximus Hero VIII so special. At about $240USD it may be more expensive than entry-level boards but still nearly $100 less than the Z170 Deluxe and only $75 more than an entry level Z170-A. In other words the Maximus VIII Hero has been strategically placed to be the mainstream option of choice for gamers who want to focus more of their limited funds on other mission-critical components.

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AkG

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Packaging and Accessories

Packaging and Accessories



The packaging for the Maximus VIII Hero is the typical RoG red with a simple cover and details on the board features inside the top cover and on the back of the box.


Inside, the Hero has a smaller black box that includes a clear cover containing the motherboard and beneath the board the accessories sit in a divided black cardboard compartment.



As with the Z170-A before it, the real standout feature in the list of accessories is the all new CPU Installation Tool. This tool has been designed to help novice enthusiasts properly install their new Intel Skylake processor. This tool was first seen with the ASUS TUF X99 Sabertooth, and it is slightly different than the one that accompanies the TUF X99, the underlying idea is the same: give consumers more area to grip so that bent pins are less likely to occur.

This tool consists of a hard white plastic gasket that you orientate and place around the socket 1151 CPU before installing said CPU into the Hero.




Rounding out the rather long list of included accessories is a user manual, driver and software DVD, rear I/O shield, six SATA 6Gb/s cables, 2-way SLI bridge connector, two Q-Connectors, an RoG do not disturb sign, and cable sticker labels. While impressive there was one accessory that ASUS still does not included on the Hero models: a wireless Ethernet controller. Such an accessory would have gone a long ways towards justifying this board's added expense over that of the Z170-A, this list is still very good though and more than covers all the bases - there's absolutely nothing missing that would prevent a gamer or overclocker from setting up the board with multiple storage drives and several graphics cards.
 
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AkG

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Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Hero

A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Hero




Even though this motherboard is one of ASUS' lower priced RoG models (the upcoming Ranger will likely be less expensive), the above chart makes it obvious that cut corners certainly weren’t cut on the layout and design. There more than adequate spacing between nearly every one of its components, most importantly the primary PCI-E graphics slots and their accompanying secondary slots. This is not that all surprising as ASUS RoG motherboards have always been known for their excellent layout which is geared towards ease of use.



Like the rest of their Z170-series lineup, ASUS has taken the time to upgrade the overall aesthetics of their RoG line. Unlike the mainstream series like the Z170-A and Z170 Deluxe, the changes this time around are less radical, at least in the physical design department. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater, there are simply refinements to the RoG theme. This means that while the Maximus VIII Hero is bloody gorgeous looking it still looks like a gaming-first board, albeit a more mature and grown up looking one.


This mature and subdued look actually makes the Maximus VIII Hero look more like an older Deluxe board than the typical previous generation RoG motherboards. In basic terms this means that the Maximus VIII Hero still boasts a custom all black PCB, black metallic capacitors, color coded PCIe x16 slots, and a PCH heatsink that boasts the RoG logo.

However, those items are about all it shares with its predecessors. Instead of the aggressive red and black color scheme, the Maximus VIII Hero makes use of a more monochromatic one, with only the occasional dash of red used for accents. For example the two main PCIe x16 slots are charcoal gray with the tertiary 'x16' being black, the two main DIMM slots are dark gray and the secondary pair of DIMM slots are black, instead of the red / black theme of yesteryear.



ASUS has included a large plastic fascia which extends all the way from the bottom SupremeFX 2015 sound solution, over the rear IO ports and then along the board’s upper area to cover nearly all of the topmost heatsink. It is reminiscent of the one which ships with the ASUS X99 TUF Sabertooth and gives the board a very a distinctive look, but one that isn’t as flamboyant or aggressive looking as previous RoG motherboards.


The star of this new generation is of course the Z170 chipset and the LGA1151 socket. Since the Hero is based on the ATX form factor (30.5cm x 24.4cm / 12.0” x 9.6”) the amount of room around the socket is a touch cramped with a few capacitors closer than we would like to see. However, all components encroaching on the socket mounting area do respect Intel's z-height restrictions and as such should not pose any CPU mounting issues.


Republic of Gamer motherboards are known for their robust power delivery subsystem, and while the Maximus VIII Hero's is scaled back in comparison to higher priced boards, it still boasts an all-digital 'Extreme Engine DIGI+' ten-phase power design. Though as with the Z170-A this is not a 10-phase VRM in the truest sense; instead it’s an 8 phase design with another two phases dedicated to the iGPU. Drilling down a bit further, the primary PWM does indeed use 8 phases rather than a more basic 4+4 layout. This should allow for even more efficient power delivery during high overclocking sessions.




The components used for this power delivery system are quite impressive. At its heart is of pair of all new DIGI+ ASP1405 controllers which are backstopped by OptiMOS MOSFETS, MicroFine Alloy Chokes, and 10K Black Metalic Capicators. The reason there are two controllers is quite simple: one is dedicated to VCore and the other is for the VGT power. This dual approach works in tandem with those high performance components to allow for finer tune control over the power delivery and much more precise overclocking granularity.



The heatsinks which keep the power delivery subsystem cool and content have also been upgraded over past models. Now these two large, but low profile heatsinks are pewter gray in color and contrast nicely with the black PCB and the plastic fascia covering. This is not to say that these heatsinsk favor form over function - as they are rather robust and are attached to one another via a dedicated heatpipe.



While we would have preferred to have a seen it clean and devoid of ICs, the back of the motherboard also has - very - low profile heatsinks to keep the various VRM components located here cool. This is a more than adequate compromise as these heatsinks also act as reinforcing backplates for the two large heatsinks on the other side. Basically the two backplates / heatsinks are connected to the top heatsinks via long bolts. The PCH doesn’t need a backplate and instead ASUS uses spring mounted screws to insure adequate contact is maintained.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Hero Pg.2

A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Hero Pg.2



Switching back to the topside of the motherboard, the four DDR4 memory slots support overclocked memory frequencies of DDR4-3600+ speeds and are fed by a dual phase DIGI+ controller based system. This combination of seemingly insanely high speeds and robust power delivery may seem like overkill for the low power (1.2V - 1.35V) DDR4 memory sticks, but as time goes by prices of higher performance DDR4 memory should come down. In the meantime we have access to some G.Skill DDR4-3600 and intended to find out if this board is indeed capable of the specifications it boasts.


These slots also sport ASUS' handy Q-DIMM design which boasts a clip on one side and a recessed lock on the other. This prevents any clearance issues that can arise between conventional memory clips and the back of a nearby expansion card.


Of course thanks to a very sensible PCI-E slot layout, actually having to worry about memory and video card installation issues has been avoided. Basically, ASUS has moved the primary PCIe x16 slot down one slot and in its place is a standard PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot.

The secondary PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot has also been moved downwards and is separated by two PCI-E slots worth of space but only one of these spaces has been populated, in this case with the second PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot. This spacing allows for even massive three slot video cards to be compatible with this motherboard.



Of course if you do use two taller video cards the bottommost GPU will not only cover the last PCI-E 3.0 x1 slot and tertiary PCIe 3.0 x16 (which runs in x2 or x4 mode), but also most of the boddom edge mounted headers. Conversely, if you only decide on dual slot video cards you can use this board in triple layout configurations (8+8+4). Doing so will once again cause a video card to overhang the bottom of the board and block a lot of the connectors found here. This should be avoided if at all possible as the bottom of the motherboard is covered with a rather impressive list of headers, switches, and connectors.


Around that bottom edge is the front the audio header, dedicated power and reset buttons and even the Clear CMOS button. Rounding out the header ports in this area is the front panel Q-header, two USB 2.0 front headers, the second USB 3.0 front panel header, two 4-pin chassis fan headers, TPM header, and RoG extension port.

What you will not find here is a TPU switch or Q-Code LED debug panel. The first is not included on this board and instead you will have to use either the BIOS or software to implement TPU overclocking. The second feature is actually located up near the four DDR4 slots which makes it infinitely more readable.


Also located near the DIMM slots is the MemOK! button. This initiates a memory compatibility tuning process if there are memory-related issues preventing a system from booting up. Unfortunately ASUS has opted to not include their EZ XMP button on the Hero. This is a shame as instead of simply being able to press a button to easily auto-enable a memory kit’s XMP profile you’ll need to run through the BIOS. Much like the missing TPU switch this shouldn’t be an issue since most folks buying this board will be more than familiar with BIOS modifications.


One of the -pardon the pun - cooler features of the Z97-A was the ability of its Fan Expert 3 to control the speed of both PWM and DC fans. The new Maximus VIII Hero ups the ante with out of the box support for water pumps as well. This latest tweak means that ASUS has included a dedicated 4-pin header just for water pumps.

By default, this header - located right next to the two CPU 4-pin fan headers - is configured to run at full-speed to prevent spin up issues at first power up. Of course you have full manual control if you so choose. This makes the dual 4-pin CPU fan headers more useful than ever before - as now both can be used for all in one liquid cooler fans and their respective pumps as well.

What is not so impressive is the location ASUS has decided to place these three 4-pin headers. Instead of their usual location right next to the DDR4 slots, they are directly behind the topmost heatsink. This will make installing CPU fans and water pumps much more difficult.

As an added 'bonus' this location means that the headers are not as well protected either. As you can see the 4-pin water pump header came with a bent pin right out of the box. The header still worked perfectly but it did take a delicate touch to install a fan here the first time.


On the positive side the 8-pin and 24-pin power connectors are in their usual easily accessed location. We did find the 8-pin input to be a touch too close to the plastic fascia covering the IO ports and heatsink. This makes it a touch more difficult to install this critical power connector, but not impossible. It seems the fascia was a last minute addition and the full ramifications of its size were not taken into account with the existing Hero board layout.
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Hero Pg.3

A Closer Look at the Maximus VIII Hero Pg.3




Next to the USB3.0 front panel header are the eight SATA 6Gb/s ports and the two SATA Express ports. Both of these SATA Express ports are controlled via the Intel Z170 PCH and even though the number of SATA-E devices can be counted on one hand, it is still good to see ASUS include two ports. ASUS are also fully aware that consumers actually interested in using these ports also know that they will be losing up to four SATA 6Gb/s ports in the process.

To help make using the additional SATA ports easier ASUS has included an ASMedia ASM106 controller to power them. These two ports are color coded (black instead of gray) and are easy to spot. As the Z170 PCH is more powerful and feature rich we recommend only using these ports after you have first fully populated the Intel ports.

It is also worth noting that the third PCIe x16 slot (PCIE16_3) shares bandwidth with the bottom two PCIe x1 slots. This is why it defaults to x2 mode and if you insert an x4 (or higher) card the motherboard will automatically disable these two PCIe x1 slots. You can manually change this to x2 mode and re-enable the two PCIe x1 slots, but be careful to not forget about this limitation during firmware updates - as you may lose your custom settings.


The lone M.2 port not only supports drives from 42mm to 110mm in length but actually boasts a quartet of lanes. Unlike on Z97 boards it doesn’t share PCI-E lanes with the SATA Express ports. This means if you purchase the Asus Hyper Kit (sold separately) you can natively use U.2 (aka SFF-8639) NVMe devices such as Intel's 750 series.

At a more practical level, this M.2 port also supports PCI-E x2 M.2 solid state drives, and even older SATA based M.2 drives. Unfortunately if you do use a SATA based M.2 SSD you will have to forgo the use of two of the SATA ports - the two gray ports located at the extreme right end (SATA6G_1 and SATA6G_2).


For the past couple of generations ASUS’ Republic of Gamer motherboards have been known for their excellent onboard sound solutions and the Maximus VIII Hero's not only lives up to its predecessors but significantly improves upon them.

The sound solution portion of the motherboard is electronically separated from the rest, uses the cutting edge ALC1150 codec, and has an EMI shield. In addition ASUS has upgraded their SupremeFX 2015 to include an ESS9022P DAC (dedicated to the headphone amp), a Sonic Sense amp for the other channels, Nichicon capacitors, and even included an NEC de-pop relay. This in addition to a Perfect Voice microphone port, making for one potent sound solution.


IO panel’s main claim to fame is of course its dual USB 3.1 ports. There is one USB 3.1 Type-A port and one USB 3.1 Type-C port. While the Type-C is only rated for 36 watts and not 100+, the inclusion of both a Type A and Type C insures future proofing as nearly all upcoming USB3.1 devices will work the the Hero.

Since the Z170 does not natively support USB 3.1, ASUS has included an ASMedia ASM1142 controller. This is ASMedia's first USB 3.1 controller and is complaint with Intel's eXtensible Hot Controller Interface specification revision 1.1. It is connected to the motherboard via two PCIe 2.0 lanes. It is also the same as what ASUS uses on their upgraded 2011-v3 motherboards.


The Ethernet networking controller has also seen a significant upgrade versus the Hero’s predecessors. Instead of the very capable but slightly older Intel i218v NIC, ASUS has gone with the all new i219v controller. This and its associated Ethernet port are fully protected from ESD via the LANGuard technology that was first seen on ASUS' TUF series.


Rounding out the list of features are four USB 2.0, two USB 3.0 ports (both powered by the Z170 PCH), a PS/2 port, BISO Flashback button, six audio analog ports, a S/PDIF optical out port, a single HDMI port, and one full sized DisplayPort.
 
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AkG

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BIOS Rundown

BIOS Rundown



As expected, even though there are some minor points of variance between them, the ASUS Maximus VIII Hero's BIOS is very similar to that of their other high-end Z170 motherboards; albeit with the usual RoG branding. In simplest terms this means that the BIOS is not a major distinguishing feature between the various ASUS models.

The net benefit to this is simple: even though the Hero is the more value orientated RoG board it comes with a highly refined BIOS, one you would expect find on boards costing significantly more. ASUS has spent a lot of time and effort in making their BIOS the gold standard upon which all others are judged and this board is a perfect example of this hard work paying dividends.



Unlike the Z170-A we recently reviewed, when users first enter the BIOS they will not be greeted by the EZ-Mode setup, and instead are taken directly to the Advanced Mode. Hallelujah. However, let's start with the EZ-Mode and get it out of the way before moving on the real meat of the BIOS.

As the name suggests EZ Mode boasts a simplified layout and features a mouse-friendly GUI that prioritizes ease of use and navigation. It obviously does not have all the functionality of the Advanced Mode, but it is not meant to. It simply is intended to give novice users an easy way to visualize and alter some of the most common settings.

This EZ Mode is instantly responsive to your input commands and there is almost no noticeable lag. ASUS did include a few transition delays when switching from one section to another, but this is an intentional design feature that makes the new UEFI more aesthetically pleasing.


As with later model Z97 motherboards, this new and improved EZ Mode allows anyone to quickly handle more complex tasks without having to first navigate to the Advanced Mode. For example the EZ Tuning Wizard is particularly interesting since it brings overclocking to an even simpler level than before. Basically, the wizard asks you how the system is generally used, 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. In practice it did exactly what it promised to do.

Also noteworthy is the Q-Fan Tuning feature which grants full manual or preset-based control over the system’s fans. Thanks to the built-in water pump header, this feature is more important than ever as not everyone will use this for pumps, and fewer still want their chassis fan running at full speed all the time.


When someone does decide that they need to enter the Advanced Mode they will be greeted by the My Favorites tab. Unlike previous generations which came with a blank My Favorites section and expected you to populate it yourself ASUS has listened to feedback and pre-populated it with some of the more commonly used features.

Naturally, you can still add or remove features from this list, but this new model does give you a head start. This is one of those little things that really make the difference between a good and a great BIOS.


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 has 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.
 
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AkG

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BIOS Rundown Pg.2

BIOS Rundown Pg.2



Next up is the perennial favorite: the Ai Tweaker area. If you plan on overclocking your system at all, this section is where the majority of your time will be spent. Once the manual option is selected in the Ai Overclock Tuner setting, the BIOS's Tweakers Paradise section 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 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.

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.


Occupying the middle to bottom section of the Ai Tweaker is a long list of voltage options. Thanks to the removal of Fully Integrated Voltage Regulator from the CPU package these voltage options are much more prodigious than anything seen on the LGA 1150 platform.


In the Advanced tab there are a number of configuration sub screens for CPU, PCH, SATA, System Agent, USB, Onboard Devices, APM and Network Stack. 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 onboard USB 3.1 controller. Of especial note is this motherboard can now read display S.M.A.R.T information from any connected SMART enabled storage device. This will make troubleshooting much easier.


The Monitor section contains system temperature/power status, and adjustable fan settings. Fan speeds are customizable based on a number of parameters even though there are profiles included in the BIOS.

As with the Z97 boards, all fan headers can make use of the 'DC Mode' option. With this option the motherboard can adjust RPM levels on fans which are only 3-pin (and thus not PWM capable), allowing them to be just as customizable as PWM capable fans.

Also included are 'Fan Step Up' options which control how fast the onboard fan controller adjusts speeds. Basically you can set the delay from 0 to 25 seconds, removing the annoying rapid fan speed fluctuations that sometimes occurred with previous ASUS motherboards.
 
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AkG

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BIOS Rundown Pg.3

BIOS Rundown Pg.3



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.


The Tool tab gives you access to numerous built in tools that allow for everything from selecting which BIOS profile to use to flashing your BIOS. Also included is a feature that was first seen on Republic of Gamer motherboards: GPU post. GPU post shows which PCI-E slots are populated and in what mode they are operating. This will make troubleshooting GPU and RAID card issues much easier.


Also included is a Secure Erase option which allows consumers to securely erase their SSD via the BIOS. This is a very good feature, but also a very dangerous one that needs more security beyond a simple confirmation pop-up as once a SSD is securely erased all data is gone and never coming back.


As with previous ASUS motherboards, before you save your settings and exit the BIOS, there is a handy window that lists the changes you made during this session. It is a well thought out and implemented idea. The new General Help pop-up that you can find in the top-right corner is quite useful for those who can't remember all the new function key tasks.
 
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Included Software; AI Suite III

Included Software



Regardless of your intended use for this motherboard, the most utilized ASUS program will be AI Suite III. Put simply it is a system management utility and is the hub from which you can monitor system clock speeds, voltages, temperatures, and fan speeds.

Although its basic UI has been established for a while, ASUS regularly adds to, and even modifies, its capabilities depending on the motherboard series. For example this suite's third iteration was launched along with the Z87 motherboards, was refreshed in time for the Z97 series, and is now has been further refined and polished for the Z170 series.


The largest change between the Z97 version and the Z170 version which accompanies the Hero is that ASUS has once again improved its automatic overclocking abilities. These abilities are found under the Dual Intelligent Processors 5 application and its 5-Way Optimization automatic overclocking feature. We will go over what this sub-program can accomplish in the software overclocking section but suffice to say it is rather impressive in what it can achieve even when paired up with this rather inexpensive motherboard.


Such overclocking abilities are the real star of the show but this application is far from just a one trick pony. Here you will also see very simplified information relating to the other five tabs, such as the Energy Processing Unit (EPU) power saving or performance profiles, Fan Xpert 3 fan speed optimization status, DIGI+ VRM optimization, Turbo App functionality, and some display-only information regarding the TurboV Processing Unit (TPU).


The Turbo App is an often overlooked yet useful program as it allows users to set application specific overclocking / audio / LAN profiles. Basically you can fine tune your overclock based on which program you are using. In order to do this the program will monitor your system and once a configured application is loaded in the “foreground” it will instantly apply your custom overclock. Once the program is minimized your system will go back to its default frequent settings.

This is handy if you are running into thermal or voltage limitations, but with this new processor generation neither is as big an issue as it once was. Audio and LAN profiles can also be applied alongside the application as preferred.

Going back to the main landing page, at the bottom is a static strip that displays information about CPU and DRAM frequency, real-time voltage and temperature measurements, as well as CPU and case fan 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 and works very well in this regards.


Along the right side of the AI Suite III utility is an arrow that activates a pop-out menu when clicked. Here you find be features like Ai Charger+ and USB 3.0 / 3.1 Boost.

When enabled, Ai Charger+ allows up to three times faster charging of devices connected to USB ports, while enabling USB 3.0 or USB 3.1 implements the UAS Protocol (UASP) USB protocol that greatly enhances speeds while also lowering CPU utilization. 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.


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


The TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) tab is for folks who have a basic knowledge of overclocking but don’t want to enter the BIOS. Here you will find the basic requirements for overclocking and tweaking. This includes adjustable settings for BCLK, CPU ratio, CPU cache ratio, as well as modifiable voltages that impact the CPU. Some of these features can be adjusted on the fly, while others will require a reboot; however the program will tell you when you have to reboot before a new setting can be set.


The DIGI+ Power Control tab contains 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.


Also included in the new AI Suite III is ASUS's Fan Xpert 3. As you might expect, this is the successor to the wildly popular Fan Xpert 2 application which allows you to 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. It can also adjust the 'pump' 4-pin fan header if you wish to use this header to control a fan instead if a pump.
 
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AkG

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Additional Software & Utilities

Other Software & Utilities


Even though the AI Suite III is the centerpiece of the ASUS software suite, there are other applications that are arguably just as important and noteworthy for consumers interested in a RoG branded motherboard.

ROG CPU-Z




ROG CPU-Z is a special edition of CPU-Z 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


ROG GameFirst III

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GameFirst is a network traffic shaping program designed to help reduce latency courtesy of cFosSpeed traffic-shaping 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. In testing it did help somewhat but only if your wired or wireless network is heavily loaded. Otherwise the impact is minimal.


Sonic Radar II



Sonic Radar II is the latest and greatest gaming-centric program from ASUS. As with the first generation version, Sonic Radar II places a small overlay in games and allows for 'seeing' where sounds in the game environment are coming from in relation to your player.

You can also choose what sounds will be visualized so everything footsteps to voices to gunshots can be highlighted with ease. This new version boasts a newly redesigned control panel, a longer -and customizable- game list, and numerous behind the scenes tweaks which turn an interesting idea in a much more useable game 'cheating' tool.


RAMDisk




The RAMDisk utility allows for creating fairly powerful RAM Disks and includes some very advanced features not usually seen in the free versions like automatic backup, restore and update functions.


Boot Setting




ASUS Boot Setting utility allows users to boot directly into the BIOS without having to mash delete on the POST screen. It also includes an advanced section allowing you to customize fastboot settings including what happens after a power outage.
 
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