November 24, 2017 // 12:30 p.m.
UK price (as reviewed): £259.99 (inc. VAT) (£269.99 with Wi-Fi)
US price (as reviewed): $268.99 (exc. tax) ($279.99 with Wi-Fi)
If you want the added extras of overclocking and testing tools, extensive RGB lighting, and other ROG pizazz, then with Asus' Z370 motherboards you need to step up to the ROG Maximus X Hero. It costs around £20 more than its predecessor, but it does include a couple of additions that probably make that extra cost justified - it's not just a greedy price hike.
As with its less expensive Strix boards, Asus offers two variants of the Hero with the only difference being the inclusion of onboard 802.11ac Wi-Fi for £10 more. Our model is the Wi-Fi-less version, which retails for £260, so it's definitely one of the pricier Z370 boards out there.
Visually, there are two very obvious additions to the new board that have bumped up the price - the large M.2 heatsink for the top slot between the primary 16x PCIe slot and CPU socket, and a very drool-worthy integrated I/O shield like the one we've seen on previous Rampage and Formula boards.
Otherwise, aesthetically, the two are very similar with the purple-grey heatsinks and black PCB, with the Maximus logo in the I/O shroud and an ROG logo in the PCH heatsink both illuminating in full RGB, controlled of course by Asus' Aura software. As we test these things for a living, mostly outside of cases, it's a huge boon having power and reset buttons, and combined with a rear-mounted CMOS clear button and USB BIOS Flashback button the new Hero is also likely to be a hit with overclockers.
That's not all there is to like if you're into your exotic cooling. You get a plethora of thermal probe headers as well as a dedicated header for DIY liquid-cooling pumps that can dish out up to 3A/36W plus flow meters and a dedicated header for AIO liquid-cooler pumps too. You also get standard four-pin RGB headers plus an addressable header for 5V WS2812B RGB LED strips, where you can control individual LEDs.
One of the Hero's previous trump cards has been more than your average number of SATA 6Gbps ports, but you get the standard six here, so if you have a mish-mash of hard disks you need to transplant to your new rig, you may come up short. For a new system, though, you also have those M.2 ports to consider, one of which can also support SATA-based M.2 SSDs leaving you with all the SATA ports free for your slower storage. The M.2 heatsink is one of the chunkiest out there with a large thermal pad on the underside. It saw the load temperature fall from a toasty 72°C to 58°C. The former is much higher than usual due to the fact the SSD is sandwiched between the DIMM slots, GPU, and CPU socket, so the heatsink is definitely worth using.