Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero (Wi-Fi) Review: For Overclockers Only?

Software and Firmware

Asus AI Suite 3 contains most of the Maximus XI Hero’s apps: Dual Intelligent Processors 5 includes TPU Insight overclocking, EPU Guidance low-energy schemes, Fan Xpert 4 fan control, Digi+ Power Control, and Turbo App application prioritization. Other available tasks include PC Cleaner file remover, EZ Update to poll Asus update servers, a System Information page, and a Windows-initialized version of USB BIOS Flashback for firmware updates.

Clicking the AI Optimization icon initiated an overclocking and stability testing algorithm that produced a 5.1GHz clock with up to three cores loaded, 5.0 GHz with more than three cores loaded. We saw a CPU core voltage of around 1.3V with a single thread of Prime95 small-FFTs and 1.28V with 8 threads loaded, but adding additional threads caused the system to crash.

Manual tuning is also available, including CPU Load Line Calibration within Digi+ Power Control. 

The remaining apps are less exciting, particularly after finding that the “USB BIOS Flashback” tool is nothing more than a way to put firmware on a thumb drive and reboot into a proper flashing mode. It’s the same method we’ve been doing manually with similar effort.

Asus Aura RGB includes a Sync mode that sets all devices to the same scheme but not the same exact timings, which is likely a limitation of our RGB memory. Famed for its compatibility, we included seven screen shots to show most of its available configuration settings.

Firmware

Maximus XI Hero firmware defaults to its Advanced Mode GUI, where the Extreme Tweaker menu includes basic overclocking controls plus submenus with advanced settings. It pushed our Core i9-9900K from its factory 4.7GHz 8C/16T Turbo Boost setting to 4.95 GHz at 1.30V under a full load of Prime95 small-FFTs. It also pushed our DDR4-2933 up to DDR4-3867 at 1.35V. You’ll notice through several of these menus that we’re increasing CPU current loads to their firmware limit, to prevent throttling.

You’ll notice that we set the CPU Core Voltage to 1.28V, which we’ll explain further below, and the DRAM to 1.340V. We found that the average voltage of DIMM slots was 13mV higher than whatever we set, but it was only shown in firmware as being 3mV higher-than-set. We maintain a 1.355V DIMM limit in motherboard overclocking evaluations to assure that no model “gets the prize” by cheating.

Overclocking Presets is the first submenu of Extreme Tweaker. Seven factory-defined overclocking profiles are found here: The “Gamer’s OC Profile” increased our 8C/16T frequency from 4.7 to 4.8 GHz (2% over stock), left our lightly-threaded maximum at the CPU’s default 5.0 GHz, and advertised a 38 percent overclock on the splash screen at reboot. Meanwhile, the CPU 5G OC Profile pushed our cores to 5GHz at 1.30V…whereupon Prime95 small-FFTs would cause the system to lock up. As for the “percent overclock” discrepancy, it refers to base frequency when Intel Turbo Boost technology is disabled (as if anyone does that).

Extreme Tweaker’s DRAM Timing Control submenu includes every timing we can think of, adds a “Memory Presets” sub-submenu filled with factory-defined overclocks for different DRAM IC configurations, and likewise adds submenus for Skew Control, RTL IOL Control, and Memory Training.

The most important CPU overclock setting is found under the External Digi+ Power Control submenu as “CPU Current Capability”. The board’s default behavior causes our Core i9-9900K to throttle at default settings as it attempts to keep the CPU within Intel’s 95W TDP, so we maxed it out. Meanwhile, we found that the Level 7 setting for CPU Load-line Calibration pushed our core voltage up by around 23mV over the baseline setting when the cores were fully loaded. Since the Level 6 setting allowed CPU core voltage to sag below our intended 1.30V, we combined a 1.280V Core baseline with the 23mV bump of Level 7 Load-line Calibration to reach the 1.30V needed to keep our CPU at 4.95 GHz throughout all stress tests.

Other submenus include Internal CPU Power Management, where we again set the highest-available power limits, Tweaker’s Paradise with advanced clock and voltage controls, AI Features where we raised the CPU package temperature to match our core temperature limits, and DRAM REF (reference) Voltage Control.

Limiting changes to the Extreme Tweaker menu means that overclocks will still likely encounter thermal throttling: Intel raised the Core i9-9900K’s threshold to 115 degrees Celsius, but the Maximus XI Hero maintains the 100° default of previous processors. Our overclocked CPU peaks at 103 degrees to 104 degrees when everything else is set consistently to other reviewed boards. This thermal threshold can be found in the CPU Configuration submenu of the Maximus XI Hero’s Advanced menu.

Fan settings are found at the bottom of the board’s “Monitor” menu. Users can select from various temperature-to-RPM curves, use the board’s algorithm to define a custom curve to match their fans, or select their own curves using percentages. All eight headers can be set to either voltage or PWM-based regulation.

The Maximus XI Hero’s “Tool” menu includes a shortcut to its EZ Flash 3 GUI, Secure Erase for SSDs, registers for up to eight firmware setting configurations as user profiles plus the ability to transfer these to and from a USB flash drive, motherboard configuration settings for Asus’s ROG OC Panel controller, SPD readings from DIMM programming, a setting to disable Asus Armoury Crate downloader, and a Graphics Card Information screen.

Do more with firmware using your keyboard’s Function keys! F11 brings up Asus’s automatic overclocking guide, F6 a fan control map, F9 a search function for that setting you couldn’t find, and F7 the EzMode GUI.

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  • PapaCrazy
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
  • CVPhere
    Voltage regulator refinements? You mean downgrading to a 4 phase that runs hotter than all the other board at this price point? How is that a "refinement"? Did the Asus PR firm tell you to write that?
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Anonymous said:
    Voltage regulator refinements? You mean downgrading to a 4 phase that runs hotter than all the other board at this price point? How is that a "refinement"? Did the Asus PR firm tell you to write that?
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.
  • miroslavhm
    hmm, I bought one on BF sale with deep discount, and I am not extreme overclocker - I want it mostly for I/Os, DAC sound and software stability. So, I will probably keep it, but it is indeed a great disappointment that Asus cheap-ed out on the VRMs. If I was paying the same, I would choose Gigabyte Aorus Master, although I am a little concerned in their ability to maintain good drivers for all the add-ons
  • PapaCrazy
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Anonymous said:
    Voltage regulator refinements? You mean downgrading to a 4 phase that runs hotter than all the other board at this price point? How is that a "refinement"? Did the Asus PR firm tell you to write that?
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
  • vilegreed
    I had to update the bios on mine before it worked..also am disappointed in 4 phase b.s.
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Anonymous said:
    Voltage regulator refinements? You mean downgrading to a 4 phase that runs hotter than all the other board at this price point? How is that a "refinement"? Did the Asus PR firm tell you to write that?
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
    So what, you staked your claim without even looking at the data? We took the opposite approach and gathered the data before writing about the board. It's right there under "Voltage Regulator" half-way down Page 4.
  • c.francioni
    Try to do oc on an unselected CPU, where to be stable at 5ghz 1.30v are not enough, then tell me what temperatures you have on VRM ....
    signed "happy owner of Aorus Master"
  • PapaCrazy
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Anonymous said:
    Voltage regulator refinements? You mean downgrading to a 4 phase that runs hotter than all the other board at this price point? How is that a "refinement"? Did the Asus PR firm tell you to write that?
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
    So what, you staked your claim without even looking at the data? We took the opposite approach and gathered the data before writing about the board. It's right there under "Voltage Regulator" half-way down Page 4.



    My 'claim' comes from Hardware Unboxed who measured temps of about 15c difference. Curious why the results differ so much. There are rightful questions about VRM quality and marketing dishonesty. You're out of touch with community concerns to ignore these in your review.
  • lefurre
    Hardware Unboxed noted that the Asus Hero enforced the TDP limit on the 9900k. That's why the VRM isn't showing as an issue.

    Gigabyte also ran TDP at stock settings.

    Once reviewers equalized the overclock levels on the boards (Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock) that's when the 9900k drama began but it also highlighted that ASUS used 4 phase VRM.

    Hardware Unboxed called them out for lying to their consumers - in fact, Hardware Unboxed were not supplied a test sample of the Hero. They bought it themselves to test.

    It's there on YouTube. Go look.
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Try to do oc on an unselected CPU, where to be stable at 5ghz 1.30v are not enough, then tell me what temperatures you have on VRM ....
    signed "happy owner of Aorus Master"
    We can't push the CPU any higher without overheating it, so long as we're using Prime95 small-FFTs to test it. Would you have us use a less-stressful test at higher clocks and voltages?
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
    So what, you staked your claim without even looking at the data? We took the opposite approach and gathered the data before writing about the board. It's right there under "Voltage Regulator" half-way down Page 4.



    My 'claim' comes from Hardware Unboxed who measured temps of about 15c difference. Curious why the results differ so much. There are rightful questions about VRM quality and marketing dishonesty. You're out of touch with community concerns to ignore these in your review.
    I knew about your concerns, so I looked for the potential problems during the testing. Did you expect me to say, "even though we didn't see high heat or poor efficiency, we need to warn you that the design could theoretically produce high heat and poor efficiency"? Having found no alarming heat or power data, I decided that the most honest thing to do was to let you argue about it here.
    Anonymous said:
    Hardware Unboxed noted that the Asus Hero enforced the TDP limit on the 9900k. That's why the VRM isn't showing as an issue.

    Gigabyte also ran TDP at stock settings.

    Once reviewers equalized the overclock levels on the boards (Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock) that's when the 9900k drama began but it also highlighted that ASUS used 4 phase VRM.

    Hardware Unboxed called them out for lying to their consumers - in fact, Hardware Unboxed were not supplied a test sample of the Hero. They bought it themselves to test.

    It's there on YouTube. Go look.
    I really wish you'd read the review before you say we didn't do something. We did normalize it. That's why the charts show two results for the board, "default" and "uncap". Go look.
  • PapaCrazy
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Try to do oc on an unselected CPU, where to be stable at 5ghz 1.30v are not enough, then tell me what temperatures you have on VRM ....
    signed "happy owner of Aorus Master"
    We can't push the CPU any higher without overheating it, so long as we're using Prime95 small-FFTs to test it. Would you have us use a less-stressful test at higher clocks and voltages?
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
    So what, you staked your claim without even looking at the data? We took the opposite approach and gathered the data before writing about the board. It's right there under "Voltage Regulator" half-way down Page 4.



    My 'claim' comes from Hardware Unboxed who measured temps of about 15c difference. Curious why the results differ so much. There are rightful questions about VRM quality and marketing dishonesty. You're out of touch with community concerns to ignore these in your review.
    I knew about your concerns, so I looked for the potential problems during the testing. Did you expect me to say, "even though we didn't see high heat or poor efficiency, we need to warn you that the design could theoretically produce high heat and poor efficiency"? Having found no alarming heat or power data, I decided that the most honest thing to do was to let you argue about it here.
    Anonymous said:
    Hardware Unboxed noted that the Asus Hero enforced the TDP limit on the 9900k. That's why the VRM isn't showing as an issue.

    Gigabyte also ran TDP at stock settings.

    Once reviewers equalized the overclock levels on the boards (Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock) that's when the 9900k drama began but it also highlighted that ASUS used 4 phase VRM.

    Hardware Unboxed called them out for lying to their consumers - in fact, Hardware Unboxed were not supplied a test sample of the Hero. They bought it themselves to test.

    It's there on YouTube. Go look.
    I really wish you'd read the review before you say we didn't do something. We did normalize it. That's why the charts show two results for the board, "default" and "uncap". Go look.


    Since you’re asking me edit questions (I suspect rhetorically, but nonetheless) here’s your copy: “PC builders have had concerns over the marketing accuracy and design of Asus’s “twin 8 phase” VRM, which implements four increased amperage phases and a switcher. Competing boards in the same price range offer up to 12 phases, but have less rated amperage per phase. We found only slight differences in VRM temperatures between boards in our testing.”

    If the biggest thing on everyone’s mind is the VRM quality, enough to cause a controversy (as other manufacturers have caused for pulling the same stunt) then I’d expect a publication with readers’ interests in mind to address that somehow. Either with an in-depth review that uses thermal probes or camera, in a variety of test condition to thoroughly address the question or, lacking that, certainly more than a euphemism like “refined voltage regulator”. If I purchased a Hero over an Aorus based on their stated equivalency in this review I’d feel misled.

    And, no, arguing with people in the comments section does not count as honest journalism. Maybe that was tongue in cheek, but it’s an indicator of TH’s current direction.
  • Crashman
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Try to do oc on an unselected CPU, where to be stable at 5ghz 1.30v are not enough, then tell me what temperatures you have on VRM ....
    signed "happy owner of Aorus Master"
    We can't push the CPU any higher without overheating it, so long as we're using Prime95 small-FFTs to test it. Would you have us use a less-stressful test at higher clocks and voltages?
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
    So what, you staked your claim without even looking at the data? We took the opposite approach and gathered the data before writing about the board. It's right there under "Voltage Regulator" half-way down Page 4.



    My 'claim' comes from Hardware Unboxed who measured temps of about 15c difference. Curious why the results differ so much. There are rightful questions about VRM quality and marketing dishonesty. You're out of touch with community concerns to ignore these in your review.
    I knew about your concerns, so I looked for the potential problems during the testing. Did you expect me to say, "even though we didn't see high heat or poor efficiency, we need to warn you that the design could theoretically produce high heat and poor efficiency"? Having found no alarming heat or power data, I decided that the most honest thing to do was to let you argue about it here.
    Anonymous said:
    Hardware Unboxed noted that the Asus Hero enforced the TDP limit on the 9900k. That's why the VRM isn't showing as an issue.

    Gigabyte also ran TDP at stock settings.

    Once reviewers equalized the overclock levels on the boards (Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock) that's when the 9900k drama began but it also highlighted that ASUS used 4 phase VRM.

    Hardware Unboxed called them out for lying to their consumers - in fact, Hardware Unboxed were not supplied a test sample of the Hero. They bought it themselves to test.

    It's there on YouTube. Go look.
    I really wish you'd read the review before you say we didn't do something. We did normalize it. That's why the charts show two results for the board, "default" and "uncap". Go look.


    Since you’re asking me edit questions (I suspect rhetorically, but nonetheless) here’s your copy: “PC builders have had concerns over the marketing accuracy and design of Asus’s “twin 8 phase” VRM, which implements four increased amperage phases and a switcher. Competing boards in the same price range offer up to 12 phases, but have less rated amperage per phase. We found only slight differences in VRM temperatures between boards in our testing.”

    If the biggest thing on everyone’s mind is the VRM quality, enough to cause a controversy (as other manufacturers have caused for pulling the same stunt) then I’d expect a publication with readers’ interests in mind to address that somehow. Either with an in-depth review that uses thermal probes or camera, in a variety of test condition to thoroughly address the question or, lacking that, certainly more than a euphemism like “refined voltage regulator”. If I purchased a Hero over an Aorus based on their stated equivalency in this review I’d feel misled.

    And, no, arguing with people in the comments section does not count as honest journalism. Maybe that was tongue in cheek, but it’s an indicator of TH’s current direction.
    Current direction, past direction, as far as I can remember we've always hashed out with readers the stuff we couldn't prove in testing.

    I do like the way you phrased that first paragraph though, too bad you're not writing for us yet. We also had a grand tradition of writers showing up the boss that would probably be worth revisiting.
  • PapaCrazy
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Try to do oc on an unselected CPU, where to be stable at 5ghz 1.30v are not enough, then tell me what temperatures you have on VRM ....
    signed "happy owner of Aorus Master"
    We can't push the CPU any higher without overheating it, so long as we're using Prime95 small-FFTs to test it. Would you have us use a less-stressful test at higher clocks and voltages?
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    Anonymous said:
    No mention of the 4 phase being marketed as "twin 8" phase? Then you give this 4 phase board the same exact rating as a competing board that has 12? VRM temps have been shown to be over 15c difference. This review is neglectful, and its advice is downright wrong.
    The test showed that the board performed in an exemplary fashion. Disregarding the test data that doesn't agree with your assumptions is downright wrong.
    Except that it didn't run hotter than all the other boards and was only a scant few degrees warmer than the Gigabyte board.


    What data are you referring to? There is no test for VRM temperatures in this review. You have to go elsewhere for that. While overclocking ("For Overclockers Only", right?) the VRM temps differ by more than a "scant few degrees".
    So what, you staked your claim without even looking at the data? We took the opposite approach and gathered the data before writing about the board. It's right there under "Voltage Regulator" half-way down Page 4.



    My 'claim' comes from Hardware Unboxed who measured temps of about 15c difference. Curious why the results differ so much. There are rightful questions about VRM quality and marketing dishonesty. You're out of touch with community concerns to ignore these in your review.
    I knew about your concerns, so I looked for the potential problems during the testing. Did you expect me to say, "even though we didn't see high heat or poor efficiency, we need to warn you that the design could theoretically produce high heat and poor efficiency"? Having found no alarming heat or power data, I decided that the most honest thing to do was to let you argue about it here.
    Anonymous said:
    Hardware Unboxed noted that the Asus Hero enforced the TDP limit on the 9900k. That's why the VRM isn't showing as an issue.

    Gigabyte also ran TDP at stock settings.

    Once reviewers equalized the overclock levels on the boards (Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock) that's when the 9900k drama began but it also highlighted that ASUS used 4 phase VRM.

    Hardware Unboxed called them out for lying to their consumers - in fact, Hardware Unboxed were not supplied a test sample of the Hero. They bought it themselves to test.

    It's there on YouTube. Go look.
    I really wish you'd read the review before you say we didn't do something. We did normalize it. That's why the charts show two results for the board, "default" and "uncap". Go look.


    Since you’re asking me edit questions (I suspect rhetorically, but nonetheless) here’s your copy: “PC builders have had concerns over the marketing accuracy and design of Asus’s “twin 8 phase” VRM, which implements four increased amperage phases and a switcher. Competing boards in the same price range offer up to 12 phases, but have less rated amperage per phase. We found only slight differences in VRM temperatures between boards in our testing.”

    If the biggest thing on everyone’s mind is the VRM quality, enough to cause a controversy (as other manufacturers have caused for pulling the same stunt) then I’d expect a publication with readers’ interests in mind to address that somehow. Either with an in-depth review that uses thermal probes or camera, in a variety of test condition to thoroughly address the question or, lacking that, certainly more than a euphemism like “refined voltage regulator”. If I purchased a Hero over an Aorus based on their stated equivalency in this review I’d feel misled.

    And, no, arguing with people in the comments section does not count as honest journalism. Maybe that was tongue in cheek, but it’s an indicator of TH’s current direction.
    Current direction, past direction, as far as I can remember we've always hashed out with readers the stuff we couldn't prove in testing.

    I do like the way you phrased that first paragraph though, too bad you're not writing for us yet. We also had a grand tradition of writers showing up the boss that would probably be worth revisiting.



    Well, my statements on the article still stand (people who aren’t up to date on community ramblings, or scroll to the comments deserve the heads up) but I do appreciate you, or any other staff, willing to hash it up with readers.

    Still got faith in TH community, including writers. I’m sure there’s enough panicked pundits around to shake the tree still.