ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero Review

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Today we’ll have a look at the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero which, at this time, is ASUS’ top of the line performance board for the AM4 socket. From the early days of socket AM2/AM2+ with the introduction first ASUS Crosshair, in AMD land, the name has always been synonymous with performance. Over the years, I have had four different Crosshair motherboards and can say I have never been disappointed. Today I have my fifth Crosshair sitting in front of me and just by the look and feel of it, I can tell the quality is there.

The AMD Ryzen CPU and AM4 platform are still new and as such you should expect a few growing pains. That being said, I’m certain given a bit more time most, if not all, of the bugs will be worked out and setting up this platform will be as easy as any other. At present there are some limitations with memory timings, this is driven by AMD not the motherboard manufacturers. This will be addressed in future AGESA updates delivered with your motherboard’s BIOS.

I have to mention that some of the initial BIOS releases for the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero had, for lack of a better term, a “bug”. This bug could cause certain motherboard and CPU combinations to over-volt a sensor on the board resulting in unpredictable platform behavior. There is a new BIOS release: Ver.0902 which prevents this from happening. It’s the only version available at present from the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero website. If you have or receive a new ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero and the BIOS file is older than Ver.0902, you should update it immediately to avoid any hassles.

Specifications and Features

The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero is built around the AM4 socket and X370 chipset to support the new AMD Ryzen line up of CPUs. The beefy 12 phase power section has no issues running the big Ryzen 8 core CPUs to their full potential and remains cool while doing so. Support for four DIMMs up to 64 GB of DDR4 at speeds up to 3200(O.C.) MHz and an Intel I211-AT Gigabit LAN controller with Anti-surge LANGuard for you networking needs. On top of that you’ll find the all the elements you would expect in a modern board such as an M.2 socket and USB 3.1 type A and C to suit your high speed storage needs. Below specifications taken from ASUS.com.

ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero Specs
CPU AMD AM4 Socket for AMD Ryzen™/7th Generation A-series/Athlon™ Processors
Supports AM4 Socket 14 nm CPU
Supports CPU up to 8 cores
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
Chipset X370
Memory AMD Ryzen™ Processors
4 x DIMM, Max. 64 GB, DDR4 3200(O.C.)/2666/2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory *
AMD 7th Generation A-series/Athlon™ Processors
4 x DIMM, Max. 64 GB, DDR4 2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
Multi-GPU Support Supports NVIDIA® 2-Way SLI™ Technology
Supports AMD CrossFireX™ Technology
Expansion Slots AMD Ryzen™ Processors
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
AMD 7th Generation A-series/Athlon™ Processors
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x8 mode)
AMD X370 chipset
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode)
3 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Storage AMD Ryzen™ Processors :
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
AMD 7th Generation A-series/Athlon™ Processors :
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA mode)
AMD X370 chipset :
8 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s),
Support Raid 0, 1, 10
LAN Intel® I211-AT, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)
Anti-surge LANGuard
ROG GameFirst IV
Audio ROG SupremeFX 8-Channel High Definition Audio CODEC S1220
– Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
– Supports : Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
– SupremeFX Shielding Technology
– ESS® ES9023P
– Supports up to 32-Bit/192 kHz playback *2
Audio Feature :
– Gold-plated jacks
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
– Sonic Radar III
– Sonic Studio III
USB Ports AMD Ryzen™/7th Generation A-series/Athlon™ Processors :
4 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
AMD X370 chipset :
1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector port(s)
AMD X370 chipset :
6 x USB 3.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue, 2 at mid-board)
AMD X370 chipset :
6 x USB 2.0 port(s) (4 at back panel, black, 2 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 controller :
2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, black+red, Type-A + Type-C)
Back I/O Ports 1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
1 x USB 3.1 (black) Type-C
1 x USB 3.1 (red) Type-A
8 x USB 3.0 (blue)
4 x USB 2.0 (one port can be switched to USB BIOS Flashback)
1 x Optical S/PDIF out
1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
1 x USB BIOS Flashback Button(s)
5 x Gold-plated audio jacks
1 x M.2 Wi-Fi Slot
Internal Ports 2 x RGB Header(s)
1 x USB 3.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.0 port(s)
1 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 2.0 port(s)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support
1 x TPM header
8 x SATA 6 Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x W_PUMP+ connector
1 x AIO_PUMP connector
1 x 8-pin EATX 12 V Power connector
1 x 4-pin EATX 12 V_1 Power connector(s)
1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x LN2 Mode jumper(s)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x Safe Boot button
1 x ReTry button
1 x System panel connector
2 x 3D Mount screw port(s)
1 x W_IN header
1 x W_OUT header
1 x W_FLOW header
1 x Start button
1 x USB 3.1 front panel connector
Operating System Windows® 10 64-bit
Form Factor ATX Form Factor
12 inch x 9.6 inch ( 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm )

The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero comes fully packed including many features that are exclusive to the Republic Of Gamers line of motherboards. Many of these ROG features also take aim at overclockers such as the LN2 jumper, clear CMOS button, USB BIOS flashback, Q-Code fault display, Retry and Safe Boot buttons, designed to make overclocking easier. Being able to reset the PC and not lose all your settings is a godsend for people like myself.

You will also find features for the water-cooling crowd such as a water pump RPM header plus two temperature headers for monitoring water temperatures in and out of the CPU water block. There’s also a dedicated water pump header for those who prefer the convenience of a closed loop cooler.

Most likely one of the best features ASUS has included, in my opinion, are the two sets of mounting holes for your CPU cooler. This board will accept the new standard AM4 mounting but also includes the old AM3+ mounting locations. To me, this could be a big selling point. There’s no need to purchase a new AM4 cooler if you have an AM3+ cooler already since they’ll mount right on to this board with no additional hardware needed. This is a big plus for users who opt for water cooling and the extreme crowd as well for their LN2 pots.

One more thing I would like to mention is the clone disc utility. I’ve used this half a dozen times and I have to say it works wonderfully. No issues copying your drive with multiple partitions while you’re using it. I’ve used cloning software in the past and they were always DOS based utilities usually with a minimal GUI. When I first saw the ASUS software I just had to try it and can say that I haven’t been disappointed.

ASUS ROG Crosshair Hero Features

READY FOR ANY AM4 OR AM3 COOLER

ROG Crosshair VI Hero has special mounting holes that are compatible with any AM4 or AM3 cooler/LN2 pot. Upgrade to a new AM4 cooler, or extend the life of your existing AM3 kit — the choice is yours!

ASUS PRO CLOCK TECHNOLOGY

A dedicated base-clock generator designed for AM4 processors allows overclocked base clock frequencies up to or beyond 158 MHz*. This custom solution works in tandem with the ASUS TurboV Processing Unit (TPU) to enhance voltage and base-clock overclocking control — providing an exciting new way to boost performance to extreme heights.

THIRD-GENERATION ASUS T-TOPOLOGY

With support for DDR4 memory you’re able to drive memory frequencies up to 3200 MHz (and beyond when overclocked)! ASUS-exclusive T-Topology circuit design plus OC Socket provides superb memory-overclocking capability to unleash the full power of DDR4 by minimizing coupling noise and signal reflection. With innovative equidistant memory channels, it delivers the most balanced control and powerful overclocking compatibility. ASUS works with almost every DDR4 memory vendor to ensure the best compatibility.

THE FINEST POWER, DIGITALLY CONTROLLED

ROG’s revered digital power controller now delivers even-finer power, with Texas Instruments NexFET™ MOSFETs, MicroFine alloy chokes, Digi+ PWM controller and 10K black metallic capacitors — ensuring Extreme Engine Digi+ always delivers the smoothest core voltages.

ROG WATER COOLING ZONE

ROG’s innovative Water-Cooling Zone lets you monitor your cooling system like never before. ROG Water-Cooling Zone’s dual water-temperature headers and flow-rate header feed information straight into ROG’s intuitive Fan Xpert 4 utility ─ so you can stay on top of the heat and stay cool in every game!

HOLLOW HEAT-SINK WITH RED-HOT STYLE

Our new heat-sink is finely engineered with an innovative perforated design for maximum heat dissipation. On its top are expertly angled facets that allow light from the platform controller hub to penetrate through — so your builds stand out unlike any other!

AURA LIGHTING CONTROL AND AURA SYNC

Customize your own favorite LED effects with Aura, the intuitive lighting-control software, to cast a stunning multi-color glow across your build via the ROG Crosshair VI Hero’s brilliant built-in RGB LEDs or attached RGB strips via the two onboard 4-pin headers ─ all lights will perform in perfect synchronization! Fire up Aura and enjoy the creative freedom of nine different lighting schemes. In combination with ASUS Aura Sync technology makes ROG Crosshair VI Hero the control hub for your illumination ambitions — so it’s easy to synchronize incredible lighting effects between compatible components, including RGB LED strips, graphics cards, keyboards and even mice! Change all LEDs in unison or employ dynamic modes to flow the illumination effects smoothly across all synchronized devices.

NEW SUPREMEFX CODEC

ROG’s awesome SupremeFX audio technology has levelled up, delivering an exceptional 113dB signal-to-noise ratio on the line-in connection and 120 dB on line-out — and that means our best-ever recording quality! We’ve also added a low-dropout regulator for cleaner power delivery to the SupremeFX S1220 codec, an ESS® Sabre Hi-Fi ES9023P digital-to-analog converter for superior front-panel output, and a Texas Instruments® RC4580 op-amp for high gain with low distortion — which all adds up to audio that envelops you as never before.

INTEL ETHERNET

ROG Crosshair VI Hero features the very latest Intel® Ethernet Controller I211-AT for faster, smoother gaming. Intel’s LAN has the serious double advantage of reducing CPU overhead and offering exceptionally high TCP and UDP throughput, so there’s more power for your game and your gameplay.

LANGUARD

LANGuard means safer, more reliable connections for your battles! Advanced signal-coupling technology and premium surface-mounting processes join forces to protect your ROG Crosshair VI Hero’s connection, plus electrostatically guarded and surge-protected components (ESD Guards) for 1.9x greater tolerance to static electricity and 2.5x greater protection (up to 15kV) against surges!

VR READY

ROG Crosshair VI Hero isn’t just VR Ready — it goes way beyond! The ASUS ROG Beyond VR Ready marque means that ROG Crosshair VI Hero has been tested with loads of class-leading components to ensure that your productivity, gaming and entertainment needs are tuned for maximum performance after you’ve taken off the headset. ASUS Beyond VR Ready opens up a new way to configure and build your dream system with total confidence.

KEYBOT II

Get a free keyboard upgrade from an exclusive microprocessor and intuitive user interface. Record macros directly from the keyboard, switch profiles in moments, enable special functions with hotkeys from F1-F10, start and even boost your PC from shutdown (S5 mode)!

ROG CLONE DRIVE

All-new ROG Clone Drive is the smart, convenient cloning solution that quickly and efficiently replicates hard drives or SSDs. Clone Drive is so smart that it can clone one drive to two target drives at the same time, or image any file from your disk at breakneck speeds.

Packaging

To start with I’m a big fan of the new hinged-back box design. The lid stays open and you don’t have to worry about enough room for the lid in cramped quarters. The plastic insert on top of the motherboard keeps it in place very neatly, no worries of it jostling around during transport. Not sure if this was intended by ASUS or not but the deep “pockets” in the cover are excellent for holding screws, the mounting back plate or really anything small you don’t want to misplace. The inside is divided into to smaller boxes. The top contains just the motherboard, which easily lifts out to present you with the second box. This one contains all your accessories. I do like the way that the user manual and installation disc are presented. They’re easily accessible leaving all the accessories still neatly tucked away.

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Let’s meet the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero

The first thing I noticed is the color scheme, it’s nothing like my previous ASUS Crosshair motherboards. This is a pretty standard theme in the newer ROG line of boards, which in my opinion is a good thing. The grey and black color scheme will go with just about any other color hardware you may currently own. No matter if your ram is blue, black, or red it won’t clash. A problem I’ve run into before with a motherboard that was black and orange.

Taking a look at the back of the motherboard you’ll see that only the top full length PCIe slot is 16x electrical, the other two are 8x max electrical. At the top of the motherboard we find the 8 pin EATX and optional 4 pin power connectors.

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Front

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Back

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Top View

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero Bottom View

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero DIMM

A Closer Look

Below you’ll see the on-board sound processing area with the new SupremeFX S1220 codec and high quality Nichion capacitors. Moving to the center of the Crosshair, we see three full length PCIe slots – two of which have the ASUS safe slot, metal reinforced retention system. Moving up, we have four DDR4 DIMM slots and the Q-led display. There’s a handy USB 3.1 header for a front panel connection and the ASUS Probelt. Being a new platform, software monitoring hasn’t been the most accurate so it was very convenient having the Probelt to check my operating voltages with a digital multi-meter.

Sound, PCH, PCIe Area

DIMM, Probelt,USB 3.1

The rear I/O panel has a ton of USB connectivity with four USB 2.0, eight USB 3.0, and a USB 3.1 A and C type connection. One thing you will notice is the absence of any type of video output. The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI supports the upcoming Ryzen based APUs but you’re going to need a discrete graphics card on this motherboard. On the far left you’ll see the Clear CMOS button and BIOS Flashback button. Very handy in the overclocking circle. This brings me to the next picture: I’m a big fan of the on-board power buttons, they’re just so convenient for users like myself that work off of a test bench. ASUS has added a couple other goodies here, namely the “SAFE BOOT” and ” RETRY” buttons. The “RETRY” is pretty self explanatory: If your board fails to boot you can use this button to give it a second chance, maybe it’ll make it through the ram training this time around. If this still fails to bring it to life, that’s where the “SAFE BOOT” comes into play: This will boot the board into defaults without erasing your previous settings. Allowing you the opportunity to work from where you were and not have to start over from scratch.

Rear I/O Panel

Power, Retry and LN2 Jumper

In the lower right corner of the motherboard we find the storage area. The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero can accommodate an M.2 Type3 NVMe SSD and up to eight additional SATA devices. You’ll also see one of the two RGB headers here for your LED lighting effects and right next to the SATA ports is the “Water Cooling Zone”. There are headers for water temperature in and out as well as a header for water pump RPM. These inputs can be monitored through the AISuite Fan Expert software.

M.2 Slot and RGB Header

SATA Connections

Let’s move in on the power delivery section of the motherboard. ASUS didn’t hold back at all here with a massive 12 phase design. The Crosshair is sporting the new Texas Instruments NexFET mosfets which are 50% smaller and 90% more efficient than their predecessors. Microfine Alloy Chokes and 10K Japanese made metallic capacitors all to deliver the smoothest core voltage possible. As you can see by the thermal tape on the heatsinks, they’re making good solid contact to keep things cool.

VRM Section and Mounting

VRM and PCH Heatsinks

UEFI BIOS and ASUS Software

I have included many slides here from the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero UEFI BIOS. There are so many options, I won’t be listing them all but I’ll touch on some of the highlights and frequently used entries. The Extreme Tweaker section has all the usual ASUS goodies and a few extra just for Ryzen. One of the first things you’re going to notice is the naming scheme isn’t quite what you’re used to. There are some voltages and options exclusive to this platform but for the most part Core voltage and multiplier is all you will need.

Those who are familiar with ASUS AMD boards will recognize the DOCP (Direct Overclock Profile) option for memory settings under the AI Overclock Tuner. For those not so familiar with DOCP, it was created by ASUS and follows the XMP (eXtreme Memory Profile) profile of your ram. The big thing here is that ASUS doesn’t have to pay royalties to implement XMP on AMD motherboards.

One more option worth mentioning is the Custom P-State Control. This option comes with it’s own warning page since you are changing the basic operation of the CPU. The benefit of this option is being able to overclock while maintaining speed and voltage cycling depending on workload. My advice would be to do some research before attempting any modifications in this section. This isn’t very straightforward or user friendly. For convenience here’s a link to a guide I have created, it should be all you need to get a good understanding of the process: ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero P-state Modification Guide

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Here’s AISuite, Aura lighting and some shots of the included ASUS software.

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Test Setup and Results

Test Setup
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 1700X
CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D15 SE AM4
Motherboard ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero
RAM G.Skill Trident Z 2×8 GB DDR4 3600 CL17-18-18-38
Graphics Card EVGA GTX 980 Ti K|NGP|N Edition
Storage Samsung 840 EVO 120 GB
Power Supply Superflower Leadex 1 kW
Operating System Windows 10 x64
Benchmarks See Below
Equipment
Digital Multi-meter

CPU Tests

  • AIDA64 Engineer CPU, FPU, and Memory Tests
  • Cinebench R11.5 and R15
  • x265 1080p Benchmark (HWBOT)
  • POVRay
  • SuperPi 1M/32M
  • WPrime 32M/1024M
  • 7Zip

All CPU tests were run at 4.0 GHz. I’m comparing results to the GIGABYTE AX370-GAMING 5 from the Ryzen 7 1800x review.

First up we have the SuperPi and wPrime tests comparing the Crosshair to the Gaming-5 both x370 chipset motherboards. You’ll notice a slight advantage with the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero. I attribute this to better ram tuning thanks to the external base clock generator.

SuperPi 1M/32M, wPrime 32M/1024M

Now the various rendering tests.

Cinebench R11.5/R15, POVRay, x265 (HWBot), 7Zip

AIDA64 CPU, FPU and Memory tests

Just a quick note here. When the AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs were released AIDA64 wasn’t fully optimized for the new architecture, so we didn’t include any comparisons in the original reviews. Today I’ll be adding in these results. Below you’ll see the two Ryzen CPUs compared to an Intel i7 5960x and an Intel i7 7700k. All four CPUs are running at 4.0GHz. The Intels have a slight speed advantage on the memory side running DDR4 3000 CL15 compared to the AMDs at DDR4 2933 Cl15.

AIDA64 Memory Tests

AIDA64 CPU Tests

AIDA64 FPU Tests

I think the results above are pretty clear. The Crosshair has a slight advantage on the Gigabyte at the moment. BIOS for the new platforms are still fairly young and I’m certain optimizations will be coming for the next few months, so we may see that gap tighten a bit.

What I find interesting are the CPU and FPU tests. It appears that the Intel and AMD CPUs each have their strong and weak points when compared to each other in the AIDA64 suite of testing.

Performance Bias

Here’s one item you’ll find in the BIOS that I think is unique to the ASUS motherboards. There are settings for a few different common benchmarks and they really do work. I’m not sure what kind of magic is being woven in the background but it’s very apparent in the results. The gains are equivalent to about a 200 MHz clockspeed adjustment which is very impressive. I haven’t discovered any “real world” applications which benefit yet but it wouldn’t surprise me that some do. I’ll post a couple of comparisons here of Cinebench R15 and R11.5. Both of these are CPU rendering benchmarks.

Cinebench R11.5 No Bias

Cinebench R11.5 With Bias

Cinebench R15 No Bias

Cinebench R15 With Bias

Overclocking

As for overclocking, I had zero issues running the Ryzen 7 1700X and two different 1700’s up to 4.0 GHz. As you can see from this article the 1700X performed flawlessly at this speed. There really isn’t a lot more headroom at ambient temperatures with what AMD recommends as “safe” voltage for the Ryzen CPU. I have had the Ryzen 7 1700X up to 4.2 GHz with ~ 1.52v for benchmarking. This is on my custom loop which runs well below ambient temperatures. I’ll post a few pics here but would like to point out the voltage you see in CPUz is not even close to being accurate. I was measuring with a digital multi-meter. Even at these elevated voltages the VRM section heatsink was still cool to the touch. The Crosshair had no issues at all maintaining the power.

Memory overclocking seemed pretty straight forward as well. Well sort of. AMD has many of the timing options unavailable at the moment. For this review what I did was select the DDR4 2133 strap in BIOS, set the main timings which are the only ones available and raised the FSB until I got to 2933. Set my core voltage for 4.0 GHz and it booted with all other voltages on auto. What this does is set much tighter sub-timings, which improved the ram performance overall but gave a huge bump to the copy speeds in AIDA64. So far I have found the memory tuning on this board to be quite impressive considering the BIOS limitations.

Final Thoughts

So here it is, the newest in a long line of ASUS motherboards to carry the Crosshair name and I can say it’s a well deserved title. The board is packed with all the features you would expect from the ROG series and lends itself readily to the gaming and high performance crowd. SupremeFX sound, the Water Cooling Zone, Intel Ethernet, and AURA Lighting Control just to name a few.

A big win for ASUS in my eyes was to add the external clock generator. This gives the user the ability to raise the base clock for fine tuning ram and CPU speed. Add to that the foresight to include both AM3+ and AM4 mounting holes was just brilliant. No need to pony up for a new cooler or adapters, your current AM3+ compatible cooler will bolt right on.

The list just goes on and with an MSRP of $254.99 today at Newegg, the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero is one of the more expensive AMD X370 motherboards but still comes in lower than the MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium or the GIGABYTE Aorus GA-AX370- Gaming K7 which both retail for $299.99. I have found with motherboards you really get what you pay for, and considering the performance and features that ASUS has included with the Crosshair VI Hero you really can’t go wrong. This board is deserving of the Crosshair name and is most definitely Overclockers Approved!

Click here to find out what this means.

-Shawn Jennings (Johan45)

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Discussion
  1. Johan45
    There always seems to be something to spend on with this hobby.


    Yea you know is bad when you have two hobby that require lots of $$$$. XD Audio Production and Computer Building. lol
    Johan45
    Looking good ITAngel, it really is an easy board to use. I was really impressed with the D15 as well just stays so quiet.


    Thanks, Johan45. I am still waiting for my Noctua bracket which they told me will take 7-10 days for them to ship one to me. I cannot wait to put my cooler on it and see what temps I get and what overclocking I can do to it. I plan to gran a set of Flare X 3200Mhz rams 16GB for the system if i can get the i7-6700k sold and EVGA Z270 Classified K, and Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB 3200Mhz rams. That should help a bit, and only switch my tower was a bit deeper. As you can see the video card almost touch the back and I would love to move that support to the back of the card.

    So far is coming along pretty well. :attn:
    I just installed mine last night with the Ryzen 1700 and AMD Cooler. The system is working perfectly while I wait for my Noctua NH-D15 AM4 brackets since I don't have a AM3 backplate to attach it to. :D