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ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero review: A solid foundation for an overclocked 12th Gen Intel PC

Partner this board up with an Intel Core i9 CPU for one insane PC.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
(Image: © Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

Intel's Alder Lake processors are performing extremely well in tests compared to previous generation CPUs and what AMD has to offer, but there's also the addition of new 600-series Intel chipsets, including the flagship Z690. Given that this is the range-topping chipset SKU, you can expect premium motherboards and high prices.

This includes the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, which retails for $600. Compared to its predecessor, there are some notable changes as we make way for Alder Lake features like DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 support. The Maximus series from ASUS has been a solid foundation for PC builds, and this latest entry won't be any different.

We've taken the motherboard for a spin to see what it offers, if it's a contender for best motherboards, how good of a match it is to an Intel Core i9-12900K processor, and whether you should use it for your Intel Alder Lake-powered PC.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero: Price and availability

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

ASUS launched the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero in October, which means you can expect to pay full MSRP for the luxury of owning one. At $600, this isn't an affordable motherboard and sits comfortably in the "premium" segment. That said, for what's on offer in terms of features, you could do much worse for value.

This motherboard comes with full support for all Intel 12th Gen processors, DDR5 RAM, PCIe 5.0, has 2.5Gb LAN (which we'd love to see bumped up to 10Gb), and a 20+1 power stage design for stable overclocking. It's a great place to start for building a powerful PC, so long as you don't mind paying a little more.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero: Hardware & design

ASUS motherboards generally sport clean designs with little aggressive styling, at least compared to other brands with their "gamer" themes. The ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is no exception. It's an all-black PCB with a mirror finish plate atop the I/O shroud. The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one good-looking motherboard.

The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is one good-looking motherboard.

Along with the board inside the packaging, you'll find an M.2 PCIe card that offers one PCIe 5.0 and one PCIe 4.0 slot. There's also a USB drive that can be used for storing UEFI BIOS updates or other files, an antenna for Wi-Fi 6E, and various cables for hooking up other components inside the PC.

Since this is a Z690 motherboard, there's full support for 12th Gen Intel processors. It's capable of handling up to 128GB of DDR5 RAM at speeds of up to 6.4GHz (3.2GHz x2). There are three full-size x16 PCIe slots with two at 5.0, and one additional slot at 4.0. Both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs can be configured into a dual-GPU configuration.

For storage, there are six 6.0Gb/s SATA ports and a further three M.2 slots on the motherboard (all are PCIe 4.0). The optional (but included) M.2 PCIe expansion card can be installed to open up two additional M.2 slots, one PCIe 5.0 and another PCIe 4.0. Other highlights on the specification sheet include the Realtek ALC4082 audio codec, and plenty of USB ports on the rear.

CategoryASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
CPUIntel 12th Gen
SocketLGA 1700
RAM4x DDR5 DIMM (up to DDR5-6400+), 128GB limit
ChipsetIntel Z690
Expansion2x PCIe 5.0 x16 (x16 or dual x8)
1x PCIe 4.0 x16
Storage6x SATA (6Gbps)
2x M.2 2242/2260/2280 (PCIe 4.0 x4, SATA)
1x M.2 2242/2260/2280 (PCIe 3.0 x4)
ROG Hyper M.2 expansion card (1x M.2 2242/2260/2280 (PCIe 5.0, SATA)
ROG Hyper M.2 expansion card (1x M.2 2242/2260/2280 (PCIe 4.0, SATA)
AudioRealtek ALC4082
Rear portsBIOS FlashBack Button
Clear CMOS button
1x 2.5G LAN
1x ASUS Wi-Fi
2x Thunderbolt 4
6x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 (up to 10Gbps)
1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2x USB-A 2.0
1x Optical S/PDIF out
5x Gold-plated audio jack
AMD CrossFire
Dimensions305 x 244 mm
Launch price$600

And this wouldn't be an ASUS motherboard without some RGB lighting. It's actually subtle on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero and is only present within that mirror plate on the I/O shroud — it looks pretty good. The black heatsinks attached to the VRMs are beefy and look as though they would do well to dissipate some heat.

Tucked away in the top-left corner of the board are dual 8-pin CPU ProCool II power connections that are present on most premium ASUS AMD and Intel motherboards. Then there are four fan headers for CPU blowers, system fans, and AIO. Next to these is an ASUS error code display and LEDs for troubleshooting failed system boots (always good to see this on a board).

There are four DDR5 DIMMS next to the LGA 1700 socket, which is then followed by a power button and flex key (used for system reset but can be programmed for other use). A full 24-pin ATX power socket is north of a PCIe connection to provide power to a 60W fast-charge-capable front-panel USB-C.

You may have noticed a small button next to this internal USB-C port and that would be the PCIe slot release. Have you ever found removing your GPU to be a little tedious? That's no longer the case on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero thanks to this very small button. Simply push it and the GPU can be safely removed once the bracket screws have been extracted.

ASUS included an easy PCIe slot release button for removing a GPU and it works like magic.

In the lower half of the motherboard are the three M.2 slots underneath metal plates, three PCIe x16 slots, two USB 3.0 front panel ports, and the array of six SATA ports. At the bottom of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, you'll find this board is kitted out with all the headers you'll need for a powerful PC build.

Sure, there's the usual USB 2.0, front panel, audio, and a few fan headers, but there's an additional three headers dedicated to RGB connections. Then there are the water-cooling headers for providing power or taking flow readings so the motherboard knows exactly how the loop is performing. There's very little to complain about for the design and features of the ROG Maximus Z690 Hero.

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero: Overclocking & performance

ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero

Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Rich Edmonds / Windows Central)

If you've had the pleasure of using an ASUS motherboard in recent years, you'll already know the UEFI BIOS interface. It's among the best in the business, allowing you to quickly fiddle with settings without having to look at a manual. Using an Intel Core i9-12900K, you can have the BIOS configure all the necessary settings automatically.

The processor is impressive without applying an overclock, but if you happen to have an AIO with at least a 240mm radiator, you should be able to push this CPU a little further and hit upwards of 5.4GHz without encountering any problems. We set up a test bench with the Maximus Z690 Hero, Intel Core i9-12900K, NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080, 32GB of DDR5 RAM from XPG, and an NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD.

Motherboards are fairly boring when it comes to performance and such since most of them will perform roughly the same. It's only when comparing boards from different price brackets will you see any notable difference. The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero is a solid foundation for a 12th Gen Intel PC, both stock and overclocked.

We ran multiple synthetic tests and played a handful of games (including Mount & Blade II, GTA V, and Ashes of a Singularity), the motherboard performed admirably with the power-hungry processor drawing upwards of 250W at peak in benchmark tests. The motherboard appears to have adequate passive cooling for components on the surface and we encountered no issues.