With the launch of the second generation of Ryzen CPUs came the release of the updated X470 chipset. ASUS has supplied us with the ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi which is based off the new chipset and we’ll be putting it through our usual set of testing and benchmarks to see how it measures up to the competition. The Crosshair VII is currently the top offering from ASUS in this space and there hasn’t been any indication whether or not an “Extreme” edition is in the works as there was with the Crosshair VI.
This motherboard is built for some serious overclocking with options for sub-ambient cooling to take overclocks to the furthest limits possible. Unfortunately, I won’t have the time for that today but hopefully in the near future and I will update this review when I find the opportunity. Let’s have a closer look at the Crosshair VII and see how it performs.
Specifications and Features
The ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi is built around the AM4 socket and X470 chipset to support the new second generation of AMD Ryzen CPUs. It comes with a redesigned 10+2 phase power section to balance cooling and performance enabling users to take the Ryzen 8 core CPUs to their full potential. THere are a total of four DRAM slots for a total capacity of 64 GB DDR4 at speeds up to 3600(O.C.) MHz which is at the outer limit of the Ryzen’s capabilities.
ASUS has also included an Intel I211-AT Gigabit LAN controller with Anti-surge LANGuard, plus dual-band Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for networking needs. On top of that, users will ll find the all the elements one would expect in a modern board such as dual M.2 sockets supporting PCIe and SATA protocols as well as USB 3.1 type A and C for high-speed storage needs.
Below specifications from ASUS.com.
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi Specs|
|CPU||AMD AM4 Socket, AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation/Ryzen with Radeon Vega Graphics/Ryzen 1st Generation/7th Generation A-series/Athlon X4 Processors|
* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list
|Memory||AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation Processors|
4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3466(O.C.)/3200(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666/2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory *
AMD Ryzen™ with Radeon™ Vega Graphics/ Ryzen 1st Generation Processors
4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 3200(O.C.)/3000(O.C.)/2933(O.C.)/2800(O.C.)/2666/2400/2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory *
AMD 7th Generation A-Series/Athlon X4 Processors
4 x DIMM, Max. 64GB, DDR4 2400/2133 MHz Un-buffered Memory
Dual Channel Memory Architecture
Refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
|Multi-GPU Support||AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation/Ryzen 1st Generation Processors|
Supports NVIDIA 2-Way SLI Technology *1
Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX Technology
AMD Ryzen with Radeon Vega Graphics/AMD 7th Generation A-Series/Athlon X4 Processors
Supports AMD CrossFireX™ Technology
|Expansion Slots||AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation/ Ryzen 1st Generation Processors|
2 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
AMD Ryzen with Radeon Vega Graphics /7th Generation A-Series/Athlon X4 Processors
1 x PCIe 3.0/2.0 x16 (x8 mode)
AMD X470 chipset
1 x PCIe 2.0 x16 (max at x4 mode)
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
|Storage||AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation/ Ryzen 1st Generation 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)
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
AMD 7th Generation A-Series/Athlon X4 Processors :
1 x M.2 Socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA mode)
AMD X470 chipset :
6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s),
Support Raid 0, 1, 10
|Networking||Intel I211-AT, 1 x Gigabit LAN Controller(s)|
ROG GameFirst IV Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Supports dual band frequency 2.4/5 GHz
Supports MU-MIMOBluetooth V4.2
|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
Audio Feature :
– Gold-plated jacks
– Optical S/PDIF out port(s) at back panel
– Sonic Radar III
– Sonic Studio III
|USB Ports||AMD Ryzen 2nd Generation/ Ryzen with Radeon Vega Graphics/ Ryzen 1st Generation/7th Generation A-Series/Athlon X4 Processors :|
4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
AMD X470 chipset :
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 front panel connector port(s)
AMD X470 chipset :
6 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s) (4 at back panel, blue)
AMD X470 chipset :
5 x USB 2.0 port(s) (2 at back panel, , 3 at mid-board)
ASMedia® USB 3.1 Gen 2 controller :
2 x USB 3.1 port(s) (2 at back panel, black+red, Type-A + USB Type-C)
|Back I/O Ports||1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port(s)|
1 x LAN (RJ45) port(s)
2 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)
1 x ASUS Wi-Fi GO! module (Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth v4.1)
5 x Gold-plated audio jacks
8 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 (blue)
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (red)Type-A
1 x USB 3.1 (black)USB Type-C
|Internal Ports||2 x Aura Addressable Strip Header(s)|
2 x RGB Header(s)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 storage devices support (SATA & PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
1 x M.2 Socket 3 with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode)
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
1 x AIO_PUMP connector
1 x H_AMP fan connector
1 x W_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 5-pin EXT_FAN(Extension Fan) connector
1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
1 x Reset button(s)
1 x LN2 Mode switch(es)
1 x ROG extension (ROG_EXT) header(s)
1 x Safe Boot button
1 x ReTry button
1 x Slow Mode jumper(s)
1 x System panel connector
1 x W_IN header
1 x W_OUT header
1 x W_FLOW header
1 x Start button
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 front panel connector
1 x Speaker connector
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 port(s)
1 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 2.0 port(s)
|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 VII Hero Wi-Fi 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 extreme overclockers such as the LN2 jumper and slow mode switch. It also has a clear CMOS button, USB BIOS Flashback, and Q-Code fault display, along with the ASUS ProbeIt voltage read points on board for accurate voltage measurements. The Crosshair VII also includes Retry and Safe Boot buttons designed to make overclocking easier. Being able to reset the PC and not lose any settings is a godsend for people like myself.
Users will also find that ASUS has added more features for the water-cooling crowd such as a water pump RPM header plus two temperature headers for monitoring water temperatures at any two points in the loop and out of the CPU water block. New to the Crosshair VII is a dedicated water pump header that delivers up to 3 A for PWM or DC water pumps, a header for attaching a water flow meter and a header intended for an expansion card to add additional fans and thermal probes (not included).
ASUS has also added more LED connectivity to the Crosshair VII and also included two RGB LED extensions for LED strips. These onboard connections allow a user to synchronize all aspects of their lighting, case, and other AURA compatible devices with the ASUS AURA Sync software. The AURA software offers a multitude of possibilities for color and effects to accent any build.
To round things out, the Crosshair VII comes with ASUS’ own Supreme FX sound technology. Whether using the gold plated audio out for a set of speakers or the front panel connections SupremeFX puts you in the game. Combine that with the included Sonic Radar III software, you’ll have an on-screen HUD pinpointing enemies and the dangers around you.
Here are a few more details provided by ASUS from their product page.
The retail packaging for the ROG Crosshair VII Wi-Fi is nice and solid in the typical ROG red and black colors. ASUS has listed a few details on the front such as the chipset version and support for SLI/Crossfire, AURA Sync, and virtual reality. Most of the important info is on the back of the packaging where they give a breakdown of many of the specifications and features of the Crosshair VII.
I’m also 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. Keeping with the ASUS style we have deep “pockets” in the cover which are excellent for holding screws, the mounting back plate or really anything small you don’t want to misplace. The inside is divided into two smaller boxes separating the motherboard from the accessories. The top contains just the motherboard, which easily lifts out to present you with the second box. This one contains all of the 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.
There’s a complete list of the included accessories after the slideshow.
Accessories in the Box
4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
2 x M.2 Screw Package
1 x Supporting DVD
1 x ASUS 2T2R dual-band Wi-Fi moving antennas (Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac compliant)
1 x SLI HB BRIDGE(2-WAY-M)
1 x ROG big sticker
1 x Q-Connector
1 x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm)
1 x Extension cable for Addressable LED
1 x ROG coaster(s)
Meet the ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero
The first thing I noticed is the color scheme, ASUS has gone with a black on black look with a few grey accents a slight step away from the Crosshair VI. You’ll also notice on closer inspection the silk-screened labeling clearly identifying native ports and the proper slots to use for graphics cards and RAM for best performance.
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. ASUS has also chosen the back of the Crosshair VII for the DIGI+ multiphase VRM controller.
At the top of the motherboard, we find the 8 pin EATX and optional 4 pin power connectors located just above the two VRM heatsinks. The heatsinks are connected by a heat pipe with the larger one is partially obscured by the I/O cover which bears the Crosshair VII logo. The logo and it’s accented line are both RGB LED and controlled with the motherboard’s AURA software.
Moving to the center of the Crosshair VII we find the PCIe slots and M.2 connections. For clarity, I’m including a table of the breakdown for the PCIe lanes and where they come from since varying combinations can affect the overall speed of the slots. I would also like to note that the upper M.2 slot is number two in the manual which supports only PCIe based devices while the lower M.2 is number one and supports both SATA and PCIe devices. To sum it up, if you’re going to use a PCIe based M.2 drive and want full bandwidth from the top two full-length PCIe slots for the graphics cards then use the bottom M.2 connector for the drive.
|ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi PCI-Express Breakdown|
|M.2_2||x4 Gen3 (Shared with PCIEX16/X8_1 and PCIEX8_2 )||CPU|
|PCIEX16/X8_1||x16/x8 Gen3 (x8 if M.2_2 is used )||CPU|
|PCIEX8_2||x8/x4 Gen3 (x4 if M.2_2 is used )||CPU|
A Closer Look
Below you’ll see the onboard sound processing area with the SupremeFX S1220 codec (ASUS’ modified Realtek ALC1220), the high-quality Nichion capacitors, an ESS Sabre Hi-Fi ES9023P digital-to-analog converter, and a Texas Instruments RC4580 op-amp.
Moving kitty-corner across the board, we have four DDR4 DRAM slots and the Q-led display along with the power and reset buttons. Looking directly in front of the 24-pin power connection ASUS has included their Probelt voltage read points. This is an improvement over the Crosshair VI in that instead of the small pads which they used on it, the Crosshair VII has fully lined, through holes capable of accepting the tip of a DMM probe preventing any slipping and possibly scratching the PCB. Directly below the power connector, there’s a USB 3.1 port for front panel connectivity.
The rear I/O panel has a ton of USB connectivity with two USB 2.0 directly below the PS/2 port with the lowest USB 2.0 port used as the for the Flashback port, eight USB 3.0, and USB 3.1 type-A and type-C connections. One thing users will notice is the absence of any type of video output. The Crosshair VII Wi-Fi supports the Ryzen based APUs but will need a discrete graphics card with this motherboard. On the far left we can see the Clear CMOS button and BIOS Flashback button. Very handy in the overclocking circle. Next to these buttons are the Wi-Fi antenna connections and over to the far right, we find an RJ45 LAN port, SPDIF output, and five gold-plated audio ports.
This brings me to the next picture: I’m a big fan of onboard buttons. They’re just so convenient for users like me 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 the board fails to boot, users 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 the opportunity to work from those same settings and not have to start over from scratch. Next to these, we find the LN2 jumper for extreme cooling and the “slow mode” switch which lowers the CPU clock to aid in booting when pushing the limits.
In the lower right corner of the motherboard, we find the storage area. The ASUS ROG Crosshair VI Hero can accommodate two M.2 Type3 NVMe SSDs and up to six additional SATA devices. You’ll also see one of the two RGB headers and one of the addressable RGB headers here for 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 and one for flow monitoring. These inputs can be monitored through the AISuite Fan Expert software.
Let’s move on the power delivery section of the motherboard, ASUS has made a few changes here for the Crosshair VII. First, they went from an 8+4 to a 10+2 configuration and rearranged the SOC and CPU VRM effectively splitting the CPU power with the SOC. By doing so this balances the power draw much better and helps keep the VRM much cooler. The power stages were also updated to Infineon IR3555M rated for 60 A each. In combination with their Microfine Alloy Chokes and 10K Japanese made metallic capacitors ASUS has made a big effort to deliver the smoothest core voltage possible. As we can see by the thermal tape on the heatsinks, they’re making good solid contact to keep things cool as well.
Thermal images provided by Jon Sandström (Elmor) from ASUS. Taken from the Crosshair VII Highlights PDF.
The Crosshair VII also has a separate base clock generator (ICS 9VRS4883BKLF) which is shown in the slideshow below. Something new for the second generation of Ryzen is the ability to “disconnect” the CPU clock from the rest of the busses. In the BIOS there’s a setting for Synchronous/Asynchronous mode which acts as a switch for the base clock generator labeled “eCLK” on the Extreme Tweaker page. In synchronous mode, all busses are tied to the base clock so raising the value also affects the RAM/PCIe and fabric clocks. When using it in asynchronous mode, two options are presented. BCLK1 which will adjust the RAM/PCIe and fabric clocks and BCLK2 which only affects the CPU with base clock changes. There is a small drawback to asynchronous mode as it has a slightly negative effect on the DRAM throughput and latency. At the time of this writing, it’s uncertain if this can be addressed in future BIOS updates.
Some additional IC’s found on the board
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 we’re used to. There are some voltages and options exclusive to this platform but for the most part Core voltage and the multiplier is all that is needed.
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 the RAM. The big thing here is that ASUS doesn’t have to pay royalties to implement XMP on AMD motherboards.
Main, Monitor, Boot, and Exit Menus
Here’s AISuite, Aura lighting, and some shots of the included ASUS software.
This wouldn’t be complete without a few pictures of the Crosshair VII and the 1080Ti Strix synched using the AURA software.
Test Setup and Results
For comparison testing against the ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi, I used an MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC and the GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi which are similarly equipped and fall in the upper category of X470 motherboards. The CPU used was the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X at default settings paired with a set of G.Skill FlareX 3200 MHz DDR4. To cool the CPU and let it stretch its legs the EKWB Predator 360 was used which is a very good 360 mm AIO allowing for maximum ambient overclocking.
I have also added results of an all-core 4.2 GHz overclock and beefed up the RAM a bit to 3466 MHz to show what benefits if any there may be to overclocking your Ryzen CPU.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 2700X|
|CPU Cooler||EK Predator 360 XLC|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero|
|RAM||G.Skill FlareX 2×8 GB DDR4 3200 CL14-14-14-34|
|Graphics Card||ASUS ROG GTX 1080Ti Strix OC|
|Storage||Samsung 850 Pro M.2 256 GB|
|Power Supply||Superflower Leadex 1 kW|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64 Redstone 4|
- AIDA64 Engineer CPU, FPU, and Memory Tests
- Cinebench R11.5 and R15
- HWBot x265 1080p Benchmark
- SuperPi 1M/32M
- WPrime 32M/1024M
All CPU tests were run at their default settings unless otherwise noted.
All game tests were run at 1920×1080 and 2560×1440 with all CPUs at default settings unless otherwise noted. Please see our testing procedures for details on in-game settings.
- 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme
- Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Metro Last Light
- Ashes of the Singularity
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
AIDA64 CPU, FPU, and Memory Tests
There’s a common theme you’ll notice throughout all the testing, and that is, the results are nearly identical across the board. Looking at the following AIDA64 tests when the CPU was run at default there was very little difference in the results. All the CPUs boosted to 4100 MHz and occasionally made it to 4124 MHz. Obviously, when the CPU was set to 4.2 GHz with 3466 MHz RAM it took the lead in all the memory based tests.
|AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark – Raw Data|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi||49063||47287||45180||66.5|
|MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC||49217||47882||44997||66.1|
|GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi||49362||47651||45343||66.5|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi 4.2||53977||53446||50240||61.9|
As you can see the results are pretty level when running at defaults and the 4.2 GHz with 3466 MHz RAM gained about 10% across the board. Let’s move on the AIDA64 CPU test suite.
|AIDA64 CPU Tests – Raw Data|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi||94678||25718||742.2||71525||24429|
|MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC||95081||25691||752||72077||24612|
|GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi||95309||24409||758.2||72115||24613|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi 4.2||97441||27511||771.3||74637||25356|
There was a bit more variation in this testing but really not all that much. AIDA64 gives the benchmark results and lists the CPU speed. During these tests when running at defaults the CPU speeds would vary slightly between 4.1 and 4.125 GHz which explains some of the variations in the results. As with the Memory tests above the 3466 MHz RAM, has a decent lead throughout the CPU tests.
The following AIDA64 Floating Point tests are going to look very similar to what we just saw above.
|AIDA64 FPU Tests – Raw Data|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi||8151||41789||21831||13775|
|MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC||8089||41933||21994||13883|
|GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi||7796||41999||21998||13886|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi 4.2||8377||43767||22926||14383|
Real World Tests
Next, we will move on to something a bit more tangible/productivity-based with compression, rendering, and encoding benchmarks.
|Cinebench R11.5/R15, POVRay, x265 (HWBot), 7Zip – Raw Data|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi||19.32||1826||3728.88||45.9||47344|
|MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC||19.26||1832||3727.71||45.36||47347|
|GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi||19.26||1839||3774.25||45.6||47347|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi 4.2||19.89||1915||3906.53||48.16||49989|
During the productivity-testing nothing really changed a whole lot. All three motherboards perform relatively the same throughout. Once again the higher CPU and memory clocks give about a 5% advantage across the test suite.
Pi and Prime Based Tests
Moving on from all the multi-threaded goodness above, we get to some Pi and Prime number based tests. SuperPi and WPrime, specifically.
|SuperPi and wPrime Benchmarks – Raw Data|
|Motherboard||SPi 1M||SPi 32M||WPrime 32M||WPrime 1024M|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi||9.75||543.338||3.219||84.188|
|MSI X470 Gaming M7 AC||9.722||541.151||3.187||83.881|
|GIGABYTE X470 Aorus Gaming 7 Wi-Fi||9.938||547.81||3.17||83.457|
|ASUS ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi 4.2||10.172||557.656||3.172||81.636|
Finally, a test where having an all core overclock doesn’t take the lead. SuperPi is a single threaded test and having the CPU boost to 4.3+ GHz at defaults helps. It may not be a huge difference but it is there. WPrime, on the other hand, is another multi-threaded benchmark and the 4.2 GHz overclock is back in the lead.
As far as the gaming tests go, these were done at resolutions of 1920 x 1080p and 2560 x 1440p according to our Graphics Testing Procedure which was linked earlier. The CPUs are all at default settings with the 3200 MHz FlareX and again one set of results with an all-core overclock to 4.2 GHz and memory at 3466 MHz.
Up first we have our 1920 x 1080p results as you can see it made relatively no difference running the CPU at defaults compared to 4.2 GHz. Even the faster RAM settings made little to no difference. The only test it was noticeable with was Ashes of the Singularity which is quite CPU intensive.
Looking at the 2560 x 1440p benchmarks we see a similar story only this time that lead in AOTS is pretty much non-existent, there could be a slight one frame per second advantage across the board but really we might as well call them the same.
Overall the results were in line with what was to be expected. Similar X470 motherboards are going to offer similar performance. All of the boards tested appear to be following AMD’s specifications for the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs based on how close the results were overall.
What’s also interesting is running at default really doesn’t leave much performance on the table when compared to an all core overclock. Speaking of overclocking that’s coming up next. We’ll see if the Crosshair VII gives any advantage for squeezing extra performance from this Ryzen 2700X CPU.
There are a few options I feel are worth a mention here, a couple are specific to the Crosshair VII and the other is an addition from AMD for the second generation Ryzen.
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 clock speed 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.
XFR2 is the new extension of XFR which was introduced with the Ryzen CPU. XFR2 is more intuitive and can boost higher than it’s predecessor. XFR2 Overdrive allows the user to set an all-core boost level according to their cooling, for instance, forcing the CPU to boost all cores to 4.15 GHz but the maximum single-core boost will remain unchanged.
Performance enhancer is an ASUS exclusive feature developed with help from The Stilt. Levels one and two work on AMD’s restrictions with XFR2 while levels three and four have a few tweaks forcing XFR2 to always boost to the highest frequency possible. My CPU/cooling wasn’t able to sustain level four as it was too aggressive but level three worked fine. One thing to keep in mind here is in order for this option to work correctly the Windows power plan should be in balanced power setting or have a minimum processor state set below 50% for core performance boost to work correctly. An example of overclocking with the Performance Enhancer at level three would give an all core boost to 4120 MHZ while single core stays unchanged at 4350 MHz. Now using a BCLK of 102 with PE at level three will yield an all core boost to 4230 MHz and single core up to 4440 MHz. Using the offset voltage option in BIOS will allow you to add voltage if necessary and still allow it to reduce with power savings in Windows.
I should also mention there’s been a slight change here as well. Unlike the first generation when changing the multiplier and using offset voltages you can still maintain power savings in Windows with the proper power plan options in your settings. This is a nice addition to the second generation for those energy conscious individuals out there. This is how I set the all core overclock of 4.2 GHz and it worked just as it should.
With ambient cooling, there wasn’t much left in the tank for my Ryzen 7 2700X. The Ryzen CPUs still have a fairly low overclocking ceiling. This CPU will run fairly stable at 4.3 GHz with 1.425 V set in BIOS which nets just below 1.4 V under load with an LLC setting of level 3. I also used one of the many DRAM presets found in the memory section to easily set the 3200 MHz FlareX to 3466 MHz CL15 with 1.4 V and a SOC voltage set to 1.1 V. This setting is stable enough for the AIDA64 stability test and wasn’t tested with Prime95. This wouldn’t be a 24/7 setting for me, personally, I would choose either the XFR2 overdrive or Performance Enhancer Level three to maintain the CPB functions but it serves well for some benchmarking.
As you’ll see below, at 4.3 GHz I was able to make some gains across the board with the benchmark that were run.
Pushing the Limits
Before I get into this section I need to add a disclaimer, any overclocking has the potential of causing permanent damage to your components and will not be covered under your manufacturer warranty.
To go “all out” the EK 360 AIO was swapped out for my custom sub-ambient loop. This is the cooling solution I use to test equipment before going to the extreme with liquid nitrogen. This loop is able to maintain temperatures well below the freezing mark at approximately -20° C for short periods of time. This is ideal to see how a system may perform when taken well below that (-180° C) while using LN2. This also allows the use of voltages that wouldn’t be suited to ambient cooling so to any of you at home, I wouldn’t suggest using the following results as any type of template for your expectations. Even with the elevated voltages the Ryzen CPU just won’t reach these speeds without the additional cooling and all you will do is damage your CPU.
This time I pushed as far as my cooling would allow. The CPU needed 1.55 V for 4.55 GHz. No matter how much more voltage was applied this was the limit with the added cooling. I used another one of the Stilt’s presets in the BIOS for the memory. This time it was 3333 MHz with tight CL14 timings and 1.4 V. As you can see there were improvements across the board again. I also added WPrime as well as a SuperPi run to show the extended single core performance.
The ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi is packed with all the features one would expect from the ROG series and lends itself readily to the gaming and high-performance crowd. It offers the high-quality SupremeFX sound to put you into the game or just listen to music. For the custom cooling crowd, there’s the Water Cooling Zone for added convenience and centralized monitoring with the included ASUS software. We also have onboard RGB LED headers plus addressable LED headers for complete personalization and synchronization of compatible hardware via the AURA Sync software. Intel LAN, Wi-Fi-GO, and convenient onboard power buttons, the list goes on and on.
ASUS has also done a fine job overhauling this motherboard and paid special attention to reworking the power delivery offering more of it and cooler temperatures which are a great combination for those who really want to push the limits. That’s where some of the features you won’t find on the comparable motherboards set it away from the rest and leave the Crosshair VII as the obvious choice for the extreme crowd.
That brings us to pricing, the ROG Crosshair VII Hero Wi-Fi comes at a premium when compared to the MSI and GIGABYTE motherboards that were also used in this review. With a list price of $299.99 at Newegg.com, that places the Crosshair well above the MSI and GIGABYTE boards which list at $229.99 and $239.99 respectively. Both of these boards are able to push a Ryzen CPU to its limits on ambient cooling and offer nearly the same features. Where the Crosshair shines is in the extreme environment where every small advantage can bring large gains. Overclockers Approved!
-Shawn Jennings (Johan45)