ASUS Crosshair VII Hero AM4 Motherboard Review

Along with the second generation AMD Ryzen CPUs, we are getting the new and somewhat improved X470 chipset motherboards. We have been beating on the Crosshair VII Hero for about a month now and have figured out what we like about, outside of it being an excellent overclocker for the Ryzen 7 CPUs.

continued...

UEFI BIOS

ASUS uses a 256Mb American Megatrends Inc. UEFI BIOS ROM. It is not removable, which is a departure from some earlier ASUS motherboards we’ve seen. ASUS’ UEFI supports the following features and management standards: PnP, WfM2.0, SM BIOS 3.0, ACPI 6.0, Multi-language BIOS, ASUS EZ Flash 3, CrashFree BIOS 3, F11 EZ Tuning Wizard, F6 Qfan Control, F3 My Favorites, Last Modified log, F12 PrintScreen, and ASUS DRAM SPD (Serial Presence Detect) memory information, Secure Erase, User Profile, F4 AURA ON/OFF, F9 Search, Manageability, WOL, and PXE.

ASUS is basically the definitive leader in UEFI BIOS design and implementation. ASUS is without equal in this arena. Many motherboard manufacturers attempted to reinvent the wheel when they first implemented UEFI. ASUS didn’t. Instead, it chose to keep the basic BIOS layout and evolve that familiar design to incorporate the tools and advances that UEFI offers. ASUS practically nailed it out of the gate and continued to evolve the design and perfected it. Many of the features found across all brands in the market, began on ASUS motherboards first only to be copied by other manufacturers later. ASUS’ EZ-Mode, last modified, and my favorites features are the primary ones copied by everyone or nearly every other manufacturer out there.

Article Image Article Image

Article Image Article Image Article Image

Aesthetic qualities are obviously subjective. I don’t feel as though ASUS has the most aesthetically pleasing UEFI, although, it probably isn’t far off. The main advantage of ASUS’ design is that its intuitive. The colors, font, and other design elements were chosen to make it easy to read and understand. ASUS’ hardware monitor is present no matter what you are doing with the UEFI aside from BIOS flashing. This is a truncated version of the monitor, but it provides all the highlights. A separate monitor menu is available for more detailed information and tuning which we will get into a bit later on.

While ASUS uses the same interface for all its motherboards, ROG motherboards are slightly different than other offerings. The color scheme is red and dark gray, as opposed to blue and dark gray. ROG motherboards default to the advanced mode, not the EZ-Mode. Lastly, there are more tuning options available for overclocking. Most of these relate to memory settings and memory presets for specific RAM chips. The tools menu typically includes a few settings that aren’t present on standard motherboard models either. Most of these are for things like the ROG OC panel. The header for that isn’t present on non-ROG motherboards. In the past, there were several tools such as the secure SSD erase feature which began on ROG motherboards and eventually became standard across the entire product stack.

Article Image Article Image Article Image Article Image

Article Image Article Image Article Image

For the most part, you will not find anything on an ASUS motherboard you wouldn’t find on competing designs from other manufacturers. However, the presentation is certainly different. It follows a logical workflow or progression as you set up and tune your system. There are certain details that elevate ASUS above the others. When you highlight most settings, information appears at the bottom of the screen which may explain what that setting is used for, what options it offers, or warns you about potential consequences for using that setting. ASUS isn’t the only one to do this, but again, it does it in a way I think works better and is more consistent than other manufacturers are. Other motherboard manufacturers often have less information to view for given settings. Many settings have no information entries at all. ASUS seems to have been more complete when providing information for a given motherboard’s settings.

Article Image Article Image

Article Image Article Image Article Image

While most of the values you’d find for tuning are found on other boards from other manufacturers, this is not always true. ASUS offers memory presets for DRAM which include memory training values and presets for specific semiconductors from certain manufacturers. Additionally, ASUS offers a feature I had never seen before on the Crosshair VII Hero which is a "mem overclock fail count." This allows the system to try specific settings a certain number of times before going into safe mode and booting to allow the user to access these settings and change them. This seems like something you probably wouldn’t need, but it comes in handy with the Crosshair VII Hero as I will explain later on in the overclocking section.

You never lack for tuning options with any ASUS motherboard. As far as AM4 motherboards go, I think the Crosshair VII Hero may be the best I’ve seen when it comes to available tuning options. You have pages and pages of memory values you can adjust. In fact, the bulk of the BIOS screenshots in this review relate to memory tuning.

Article Image Article Image Article Image Article Image

Memory settings aren’t the only thing that ASUS excels at. ASUS also offers fan tuning that’s a cut above what any other brand has available. Each fan header can be controlled to the same degree in UEFI as it can in software minus the ability to assign custom names to each header. DC and PWM modes are available for all headers. You will even find fans added through the fan extension header offer as much control as the built-in headers. Automatic tuning is also available alongside predefined profile selections. You can also set these values manually. Instead of using a graph where you plot out points based on RPM and temperature thresholds, it’s all done through drop-down menus selected by duty cycle. I prefer the ASUS method for tuning as it seems faster and offers just as much control in less screen area.

Article Image Article Image Article Image Article Image

ASUS also has a nearly unmatched selection of built in tools. You can flash your UEFI and even update it via the internet. While ASUS isn’t the only one to do this, ASUS’ EZ Flash 3 tends to be more responsive and successful than others. It’s secure erase feature predates those of any other manufacturer. The SPD viewer isn’t unique, but it's nicely presented and easy to work with. Most motherboards offer some type of map of the board that identifies what devices are installed in various slots or plugged into ports. ASUS offers a graphic representation of the PCIe slot layout and shows how many lanes are used by the installed devices. The information at the bottom of the screen tells you which slots are best for your GPU’s and settings relating to the expansion slots.

ASUS UEFI is easily the most responsive and intuitive on the market today. I spent a lot of time with the UEFI offered by all the major manufacturers and while they are all serviceable, the ASUS version is the most enjoyable and easiest to use.