ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero Ryzen Motherboard Review

It’s been years since we’ve reviewed an ASUS ROG offering that was designed for AMD CPUs. That’s not to say that those haven’t existed, those just weren’t worth a look as the AMD side of things has not been compelling for the better part of the last decade. Thanks to AMD Ryzen, we have a reason to take the ASUS Crosshair VI Hero for a test drive and tell you how it fared in the tumultuous sea of AM4 motherboards.

Introduction

ASUS is one of the largest and most well-known motherboard brands on the planet. Unless you just started in this hobby yesterday, you’ve probably heard of ASUS or likely owned ASUS designed or manufactured products at some point in your life. Even if you aren’t totally new to enthusiast PC ownership, there is a good chance that you have used a product using innovations pioneered by ASUS. ASUS often sets the standard by which we judge motherboards. This is due to ASUS’ legendary ability to be first to market, stability, and reputation for quality. All the big-name manufacturers have had good and bad models over the years but I feel confident in stating that ASUS has been the most consistent since I started reviewing motherboards over 10 years ago. That isn’t to say that the other brands don’t have models that are better than ASUS may offer, it’s just that ASUS tends to have the most consistent quality and behavior across the spectrum of models offered.

As some of you know, the AMD X370 motherboards have been a huge mess for hardware reviewers and for many people who have been able to purchase those. The issues that are primarily responsible for the problems faced by the AM4 platform won’t be something I’m going to rehash here. What I will restate is that memory compatibility is the primary issue with AM4 motherboards and achieving a reasonable memory clock can be difficult with a lot if not most memory modules. Ryzen is dependent on memory bandwidth and without it, won’t perform as well as it’s capable of doing. Issues with early AGESA code are why AM4 motherboards have been so problematic, and why we’ve had so much trouble reviewing these.

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The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero is based on AMD’s X370 chipset and is compatible with AMD’s Ryzen derived socket AM4 processors. The chipset supports the standard feature set one would expect for a modern enthusiast class PC. Features such as SATA 6Gb/s, PCI-Express 3.0, M.2, USB 3.1, and GbE LAN are all supported. ASUS’ has packed the Crosshair VI with their own features such as MemOK, BIOS Flashback, Aura Sync RGB LEDs, ROG Water-Cooling Zone, SupremeFX audio, and more. The motherboard is suited to multi-GPU systems and its high end for an AM4 motherboard. It does lack multiple NICs or the WiFi one might find on the higher end Intel motherboards, but otherwise it’s on par with most of the upper echelon Intel Z270 Express based motherboards.

Main Specifications Overview:

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Detailed Specifications Overview:

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Packaging

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The box for the motherboard is the standard ROG packaging we’ve come to expect lately. Well at least regarding box art. The box itself isn’t as fancy as it is with the higher end offerings. The box did protect our sample as it arrived intact, with all accessories accounted for. Inside the box, you’ll find the following items: User's manual, ASUS Q-Shield, 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s), 1x M.2 Screw Package, 1x Supporting DVD, 1x SLI HB BRIDGE(2-WAY-M), 1x ROG big sticker, 1x Q-Connector, 1x 10-in-1 ROG cable label, 1x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm), 1x 3D printing mount package, and 1x ROG coaster(s).

Board Layout

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The layout of the Crosshair VI is excellent with no major problems I can see off hand besides the usual CMOS battery gripe I have with most motherboards. There are 7 fan headers on the motherboard including one that’s got a dedicated water pump feature. Aesthetically, the board is rather striking and easy on the eyes. Ambient lighting is spread out over the entire PCB.

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The CPU area is clear of any significant obstructions for larger coolers. The ASUS Crosshair VI Hero has a 4+2 phase configuration that’s doubled to 8+4 phases. NexFET MOSFETs are used which combine the low and high sides into a single driver package. They can deliver up to 40A of current which should be more than sufficient. 10k rated Japanese capacitors are used throughout, excluding the audio subsystem which has dedicated Nichicon Gold Series audio capacitors. An interesting fact about the CPU socket is that it supports mounting of AM3 and AM4 cooling hardware. The PCB passthrough holes have an overlapping figure eight configuration allowing the hardware to pass through using either set of holes. This is fantastic for anyone who might be upgrading that’s got an investment in an existing cooler or a water block.

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The ASUS Crosshair VI Formula has four 288-pin DIMMs supporting up to 64GB of memory. The memory slots are color coded to denote proper dual channel memory mode operation. ASUS used single sided locking tabs for module retention. Speeds up to DDR4 3200MHz are supported through overclocking.

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The chipset is cooled via a flat and passive heat sink with LED lighting in it. Directly in front of the chipset you’ll find 8x SATA 6Gb/s ports, To the left of the chipset is the M.2 slot which supports type 22110 M.2 devices.

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The expansion slot area is well designed with excellent spacing for multi-GPU configurations. The PCI-Express x16 slots have metal support brackets which brace the PCB around the expansion slot preventing warping, breakage and sheering.

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The I/O panel is packed with connectivity options. You’ll find 8x USB 3.1 gen 1 ports, 1x RJ-45 port, 1x USB 3.1 gen 2 Type-A port, 1x USB 3.1 gen 2 Type-C ports, 5x mini-stereo jacks and 1x optical output. Finally, there is a clear CMOS and a BIOS flashback button.