ROG CROSSHAIR VIII Dark Hero w/ DDR4-3200, 7.1 Audio, Dual M.2, 2.5G Gigabit LAN, 802.11ax, BT 5, CrossFire / SLI
Upgraded power delivery, passive chipset cooling, and stealthy aesthetics allow the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero to strike from the shadows and form a menacing duo with AMD Zen 3.
- AMD AM4 socket: Ready for AMD Ryzen 5000 Series/ 4000 G-Series/ 3000 Series/ 3000 G-Series/ 2000 Series/ 2000 G-Series desktop processors; also supports up to two M.2 drives and features USB 3.2 Gen 2 and AMD StoreMI to maximize connectivity and speed
- Comprehensive thermal design: Passive chipset heatsink, M.2 aluminum heatsinks and ROG Water Cooling Zone.
- Robust power delivery: Designed power solution 142 TI power stages rated for 90A, ProCool II power connectors, microfine alloy chokes and 10K Japanese-made black metallic capacitors
- High-performance networking: On-board Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) with MU-MIMO support, 2.5 Gbps Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, both with Asus LANGuard protection, and support for GameFirst VI software.
- 5-Way Optimization: Automated system-wide tuning, providing overclocking and cooling profiles that are tailor made for your rig.
- DIY Friendly Design: Pre-mounted I/O shield, Asus SafeSlot, BIOS flashback and premium components for maximum endurance.
- Unmatched personalization: Asus-exclusive Aura Sync RGB lighting, including RGB headers and addressable Gen 2 RGB headers
- Industry-leading ROG audio: ROG SupremeFX S1220 is combined with the venerable ESS ES9023P to deliver high-fidelity audio to headsets and exotic cans.
ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero boasts an optimized power design layout and all the cooling headers you need to handle the prodigious power of the latest AMD Ryzen processors.
Modern CPU architectures up the ante for motherboard power design by transitioning from deep power-saving modes to full load almost instantaneously. Our latest VRM architecture rises to the challenge by utilizing teamed power stages to rapidly swing current, while maintaining exemplary thermal performance.
Asus OptiMem III
Infused with proprietary memory trace layout tweaks that improve signal integrity and mitigate noise, Optimem III allows memory kits to run at lower latencies, reduced voltages, and operate at higher frequencies. Stack the Dark Hero with your favorite modules and maximize Zen 3 processors throughput for applications that demand massive bandwidth, or balance infinity fabric and memory performance for a diverse range of workloads.
Maintaining system stability is paramount under high load, so Crosshair VIII Dark Hero employs passive chipset cooling with large VRM and chipset heatsinks that strike the right balance between surface area and mass. Featuring premium components and multiple fan headers, Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is fully armed to provide the best foundation for gaming systems.
The two VRM heatsinks are placed above the MOSFETs and chokes, and are connected by a heat-pipe to further increase surface area for heat dissipation.
Two dedicated heatsinks keep the dual M.2 SSDs at the optimum operating temperature for consistent performance and reliability.
High-conductivity Thermal Pad
A high-quality thermal pad improves overall heat transfer from the system by bridging the heat generated by the power stages to the heatsink.
Passive Chipset Heatsink
A dedicated chipset heatsink draws heat away to maintain optimum operating temperatures.
Cooler by Design
ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero features the most comprehensive cooling options ever.
ROG Water-cooling Zone
Dual water-temperature headers and a flow-rate header feed information straight into the AI Suite utility, allowing you to track coolant temperatures and the flow rate of the entire loop.
ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is packed with intuitive and flexible tools to allow customization across all system parameters to deliver the performance you want.
The dashboard-style control panel of AI Suite 3 lets you fine-tune almost every aspect of your ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero system with ease. Get the best balance between performance, cooling, stability, and efficiency via one simple and intuitive interface.
The renowned ROG UEFI (BIOS) provides everything you need to configure, tweak, and tune your rig. It offers intelligently simplified options for newcomers to PC DIY, as well as comprehensive features for seasoned veterans.
Accurate Voltage Monitoring
Conventional motherboards use single-ended sensing tapped from a location that isn’t ideal, leading to a large disparity between the actual voltage fed to the CPU and the value reported to software. ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero features a differential-sensing circuit and delicate IC that simplify overclocking and tuning by allowing you to track voltages more accurately.
ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero offers advanced connectivity, including Wi-Fi 6 (AX200) and dual Ethernet with Intel 1Gb and Realtek 2.5Gb Ethernet port to eliminate bottlenecks so you can enjoy exceptionally smooth online and LAN play. Additionally, the M.2 supports AMD StoreMI technology to maximize the speed of your SSD for faster load times, and SupremeFX on-board audio provides superb sound, while saving a PCIe slot.
Wi-Fi 6 (AX200). Onboard Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) supports ultrafast wireless-networking speeds, improved capacity and better performance in dense Wi-Fi environments, providing exceptional online gaming experiences.
2.5G on-board Ethernet kicks your LAN connection up a notch with an up to 2.5X bandwidth improvement. Using your existing LAN cable, you can take advantage this networking upgrade to experience smoother, lag-free gaming, immediately stream high-resolution videos and enjoy faster file transfers.
Intel 1Gbps Ethernet
ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero features the latest Intel Ethernet (I211-AT) ensuring data exchanges with your network and the outside world are fast and smooth. Intel LAN reduces CPU overhead and increases TCP and UDP throughput, keeping more processing power.
Unthrottled Transfer Speed
Dual PCIe 4.0 M.2 Slot support up to 22110 and provide NVMe SSD RAID support for an incredible performance boost. Create a RAID configuration with up to two PCIe 4.0 storage devices to enjoy the fastest data-transfer speeds on the AMD Ryzen 5000 and 3000 Series desktop processors.
AMD StoreMI technology is a software utility that accelerates any drive for better system responsiveness with reduced startup and software load times. It combines SSD performance with the affordability and capacity of an HDD by automatically moving frequently accessed data to dedicated SSD storage.
In addition to extraordinary performance, ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero provides extensive styling and customization options to let you build a system that truly stands apart.
Aura Sync: Grow Your Gaming World
Gear up with ROG components, from graphics and monitors to mice and keyboards. And up your game with complementary aesthetics, control and compatibility. The ROG ecosystem is more extensive than any competing brand, so enjoy greater choice as your system expands.
Full ASUS AM5 X670E Motherboard Line Up AMA & Zen 4 OC Demo
RGB Header: Addressable Gen2 RGB Header
The addressable Gen 2 RGB headers now feature software that can automatically tailor lighting effects to specific devices. The new headers also offer backward-compatibility with existing Aura RGB gear.
RAMCache III software utility turns milliseconds into microseconds to boost game-load times. Fully compatible with the latest NVM Express storage options, RAMCache III utilizes uniquely intelligent technology to effectively cache any storage device, so favorite games and apps launch at breakneck speeds.
Sonic Studio III
Sonic Studio supports HRTF-based (head-related transfer function) virtual surround for headsets, casting an immersive aural landscape that draws you deeper into the action. The intuitive Sonic Studio interface also offers a range of EQ options and one-click presets, allowing you to tailor acoustics to suit personal preferences or the characteristics of your headset.
DTS: Sound Unbound
ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero includes a pre-loaded DTS Sound Unbound app that envelops you in audio as never before, conjuring whole new levels of immersion for extraordinary gaming and entertainment experiences. By exploiting Windows Sonic spatial technology, DTS Sound Unbound delivers audio in a virtual 3D space. putting you right in the middle of the soundscape, where you can sense the location and direction of every gunshot, footstep or other sound in your virtual environment.
New AM5 ASUS ROG CROSSHAIR X670E HERO for AMD Ryzen 7000 Series Processors. first look!
DTS Sound Unbound requires in-game support. Check with developers for titles that offer support.
Armoury Crate is a software utility designed to provide centralized control of supported ROG gaming products. From a single intuitive interface, Armoury Crate puts command of all your Aura gear at your fingertips with the new Aura Creator suite ready. The software also provides control of settings for a growing number of ROG products, making it easier to tune the look and feel of your system. Armoury Crate even offers dedicated product registration and ROG news feeds to help you stay in touch with the ROG gaming community.
- Supports AMD AM4 Socket for AMD Ryzen 5000 Series/ 4000 G-Series/ 3000 Series/ 3000 G-Series/ 2000 Series/ 2000 G-Series Desktop Processors
|Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero ATX Motherboard|
|AMD AM4 Socket for AMD Ryzen 5000 Series/ 4000 G-Series/ 3000 Series/ 3000 G-Series/ 2000 Series/ 2000 G-Series Desktop Processors Refer to www.Asus.com for CPU support list|
|AMD X570 Chipset|
|AMD Socket AM4|
|4 x DIMM, Max. 128GB, DDR4 4866(O.C)/ 4800(O.C.)/ 4600(O.C)/ 4400(O.C)/ 4333(O.C.)/ 4266(O.C.)/ 4133(O.C.)/ 4000(O.C.)/ 3866(O.C.)/ 3800(O.C.)/ 3600(O.C.)/ 3466(O.C.)/ 3400(O.C.)/ 3200/ 3000/ 2933/ 2800/ 2666/ 2400(O.C.)/ 2133 MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory|
Dual Channel Memory Architecture Design Supports ECC Memory (ECC mode) support varies by CPU Refer to www.Asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).
3rd Gen AMD Ryzen Processors: 1 x M.2_1 socket 3, with M Key, Type 2242/2260/2280 (PCIE 4.0 x4 and SATA modes) storage devices support 2nd Gen AMD Ryzen 2nd and 1st Gen AMD Ryzen with Radeon Vega Graphics Processors: 1 x M.2_1 socket 3, with M key, type 2242/2260/2280 storage devices support (SATA PCIE 3.0 x 4 mode) AMD X570 chipset: 1 x M.2_2 socket 3, with M Key, Type 2242/2260/2280/22110(PCIE 4.0 x4 and SATA modes) storage devices support 8 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s)
Supports RAID 0, RAID1 and RAID 10
2 x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8) 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x8 mode)
AMD X570 chipset: 1 x PCIe 4.0 x16 1 x PCIe 4.0 x1
AMD Ryzen 5000 Series/ 3000 Series Desktop Processors AMD Ryzen 4000 G-Series / 2000 Series Processors AMD Ryzen 3000 G-Series / 2000 G-Series Processors
4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 port(s) 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port(s)
AMD X570 chipset: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 front panel connector port(s) 6 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 port(s) 4 x USB 2.0 port(s)
Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero Announced – Together with a new TUF X570-Pro and Strix B550-XE
Asus is going “dark” in their latest version of the Crosshair VIII Hero. By now, you are probably aware that AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series CPUs will be available starting November 5. There are no new “X670” or “B650” chipsets coming out, as far as we know. Instead, the new Ryzen 5000 series is fully compatible with the existing X570 and B550 motherboards; including some X470 and B450. But Asus has decided to refresh some of their existing X570 and B550 motherboards. And they recently revealed the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero; along with the TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi and ROG Strix B550-XE Gaming Wi-Fi. details below.
UPDATE (11/24/2020): Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero check on Newegg.com hereAlso available on Amazon UK here
UPDATE (11/5/2020): AMD Ryzen 500 Series CPUs are up. Check latest pricing and availability below (#ad):AMD Ryzen 9 5950X – Amazon.com here or Newegg.com hereAMD Ryzen 9 5900X – Amazon.com here or Newegg.com hereAMD Ryzen 7 5800X – Amazon.com here or Newegg.com hereAMD Ryzen 5 5600X – Amazon.com here or Newegg.com here
Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero – What’s New?
One of the most obvious changes in the new Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is in its aesthetics. Just what its name suggests, it features a sleek all-black design with large heatsinks; both in the chipset and VRM area. The word “Hero” is replaced with an RGB illuminated “ROG” logo near the I/O ports. And an Asus ROG logo, also with RGB illumination, can be seen at the chipset area.
Speaking of the chipset, notice that this motherboard doesn’t come with a mini fan to cool the chipset. Most X570 motherboards have a mini cooling fan to actively cool the chipset. But this time, a large chunk of heatsink passively cools the X570 chipset of the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero. There are also heatsinks for the two PCIe 4.0 x 4 M.2 slots that are ready for the fastest NVMe SSDs available; like the Samsung 980 Pro or WD Black SN850.
The onboard power delivery has also been improved. The CPU VRM features 16 TI (90 amp) power stages arranged in a teamed topology; that is especially adept at responding to the load transients generated by multi-core CPUs transitioning between load states.
Just like its predecessor, the two primary PCIe 4.0 x16 slots are reinforced with the SafeSlot design. This is to support heavyweight graphics cards, just like the big ferocious GPU RTX 3090 FE. There are a number of USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (seven Type-A, one USB Type-C); plus connectivity like Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 adapter, 2.5G, and gigabit Ethernet jacks.
As for audio, the ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero features the SupremeFX S1220 codec; paired with an ESS ES9023 DAC for the front-panel outputs. This provides crisp and clear output in both stereo and surround sound for music and games.
Asus has not yet disclosed the retail price of the new X570 Dark Hero motherboard. But it will be available starting November 2020. If you want to check out the complete specifications of the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, you can visit Asus’ page here.
Availability: Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero check on Newegg.com here or Amazon UK here
Asus TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi 6 Now Available
Aside from the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, Asus also announced the TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi and this one is already available (Newegg here). I’m positive that the Dark Hero will be more expensive than this one. But if your budget for the motherboard is around 220, then the TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi would fit the bill.
The Asus TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi features an enhanced power solution; boasting a 12 2 DrMOS power stages, a six-layer PCB, ProCool sockets, military-grade TUF components, and the Digi VRM to ensure maximum durability. It offers comprehensive cooling features including dedicated heatsinks for the chipset; VRM, and M.2 slot, along with hybrid fan headers and Fan Xpert 4 software.
Extensive connectivity comes by way of the dual PCI Express 4.0 M.2 slots; and USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (1 x rear, 1 x front) and Type-A ports. The TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi also includes onboard Intel 2.5G Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1; plus TUF LANGuard and TurboLAN technology for an added boost.
While it doesn’t have the SupremeFX, it features a Realtek S1200A codec that offers pristine audio with an unprecedented 108 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for the stereo line-out and 103 dB SNR for line-in. In addition, the embedded AI Noise-Canceling Microphone provides crystal-clear in-game voice communication. Exclusive DTS Custom provides auditory positional cues via stereo headphones to give gamers an added advantage during gaming.
Again, the Asus TUF Gaming X570-Pro Wi-Fi is now available for 219.99 and you can grab one from Newegg.com here.
Asus ROG Strix B550-XE Gaming Wi-Fi
Last but not least is the Asus ROG Strix B550-XE Gaming Wi-Fi. It’s the company’s new flagship B550 motherboard and sits on top of the Strix B550-E Gaming. It features an uprated power with its 16 integrated TI 90 amp power stages (identical to ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero). This helps the motherboard to drive the current Ryzen 3000 and Ryzen 5000 processors without breaking a sweat.
The ROG Strix B550-XE Gaming features comprehensive cooling; including actively-cooled VRM heatsinks with a connecting heat pipe and an integrated aluminum I/O cover; plus a high-quality thermal pad for better heat transfer. There are dedicated heatsinks for the dual M.2 slots; as well as a bundled Hyper M.2 x16 Gen 4 card with a full-cover heatsink and embedded fan.
In addition, Strix B550-XE Gaming includes 2.5G Intel Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200, six M.2 slots (four on the Hyper M.2 x16 card), and BIOS FlashBack.
Asus has not yet announced the retail price for the upcoming ROG Strix B550-XE Gaming. But it will be available starting November 2020. Most probably it will be available at the same time the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero releases in the market.
Dark Hero gets an update: Zen3 ready and 90A VRMs on an all black board.
Tom’s Hardware Verdict
The Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero goes dark with an all-black design, along with 90A VRMs (up from 60A), eight SATA ports, 12 USB ports on the rear IO, and no more chipset fan. The 400 price tag may be a lot to swallow, but compared to other X570 flagships, it’s a bargain.
- 16-Phase, 90A Power Delivery
- 12 USB ports
- Eight SATA ports
- No chipset fan
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Features and Specifications
Using optimized defaults, the Dark Hero boosted our Ryzen 9 5950X over 5 GHz, so we’re getting exactly what we paid for. As expected, overclocking went without a hitch, running our CPU at 4.4 GHz with all cores and threads enabled, as well as happily running 32GB of DDR4 at 3600 MHz. If you’re into extreme overclocking, the Dark Hero has a lot left in the tank for both the CPU and Memory. Read on for more details about the board and its performance.
In the before times of mid-2019, Asus released its X570 based motherboards, including the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero. We reviewed the original and liked the 12 USB ports, appearance, and more. Fast-forward to today and, along with the release of AMD’s excellent but tough-to-find 5000 series CPUs, comes the ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero. As the name implies, the Dark version goes all black, improves upon the power delivery, and eliminates the chipset fan on the previous version. It’s an iterative update on paper, but one that supports the new CPUs out of the box.
The matured Asus X570 lineup includes options from the TUF, Prime, Strix, WS (Workstation), and ROG lines, a total of 14 new boards. Since we last checked, Asus added a Mini-ITX option, which was the only form-factor missing upon release. Today, the product stack consists of a wide variety of motherboards in varying sizes, feature sets, and price points. There is likely something for everyone in the X570 lineup.
Asus’ Crosshair Hero Dark uses the same phase count (16) but upgrades to premium 90A parts instead of 60A in the non-Dark model. The 90A bits are some of the most robust we’ve seen and should easily handle any ambient or sub-ambient overclocking. Another significant difference between the Dark and the original Hero is the styling. The Dark tweaks things a bit with the heatsinks using a grooved pattern on the chipset/M.2 covers as well as the VRM heatsinks around the socket. On top of the rear IO, it says “ROG” with RGB lighting, where the original said “Hero.” The other change that may not be so obvious is that the chipset fan is gone in the Dark, which will cause some users to rejoice.- even though we found the fan on the previous model quiet.
On the performance front, the Dark Hero did well across most of the tests. There are some abnormal results in the PCMark10/MS Office suite; however, we’re chalking that up to run inconsistency. The clock speeds are where they are supposed to be with boards that perform much better in these tests, so it comes down to the benchmark or something else going on during this portion of the test.
Specifications. Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero
|16 Phase (142, 90A MOSFETs)|
|(8) USB 3.2 Gen 2|
|(7) Type-A and a Type-C (10 Gbps)|
|(4) USB 3.2 Gen 1|
|Type-A (5 Gbps)|
|(1) 1 GbE|
|(1) 2.5 GbE|
|(5) Analog SPDIF|
|(2) v4.0 (x16), (x16/x0 or x8/x8)|
|(1) v3.0 (x8)|
|(1) v4.0 (x1)|
|AMD Quad CrossfireX and CrossFireX (2/3-Way)|
|Nvidia 2-Way SLI|
|(4) DDR4 5100(OC), 128GB Capacity|
|(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 / PCIe SATA (up to 80mm)|
|(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 / PCIe SATA (up to 110mm)|
|(1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe SATA (up to 110mm)|
|(8) SATA3 6 Gbps (RAID 0, 1 and 10)|
|(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2 (Type-C)|
|(2) USB v3.2 Gen 1|
|(2) USB v2.0|
|(2) aRGB (3-pin)|
|(2) RGB (4-pin)|
|Yes (2 character LED)|
|Start/Reset, CMOS reset, Safe Boot, Reset, Slow mode|
|(1) Intel I211-AT 1 GbE|
|(1) Realtek RTL8125-CG 2.5 GbE|
|Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 (802.11ax, 2×2, MU-MIMO, BT 5.1)|
|✗ / ✗|
Along with the motherboard, Asus puts a slew of accessories in the box. The stack includes the necessary cables and guides and Wi-Fi antennas, among many other items. Below is a complete list of the included accessories.
Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm)
Extension cable for Addressable LED
Unlike the ASRock X570 Taichi Razer Edition we recently reviewed, where there was a distinct change in the appearance, the Asus Crosshair Dark Hero takes a more subtle approach to its changes. All of the heatsinks are shaped the same way and cover the same parts of the board. The difference between them is the Dark Hero adding ribbing to the heatsinks where it used to be flat brushed aluminum. The lighter grey in the middle is now black, with the Asus ROG symbol lit up by RGB lighting from below. The other significant difference is the shroud above the rear IO. Here it says “ROG” lit up by RGB lighting (where the previous model said “Hero”). Overall, the board fits well into any build theme that doesn’t favor white.
Looking at the top half of the board, we’re greeted by a large plastic shroud that covers the rear IO IC’s and part of the left VRM bank. On top, it has the Asus ROG branding lit up with RGB lighting. Sending power to the CPU is a required 8-pin EPS connector and a 4-pin (optional). Cooling the 16-phase VRMs are two large heatsinks connected via heatpipe to share the load. As you’ll see later, this configuration worked well keeping the power delivery cool, even when overclocking our 5950X.
To the right of the socket are four DRAM slots capable of holding up to 128 GB of RAM. Speeds are listed up to a whopping DDR4 5100(OC), which is the fastest of all X570 boards. Just note that you will need a good IMC on the CPU, the right memory kit and a fair amount of tweaking to reach those speeds. AMD’s sweet spot is 3600/3733 while keeping the Infinity Fabric at a 1:1 ratio. You may see worse performance if you go higher than that.
Just above the DRAM slots are the first three (of eight) 4-pin fan headers. In this area are the CPU_OPT, CPU_FAN and AIO_PUMP headers. The AIO header runs are full speed by default. Two fan headers (W_PUMP and H_AMP) support 3A/36W, while the rest are more standard fare at 1A/12W. Each header auto-detects if it has a PWM or DC (3/4-pin) attached. Just to the fan headers’ right is the Q-Code LED that displays codes during the POST process. This is handy for troubleshooting boot issues.
We spy our first set of ARGB and RGB headers on the far right edge (one more of each at the bottom of the board). Below that is the Start button used to power on the machine. Next is a more simple Reset button. At this price, I would like to see a proper reset button instead of the more basic implementation we have here. Continuing down the right edge is the 24-pin ATX connector to feed power to the board. To the right of this are multiple voltage read points, including Vcore, VRAM, SOC, Southbridge and PLL. While most people won’t use these, those who are into extreme overclocking who need/want to know exact values, this is a great feature. Below that is the front panel USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C header.
Power delivery on the Dark Hero retains the same 16-phase (142) setup but upgrades to 90A MOSFETs (compared to 60A in the original Hero) in order to better support the 5000 series CPUs. Asus doesn’t use phase doublers, but “teams” the VRMs. In short, there are two power stages in parallel for each channel, which doubles the current-carrying capacity without using a doubler. Control is handled by an ASP1405 controller (xy = 8), while the MOSFETs are a Texas Instruments X95410RR. Details are scarce, but we figure these are part of the existing CSD954xxx ICs. Details aside, this is one of the more robust VRMs on the market and easily handled our ambient cooled 5950X and would easily handle sub-ambient overclocking as well. Asus stepped up the power bits here.
Swinging down to the bottom half of the board, we’ll start on the left-hand side with the audio. Hidden under the shroud and a faraday cage below it is the premium SupremeFX 7.1 channel audio codec (Realtek ALC1220A variant). Also hidden under the cover is an ESS ES9023P DAC for front-panel output along with a Texas Instruments RC4580 Op-Amp. In addition to all the ICs, the audio section uses several Japanese Nichicon audio caps said to produce a warmer, more natural sound. Overall this is an excellent audio implementation that should be plenty good enough for a majority of listeners.
In the middle of the board, we’ll start with the PCIe slots. In this case, the top two slots are fed from the CPU sporting a total of 16 PCIe 4.0 lanes. If the top slot only is in use, it will get all 16 lanes. If a card is populating the second slot, they both break down to x8/x8. The third full-length PCIe slot is fed from the chipset and runs at PCIe 4.0 x4. The x1 slot (with an open back to fit larger connectors) is PCIe 4.0 running at x1 speeds. This setup supports AMD CrossfireX 2/3/4-Way and Nvidia 2-Way SLI.
Also located in this area are the two M.2 sockets. The first sits above the top PCIe slot, while the second sits next to the PCIe x1 slot. Both support PCIe and SATA modules, however, the top slot is PCIe 4.0 x4 while the bottom is PCIe 3.0 x4. Both sockets sport heatsinks to help keep the modules underneath cool. Due to the board’s configuration and available bandwidth, SATA ports do not get disabled when using both M.2 devices.
On the far right edge past the chipset are eight SATA ports (supports RAID0, 1 and 10), front panel USB 3.2 Gen1 header and a chassis fan header. Just below the SATA ports are three additional headers part of the ROG Water-Cooling Zone. There are dual 2-pin temperature sensor headers, a 3-pin flow-rate header and a high amp 4-pin dedicated water pump header. All of these ports send data back to the AI Suite utility, so you can track coolant temperatures and the flow rate of your water loop.
Across the bottom are a bunch of buttons and headers, including USB ports and RGB headers. Here’s the full list, from left to right:
3-pin ARGB and 4-pin AURA header
Last but not least is the rear IO area. One of the first things you’ll notice on the integrated IO plate is that it’s packed with 12 USB ports. There’s a total of eight USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (one Type-C, seven Type-A in red) and four USB 3.2 Gen1 ports (blue). If this isn’t enough, you’re using too many! On the networking side is the 2.5 GbE Realtek and 1 GbE Intel LAN ports with two connections for the Wi-Fi antenna. The audio stack out back consists of five analog plugs and the SPDIF. Rounding out the rear IO are two buttons, the first for BIOS flashback and above it a clear CMOS button.
Performance Review – Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero
It’s been quite a while since AMD launched its X570 chipset motherboards but despite being designed for the Ryzen 3000 series processors, it can also support the latest Ryzen 5000 series processors with a simple BIOS update. Though we haven’t seen any newer revision of the X570 chipset motherboard since its official launch, until very recently, with Asus releasing its new ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero.
The ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is a new revision that is based on the existing ROG Crosshair VIII Hero, with improved power design and cooling, as well as a new color accent that is pretty much self-explanatory. We don’t have a ROG Crosshair VIII Hero with us for comparison but we still have some of the previous X570 boards with us for some comparison.
- 2 x PCIe 4.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
- 2 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
- 1 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x8 mode)
- 1 x M.2 Connector (Slot 1supports PCIe X4 and SATA 6Gb/s)
- 1 X M.2 Connector (Slot 2 supports PCIe X4 and SATA 6Gb/s)
- 1 X M.2 Connector (Slot 3 supports PCIe X4 and SATA 6Gb/s)
- 8 x SATA 6Gb/s ports
- Realtek RTL8125-CG 2.5G LAN
- Intel I211-AT
- Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6
- Supports NVIDIA 2-Way SLI
- Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFire
- 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
- 1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
- 1 x Asus Wi-Fi Module
- 5 x Gold-plated audio jacks
- 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps) ports
- 8 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps) ports
- 1 x BIOS FlashBack Button(s)
- 1 x Anti-surge 2.5G LAN (RJ45) port
- Anti-surge LAN (RJ45) port
- ROG SupremeFX7.1 Surround Sound High Definition Audio CODEC
- ESS ES9023P
- 2 x Aura RGB Strip Headers
- 2 x Addressable Gen 2 header(s)
- 2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
- 1 x TPM connector(s)
- 8 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 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
- 1 x Front panel audio connector(s) (AAFP)
- 1 x Slow Mode switch(es)
- 1 x Reset button(s)
- 1 x Node Connector(s)
- 1 x LN2 Mode jumper(s)
- 1 x Safe Boot button
- 1 x ReTry button
- 1 x System panel connector
- 1 x T_Sensor Connector
- 1 x W_IN header
- 1 x W_OUT header
- 1 x W_FLOW header
- 1 x Start button
- 1 x Speaker connector
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps) connector
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (up to 5Gbps) connector support additional 2 USB ports
- 2 x M.2 Socket 3
- 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
- 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
- User´s manual
- 4 x SATA 6Gb/s cable(s)
- 1 x Supporting DVD
- 1 x ROG big sticker
- 1 x Q-Connector
- 1 x Wi-Fi Antenna(s)
- 1 x Extension Cable for RGB strips (80 cm)
- 1 x Extension cable for Addressable LED
- 1 x ROG coaster(s)
- 1 x ROG Thank you card
- 1 x M.2 SSD screw package(s)
At first glance, we can immediately see the difference in terms of the design of the packaging. The red-black contrast isn’t as obvious as most of the ROG products we’ve seen in the past and it’s probably made this way to fit the color scheme and name for the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero. Some brief introduction on the details such as the product specifications, features highlight can be found at the back of the box, but you can always visit the official product page to learn more.
Under the accessories compartment, you’ll find two different sections with different content: one with the usual user’s manual, ROG coaster, ROG case badge, ROG label stickers, and driver CD, and the other one with the RGB cables, SATA cables, screws and stand-offs for M.2 SSD, Q-Connector for the front panel buttons, and the Wi-Fi antenna.
The ROG CROSSHAIR VIII DARK Hero
As mentioned earlier, we don’t have any ROG Crosshair VIII Hero with us for a side by side comparison but if you’re currently using one or previously owned one, the layout on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is definitely something that you’ll be really familiar with. For the design, it’s pretty much a darkened version of the Hero, replacing the gray accent with black to fit the name for the Dark Hero.
The most notable change you can see on the ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is the chipset cooling solution, which is now passively cooled. Most of the X570 motherboards we’ve seen so far are all equipped with a cooling fan for its chipset heatsink and the Dark Hero right here is probably the first X570 board to have a heatsink that doesn’t require an additional fan. So it’s somewhat safe to assume that Asus has improved the design so the chipset will not run as hot as the rest during load.
The EPS12V is still in the same configuration as before, with only the 8-pin connector covered with the metal shield. It’ll look better if Asus can consider covering the other 4-pin connector with the same metal shield.
The Crosshair VIII Dark Hero uses Daisy chain memory layout that is getting more common nowadays as compared to T-topology memory layout. As not many users are going with fully populated DIMM slots for their setup, most manufacturers are moving towards the Daisy chain layout that is more beneficial to two stick DIMMs, especially for memory overclocking. From the specifications table, we can see that the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is capable of going up to DDR4-5100 but that’s only when it’s paired with the right hardware (CPU and Memory kit).
You’ll find plenty of buttons and switches on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, which can be really useful if you’re into a lot of tweaking. As the board is designed with overclocking in mind, these buttons and switches can come in really handy, especially the safe boot and retry button located under the lowest PCIe slots.
It might take a while to get used to if you’re jumping straight from the older ROG motherboards that still have the MemOK! button for memory troubleshooting but you’ll love the safe boot and retry buttons once you get the hang of it. I’ve tested quite a number of memory kits on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero and these buttons did help quite a bit when dealing with some of the commonly seen error code i.e F9, 55, 07, B1.
The VRM heatsink on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is pretty much similar to the one on the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero, with a plastic cover for the rear I/O and translucent ROG legends for the RGB lightings. In case if you want to take it apart for cleaning in the future, taking apart the cover and heatsink is a breeze and the only thing you should worry about is picking the right thermal pads for the heatsink when the time comes.
For the power design, the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero features 142 ‘power stages’ according to the official product page, but it’s effectively a 71 phase in the usual teamed configuration you’ll find on some of the newer Asus ROG boards. So you’re basically getting a beefed-up 71 phase board with 2 of each working in parallel in each phase, which according to Asus, able to provide a much better transient response as compared to most of the conventional designs with phase doublers.
The PWM controller and MOSFETs used on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero are the Asus Digi VRM EPU ASP1405I and the X95410RR from Texas Instruments. Some of you would probably know that the Asus Digi VRM EPU ASP1405I is technically a rebranded Infineon IR35201 8-phase PWM controller which is commonly seen on the higher-tier Asus ROG motherboards because of the quality and performance it can deliver. As for the Texas Instruments X95410RR power stages, it has a rated power of 90A, which is slightly higher than the 60A IR3555 power stages used on the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero.
For the expansion slots, you’ll find 3 x PCIe x16 and 1 x PCIe x1 for the add-in cards and graphics cards. The top two PCIe x16 slots can support PCIe 4.0 but only one at a time if you want to run it at x16. The two slots will run in dual x8 mode if you install two graphics cards for either NVIDIA SLI or AMD CrossFire. The most bottom x16 slot is a PCIe 3.0 only x16 slot that runs in x8 mode, but that’s plenty enough for most of the add-in cards i.e network card and soundcard.
There are also two M.2 slots on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero which according to the official specs, both support PCIe 4.0 x 4 and can be configured to run in Raid 0/1/10 mode. It’s also backward compatible with PCIe 3.0 x 4 SSDs and supports SATA mode, in case if you wonder.
Asus also included a total of 8 x SATA ports on the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, not something many would appreciate, but it’s very useful if you’re using this board for your creative work and have a lot of SATA drives for your system.
For the onboard audio solution, the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is equipped with the SupremeFX 7.1 surround sound high definition audio codec, high-quality Japanese Nichicon caps, and the usual audio line shielding to provide cleaner audio as compared to the generic onboard audio solutions. It’s also equipped with a depop circuit and power pre-regulator to reduce unnecessary noise and disturbance for better and consistent performance.
On the rear I/O, you’ll find a number of useful ports and features that will come in handy for overclockers, especially for the clear CMOS button and BIOS flashback button. And guess what? You can perform a BIOS flashback on this board without having to install any CPU or memory.
If you need a lot of USB ports for all the USB devices you have, the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero has plenty of ’em – 4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 ports (blue), 7 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A ports (red), and a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port. For network connectivity, you’ll get Realtek RTL8125B 2.5G LAN and Intel I211-AT for cable connectivity and Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 for Wi-Fi 6 if you have an 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 router for your home network.
|CPU||AMD Ryzen 7 5800X|
|Motherboard||Asus ROG CROSSHAIR VIII DARK Hero / MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE|
|Memory||G.Skill TridentZ RGB DDR4-3200 CL14 16GB / TEAMGROUP T-Force XTreem ARGB DDR4-3200 CL14 16GB / PNY XLR8 Epic X DDR4-3600 CL18 16GB / KLEVV BOLT XR DDR4-3600 CL18 16GB / XPG Spectrix D60G DDR4-3600 CL 14 16GB|
|Graphics Card||AMD Radeon RX 6900 XT|
|Power Supply||Enermax MaxTytan 1250W|
|Primary Storage||Corsair Force Series Gen4 PCIe MP600 2TB|
|Secondary Storage||WD Black 6TB|
|CPU Cooler||Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML360R Liquid Cooler|
|Chassis||Streacom BC1 Open Benchtable|
|Operating System||Windows 10 64bit version 20H2|
CPU Overclocking Performance Overview
For the CPU overclocking test, we are using an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X and two different X570 chipset motherboards, the MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE and the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero.
The test is started with the CPU settings set at default, just so we can if there’s any difference in the boost performance. On the MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE, our Ryzen 7 5800X boosted up to 4.75GHz on specific cores during load. It’s pretty decent I’d say but the performance seems to be slightly better when we have it installed on the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, which boosted up to 4.85GHz on specific cores during load.
The highest clock we’ve achieved on the Ryzen 7 5800X is 4.7GHz, the same result on both boards. Going beyond that will require more Vcore and we’ll end up with an average 90ºC load temperature, which I personally don’t feel comfortable with. Though we did notice a slight difference on the Vcore required for the Ryzen 7 5800X to maintain at 4.7GHz without any signs of instability. On the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero, a value of 1.262V is required on the Vcore to maintain stability throughout our stability test with ROG Realbench, while the MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE requires a slightly lower Vcore at 1.256V.
While exploring the BIOS, we’ve also noticed an interesting feature in the CPU Core Ratio section, known as the Dynamic OC switcher. It’s a rather new feature that we have yet to see on any of the X570 motherboards we’ve tried so far and can be really useful if you still want to get that boost feature when the CPU is on stock settings. Well, sort of.
How does this thing work? According to our observation, it will trigger the switch to the ratio you’ve set in this menu when the CPU load hits the threshold value, giving you that extra boost in performance when necessary. Of course, this also depends on how capable your CPU is. For our Ryzen 7 5800X, we’ve set the ratio to 48.5 and the threshold at 45A, allowing it to boost to 4.85GHz when we run games or program that is more demanding on the processing power.
The VRM and chipset temperature seems to be pretty reasonable throughout the stress tests and the highest temperature recorded for the chipset is at 54ºC while the VRM peaked at 51ºC. Under normal load, the VRM and chipset temperature will only hit 50ºC and 46ºC respectively. As long as you have a well-planned airflow for your system, the VRM and chipset temperature is probably the last thing you need to worry about.
Memory Overclocking Performance Overview
Moving on to memory overclocking, in order to see how well this board can perform, we’re using quite a number of memory kits to compare the timings, and voltages required to achieve a specific speed. We didn’t manage to go very high with the memory frequency this time due to the quality of our Ryzen 7 5800X, but we manage to get some reasonable results for us to justify whether the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is just as good when it comes to memory overclocking.
Samsung B-die – DDR4-3600 CL14
Hynix DJR (D-die) – DDR4-3600 CL18
Based on our test results, we can actually see a very similar performance on both boards. The only notable difference here is probably the voltage, which for our case, the Asus ROG Crosshair VIII Dark Hero requires a slightly higher CLDO VDDP and CLDO VDDG on DDR4-4000 as compared to the MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE when using the same Samsung B-die DDR4-3200 CL14 and Hynix D-die DDR4-3600 CL18 kit.
FCLK 1900 and DDR4-3800 are the best settings we can get with our Ryzen 7 5800X but if you manage to get yourself a golden sample, you might be able to get FCLK 2000 and DDR4-4000 with ease. For the non-extreme use case, DDR4-3800 with FCLK 1900 is probably the recommended speed for now because 2000 on FCLK seems to be pretty difficult to achieve even on the new Ryzen 5000 series processors.
Just like the Crosshair VIII Hero, the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is just too overkill for a basic gaming PC. The fancy RGB blings aren’t really my kind of thing but I’m definitely into the design and features that are catered for overclocking. If you don’t need the extra features and accessories on the flagship Crosshair VIII Formula, it has pretty much all the basic necessities and some extras you’ll need for all sorts of system tweaking and you can actually save quite a few bucks to invest in other parts.
As for the price, the buffed-up Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is also expensive than the Crosshair VIII Hero. Priced at RM 2239, it’s not easy to recommend the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero to those who already cannot afford a Crosshair VIII Hero. As for those who have the budget to go for one, the Crosshair VIII Dark Hero is a feature-packed X570 board that is worth looking into if you’re into overclocking and that Dynamic OC Switcher is one great feature you’ll definitely want to experience yourself.
- Excellent overclocking capabilities
- Solid chipset and VRM heatsink
- Pre-installed rear I/O shield
- Plenty of USB ports
- Made ready for LN2 overclocking
- Support for Wi-Fi 6 and 2.5GbE LAN
- No support for older OC Panel / OC Panel II
- The wireless antenna base is not magnetic