CM02
CM02
CM02

January 04, 2017

ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero Performance Review

By: Low Chern Lin


With Intel announcing the availability of its new 200 Series chipset motherboards that goes with the 7th Gen Core Processors starting from today onward, that marks the end of the months-long waiting game for enthusiasts who has been eager to take a leap to Intel's latest 7th Gen Core Processor platform. 

Special thanks to ASUS Malaysia for the awesome support, we managed to get our hands on one of the latest Intel 200 Series motherboard from the ROG Maximus IX lineup, the Maximus IX Hero for today's review. With no further adieu, let's move on with the review and see what kind of new features and improvement we can expect from the Maximus IX Hero!

(As ASUS Malaysia has yet to announce the MSRP of the Maximus IX Hero, we will revisit this article to update its MSRP once it has been confirmed)


Packaging

Unlike the previous generation ROG products, the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero now ships in new packaging that comes with a brand new color and design to give existing ROG motherboard users a brand new unboxing experience. Brief features and specifications of the motherboard can be found at the back of the box, i.e its new first in the industry(?) front USB 3.1 connector, brand new SupremeFX design, 3D printing compatible mounting, etc.

Accessories

The included accessories are: 2 x SATA cables for storage devices, rear I/O cover, Drivers CD, a ROG coaster, CPU installation tool, screws for M.2 SSD(s), RGB extension cables, user's guide, quick installation guide, SLI High-Bandwidth bridge for 2-Way SLI configuration, label stickers for cables, ROG stickers, and a coupon for 20% with CableMod.

The Maximus IX Hero

Design wise, ASUS has definitely stepped up their game to give its ROG motherboards a fresh new look in each and every new generation. We can't help it but say that the Maximus IX Hero looks really stunning and we can't really express how we feel with mere words, it happens all the time.


During our visit to ASUS booth at this year's Computex, we've noticed custom 3D printed parts being installed on several unnamed motherboards that are on display. Turns out that ASUS has been planning on embracing 3D printing on their products for quite some time now, and the Maximus IX Hero we have here is one of first few ASUS products to feature such design. 

According to ASUS, enthusiasts will be provided with the template to print out their own ideas, together with extra reserved onboard 3D mount screw holes to express themselves in their own unique way, hassle-free.


If you're one of those who is into decorative RGB lighting, especially for the recently announced Aura Sync, this is really the thing for you.  ASUS has decided to include not one, but two RGB headers for you to configure all the RGB that you need to your heart's content. 


For those of you who has been using AIO liquid coolers or custom water cooling setup for all this time, this is pretty much the thing that you've been looking for. Instead of connecting your pump to the CPU fan connector, you can now connect the pump to the dedicated AIO pump and water pump connector that will ensure that the pump runs on 100% by default so you won't have to worry about the pump not being started properly.



Another notable feature of the Maximus IX Hero is the front USB 3.1 connector, with ASUS as the first motherboard manufacturer to implement onboard USB 3.1 Type-C front panel that is specially tailored for the enthusiasts who takes things seriously when it comes to USB performance - it's about time!


Digital 8 Phase Power Design, 2 Phase for iGPU, 2 Phase Power Design with Asus DRAM Power Utility are some of the power solutions you can expect from the Maximus IX Hero that is powered by MicroFine Alloy Chokes, NexFET Mosfet, 10K Black Metallic Capacitors to ensure the best stable and power delivery to the CPU and memory for the best performance possible.


Overclocking friendly features such as onboard power switch, reset switch, clear CMOS switch, memOK! switch and the Q-Code display has been a great help for enthusiasts when it comes to troubleshooting system issue, especially for a failed system overclocking attempt. 



The Maximus IX Hero now features M.2 slots (M key socket 3) with support for both PCIe 3.0 x4 32Gbps standard (NVMe, Intel Optane Memory) and SATA 6Gbps standard (AHCI), of form factors from 2242 to to 22110 and support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 via IRST 15. 



*Do note that the M.2_1 slot shares SATA mode with SATA port 1, while the M.2_2 shares PCIe x4 bandwidth with SATA port 5 and 6.



ASUS has been constantly introducing a new design for its SupremeFX in each new generation, and the current latest SupremeFX comes with a new S1220 codec in addition to its cutting-edge isolation technologies to minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI), use of premium Nichicon audio capacitors, ESS Premier Stereo High Definition DAC ES9023, SupremeFX Shielding Technology, to provide precision-engineered audio that is on par with some of the dedicated headphone amps available.


Here are some notable mentions; the PCIe slot LED and the fortified PCIe slots (aka SafeSlot) that have been our favorite since the X99 Deluxe II can be seen on the Maximus IX Hero as well. While it is known that the NVIDIA GTX 10 series cards will only support 2-way SLI at most, the Maximus IX Hero as according to ASUS will still be supporting 3-way SLI/CrossFire so users who still find love in their legacy cards will still be able to play around with the multiple GPU configurations.


For the rear IO, you'll the clear CMOS button and USB BIOS Flashback button as usual, DisplayPort and HDMI port for display, a whopping 4 x USB 2.0 and 4 x USB 3.0 that is enough to satisfy pretty much all your needs for USB ports, a USB 3.1 type-A and type-C each for the new generation devices that supports both interfaces, RJ45 Ethernet port, the audio jacks and a hidden M.2 slot for M.2 WiFi card can be found underneath the plastic cover for the rear IO.

UEFI BIOS - EZ Mode

If you're not really into the advanced system tuning, the EZ mode is just enough to get the job done. Changing boot device priority, hassle-free one-click overclock with EZ Tuning Wizard, enabling XMP for your performance memory kit, cooling fan adjustments and more - ASUS has compiled all these basic features into one single page that is simple enough for the entry level users to navigate and adjust the basic needs based on their own preferences.

UEFI BIOS - Advanced Mode

Advanced mode will be the playground for the veterans, users who care about each and every setting that will affect the overall system performance. You'll be able to toy around with settings for overclocking both the CPU and memory, configure the features that you might need or might not need, importing or exporting overclocking profiles, and more to your heart's content.

Software - ASUS AI Suite III

The AI Suite III is a compilation of programs to help users to make use of the available features on the Maximus IX Hero. Similar to the  AI Suite II, its intuitive user interface allows the user to navigate through the list of programs and access the available features with ease. 

Some of the well-known features of the AI Suite are its 5-way Optimization (previously 4-Way Optimization on Intel Z87 platform and before) for hassle-free system tuning, the new Fan Xpert 4 with newly improvised cooling fan adjustments, EZ update and USB BIOS flashback for easy BIOS update and recovery, etc.


AURA RGB LED Control Software

The new AURA RGB software now comes with not only the same RGB lighting controls from the previous generation but also with newly added features that allow user to sync the RGB lighting across the components and peripherals with RGB lighting that is connected to the system. 

Clone Drive Utility

Other than the improved performance and new features mentioned above, the Clone Drive utility is also one of the major highlights from ASUS this time. Users who is having hard time finding a reliable tool to perform data migration can now have a piece of mind with this free to use the tool from ASUS. 

The tool allows you to create a disk image, as well as drive cloning for backup and restoration purposes, which performs quite near to the free version of Macrium Reflect that we are currently using for most of our work. 


CPU & Memory Overclock Overview

As usual, we started off our overclocking test with the 5-Way Optimization feature from the ASUS AI Suite III to see how well can the system determined overclocking feature can go up against the good old manual overclocking method, and we're not disappointed this time. 


The 5-Way Optimization managed to achieve a pretty good result of 5.0GHz on TPU I and 5.1GHz on TPU II, which comes very close to our manual overclocking method with stable stress test result on 5.0GHz. The Intel 7th Gen Core i7 7700K that we are using for this review can definitely go higher if it wasn't because of the limited cooling capability of our current custom liquid cooling setup - which has also confirmed the bad TIM used in between the CPU die and the IHS, just as how the leaks from the past few weeks suggests.


As for the memory overclocking, we managed to get our hands on the Apacer Panther DDR4 16GB 2400MHz kit from Apacer and surprisingly, we're able to push the kit to a pretty decent result of 3600MHz with a pretty neat timing of 18-19-19-38-2T and runs stable throughout pretty much every benchmark that we have, i.e RealBench, SuperPi 1.5 mod, WPrime, AIDA64 Memory and System Stability test, games benchmark (Watch Dogs, GTA V, The Division, Overwatch, etc). 

Final Thoughts
Be it on aesthetics, build quality or performance, the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero a fantastic all rounder that really took us by surprise. Apart of its surprisingly responsive RGB LEDs that goes really well with the Aura RGB control software and the seemingly improved audio, its rich feature and good headroom for overclocking really captured our heart this time, as we're quite skeptical on what kind of performance can the Maximus IX Hero deliver from the beginning of the test.

Performance and aesthetics aside, ASUS has also packed the Maximus IX Hero with some of the notable features such as the dedicated pump connector for AIO liquid cooler and custom water cooling kit, PCIe slot LED and the fortified PCIe slots (SafeSlot), 3D printing customization support that really gives the Hero a brand new identity to enthusiasts who has previously owned or perhaps skipped the previous generation of the Maximus Hero for not having the features they want.

As ASUS has yet to announce the MSRP for its new lineup of Intel 200 series chipset motherboard, we leave the pricing for now and will revisit this article to update the price once it's available. And with price aside, the ASUS ROG Maximus IX Hero is definitely the new hero from ASUS that is worth recommending to not only the ROG fans, but also enthusiasts who is looking for a enthusiasts grade motherboard with good overclocking capability, as well as other future-proof features that will last them for probably another one or two generations.

Pros
  • Solid build quality
  • Good aesthetics
  • Good overclocking headroom
  • Good onboard audio quality
  • Good software bundle
  • Use of high-quality components
  • Support for customization with 3D printing
  • Support for USB 3.1 type-C and type-A devices
  • Dedicated pump connector for AIO liquid coolers and custom water cooling kit
  • First in the industry to implement the support for front USB 3.1 connector
Cons
  • M.2 slot for wireless card is hidden from sight
  • Existing PC case doesn't support the new front USB 3.1 connector
  • No support for PS/2 legacy port, as some users may still be using their keyboard

 

ROG01