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

Benchmark Results and Final Analysis

We enable all CPU-based power-saving features and disable any firmware-specified overclocks for our basic performance and power tests, and have been leaving our memory in default mode since some past boards have enabled those CPU overclock whenever XMP was enabled. Asus calls its version of pushing the single-core Turbo Boost limit across multi-core loads “MultiCore Enhancement”, and it’s disabled by default whenever a Core i9-9900K is installed. And since most boards ignore the CPU’s TDP while the Maximus XI Hero employs it, we tested it both ways.

Synthetic Benchmarks

A perfect benchmark set would show indecipherable performance differences between boards when performing CPU-heavy and GPU-heavy tasks, since the only way to boost the performance of either the CPU or GPU is to overclock (and we like to think we’re in charge of that). As for the underclocking required to keep the CPU within Intel’s defined TDP, it barely impacts the Maximus XI Hero’s “default” configuration in either 3DMark or PCMark.

Sandra Arithmetic slams the Maximus XI Hero’s power-limited default configuration, but even that test isn’t stressful enough to knock it down to the lows we saw under Prime95. And that’s good. Better still is that the uncapped Maximus XI Hero matches other boards.

Sandra Cryptography demotes the Maximus XI Hero’s lower bandwidth at default memory settings, and further demotes its default power-limited configuration. Our GPU-based computational apps remain relatively unphased.

3D Games

Games are barely impacted by the Maximus XI Hero’s default CPU power limits, and we can’t imagine a reason why the one limit we did see was in F1 2015. Though it is both DRAM and CPU constrained at its Medium preset, we never expected it to hit enough cores to push CPU power limits.

Timed Applications

Blender CPU-based conversion, 7.Zip compression, and Handbrake all push the CPU hard enough to bump up against its default TDP, as expressed in the Maximus XI Hero’s “default” configuration at the bottom of the first chart. Its “uncapped” configuration nearly matches the performance level of the boards that ignored Intel’s TDP, which is why we put it at the top of the chart.

Power, Heat, & Efficiency

One would expect a board that employs Intel’s 95W TDP limit to pull around 130W to 140W from the wall, after adding efficiency loss through the voltage regulator and power supply, plus additional components such as the SSD, DRAM, and idle graphics card. And it does. But first, it spikes to 230W. And increasing the wattage limits is the only way to make a head-to-head 4.70 GHz comparison to other boards using Prime95 small-FFTs. After that, it pulls 277W from the wall, which is still lower than similarly-priced rivals.

The “default” settings drag the CPU down to 3.60 GHz at just under one volt, which helps keep the temperature of both the voltage regulator and CPU cores in check. But that’s not the 4.70 GHz that the other boards are running. With the power limits uncapped to allow the board to hold the CPU’s 4.70 GHz Turbo Boost mode, the Maximus XI Hero still has the lowest CPU core temperature, but it also has the second-highest voltage regulator temperature.

Only a few of our real-world apps pushed a high-enough core load to cause significant throttling, and those were primarily in our encoding and compression suite. That either means that the Maximus XI Hero’s “default” configuration is unbelievably efficient, or our current test suite isn’t tough enough. As a reviewer, I favor the second explanation.

And there it is. Even though the CPU ran up to 30 percent slower under heavy load, the inability of most of our applications to hold up those high loads meant that the “default” configuration fell only 1.4 percent behind the average of all Z390 boards we’ve tested. But that’s apples-to-oranges, and a direct comparison of power readings at the same frequency  pushes the Maximus XI Hero’s efficiency victory down to a mere 2.2 percent over the second-place Z390 Aorus Gaming Master.

Overclocking

Maximus XI Hero is the second board that ran long enough at 5.0 GHz that we thought we might have a new leader, only to drop a Prime95 thread or two after extended testing. And that meant dropping back to 49x and increasing the base clock to 101 MHz to reach 4.95 GHz. It also produced competitive DRAM data rates.

Despite the memory bandwidth deficit at our memory’s DDR4-2400 defaults, the Maximus XI Hero crested 40GB/s in memory bandwidth. That’s an important mark, since previous-generation boards often used excessive secondary and tertiary timings to sacrifice bandwidth in exchange for higher memory overclocks.

Final Thoughts

Our percent values are based on the average of every Z390 board we’ve tested, including the less-expensive models that pull down pricing averages to the point that none of the boards in today’s comparison can score a 100 percent value rating. Narrowing our comparison field to boards of similar price and target market should make the “Performance Per Dollar” chart a little more fair, though there are still certain feature differences we should discuss:

For example, is the slightly cheaper Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 really a lesser board? While it doesn’t have USB BIOS Flashback, it does add a 2.5GbE controller. The board even has triple Ethernet when we include the dual Gigabit controllers, thought it doesn’t have Asus-specific features such as Asus Node or flow-sensor-based water pump control. We could see an argument for the Maximus XI Hero’s less-flashy features being worth as much as the Z390 Phantom Gaming 9’s, but the board cost a little more.

The Z390 Taichi Ultimate and Z390 Aorus Master cost as much as the Maximus XI Hero, but the Taichi Ultimate upgrades to 10GbE the PCB of the previously discussed Phantom Gaming 9. 10GbE is probably worth the price increase over the Phantom Gaming 9, but that leaves both the Maximus XI Hero and Z390 Aorus Master with a value deficit…apart from their 50 MHz overclocking advantage of both Asus and Gigabit: It’s the definition of a hard-fought win that’s barely enough for fanatics of these brands to claim some form of superiority over their more favorably-priced rival.

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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.