Have you ever wanted to do a full blacked out build? Or maybe a dark knight themed build, we found the perfect board for you. And I honestly think that this is also the best X570 motherboard available right now. Now you can with the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero. This is sort of a refresh of the ASUS Crosshair hero, and it was a brilliant decision to do a refresh, because they almost created a masterpiece with the Dark hero. Now sadly we won’t be getting the X670 boards for ZEN3, but honestly I think that this is close enough to being an X670 board. Fortunately the dark hero is all set out of the box for 5000 series CPUs from AMD. This board won’t have any problems overclocking a CPU to its complete maximum capacity, then you get the added bonus of well almost everything. But we will look at all those goodies a bit later.
We really struggled to find prices as it was out of stock everywhere, but we did manage to find it on Newegg for $400. So it is definitely not the cheapest X570 on the market. As some of its closest competitors, start at around $300 for the same tier board. But then on the other hand you also get competitor boards that are flagships going for $700. And the Dark hero is very close to being flagship material. So it is actually very good value for money.
We paired it with AMDs RYZEN 9 5900X, which we feel is really the minimum required CPU to combine with this board, and then T-Force’s XTREEM memory, join us to take a more in depth look at the features and measure the overclocking performance of the motherboard.
For the looks you are met with an all-black design that is complemented by very subtle Chrome accents.
Etched into the PCB cover there is an ROG Eye logo that also has RGB, and to just add it all together, covering the Rear IO is a shroud with the ROG logo on it and RGB lighting.
Most of the Motherboard is covered in heatsinks and at the back it has an integrated IO shield.
With the styling of the board, it would go perfect with a dark styled build or even a black and white build. Honestly black builds are so much easier to do cause you get so many black components.
The motherboard is equipped with AMDs AM4 socket that supports almost all the Ryzen CPUs launched to date, except for the 1000 series. Another thing is the new CPUs work only with motherboards from the X470, B450, and later chipset generations, including the new X570 and B550 boards. And then it’s also down to motherboard manufacturers to make it work, issuing the proper BIOS updates. The AM4 socket is also the first in the world to feature the new PCIe 4.0 slots, but we will get into that a bit later.
You have a total of 4 DDR4 DIMM slots that support a maximum capacity of 128GB at a top speed of 5100MHZ which is one of the highest supported frequencies on a x570 board.
An additional feature is the ASUS optimem 3 that reduces crosstalk between DIMMS and improves memory performance.
As we know now AMD is running with the PCIe 4 slots. There are rumours going about that intel will join in with PCIe 4 with their new Rocket lake-S CPUs though.
Now PCIe 4, is running twice as fast as the previous PCIe 3. But with GPUs it really hasn’t made that big of a difference yet. As Steve from GamersNexus has already made a video comparing the 2, and I quote ”the difference is real, but also irrelevant”. As it was at most a 2% increase. The real difference comes in with NVMe SSDs more so than GPUs.
The dark hero has 2 x PCIe 4.0 x16 that are Safeslots, which I just love, as this helps support the hardware and minimize flex on the motherboard.
It also has 1 x PCIe 4.0 x4 slot
1 x PCIe 4.0 x1 slot
That does support both NVidia SLI or AMD Crossfire.
For storage Asus has provided more than enough options.
There is a total of 2 NVMe PCIe 4 M.2 slots along with 8 SATA 6GB/s ports
We are not sure how the lanes are set up and couldn’t find any information on it either, so unfortunately we can’t elaborate on that.
At the back you will find an exquisite integrated IO shield, that’s just packed to the brim with very useful ports (I hope this becomes the norm on all boards in the near future)
- There are dedicated Clear CMOS and Bios Flash back buttons
- 8 USB 3.2 Gen 2 which 7 are Type-A and one Type-C
- 4 USB 3.2 Gen1 type-A ports
- Wifi 6 + Bluetooth 5
- 2.5GB ethernet port
- A very rare thing to see is another ethernet port this one being only 1GB
- Your 5 audio jacks with the SupremeFX shielding technology.
- An S\PDIF out port
I can honestly say this board is kitted out. The only thing I would’ve liked extra would’ve been USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) ports. But for everything else this motherboard is honestly impressive.
For internal connectivity
There is one USB 3.2 Gen2 Header
1 Usb3.2 Gen 1 headers, and 2 USB 2.0 Headers
With a total of 11 PWM connectors for cooling the different options for cooling is also greatly increased.
RGB is handled by 2 Aura Gen 2 A-RGB headers, and two AURA RGB headers.
Additionally you have a thermal sensor header.
Finally there is the Start Button, useful when working on test benches. And a ReTry button that’s aimed at overclockers and will force the system to reboot while keeping the same settings.
Now getting a bit technical
For power, there is a standard 24 pin power connector and an 8 and 4 pin CPU power connector, featuring ProCool 2 technology that improves power delivery whilst keeping excess heat to a minimum. This also means the VRMs have 14+2 power stages each rated to handle 90 amps, ensuring you don’t get starved of power while attempting those high overclocks. On top of that each power stage is accompanied by a micro fine alloy-core choke rated to handle 45 amps.
They also use 10K Japanese-made black metallic capacitors that means the input and output filtering is provided by solid-polymer capacitors rated to last thousands of hours at high operating temperatures.
Now each VRM component has a specific purpose, PWM controllers and phase-doublers control the circuit, with power stages doing the heavy lifting from an electrical and thermal standpoint. So it makes sense why ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero utilizes 16 power stages.
The Dark Hero’s power stage also sits at the top of Infineon’s lineup and features a low RDSON that reduces switching and conduction losses, that helps to improve overall thermal headroom.
Now the PWM controller is the same one we have seen on most ASUS high end boards, the ASP1405I. The MOSFETS looks to be completely new as we couldn’t find any information about them, only that they are the X95410RR that can handle 90 amps. Which is remarkable as that’s the same as the ROG maximus XII extreme, which is ASUSes flagship. Remember what I said earlier about the Dark Hero being very close to flagship quality? Makes sense now right?
Also the two VRM heatsinks are placed on top of the MOSFETs and chokes, and are connected by a heat-pipe that further increases surface area for heat dissipation. That’s accompanied by a high-quality thermal pad that improves overall heat transfer from the system by bridging the heat generated by the power stages to the heatsink.
The EFI hasn’t changed that much, except for a few new features on the Dark Hero. The main menu gives you an overview of the CPU, memory, and BIOS version. Extreme Tweaker is where all the hard lifting is done, for example setting DOCP for memory and overclocking. Then the advanced menu offers options for configuring system devices, including SATA and NVMe storage.
One of the best features of Dark Hero is the BIOS option for Dynamic OC Switching. This feature allows you to set an overclock on all-cores, that your system will use under load until a certain temperature is reached.
To test the effectiveness of the cooler and the design of the VRMs, the Aida64 System stability test was used. Each test was for a duration of 30 minutes.
The results were:
- At stock settings with no overclock, Idle temperatures were 50C, after 30 minutes the Max Temperature recorded was 61C
- Then finally we test a manual overclock of 4.6GHZ on all cores with a voltage of 1.4v.
idle temperatures were 50C, Maximum temperatures peaked at 66C.
We also used cinebench R20 to determine how well our overclock works and the performance increase.
- At stock settings the Ryzen 9 5900X scored a multi core score of 8083 points
- With the Manual overclock at 4.6GHz, scores jumped up to 8946 multi core. This is more than a 10% Increase