Ryzen has been an integral part of AMD’s resurgence into the mainstream consumer CPU market and has revitalized AMD’s position once again as a viable option versus Intel for performance. AMD still retains some of its edge over Intel with Ryzen such as soldered IHS and forward-compatible sockets. This means that your older X370 board can happily adopt a 2nd-gen Ryzen and continue to work, saving you money and the hassle of shopping for a new board. This does present a problem for motherboard vendors: how do you sell a new motherboard knowing your older one works just as fine. Well that’s a task that each motherboard vendor has to dance around to.
ASUS ROG has been the go-to brand for many discerning enthusiasts and with that said, they do keep the competition on their toes when it comes to providing good, competing products. We’ve seen the revival of the ROG Crosshair last year and with the release of the X470 chipset, we’re seeing another iteration. The ASUS ROG Crosshair VII is the latest in AM4 socket motherboard from ROG and we’re really excited to see where ASUS is steering this line after being gone for a while. The X370 release was a light product despite its pedigree and with ASUS having matured its knowledge of how to best offer features for Ryzen. Read on to find out more about the ASUS ROG Crosshair HERO WIFI!
About Zen+ Architecture
As mentioned earlier, the 2nd-generation Ryzen processors are based on the Pinnacle Ridge chips which uses the Zen+ architecture. Zen+ is more of a refinement to the existing Zen architecture and AMD hopes to bring the true Zen2 architecture in a future release. Still, Zen+ offers plenty of changes which makes the new Ryzen processors quite a different beast than they’re predecessors.
The biggest change for Zen+ is the transition to the 12nm process. This allows AMD to push clocks further for similar or lower voltages as compared to the original Zen. It also marks the first time AMD is on a smaller node than Intel. The smaller process allows AMD to achieve higher clock speeds, better overclocks and voltage reduction.
To compliment the Zen+ architecture, AMD employs faster cache and improved memory controllers to reduce latency on the new chips. L3 and L2 cache both receive significant improvements in latency performance along with both L1 and DRAM. Memory clock support also gets higher clock support with 2nd-gen Ryzen chips supporting DDR4-2933 JEDEC and up to DDR4-3400.
AMD updated the SenseMI logic on the new Ryzen processors. XFR and Precision Boost now get a new version in which AMD aims to improve performance on the chips further. Precision Boost 2 now drops the 2-core/all-core target in favor of an all-core boost based on an algorithm that factors in temperature, current and voltage. XFR2 (eXtended Frequency Range) now boosts clocks when temps are very good. XFR2 will boost all cores above the rated boost clocks vs. the best cores on the previous implementation. AMD mentions that under ideal cooling, XFR2 can give around 7% performance increase without any manual overclocking.
The X470 chipset is predominantly similar to the X370 chipset that preceeds it. It features same feature set but offers lower power draw. The X470 spec also prescribes board maker to stick to a higher CPU VRM standard.
Pinnacle Ridge is an SoC (system on chip) and has both northbridge and southbridge functionality built into the processor. Socket AM4 chips have memory and PCIe, USB3.0 and SATAIII ports. The actual chipset serves more of a connectivity purpose, allowing more I/O options like SATA, USB3.1 and PCIe lanes (Gen2) to be added on the board.
AMD is including a new storage solution with X470 dubbed StoreMI. StoreMI allows combining storage into one large volume which is invisible to the user, fusing your HDD, SSD and RAM to serve as a high-speed volume. X370 owners also have access to StoreMI via a BIOS update but under a different app name. StoreMI is non-destructive and can be rolled back to traditional partitions without any data loss. StoreMI is free on X470 and is offered for a fee (FuzeDrive) on the older X370 chipset.
Retaining its design from recent releases, the ASUS packages the CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI in a hard, cardboard box with full color prints. The model name is printed on the front of the box with feature breakdowns and highlights show in the back. A special pop-up style flip cover reveals the internal of the package including the motherboard.
As an ROG motherboard, there’s plenty of accessories included here. First up, the key accessories including SATA cables, quick-connect front panel header, M.2 mounting screws, an SLI bridge, an extension cable for addressable RGB headers and an extension for standard RGB headers. Also included is a WIFI B/T antenna with stand.
More extras include the installation disc, a user manual, a Thank You card, an ROG coaster, a large sticker sheet with metallic print ROG artwork and an ROG coaster.
The ROG Crosshair VII HERO WIFI is perhaps the blackest ROG motherboard we’ve seen. Most models we’ve reviewed had a well-defined contrast between black and dark gunmetal but this motherboard features a fully black treatment with tech line prints on the heatsinks as well as panel lines on the I/O shield, breaking up the design. It’s very identical to the ROG Crosshair VI Hero of last year’s but with some slight changes.
One of the key changes that ASUS did with this board is the change in the VRM heatsink design. The ROG Crosshair VII Hero WIFI uses a 10+2 power delivery design, this is in contrast from last-gen’s 8+4 setup which could stem from AMD’s new VRM requirement.
One improvement from the previous variation is the addition of a M.2 heatsink on the first M.2 slot. It’s low enough not to obstruct graphics cards which may have wider backplates.
The audio solution, as expected, is a SupremeFX-branded ALC1220 with a ES9023P High Definition DAC helping out to bring better performance.
There’s plenty of fan headers in this motherboard as ASUS boasts about its thermal sensors across the PCB to help in cooling. Users can customized cooling profiles with the included app. An error debug LED is also located on the top corner together with the onboard buttons for power-on as well as RGB headers.
The ROG Crosshair VII HERO WiFi has a total of six SATAIII headers.
One of the cooler features we’ve seen trending recently amongst board makers is the inclusion of pre-installed I/O shields. This lessens the possibility of forgetting to install it or messing up some of the slots. The rear I/O is rich with connectivity with plenty of USB3.0 ports, USB3.1 Type C and Type A also present, an ethernet port, multi-channel audio. There’s also legacy USB2.0 and PS/2 ports. Note that one of the USB ports supports BIOS flashback so if ever you have problems with a BIOS update, you can flash it back without a CPU, this also helps on upgrades should a future CPU require one. Wifi antenna ports are also in the back.
ASUS BIOS has remained unchanged for a good couple of years and this has worked well for them. Its an easy BIOS to navigate through although on an ROG board, there are tons of features and menus to go through, many of which are reserved for advanced users. Its a robust interface and is very smooth. Most users will only need to be familiar with the Tweaker screen to set XMP (via DOCP) profiles and to do a bit of OC.
Processor: AMD Ryzen 7 2700X
Motherboard: ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI
Memory: Corsair Vengeance RGB DDR4-3600 2x8GB
Storage: WD Blue SSD 1TB
Graphics Card: ZOTAC GTX 1080 Ti AMP! Edition
Cooling: AMD Wraith Prism
Power Supply: Seasonic Platinum P1000
Display: ViewSonic VX2475Smhl-4K
Notice: As many already know, most motherboards will have varying frequency multipliers and this may affect performance overall. As this is part of their out of the box configuration we see it fit to use them as is. All data presented here in are with the default motherboard settings for stock performance. Overclocked performance will be indicated where needed. For non-Z series motherboards, all benchmarks are performed on DDR4-2133 default settings.
As always, we’ll let the numbers do the talking.
Rendering and Encoding
Temperature and Power Draw
In this test we’ll measure how much manufacturer-set BIOS settings affect temperature and power draw. As we’re dealing with pre-launch samples, more mature BIOS may change these over time.
We really don’t put too much stock on individual component temperatures as they will vary depending on usage and we do not benchmark using extreme loads anymore as they’re not reflective of real world applications. To stress the CPU, we use a 20-minute run of AIDA64 stress test. We recorded the peak CPU temps and cross-match HWINFO and AIDA64 readings. For power readings, we measure the peak system draw.
With other motherboards to compare with, its easy to see AMD’s standard seems to make things really tight as all our results are just a hair between each other. In general, these are very good numbers and are quite impressive once you realize we’re only using AMD’s stock Wraith Prism cooler.
It’s a challenging time for motherboard makers with CPU makers effectively integrating everything onto their processors. This leaves plenty of room to be creative in what features or functionality a motherboard has. In the case of the ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI, there’s plenty to be happy about and its actually quite an excellent value proposition once you consider the quality and features you get with the board. Despite its price positioning, it is easily one of the most appealing X470 motherboards in the market right now. If AMD does stick with AM4 for quite a while, investing in the ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WiFi isn’t a bad decision. It improves on a number of aspects from its predecessor and certainly holds up well against other X470 boards in the market right now.
Given the HERO designation, its safe to assume ASUS is playing it safe with the X470 enthusiast market. ASUS has other X470 products in the stack but for the ROG family, this is their only offering and we can only hope to see a full-fledged Crosshair once AM4 becomes a platform ASUS feels it can really invest on and deck it out with more features. This does incur a price premium but its something that AMD purists will surely appreciate.
In closing, the ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI is an excellent motherboard if you are coming in fresh into the Ryzen platform and are looking to take advantage of the new 2nd-gen offering particularly the Ryzen 7 and Ryzen 5. ASUS offers much more than just hardware features and its mature BIOS and decent software extras, make the CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI a great platform for enthusiasts looking to max out their Ryzen system.
If you’re looking for a motherboard to set you up on the path of AM4, the ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI AC is a top choice. Quality alone gives you peace of mind knowing you’ll have a compatible AM4 board for future releases. A great motherboard with a great BIOS for tuning and excellent looks backed by supreme quality and layout, the CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI is certainly a motherboard worthy of the ROG name.
ASUS backs the ROG CROSSHAIR VII HERO WIFI with a 3-year warranty. We give it our B2G Gold Award and B2G Recommend Seal!