AMD’s Ryzen releases have caused Intel to fight back, both fairly poorly with X299, and now in a fairly competitive, competent way, with Coffee Lake. Admittedly, one thing I don’t like about these new CPUs is that, despite them using what appears to be the same socket, they require a new motherboard, one of the new 300 series chipset boards, with a so-called LGA1151 v2 socket, a tweak supposedly needed for extra power delivery (for the additional 6 core chips) Whilst irritating for us consumers, it’s good news for the likes of ASUS, MSI or Gigabyte and means a whole host of new motherboards.
Much like it’s predecessor, the Maximus Hero 9 hero board, my review of which can be found here, it comes in with generally the same aesthetic which I really like, and a similar overall feature set, but with a few important incremental upgrades. Like the Hero 9 board, it has 4 RAM dimm slots, supporting dual channel memory, and XMP of course. The motherboard also features 2 x16 length generation 3 PCI-E slots, with metal reinforcement to prevent GPU sag related dThege. The board does of course support SLI and crossfire, although AMD are phasing that name, and official customer support, out for the technology. With 1 GPU installed the card will see the full x16 bandwidth, and with 2 graphics card installed they’ll take x8 each, which for the current GPUs inst really an issue, and certainly the only option right now with multi-GPU set-ups on consumer grade CPUs.
Also like its predecessor it has a very good rear IO, with BIOS flashback and clear CMOS buttons, a BIOS USB port, for flashing a BIOS with no CPU installed, 2 USB 2.0 ports, alongside display port and HDMI connections display connections. 4 USB 3 ports, 2 10Gbit 3.1 Gen 2 ports, of the Type A and C variety, gigabit ethernet, gold plated 7.1 audio out and optical audio outputs are also present and provide nothing too out of the ordinary. There is only really one thing missing here, WiFi would be nice, and maybe a second RJ45 gigabit ethernet port I’ve I am really nitpicking, but aside from this it’s happy days!
Edit: It turns out a WiFi version of this motherboard can be purchased for around $20 more, in the US at least.
Unlike it’s predecessor though, this motherboard features a redesigned heatsink up top, that’s a tad bigger, and edgier than the Hero 9 motherboard. RGB implementation has also been expanded, retaining the great chipset logo and IO shield lighting, but adding RGBs under a new M.2 heatsink, that looks pretty superb, and has a great practical purpose. The motherboard, like the Hero 9 boasts 2 M.2 slots, which is neat for further use of fast storage. Another great new feature is the addition of an in build IO shield, this is a really cool design and a feature, until now, otherwise reserved for the highest end board or two. That’s why I really like this Maximus tier of board, it features the highest end Z370 chipset with the extra PCI-E lanes and overclocking, at a price that isn’t simply ludicrous.
The motherboard features a whole host of on board connections, with 8 fan headers (which I appreciate dearly), whilst such a simple feature to add, one that is seldom provided. At the top of the motherboard, we see the 4+4 pin CPU power, 3 of these fan headers, one of which is specifically designated for an AIO watercooler pump. You also get a 4pin RGB header here for use with compatible accessories, like these Cooler Master RGB fans or RGB strips as well as a Q Code display, again a big plus. This will help you to easily diagnose issues with a hexadecimal code that will relate to an error.
As always, the included ASUS software suite with this motherboard is fantastic, from the aforementioned ASUS AURA sync, to ASUS’ 5-way optimisation. I cover all of the included software in the 3rd quarter of the full review, embedded above, including coverage of the Windows AI Suite 3 software and ASUS AURA RGB sync software.
Overall, I feel that this is a great motherboard, that provides a lot of features and a good user experience at a decent price point. It doesn’t innovate all that much over the Z270 board, but it didn’t need to, and given timescales hasn’t had that much time to do so either…