ASUS Maximus VIII Hero Z170 Motherboard Review
During the Z87ís heyday ASUS introduced a new addition to their Republic of Gamers motherboard lineup: the Maximus Hero. This newcomer was carefully crafted to interest consumers who may have craved the PC gaming / enthusiast ethos of the RoG namesake, but could never justify the steep cost of entry.
To create the new Hero boards, ASUS changed up their RoG formula (no, not the famous Formula motherboard) by taking their usual 'everything and the kitchen sink' and 'budget is of no concern' philosophy and paring it down somewhat. If the RoG Formula and Extreme boards were the gaming versions of their Deluxe series, the Hero was very loosely based upon the more affordable but still perfectly capable PRO models. Essentially, ASUS kept the basic DNA of their extreme overclocker-friendly and gamer-centric RoG boards but packed in predominantly essential features rather than a bunch of stuff most folks would never use. This design philosophy quickly endeared the Hero series to folks who usually skip the RoG boards and opt instead for Pro or Deluxe models.
For the new Z170 / Skylake generation ASUS has decided to continue this tradition of a value-focused gaming platform by creating the Maximus VIII Hero. The heart and soul of this new board is its Z170 chipset and DDR4 capabilities but unlike ASUSí entry-level mass market motherboards, the Maximus VIII Hero brings to the table incredible RAM overclocking abilities. Specifically, most Z170 boards top out at DDR-3400, but this one allows for DDR4-3600 speeds - or a whopping 68.7% above Intel's Z170 DDR4's default speed of 2133.
On the storage side of the equation the Maximus VIII Hero brings to the table eight SATA 6Gb/s ports, two SATA Express ports, a four lane capable M.2 port (with built in NVMe U.2 support) and USB 3.1, including Type C USB 3.1 ports. Also on the hardware end, it boasts a cutting edge ASUS BIOS, a new DIGI+ VRM that boasts 10K metallic black caps, and MicroFine Alloy chokes, and OptiMOS MOSFETS. Mix in some understated good looks, a three year warranty backstopped by one of the most well-known companies in the industry, ASUS's AI SUITE III and its superior automatic overclocking abilities, and the Maximus VIII Hero has a lot of features that both mainstream users and PC gaming enthusiasts alike will crave.
As you can imagine, while it does have a laundry list of drool-worthy features, it is the asking price which makes the Maximus Hero VIII so special. At about $240USD it may be more expensive than entry-level boards but still nearly $100 less than the Z170 Deluxe and only $75 more than an entry level Z170-A. In other words the Maximus VIII Hero has been strategically placed to be the mainstream option of choice for gamers who want to focus more of their limited funds on other mission-critical components.
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