ASUS ROG Z170 Maximus VIII Hero Review
Published: 5th August 2015 | Source: ASUS | Price: £172 @ OCUK |
So ASUS are back with the 8th generation of the Maximus boards and are now featuring the 1151 socket, Z170 Chipset and DDR4 Memory, When we did our initial Skylake Review we purposely chose to do all of our testing on the Z170-A motherboard to give us a great baseline to be able to compare all our later reviews on. We did decide to stick with Windows 7 for our initial review, if only to ensure that we could compare the CPUs against our library of prior benchmarks. We will be switching to Windows 10 once we know that everything is 100% with it, and all our benchmarks will work etc. This is our first Maximus review though and as the Hero sits in the middle of the pack at £172 its also a great place for us to start our testing and graphs, even if those graphs will only be useful until Windows 10 comes to OC3D Towers.
The ease of overclocking on the Hero was very welcome considering us starting our testing so close to the release date. This also explains why we have just overclocked results and no stock results for the Hero. We put an evenings work into finding the sweet spot for the overclock which may sound like a long time but this was mainly spent looking at benchmark results to work out how to put our overclock together.The consistency of Intel's CPUs and motherboards is such that comparing stock against stock is almost pointless. Nearly every Z97 and Z87 motherboard review we did saw the stock results at an identical level whether it was a bargain basement model or a eye-watering top-of-the-range one.
Skylake is much more hands on with BCLK, Multiplier, Cache and Memory settings to all balance out plus we had to make sure it was stable and giving us better scores. Anyone who is into heavy overclocking will tell you that a larger CPUz figure doesn't always equate to better actual benchmarks. The Hero didn't fight us in our testing though, if anything it just made life easier. If we pushed things too far it was easy to get back into the BIOS, when the system hangs at post you simply hold the power button down to hard power off then start the machine again. The board knows you have had a failed overclock and boots with basic settings and prompts you to go back into the BIOS and when you do get there all of your settings are still there allowing you to make the changes needed to get things working. Might sound like a simple thing but it just working out of the box even with a launch BIOS really helped us get this done in a timely manner. Nothing is more frustrating than having to redo a million minor tweaks just because one element fell over. The Hero dispenses with all such teeth gnashing.
You could see in the graphs the Hero was in front on pretty much everything so spending time on assessing all the different options on the overclock paid off and easily allowed us to get the most from our 6700K. If you buy this board and either the i5 or i7 K series CPU you really should take some time to overclock it though or you are missing out. It's definitely a playground for those of you that like to fiddle with everything and the best bit is if it goes wrong you can simply clear the BIOS with a flick of a switch and start again. The performance gains are enormous, free, and simple to achieve.
The aesthetics of the Hero, and even the whole of the Maximus range, may surprise you with its distinct lack of red this time around. All of us here at OC3D actually welcome this because red has become a bit of a cliche colour - albeit one that is so because of the quality of the RoG range. By going with a more modern gunmetal grey approach with just small flashes of red it really helps it stand out from the pack without losing its ROG heritage and even, whisper it, make it feel more grown up. If you're not keen on the other red parts then they are not overly intrusive and could easily still feature in a different themed system but if you do like to get hands on and make your rig your own then changing the colours on the fixed red parts would be a simple weekend afternoon project and then you'd only have to change the chipset heatsink LED's to match. In the darkness of your case though the changeable LED lighting is what you'll really notice and it looks amazing. With a small, almost insignificant, change ASUS have freed us all from the tyranny of red, red and more red.
The long and short of it is for £172 the Hero is pretty difficult to fault. We would have liked to have seen an extra internal USB connection or at least a 3-2 adapter cable but if if you need one then you pick one up on eBay for a few quid and keep the post man happy. A few extra USB ports round the back wouldn't go amiss either. Overclocking was a total breeze even though we were pushed for time and the scores back up how simple it is to get some beefy clocks out of your system, and how the benchmarks respond fluidly to those changes. The best part though has to be the way it looks though, it feels more like this should have been a Formula thanks to that I/O cover and we think that the gunmetal grey goes a long way to making it feel more grown up and premium too. Cracking job ASUS and to reward your efforts we thought you might enjoy the OC3D Gold award.