Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Asus ROG Crosshair VI Hero - Flagship AM4 Ryzen X370 Motherboard

Official Asus webpage

"AMD X370 ATX Gaming motherboard with Aura Sync RGB LEDs, DDR4 3200MHz, M.2, USB 3.1 front-panel connector and type-A/C"

  • Aura Sync RGB LED: Stunning synchronized effects and two Aura 4-pin RGB-strip headers
  • SupremeFX: Exclusive new codec plus intuitive Sonic Studio III and Sonic Radar III
  • Compatible with both AM3/AM4 coolers
  • ROG Water Cooling Zone : Dominate your cooling system
  • 5-Way Optimization: One-click system-wide overclocking.
  • Best gaming networking: Intel® Gigabit Ethernet, LANGuard and GameFirst technologies
  • Best gaming connectivity: M.2, USB 3.1 front-panel connector and both USB 3.1 Type-A/C
  • Best gaming durability: Safeslot and premium components for maximum durability


AM3 Mounting Support

Obviously a very big selling point especially during these early Ryzen launch days
  • AM2/3/3+ had a very long run with countless pre-existing cooling options  - from air to water to LN2 pots
  • AM4 mounting brackets are virtually non-existent at Ryzen launch


Red & Black ROG colours.



AM4 Bracket & Backplate

Unlike earlier iterations, this comes with a sticky textured backplate so a little more effort is needed to gently pry it off if you are not going to use it.

Bundled Accessories

Some smaller parts are very sneakily hidden in the flat thin compartment of the bottom cardboard.

The ROG Crosshair VI Hero

Resplendent in dark shades.

Dual AM3 & AM4 Mounting Holes 

As very clearly demonstrated with the help of an old AIO cooler AM3 backplate.

Back I/O

USB galore from USB2 to USB 3.1 Type C, useful Clear CMOS & BIOS Flash buttons, Intel G.LAN. Note the gold plated audio ports, wifi slot and the lack of any video out.

Storage Options

M.2, SATA3, USB3 Gen 1 & Gen 2 ports, RGB headers. Note also the various voltage measurement points.

Debug LED

Immensely useful now especially when UEFI releases are very new and frequent, still on the way to maturity. Note the 3D Mount screw hole at bottom of photo.

Dual Reinforced x16 PCI-e slots

Reassuring for owners of huge gaming cards

Onboard Buttons

Conveniently located at the edge of the motherboard, very useful for troubleshooting.

SupremeFX Audio

ROG Heatsinks

All properly anchored down with metal screws, heatpipe for power sinks

AuraSync RGB LED

Note the LED circuitry on the undersurface of the i/o hood in addition to those on the motherboard itself.

UEFI Matters

At the moment (11-3-17), the 5803* beta (tCL 1T) is the best/fastest release so far, the newer 0902 (tCL 2T) is reportedly though slower, a safer bug fix for possible BIOS corruption.

* There is a potential BIOS corruption bug in earlier releases under certain conditions, detailed here.

There is just something about seeing so many threads (yes, 16) in the Task Manager that makes it so damn... geeky macho appealing.

For BIOS settings for overclocking with power settings, click!

UEFI Screenshots

 Just a few sample screenies.


Mostly model specific results as the other Ryzen general bench numbers have been posted earlier, if you missed that, just click here!


Nice numbers!

DPC Latency

This test was done with Windows Power Options at High Performance settings which is the actual AMD recommendation for Ryzen systems.

Advanced Features

In addition, have fun exploring the following:
RAID 0, 1, 10
Custom liquid  cooling - in/out temps sensors, flow tachometer
AuraSync RGB LED
Sonic Radar III
3D Printing - customize your personal rig
& more...

Initial Impressions

Great aesthetics with hunky angular ROG heatpiped sinks.

Well designed with very thoughtful provision of both AM3 and AM4 mounting holes. This alone may be one of the most persuasive factors for those heavily invested in expensive AMD coolers. Onboard buttons and debug LED display are really too useful to leave out in such a nascent platform and the Crosshair VI has them all.

Beautifully laid out UEFI as per usual for Asus ROG models, still it is early days for Ryzen BIOS maturity.

Cons so far related to the overall newness of the Ryzen platform, apparently common to all models - long POST times, cold double POST when overclocked, high speed RAM compatibility... etc. Fortunately, most if not all can be expected to be reduced over time as AMD improves their BIOS base code.

Overall, the Asus Crosshair VI Hero is a top Ryzen model that simply demands any potential Ryzen buyer to take a much closer look at it, imo it's just great.

Good Reads

The Stilt's Ryzen: Strictly technical
elmor's ROG Crosshair VI series 
Asus ROG Forum - Crosshair VI

#Ryzen #Asus #Crosshair

Update May 2017

Latest beta BIOS are now based on AGESA eg. BIOS 9945. Lots of new RAM options so now undergoing quick and dirty testing with memtest86 and GSAT with different RAM kits... going to be lots of time and effort spent.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

AMD Ryzen - HEDT Type R... For The Rest Of Us?

This write-up is admittedly a really rushed job, the CPU sample was late, the mobo sample was even later... but more importantly, almost everything is now here and what a revelation Ryzen is!

Updates should come along as other test components arrive... video card and thus gaming benches are yet to be finalised, soon hopefully. :)

PC World photo coverage of the official launch Feb 22, 2017, AMD CEO Lisa Su... the face of exceeding joy and accomplishment.

You can also watch the official AMD video if you can have the time and patience.

AMD Type R... Ryzen!

All hail AMD... think they have really done it this time.

After years of selling budget middling CPUs, AMD have now gone straight for the throat firmly targeting the performance desktop market, just wow!

For those unfamiliar with the Battle Royale of AMD vs Intel, many would think the world of Intel and dismiss AMD as  a poor 2nd choice or a has been. For the past decade and more, Intel has beaten AMD decisively at desktop CPUs so much so that AMD is nearly forgotten for many.

Now finally, a brand new AMD 8 cores 16 threads HEDT* CPU for way less... AMD have gone high end performance with low end pricing - AMD Ryzen is here. (* HEDT definition)

Everything is so hush hush and secretive that sample AMD Ryzen was delivered to me in a little non-descript green box.

And the really beautiful sample Asus mobo also came without any serial markings, i/o plate or most accessories along with dire warnings about NDAs and VX baby oils, gulp!

Do note that this sample chip is an earlier Engineering Sample stepping 1 which has been superseded by newer improved steppings and is thus not identical to the retail chip. This hurried preview is definitely not definitive, serving more as an introduction to Ryzen.

And after tiresome years of being served non-metal thermal interface material beneath the IHS by Intel.. see what TIM is given to Ryzen as demonstrated by der8auer. At the prices charged, did it beat around the bush and go cheap like the competition? Not!

* Type R cos it is powerful, fast and just as important, affordable ie. definitely not exorbitantly priced like you know who...

Test Setup

AMD ES Ryzen 7 1700x | Asus ROG CHVI Mobo | 2 x 4GB Kingston Predator DDR4-3000@2933 |
Crucial MX300 SSD | WD Black HDD | Antec Kuhler 920 | Corsair HX850 | Win 10 x64 Anniversary

Open air caseless, SG ambient 27C

PS: Present GPU installed is just a place holder, one tired old Radeon HD6670 waiting to be swapped out for something more modern. Ryzen 7 chips do not have any iGPU.


  • Time constraints meant running the ES Ryzen at stock clocks - it idles at 1.3GHz (0.4V) and boosts to 3.9GHz (1.55V, wah!) due to XFR (Extended Frequency Range) working well on the Asus.
  • Time constraints also meant non optimized voltages applied and inadequate breaking in of thermal grease consequently affecting temperatures reported
  • XFR boosted voltage of 1.55V can be reduced using a negative offset.
  • Presently only Asus models accommodates your current AM3 coolers since Asus specifically provides AM3 plus AM4 mounting holes.
  • DDR4-2933 C16 seems to run stable enough in benching but cold starts may happen, needs more tweaking... DDR4-2666 C14 is more forgiving and seems just as fast at lower voltages. Asus advises using 2 DIMMs and slots A2/B2 for higher RAM clocks.
  • Watt meter says 30W at idle, 75W running Fritz Chess Benchmark.
  • Photos and more sharing of the Asus Crosshair VI used are scheduled to come later. Oh yeah, the mobo is great to tinker with too!

Asus proposes this guide to choosing a Ryzen motherboard
Which motherboard for Ryzen?


Added just a couple of sample runs at DDR4-2666 to see the significance, if any.


Straightaway, we see the problem but it is definitely not AMD's though. This shouldn't be happening, at stock this 8 core budget chip is already killing the competition's 10 core HEDT prized cow.



Cinebench R15

Again, it is consistently fast... for both single and multicore crunching. Wow!



Passmark Bench

Not bad at all, actually beats 99% of PCs out there with its CPU score, what's there not to like?

Geekbench 4 CPU Bench

Great bang per buck results vs i7-6900K?

SuperPi 1M

The age old AMD bugbear abolished? Sure, looks like it.

Hyperpi 32M

Wonder if anyone's still playing with this bench nowadays?


This synthetic bench loves RAM bandwidth so while this dual channel CPU did very well, it could not overcome quad channel RAM results. Hardware.fr did some detailed investigating into this benchmark and 7Zip results, read it here - click for Google translated article!


AIDA64 Bench

Latest version exhibits a caution about non optimized support due to the newness of the chip.

Fritz 9 Chess Benchmark

hwbot x265 Bench

Done at 1080p. Good time to note the low fan speeds and load temps too, totally silent running for now till the gaming card arrives, I guess. lol

HEVC Decoding Bench

Very impressive to say the least...

Finally, got hold of and installed the Asus Strix GTX1060 6GB card here 4/3/17.

Note that synthetic game benches do not always give the complete picture. Modern games with good threaded support and for those who multitask eg. game, record and stream simultaneously, will value the advantage gain from better multicore performance.

For simple pure gaming, the 8 cores 16 threads Ryzen 7 may be way overkill, consider either getting a fast quad or even better still, wait for Ryzen 5 & 3 (almost here?) before deciding. Online fps games involving up to 64 players like Battlefield 1 likely require much more crunching power than smaller games like Overwatch so overkill may ultimately be a matter of relativity.

And according to the latest Steam survey, the most common video resolution presently is still FHD ie. 1920 x 1080 so perhaps, just a few token synthetic gaming numbers done at FHD.

PS: would still advocate gamers to wait a little more for Ryzen 5 and 3, hopefully you can save some money towards a better video card.

3DMark Time Spy

Stock application setting, FHD

3DMark Fire Strike

Stock application setting, FHD. Note "Processor is not recognized" error.

Unigine Heaven

Stock application setting, FHD

More to come... ? Hesitating on deciding what else to run for a HEDT processor when more gaming oriented and budget friendlier Ryzen 5 & 3 series are incoming soon. :)

Daily Usage Monitoring

Not quite day to day usage having ran a few benches earlier too eg. Unigine Heaven, still good for a rough feel of the temps and voltages


Seems a very different kettle of fish altogether with this architecture, meanwhile let's defer to The Stilt for his most valued insights here

"When the "OC Mode" is activated the SMU will disable the voltage controllers, which among other things disables the automatic voltage offsets... Overclocking Ryzen, at least the higher-end models is kind of a double-edged sword. Due to how the Turbo / XFR operates in Zeppelin and the rather slim overclocking margins, the user might end up actually losing single core performance when the CPU is overclocked."

Useful info to bear in mind, lifted from the Asus Ryzen OC guide

Ryzen 7@ 3.85GHz

Overclocking can be done easily since all Ryzen processors are multiplier unlocked. Simply increasing multipliers and voltages tip Ryzen into OC overclocking mode which negates power saving voltage drops.

So if you want power savings while overclocking Ryzen, it' becomes a little more complicated than the usual push multiplier push vcore routine. This necessitates the setting of custom Pstates, hexidecimal numbers in a slightly off-limit BIOS option. but hey, it still works out great!

Vcore used here was not optimized but was more in keeping with the AMD recommended 1.35V for  minimising degradation, the minimum vcore offset and LLC were also used. At these very same voltages, running 3.9GHz became dicey as WHEA cache errors (more SOC next?) start creeping into hwinfo64 reports.

Official AMD Software - Tweaking & Overclocking

AMD Ryzen Master

Hopefully, with more time, maybe a few more gaming benches... provided the loaner test parts are still here and the test rig not dis-assembled. lol

Initial Impressions

Wow oh wow, after a decade+ in the doldrums...  this is a stunning AMD comeback!

Ryzen is simply a monster data cruncher with its much improved single core performance and with so many cores and threads available at very affordable prices, this is certainly a no brainer for power users hungry for more oomph. There's incredible cost performance from the 1700/x models. Do note that buying into the bleeding edge also means early teething issues like BIOS immaturity and incoming patches to both OS and software.

AMD fans, your loyalty has been rewarded. Recalcitrant non-believers still have to thank AMD and its fans for enduring the past decade and yes, thank them all for a much needed more competitive PC environment.

Advice - simply grab Ryzen while you can for a HEDT bargain, it is definitely going to fly off the shelves very quickly. Pure gamers can probably benefit from waiting for Ryzen 3 or 5 to save on some money towards a better gaming card.

AMD Recap

This is as good a time as any to recap the glory days when AMD was David vs Intel's Goliath, king of the desktop in case someone thinks this is just some once off fluke shot.

  • 1st GigaHz desktop CPU (thanks AMD, for speed)
  • 1st 64 bit desktop CPU (thanks AMD, for 64 bit and loads of usable RAM)
  • 1st true dual core  desktop CPU (thanks AMD, for moar coars)

And now, many many thanks to AMD for creating Ryzen despite the arduous uphill situation faced over the last decade against competition >10x bigger and nastier too?

AMD - 2016 revenues of $4,272(m), http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/amd/revenue-eps
Intel - 2016 revenues of $59,387(m), http://www.nasdaq.com/symbol/intc/revenue-eps

Good Reads

The Stilt's Ryzen: Strictly technical
elmor's ROG Crosshair VI series 
Asus ROG Forum - Crosshair VI

#Ryzen #Asus #Crosshair