ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero Preview
If you’ve been following along with our X570 previews then our intro will be familiar to you, so skip on to the technical specifications below to discover what is unique to this particular model. Otherwise, read on to find out what the X570 AM4 is bringing to the party.
When AMD released the first generation of Ryzen processors and the attendant chipset we spoke a lot here at OC3D about how pleased we were to find AMD back with a product range that was a genuine return to form. Instead of attempting to keep updating the ageing AM3 platform they made wholesale changes with the introduction of the AM4 socket and a much more modern chipset with all the features that you could demand.
We clearly weren’t the only people impressed by this massive upgrade to the AMD range as the Ryzen CPUs and Zen architecture sold in droves. Such was the rampant popularity of it that we quickly saw the release of the updated Ryzen processors, the 2nd generation, along with the X470 motherboards that introduced yet more features that hadn’t quite been squeezed onto the X370 release schedule.
The hardware world never stands still for long though, and since the launch of the Ryzen 2nd Generation there have been a few new technologies given the green light to hit the market, and with the release of the 3rd Generation of Ryzen processors comes a new chipset, the X570, which is so up-to date that it comes with a lot of elements yet to find their way onto Intel platforms.
As you would expect all the major manufacturers are gearing up with their X570 product launches, and whilst we can’t go into too much detail before the full launch in early July, we knew that we just had to bring you a glimpse at what you could expect.
The Hero looks similar to the Crosshair VIII Formula, and the majority of the connection options match up too, particularly on this Wi-Fi equipped version. We find 8 of the 10 Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, seven of which are in the Type-A format and one in the Type-C. If you have the hardware to support it you’ll also enjoy the huge transfer speeds available courtesy of the 2.5G Ethernet connector and Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, based – as the name suggests – upon the 802.11ax standard. Naturally you require devices built with these high bandwidth connections in mind to make the fullest use of them, they wont increase the speeds of hardware designed around the Gigabit connection, but it’s nice to know you’re futureproofed to some degree.
Below the IO section is the headline feature on the X570 chipset and Ryzen 3 processors, PCI Express 4.0. Juggling the needs of our polygon-crunching GPUs and ultra-speedy M.2 drives is a constant balance, but with the increase in bandwidth afforded by the PCI Express 4.0 specification and Ryzen 3 CPU combination it will at least not be something you need to fret about for the immediate future. We’re sure that manufacturers will swiftly find ways to saturate even this increase in bandwidth, but for now it’s nice to know that we should soon see a big leap in performance across our systems.
The basics of the X570 chipset don’t seem to change much across models, so we have the AM4 socket that supports the latest Ryzen 3 CPUs but can also take the 1st and 2nd Generation although this will obviously compromise the PCI Express 4.0 options should you choose the upgrade route. People will plenty of things to plug in will appreciate the bandwidth available from the front panel USB 3.2 Gen2 giving you 10 Gbps to play with, whilst storage heavy users will enjoy two M.2 slots and 8 SATA 6 Gb/s ports to run their drives at the optimum performance levels. If you have a custom water loop then you are well catered for with a dedicated pump header and water flow monitoring points. If, however, you prefer your motherboard additions to be of the showy kind then the RGB LED strip headers will let your creativity loose.
As with any ROG product the devil is in the details and the Hero has plenty to keep your interest. Whether it’s something that is simple but a boon to the system builder such as the single latch DIMM connectors or the pin block that lets you connect all the case front panel connectors in a single go, or something that provides extra longevity and stability like the Truevolt USB controller or Electrostatic Discharge protection on all the back panel connectors, the Hero has something for everyone.
Keeping everything cool and having enough options for flexible placement of your case fans is a key element of any modern build. After all, we want as much choice as possible rather than being railroaded into a certain setup, and with clever placement we can also route our cables neatly. The Hero has a dedicated AIO section at the top consisting of a AIO Pump header and two PWM/DC fan headers. Moving down the board we find another two in the middle and one at the bottom left. In the bottom right corner there is the ASUS Water Pump+ which lets you power a whole water cooling loop without needing an external power source.