ASUS Maximus VI Hero LGA 1150 Motherboard Review

The ASUS Republic of Gamers brand represents the best ASUS has to offer. Unfortunately the best usually comes with a high price tag placing such boards out of reach for many. Never fear for the ASUS Maximus VI Hero is here! OK with a name like that I couldn’t resist. The Hero offers the core enthusiast features found in all ROG boards with less fluff.

Introduction

ASUS is easily one of the biggest names in the computing industry. Not only for its motherboards but graphics cards, laptops, monitors, and even networking equipment. Essentially ASUS makes a bit of everything. Despite this diversity motherboards are still the bread and butter by which its reputation is based. ASUS Republic of Gamers products are the best ASUS has to offer. These boards tend to incorporate more enthusiast centric design elements from component selection to firmware coding. These boards represent the pinnacle of motherboard design at the time of their introduction. The largest downside to these products is the cost. Not every board in their lineup is necessarily the upper echelon of what the market will tolerate although some boards definitely fall into that category.

For some time now I’ve reviewed many of these motherboards and the response in our forums from the masses tends to be something along the lines of; "nice board, maybe one day if I win the lottery." Others don’t care about the price and opt for these boards given the strong feature set and more generous budgets for upgrades. The Maximus VI Hero is about delivering the core design of what differentiates ROG from the rest of the product stack to a larger array of enthusiasts who want the core overclocking, stability, and reliability experience that ROG motherboards can provide. The Maximus VI Hero is offered as low as $205.00 with Free Prime Shipping as of publication.

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The ASUS Maximus VI Hero offers a lower cost ROG motherboard by making some design concessions which shouldn’t compromise the core of what makes these motherboards great. However, the savings must come from somewhere. The Maximus VI Hero does not come with a waterblock, thermal armor, PLX chips, additional USB 3.0 controllers, or Thunderbolt connectivity. Basically the excess features are gone but the basis for what makes these motherboards nearly bullet proof in terms of stability and robust in regard to overclocking is retained. The Maximus VI Hero is based on Intel’s Z87 Express chipset and supports an LGA1150 socket for 4th Generation Intelآ®Coreآ™ i7/ i5/ i3/ Pentiumآ® / Celeronآ® Processors, 32GB of DDR3 RAM, integrated graphics, onboard SATA, CrossfireX and SLI technologies. ASUS’ SupremeFX audio, Sonic Radar, Extreme Engine Digi+ III, GameFirst II + Intel LAN, MemOK, DirectKey, and USB BIOS Flashback are some of the additional features supported by the Maximus VI Hero. The voltage hardware of the ASUS Maximus VI Hero is based on an 8+2 phase power design utilizing 10k black metallic capacitors, 60A BlackWing Chokes, and NexFET MOSFETs.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The Maximus VI Hero comes with a fairly light amount of accessories compared to other ROG motherboards. Our sample arrived intact and included the following accessories: User's manual, I/O Shield, 6 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1 x SLI bridge(s), 1 x Q-connector(s) (2 in 1), 1 x 12 in 1 ROG Cable Label(s), 1 x ROG Door Hanger(s).

Board Layout

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Like any other ROG board before it, the Maximus VI Hero has a top notch layout. This is definitely one area where ASUS tends to excel. The only point of contention I have with the layout of the motherboard has to do with the placement of the DirectKey button. This button is used for telling the UEFI to go into the UEFI instead of booting. This saves you the hassle of waiting through the POST sequence only to press the delete key 5,000 times until the motherboard beeps at you for 10 minutes. It’s a great feature but in an SLI based system the second video card will obstruct both the view and access to this button. I believe it should be where the rest of the onboard buttons reside. ASUS does however include a DirectKey header as well which will allow you to wire up a switch, such as your current reset button, to engage this feature as well that will allow you to use the DirectKey without opening your case.

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The CPU socket area is clean and shouldn’t pose a problem for most builders and enthusiasts. The heat sinks are sturdy but not bulky. Most air coolers and any water cooler will clear the MOSFET coolers with relative ease.

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The usual DIMM slot proximity to the CPU socket bothers me. It’s worth noting that ASUS uses what it calls "T-Topology" which basically means that the trace lengths for both memory channels are identical rather than asymmetrical. This yields potentially higher memory overclocks and greater stability. The DRAM slots are also close to the onboard power and reset buttons, chassis fan 2 and the POST LED code display.

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A large flat heat sink cools the Z87 Express chipset which is flanked by fan headers, the actual socketed BIOS ROM, DirectKey button and 8 SATA ports.

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The expansion slot area is a thing of beauty. The optimal PCIe x16 slots for multi-GPU configurations are color coded red and operate either in a x16x0 or x8x8 configuration. The PCIe x1 slots share bandwidth with the PCIe 2.0 x16 slot at the bottom of the board. This slot actually operates as an x4 slot electrically. Due to the configuration nature of the PCI-Express lanes and the lack of a PLX solution the Maximus VI Hero only supports dual and quad CPU offerings using no more than two cards. So NVIDIA’s Quad-SLI and AMD’s Quad-CrossFire or "QuadFire" solutions are supported but 4-Way SLI (4 separate single GPU cards) would not be.

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The I/O panel has 4x USB 2.0 ports, 1x HDMI port, 1 PS/2 keyboard and mouse port combination, 4 USB 3.0 ports, 1 RJ-45 LAN port, 1 optical output, and 6x mini-stereo jacks. Honestly if ASUS made any mistakes with this board it was the lack of display output options. Then again the bulk of people who choose a board like this probably won’t be using integrated video.