Friday, July 5, 2019

Asus Crosshair VIII Hero WIFI (X570) Motherboard & AMD Ryzen 9 3900X - Killer Combo!

Yes, PCI-e 4.0 is finally here!

Haha, the world's very first PCI-e 4.0 chipset makes it to the consumer desktop, well beating once mighty Intel to the punch. Complacency and bullying tactics can only get you that far... many kudos to AMD again!

PCIe 4.0: Everything you need to know...
Asus X570 motherboard guide

Asus Official Webpage


Sturdy large box in ROG colours.The accessories bundle is adequate but could have been more forward looking by including a drivers USB flashdrive instead of a DVD.


Generous heatsinks for the VRM (with heatpipe) and Southbridge with integrated active cooling, cleverly catering for the M.2  SSDs too. Protective Asus mobo armour and just as generous blessing of 14+2 onboard power phases (IR3555) too.

Motherboard Layout

Busy layout with lots of features and connectors, reinforced RAM and PCI-e slot.

Back I/O & Beyond

This is the WIFI enabled model with the gold plated DIN connectors. Dual LAN ports - Intel GLAN and Realtek 2.5GLAN plus a forward looking USB-C port.

8+4 ATX12V connectors for the crazy overclockers, note the broad silvery heatpipe peeking out between the heatsinks.

All the clockers' dream bits and pieces are seen here - onboard debug display, plentiful PWM fan headers, power/reset buttons. Also shown are the voltage measuring points in front of the main ATX power connector.

Plentiful SATA ports, flat lying USB3 headers - yay!

Even more PWM fan and RGB headers in this corner, the M2 heatsink is also seen.

Isolated S1220 audio subsystem, more RGB headers and clockers' buttons.

Long gone are the AM3 mounting holes of earlier models, by now you had better be well prepared cos  AM4 has been around for more than 2 years already.

AMD Ryzen 9 3900X

Monster juggernaut of a desktop processor comprising 12 cores and 24 threads modern 7nm process yet at a price similar to the 8 cores 16 threads ancient 14nm process Core i7-9900K. And it is yet bundled with a quality heatpipe Wraith Prism with RGB fan heatsink.

Comparing the 2 CPUs side by side based on similar pricing but is this anywhere going to be a level ground competition in the first place? Already on paper, AMD with its modern design and process seems to hold all the aces in its hands.

Test Setup

Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Hero WIFI | AMD Ryzen 9 3900X | Corsair DDR4-3466XMP@3600 16GB Kit | WD Black nvme 500GB SSD | Scythe Kabuto3 | Win 10 x64 1903

12 cores and 24 threads of Ryzen2 goodness, take that all you current Intel mainstream 4 core wimps!

CPU-Z Bench
Stomped all over the similarly priced Core i7-9900K in multithread (39.4% faster) and slightly edged out in the single thread bench (7.5% slower).

7-Zip Bench

Nice big numbers!

Cinebench R20
Killing even its own big brother,  its dual channel 12C24T is faster than the quad channel 16C32T Threadripper 1950X, plenty of ouch!


hwinfo64 Monitoring

As expected, its 12C24T run on the hotter side of things but it still runs stable in our local ambient air.

Running cool and fuss free in the background is the Asus Crosshair VIII Hero motherboard, it has been rock solid and dependable so far. Its industry leading UEFI BIOS is easy to configure, feature filled and consistent.

Initial Impressions

This is one of the rare OMG moment in consumer desktop computing - AMD has thrown down the gauntlet and solidly empowered the rest of us with incredible yet affordable processing beyond the wildest imagination of everybody especially the complacent sleeping giant called Intel.

Things are not quite perfect yet with the early BIOS and driver issues but... please wake up to reality, was anyone ever perfect especially Intel with its countless CPU bugfixes steadily eating into its so called performance lead which has by now almost vaporised into thin air?

Run or better fly, just don't walk or dawdle... quickly grab this amazing Ryzen2 bundle cos they are flying off the shelves as we (and Intel) sleep. One also can't help but wonder how the incoming 16C/32T R9 3950 may upset the equilibrium again in short time.

Overall score - a solid 9.9/10 (cos nobody's perfect) and let's encourage both Asus and AMD to keep on creating great stuff for the rest of us.

Bonus Screenshot

For those of you who read all the way to the end... yes, it is indeed possible to do so.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Team Group T-Force RGB - DDR4-3000 16GB Night Hawk Kit & Delta S 250GB SSD

Team Group T-Force RGB 

In line with the PC industry movement for the enthusiasts over recent years, component manufacturers have also been endlessly rushing heads over heels into the retail market with RGB offerings.

Team Product Page

As can be seen from the product pages, the received samples are each the most entry level models from the Night Hawk and Delta S range respectively. There are clearly more capacious and speedier models out there.

Present owners would note that these are currently among the most affordable RGB components from a well known memory/storage manufacturer.


Compact flat boxes with minimal stuffing.

Lights, Camera, Action!

Probably the main claim to fame for these two products other than the pricing, the RGB light show galore. Kindly pardon the camera shake as the morning coffee hasn't properly kicked in yet.

For a little more completeness sake, perhaps some screenshots and stress tests. Of course, longer stress testing allows for more accurate and thorough results so pamper yourself as you deem fit.



Reveals these to be Micron based sticks. Interesting these matched pair has serial numbers which are rather far apart.

TPU MemTest64

You can run this till your power bills break the bank... so just a short sample here.

HyperPi 32M

The ol' fave quickie for RAM and mem controller stability

Initial Impressions

After crazy prices the past few years, RAM and SSD prices are finally falling this year end holiday season (hurray!!!) so RGB bling bling at reasonable pricing like these Team Group offerings is yet another good reason to jump in and enjoy yourself. Better don't miss it this time around.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Asus ROG Maximus XI Gene - Intel Z390 Motherboard (Gen. Coffee Lake Refresh)

Asus ROG Maximus XI Gene (Z390) Motherboard

  • Finally, a new Asus Maximus Gene model, the Intel Z390 XI Gene.
  • Last Gene model was based on Z170 chipset from way back 2015 which was surprisingly supplanted by latter budget Strix mATX builds.
  • Amalgamation of both extant Maximus Gene and newer Maximus Apex ideals. 
  • Gene - mATX, feature packed build - onboard buttons/switches, debug LED,  plenty fan headers, forward leaning features eg. Asus DIMM.2
  • Apex - max. overclocking, streamlined 2 DDR4 slots (rated 4600MHz!), single x16 PCI-e slot.
  • Supports the new soldered 8 core i7-9x00K (but still MIA in retail as of now mid-Oct) with retro support for 6 core i7-8x00K greased processors.
  • Supports 32GB “Double Capacity” DDR4 RAM modules
  • Well connected - Intel G.LAN,  Intel AC-9560 wifi, Bluetooth 5.0

Official Asus Specs & Z390 Guide


PDF Manual


Summary of Z390 in 2018  vs Z370 in 2017 platforms

  • Out of box ready Intel 9th gen 8C16T support
  • Intel chipset USB 3.1 and wifi support
  • 2018 CFL-R K processors are TIM soldered and allegedly hardware fixed for certain Meltdown hacks
  • Higher RAM capacity support with better RAM overclocking potential (Asus internal doc mentions up to DDR4-4700 for the XI Gene)


Impressively large and heavy box for a mATX model.


Not quite overflowing with accessories inside, the motherboard and Asus DIMM.2 card contribute most of the weight.

Horizontal Headers

... cable management fans, rejoice. Plus voltage measuring points for the hardcore fanatics.

PCI-e Slots

Reinforced x16 and open ended x4

SATA Ports

A missed opportunity with upright power and USB3.1 headers, pity. Oh well, hooray to the forward looking 4 x M.2 (NVMe x4)!

Asus DIMM.2, QLED Display, Onboard Buttons

The proprietary Asus DIIM.2 design allows 2 more NVMe SSDs with better cooling.

CPU Socket Region

Note the 10+2 phase power delivery (IR3555) and... 2 x 8 pin CPU 12V plugs, it's the only such equipped model besides the top eATX Extreme model.


Test Setup

Asus ROG Maximus Z390 XI Gene | Intel Core i5-9600K@4.8GHz | Corsair DDR4-3466@XMP 16GB Kit | WD Black nvme 500GB SSD | Scythe Kabuto3 | Win 10 x64 1803 (test OS)

Using the onchip Intel HD630 for now cos undecided on which discrete GPU to pair it with.

Open air caseless, SG ambient 29C

* settings are neither refined nor finalised, personal preference is an overall balance of performance, power, heat... and especially noise.


Web reports have claimed up to 5.2GHz overclocks for the i5-9600K so the value proposition of this lowest end soldered CFL-r chip is definitely there. Using an air cooling solution here so no heroics, just a modest push to 4.8GHz with pleasantly low load temps. btw, SG currently has nil to very low stock for the higher end soldered CFL-r processors currently... :(

Ordered the Scythe air cooler off Amazon since it seems to be well suited for the Gene XI with its overhanging blow down action. Keeps the nvme SSD and DDR4 nicely breezy and cool, a great testament to the thoughtfulness of the designers of this motherboard.

UEFI Sample Screenshots

Still the best UEFI implementation, imo. Powerfully detailed yet logically easy to use. Other makes are still lagging behind, lacking very useful features like debug LED toggle options, CMOS setting change tracking and text file export etc...  most impressively, the ability to flash a BIOS out of the box to support new processors is unrivaled so far.

For those who love tinkering and overclocking yet are acutely allergic to cold dual boots... the Gene XI, even when overclocked, boots into the OS straight on cold boots. Love it!


CPU-Z Bench

Can it catch up with the costlier i7-8700K?

Cinebench R15

Clearly out-performs the stock 6C12T i7-3930K with this modest overclock despite the lack of hyperthreading in the i5-9600K.




HyperPi 32M

Still Intel's forte, AMD's heel.


RealBench 2.56

It actually ran completed with the Intel HD630... lol

Looks like plenty of room to move around with such air cooled load temps, vcore and low rpm fan noise. More effort and time invested would definitely yield better clocks and timings.



First Thoughts

Design-wise, the XI Gene can be quite the powerhouse for use as a gaming station and as the heart of a high end HTPC. It is is featured packed with quality components and thoughtful placement meant for effective overclocking and cooling. The SupremeFX S1220A audio solution has the now less seen optical output in case your home theatre HDMI ARC setup is lacking.

Yes, the XI Gene definitely looks like an interesting mATX model in interesting times when Intel is now playing ball with more cores on its mainstream desktop platforms albeit at not quite mainstream pricing. Of course, AMD must be doing a really good job with their own truly mainstream priced Ryzen moar coars platform this past year.

For die hard Intel fans especially the fps gamers, a nicely overclocked 8 core Z390 setup could really be the ultimate gaming platform.

Performance wise, this platform is looking very good with ready availability of solid motherboards but Intel processor worldwide scarcity and cost seems to be an over-riding dampening concern. While almost full marks may go to Asus for their impressive Gene XI design and enticing local SG promotion, Intel would definitely score less for their 9th Gen processor effort with dismal availability and pricing.