Asus Maximus VIII Hero

Score

Sections

Pros

  • Excellent styling and layout
  • Good baseline performance
  • Packed with high-quality features
  • Good manual and automated overclocking

Cons

  • No single standout feature
  • Not the absolute fastest motherboard we've tested
  • Plastic shroud is all form and no function

Key Features

  • Review Price: £170.00
  • Intel Z170 chipset
  • Intel LGA 1151 socket
  • SupremeFX 2015 audio with Realtek ALC 1150 codec
  • EPU power saving features
  • TPU auto overclocking chip
  • USB 3.1 with Type-C
  • Three PCIe x16 slots
  • 1 x M.2 SSD slot
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What is the Asus Maximus VIII Hero?

The Maximus VIII Hero is

Asus’ top-of-the-range gaming motherboard based on Intel’s Z170 chipset.

Ideal for partnering with one of Intel’s high-end Skylake K CPUs, it packs in plenty of overclocking potential and extra features, without costing the earth.

Priced

at around £170, it’s at the upper end of the Z170 motherboard spectrum.

However, considering most are priced between £100 and £180, it’s not a

huge stretch to go from a mid-range board to a higher end one such the

Maximus VIII Hero.

This board lacks any single killer feature to

set it apart, instead relying on each of its components being a step up

from more entry-level models. Overall this leads to better

overclocking, power management, fan control, audio, storage options and

more. The result is a board that should be ideal for those looking to

build a quality gaming rig with which they’ll do regular tinkering and

upgrading, but that won’t be pushed to the absolute overclocking limits.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero – Design and Features

The

Maximus VIII Hero is a great-looking board. Asus has opted to go

low-key, with the predominantly black and grey theme accented by only a

hint of red.

In addition, the black PCB has an attractive matte

finish, the components all feeling of a certain quality and the

reinforcing plates on the back giving the board reassuring solidity.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero

The

only letdown is the large plastic shroud that covers the power

circuitry and IO ports. This is now a common occurrence on the

latest high-end boards, since it covers up the shiny tops of the IO ports. However, it doesn’t serve any practical purpose and in my opinion it isn’t

entirely successful as an aesthetic addition – although it

certainly beats the bright-white equivalent on the Asus Z170-A.

Otherwise, the Maximus VIII Hero

ticks all the boxes thanks to near-flawless layout. Just

about every header, connection and other physical feature has been placed

round the edge of the motherboard and so is accessible even when the system

is loaded up.

Power, reset and CMOS clear buttons run along the

bottom edge, alongside the front-panel  and USB headers.

Personally, I prefer the placement of the power and reset buttons to be in the top-right corner, since they’re less likely to be blocked by expansion cards.

Along the right

side are the six SATA and two SATA Express storage connections, all of

which are right-angled and so face towards where your drives are likely

to sit.

Also in this region is the M.2 SSD slot, which sits

below the south bridge. This spot is more likely to be accessible than

in-between the two x16 PCI-E slots, where many motherboard manufacturers

put it, although if you’re using two large graphics cards then the second one

will probably still be in the way.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero
A second M.2 slot would have been a nice addition, as you get on the MSI Z170-Gaming 7, but with SSD capacities getting so large now, it’s certainly far from a necessity.

The

area around the CPU socket has been kept clear, so cooler

installation is fairly easy. Also, all the fan headers are easy to

access: there are a couple in-between the graphics card and CPU, and three

four-pin headers in a row along the top edge (one of which is allocated

for use with a water-pump). It’s a really intuitive and tidy way to

manage all the cooling requirements for the top half of your case.

Some

of the more standard – but no less welcome – features are the easy-access release clips on the trio of x16 PCI Express slots. These make removing your graphics cards much easier than the small sprung

versions found on some boards.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero
Likewise,

the Q-DIMM RAM slots have a clip only on one side, which means you won’t

have a situation where your graphics card gets in the way of opening

the set of clips next to it.

Included in the box is a front-panel header go-between that can be used to keep all your case’s header

cables together, allowing them to be attached and removed from the motherboard

in one go. There’s also a CPU installation tool to help prevent

damage to the delicate mounting pins, an SLI connector, six SATA cables

and a black rear I/O cover.

Speaking of rear I/O, this motherboard

has a decent selection of ports, although it’s nothing out of the

ordinary. You get four USB 2.0, two USB 3.0 and two USB 3.1

ports, with one of the latter being of the new Type-C style. There are

also headers for four more USB 2.0 and four more USB 3.0 ports.

Joining

the above is a PS2 port for connecting legacy devices such as old

keyboards and mice, a

BIOS flashing button, HDMI and DisplayPort connections for the onboard

graphics of the Intel processors, a gigabit Ethernet port and six audio

ports.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero

Asus

is proud of the audio solution on this board – and with good reason. It’s based around the quality Realtek ALC 1150 codec and then Asus adds

an ESS ES9023P DAC, a Texas Instruments R4580 headphone amplifier, an

NEC UD2-4 5NU de-pop relay, Nichicon audio capacitors and a dedicated

clock. That should all add up to a cleaner, more detailed and generally

more pleasing sound than more basic offerings.

This board’s one

nod to the more gimmicky side of high-end motherboards is an embedded

RGB LED in the south bridge heatsink. It lets you add coloured

light to your system and is controlled via the included software. It’s a

fun little addition.

Asus Maximus VIII Hero

On

a more practical note, you have Asus’ two performance-enhancing

processors: the TPU and EPU. The former is a dedicated chip that

essentially provides an auto-overclocking function that’s literally a

one-click operation. Similarly, the EPU deals with power consumption

analysis and aims to provide power savings where it can.

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