Test Configuration, Results, And Final Analysis
Asus’ ROG Maximus IX Hero takes on the Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 for overclocking for the money, while MSI’s Z270 Gaming M5 and ASRock’s Fatal1ty Gaming K6 show what’s possible at the lower portion of the high-end market. All four boards have a similar range of available overclock settings:
Test System Configuration
Integrated HD Audio
Integrated Gigabit Networking
Synthetic Benchmark Results
We disable any fixed-frequency Turbo Boost override functions and enable all power savings features, such as the full range of Intel C-States, prior to benchmarks. This allows CPU performance to be measured “as Intel intended,” but it also makes it difficult for motherboard manufacturers to produce any performance advancement.
A clean benchmark set would show all boards with extremely similar CPU performance, and our Synthetic results live up to that ideal. ASRock’s sample falls slightly behind in memory bandwidth, which also drags its Gaming K6 down a little in Sandra Cryptography.
The Maximus IX Hero performs on par with the Z270X-Gaming 7 across our gaming suite, while the Z270 Gaming K6 falls only slightly behind. The Z270 Gaming M5’s mixed results occur when its Nahimic audio solution is enabled, as illustrated in this advanced chart.
The Maximus IX Hero comes out a little better than average in mixed workloads, and a little worse than average in the MS Office test, for an average (timed test) average (all tests) that’s about average (for the group). Follow?
Power, Heat, And Efficiency
The ROG Maximus IX Hero uses less power at full load with all processor defaults enabled (like all the competing samples). It also produces less heat with these features.
Slightly above average performance and significantly below average power consumption combine to put the Maximus IX Hero at the top of our efficiency scale.
We mentioned that the Maximus IX Hero produced record overclocks for our DDR4-3866 DIMMs at a measured 1.35V, and the last part of that statement is significant since each of these boards jumps to higher-than-rated DIMM voltage levels when XMP is enabled. The extra 10mV to 20mV automatically applied by any of these boards might have pushed the memory even farther, but test consistency takes precedence in this lab.
Testing bandwidth at maximum DRAM overclock assures buyers that motherboard companies aren’t achieving those high data rates via crippled timings. We see no problem here, as each motherboard scales bandwidth appropriately from baseline (seen in the Synthetic benchmarks) to overclocked frequencies.
Every properly functioning motherboard will produce similar performance numbers at the CPU’s rated settings, which means that the cheapest properly functioning board will always take performance-per-dollar leadership. But what about the value of features?
The Aorus Z270X-Gaming 7 costs only around $10 to $15 more than the Maximus IX Hero, yet it replaces the Hero’s pair of USB 3.1 controllers with a slightly costlier Thunderbolt 3 controller. It also has an extra network controller, and that combination of features surely overcompensates the price difference. Yet that board didn’t win any value awards.
Arguments in favor of the Maximus IX Hero’s value include its new format front-panel USB 3.1 header, which is probably better off having its own controller, where the other controller serves I/O-panel ports. It also has a few features to help out the LN2-overclocking crowd, and it supports a few more fans. Those advancements aren’t enough to get it a value award.
The stunner came in the form of the Maximus IX Hero’s memory overclocking capability, which was great enough to even beat out Gigabyte’s $500 Z270X-Gaming 9. And that board already received an “Editor’s Choice” award for its overclocking, as well as its ability to support a variety of graphics configurations that could be important in future articles. One of the biggest problems of issuing an Editor’s Choice award is that something better could come along immediately afterward, and when it comes to overclocking, that something better is the Maximus IX Hero.
Since the previous Editor’s Choice award included consideration for that product’s broader test-bench applicability, there must be a different award to suffice for the model that beat Editor’s Choice in overclocking. Today that award is Editor Recommended, as this editor recommends the Maximus IX Hero to serious overclockers.
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