Up for another motherboard review is the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero. This is one of the higher-end Intel Z690 chipset based motherboards from ASUS ROG, bearing legendary Maximus moniker – reserved for the best of the best.
The Maximus Z690 Hero is no slouch as its model name implies. This is a full size ATX motherboard equipped with a robust power solution, excellent thermal design, high performance networking and powerful connectivity options to name a few.
Disclosure: ASUS sent the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero for the purpose of this review. The company did not ask me to say anything particular about it.
- Product Page: ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 HERO
- Price: ₱35,670 PHP (RP, PCHub)
- Release Date: Q4 2021
|CPU Support||Intel 12th-generation Core, Pentium Gold, Celeron Processors|
|Socket||Intel Socket LGA1700|
|Multi-GPU||AMD CrossFire Technology|
|PCI Express||2X PCIe 5.0 x16, 1x PCIe 4.0 x4,|
|SATA||6x SATA III|
|M.2||1x PCIe 5.0 x4, 4x PCIe 4.0 x4|
|RAID||RAID 0/1/5/10 (SATA III), RAID 0/1/5 (PCIe)|
|LAN||Intel 2.5Gb Ethernet|
|WLAN||Intel Wi-Fi 6E|
|Bluetooth||Bluetooth Version 5.2|
|DAC||Realtek ALC4082, ESS SABRE9018Q2C|
|ADC||Realtek ALC4082, ESS SABRE9018Q2C|
|Channel||7.1 (Realtek), Stereo (ESS)|
|USB||7x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 2x USB 2.0|
|Thunderbolt||2x Thunderbolt 4|
|Audio||5x 3.5mm, S/PDIF|
|Display||DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.1|
|Front IO / Internal|
|USB||USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, 2x USB 3.2 Gen1, 2x USB 2.0|
|SATA||6x SATA III|
|M.2||3x M.2, 2x M.2 (ROG Hyper M.2)|
|Fan||8x 4-Pin, 1x 3-pin, 2x 2-Pin,|
|LED||4-Pin RGB, 1x 3-Pin RGB|
Packaging and Accessories
ASUS had the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero packed inside a huge double compartment motherboard packaging.
The packaging should come with the following items inside:
- ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
- ARGB RGB extension cable
- RGB extension cable
- 4x SATA 6Gb/s cables
- ROG Hyper M.2 Card with heatsink
- 2x M.2 screw packages for ROG Hyper M.2 Card
- ASUS Wi-Fi moving antennas
- M.2 Q-Latch package
- 2x M.2 Q-Latch packages for M.2 backplate
- M.2 Rubber Package
- ROG Graphics card holder
- ROG stickers
- ROG key chain
- ROG thank you card
- USB drive with utilities and drivers
- User Guide
Pretty awesome bundle of accessories we got here which is something I expect with a model accompanied by a higher-end price point.
Design, Build and Connectivity
Edgy but still classy is the name of the game with the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero. This is a motherboard cladded in alloy with a dash of elegance. One would think it’s all for show but thermal design is also a priority here with thick heatsinks for the majority of its parts. That includes proper cooling solution for the VRM, chipset and even the M.2 slots. This thing is beefy top to bottom.
The back shows more about the soldering job involved into making the motherboard. Surprised there’s no brace here – a feature usually found on higher-end motherboards to help aid heat dissipation and structural rigidity.
Feeding the CPU is a 21+1 power stage design via dual 8-pin CPU power connectors. PCB is a little warped so I have contacted ASUS about it and they said it shouldn’t be an issue with retail boards. Still, this is where the brace could come in handy so it could be alleviated without me fussing about it. Anyway, we got a slew of 4-pin headers here for the fans and water pumps.
Internal storage ports are plenty enough this side of the board with much appreciated angled headers. We have 6x SATA III ports here, an internal USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C header and 2x USB 3.2 Gen1 headers. part of its exclusive feature is the inclusion of a 6-pin GPU power for the internal USB 3.2 header. This should allow you to charge or power compatible devices with a maximum output of 60W.
We have the usual assortment of headers down below along with the remaining 4-pin and LED headers. It’s nice to see the CMOS battery here for ease of maintenance.
Rear I/O port configuration is just shy of excellence or at least on my own opinion since I prefer dual USB 3.2 Gen2x2 ports instead of Thunderbolt 4 ports. We have a 2.5GbE LAN and a Wi-Fi 6E NIC though for blazing fast networking along with the now standard USB 3.2 Gen2 ports. For convenience, the ASUS also included a BIOS flashback and a clear CMOS button here.
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is jam packed with interfaces and there’s only a few to scrutinize. That includes the possible QC issue with the warped PCB and the internal only USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 interface.
The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero comes with the good old UEFI BIOS Utility. It comes with two modes, EZ and Advanced. The former is an easy enough way to configure the most important options such as setting up XMP and the AI Overclocking profiles.
Of course, more options could be configured with the Advanced Mode. The Extreme Tweaker is the star of the show here with multitude of settings to play with.
The Tools sub menu is usually reserved for flashing and mundane stuff but we have a few goodies here deserving of your attention. That includes the ability to setup what the onboard ROG Flexkey (button) does, a standalone copy of MemTest86 built-in and the ability to disable the ASUS Armoury Crate.
Nothing to complain with this UEFI expect for the now universally accepted 4:3 aspect ratio. Can’t take screenshots too with an NTFS formatted storage device.
Test Setup and Methodology
Our test setup relies on the measurements taken from industry standard benchmark tools and real-world applications. It is important to note that we are testing the review sample after burn-in, with at least 24-hours of uptime. This is done so to negate the FOTB (fresh out the box) state of the DUT (device under test), yielding better benchmarking consistency.
|Test System Specifications|
|CPU||Intel Core i9-12900K|
|Motherboard||ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero|
|Cooler||Noctua NH-U12S Redux|
|Memory||Kingston FURY Beast DDR5 5200MHz 32GB|
|GPU||GALAX RTX 2060 EX White 6GB|
|Storage||Kingston FURY Renegade 2TB|
|Case||Mechanical Library JXK-K2|
|PSU||Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 850W|
|OS||Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit|
The DUT is tested with the following configuration from our test system:
- UEFI configuration: Default
- Windows Power Plan: Balanced
Pi calculation speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via SuperPI.
Roots calculation speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via WPrime.
At SuperPI, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero bested the motherboards tested. At wPrime though, the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming Wi-Fi is still the king.
Cinema 4D score is measured in Points (pts). This is done via Cinebench R20.
V-Ray 5 score is measured in V-Ray samples (vsamples). This is done via V-Ray 5 Benchmark.
Pretty close results between the two boards but our ITX based ASUS motherboard won still.
Digital Content Creation
Image editing speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via RealBench and its built-in GIMP benchmark.
Video encoding speed is measured in Seconds (s).This is done via RealBench and its built-in HandBrake benchmark.
Pretty close results we got here. Nothing fancy to report.
Web browsing speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via PCMark 10 and its built-in Chromium benchmark.
Web browsing speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via PCMark 10 and its built-in Firefox benchmark.
Again, nothing fancy here. Let us move on with the other benchmarks.
Productivity speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via PCMark 10 and its built-in LibreOffice Writer benchmark.
Productivity speed is measured in Seconds (s). This is done via PCMark 10 and its built-in LibreOffice Calc benchmark.
Pretty close results here still.
Compression speed is measured in Kilobytes per Second (KB/s). This is done via WinRAR and its built-in benchmark.
Instruction speed is measured in Giga-Instructions per Second (GIPS). This is done via 7-Zip and its built-in benchmark.
Now we see bits of performance gain with the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero at the compression benchmarks.
Frame rate is measured in Frames per Second (FPS). This is done via Final Fantasy XVI: Endwalker and its official benchmark.
Frame rate is measured in Frames per Second (FPS). This is done via Sid Meier’s Civilization VI and its built-in benchmark.
1% percentile performance is the best but the average FPS crown still goes to the ASUS ROG Strix Z690-I Gaming Wi-Fi.
Time to finish POST is measured in Seconds (s) at warm and cold boot. This is done via Windows Task Manager and its Last BIOS Time feature.
Last BIOS Time performance is acceptable yet it is definitely the slowest here out of the Z690 motherboards tested.
Kernel timer latency is measured in Microseconds (μs) at current and highest. This is done via LatencyMon.
DPC latency is the best out of the bunch. This could be due to the latest updates but it is definitely commendable.
Memory latency is measured in Nanoseconds (ns). This is done via AIDA64 Extreme and its Cache and Memory Benchmark.
Memory latency is good but the ITX and the DDR4 motherboard are definitely better due to their inherent design advantages.
Storage throughput is measured in Megabytes per second (MB/s) at read and write. This is done via CrystalDiskMark and its sequential benchmark.
Pretty good storage write performance we got here. Nothing unusual to see.
Sound level is measured in decibels, A-weighting (dB, A). This is done via the RightMark Audio Analyzer and its Test Report.
Best so far tested and it shows – but with a small caveat particularly at the line-out. This comes with a 20Hz roll off, usually indicating that it has some sort of protection for speakers. Enabling the full range options at the Windows Sounds Settings does nothing so this is most likely a built-in safety feature you cannot switch off. This is fine for budget speaker setups but not really for full range options – unless you’ve got a dedicated sub you could plug into the appropriate port. For headphones, the rear panel is mediocre at best. Must be due to the output impedance, the lack of power or a combination of both.
The ESS based DAC/ADC and amplifier combo is nothing like the back panel option though. I have tested it subjectively and it could satisfy my needs to power up both the Sennheiser HD600 and the HiFiMan HE400SE to elevated levels without audible distortion and clipping. A shame I didn’t have enough time to measure it objectively. If you are interested to see benchmarks of the front panel audio just let me know.
Network throughput is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps) at download and upload. This is done via LAN Tester.
Good results here. Nothing to complain about.
VRM temperature is measured in degree Celcius (ºC) at system idle and load. This is done via AIDA64 Extreme and its System Stability Test.
VRM’s thermal performance checks out just on the warmer side.
System power consumption is measured in Watts (ºC) at system idle and load. This is done via AIDA64 Extreme and its System Stability Test.
Now power consumption is just not the best but somewhat still understandable with the Intel Core i9-12900K onboard along with the motherboard’s amount of I/O.
Software, Lighting and Special Features
ASUS bundled the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero with the Armoury Crate. Love it or hate it, I guess it will have to stay as a centralized software platform for ASUS devices.
Some UEFI options could also be configured here. That includes the AI Overclocking feature and the FanXpert4. There are more options here though compared to the UEFI based QFan Control.
While I’ve had table flipping moments with the Armoury Crate, I like that they’ve included deals with it. The board also comes with a month long trial of Adobe Cloud.
Another feature worth mentioning is the inclusion of the ASUS ROG Hyper M.2 card. this supports PCIe 5.0 x4 interface. It is certainly one of the reasons why this board comes with a hefty price tag.
We also got a GPU support, an ROG keychain and the much appreciated USB thumb drive filled with utilities and drivers.
Now this motherboard also comes with the Q-Release. It is a physical button that unlocks the first PCIe slot’s security latch with one tap. Greatly appreciated feature!
Also got some buttons here for open air platform loving power users. That includes dear me, so it’s a nice feature to have.
What we actually have here is an excellent flagship motherboard with tons of features crammed in an ATX form factor. Little there is not to like with the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero and that includes its price point. If performance is what compels you alone, then be my guess and judge this board based on that merit alone.
The way I see it though, this motherboard stands above the rest by featuring everything a power user could ask for. Just make sure you’re going to use every bit of its real estate along with the accompanying features to get your money’s worth. This motherboard is just not for the faint hearted.
In closing, the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero definitely deserves the ROG Maximus namesake. It is expensive but if it checks out all that’s on your list then it is totally worth it.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero Motherboard
There are cheaper motherboards but none comes close to what the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero could offer. Make sure you have the means to use every bit of its feature for a sound investment.