ASUS ROG Z390 Maximus XI Hero Preview

ASUS ROG Z390 Maximus XI Hero Preview  

Z390 Introduction

We’ve barely recovered from the launch of the nVidia RTX range of graphics cards than the new Intel 9th Generation CPUs are due to appear. If you’ve been following the market for any length of time at all you’ll understand that a new CPU always comes with a new chipset to go alongside it, and as the newest Intel CPUs are even beefier than their 8th Generation forebears the Z390 is the very thing. 

As you can gather from the fact that the Z390 is similarly labelled to the Z370 that is currently supporting the Coffee Lake CPUs, this is more of an evolution of the already excellent Z370, than a full on rejig. The Z370 motherboards haven’t been around all that long and in the time between that launch and this one the market hasn’t seen any major new technological additions. The cynical might suggest that the Z370 was only ever intended as a stop gap product, hence its brief moment in the sun. However, the Z370 had a strong enough feature set that the Z390 should be a refinement of the current motherboards and should see a stronger commitment to those features that have proven their worth. That’s the best thing about market forces, ideas which prove untenable get left by the wayside whilst those which prove useful are retained.

The primary changes to the Z390 chipset are; the addition of support for 2nd Gen USB 3.1 at a chipset level. We’ve seen the 10Gbps USB continue the rapid adoption rate that USB has always managed, so much so that most people forget how complicated it used to be to connect any peripheral at all. Secondly Intel have their own WiFi AC dual support. The World is swiftly going wireless, and being able to easily have all our devices centrally connected is a boon. Those of you who prefer the reliability and speed of hard wired networking still have a RJ45 connector. It’s nice that Intel aren’t going down the Apple “we’ve removed it, deal with it” idea that has plagued iPhones.

ASUS ROG Z390 Maximus XI Hero WiFi

The Maximus XI Hero is the entry level model in the Maximus range. The Formula and Extreme are above it, but just because it is relatively affordable doesn’t mean that it’s stripped bare of features. After all, it’s still a ROG model, still with the full-fat Z390 chipset, still part of the Maximus XI range.

To this end the design team at ASUS have acknowledged its market positioning and taken the opportunity to provide potential purchasers with lots of helpful features and information that might be pertinent to those dipping their toes into the ocean of knowledge required to build your own PC. The primary DIMM and PCI Express slots have been highlighted on the PCB for easy reference. There are onboard power and reset buttons for quick overclocking testing whilst the AI overclocking has been refined to give you a great starting point from which to perform your own feats of high clock brilliance. If you push things too far the Mem OK II has been updated to support more modules and quickly recover your system if you have pushed the limits a bit too far.

Refinements to the pathways also help by providing more accurate monitoring of CPU VCore voltage – the one area most likely to cause an overclock to fail – whilst also improving DDR4 support all the way up to 4266 MHz, even if all four sockets are populated. Your cooling needs are met with plentiful Pump and Fan headers whilst those of you with custom water cooling loops will be pleased to know that flow and temperature monitoring is built into the Maximus XI Hero, freeing you up from the need to purchase an external monitor.

Enough preamble though, let’s look at it in the flesh.