In a Nutshell
Huge, beautiful, feature-rich, and very expensive – the ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 EXTREME is an outstanding motherboard for the 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs which, despite its incredible specs and stunning looks, has a hard time justifying its high price.
- Superb VRM module
- Excellent cooling
- Lots of overclocking tools
- Generous additional accessories
- Stunning design
- Supports up to 5 NVMe SSDs
- 10 GbE LAN & Wi-Fi 6E
- Lots of connectors
- Extremely high price
- Very large dimensions
- Filling the primary M.2 slot reduces the throughput of the primary PCIe slot
- Crowded space around the CPU socket
Specifically designed for Intel’s Alder Lake processors, the new Asus Maximus Z690 Extreme motherboard successfully combines all conceivable accessories, state-of-the-art electronics and cooling, as well as a phenomenal design. However, if you want to buy it, you’ll have to sell your kidney first. The question is, do its features justify its incredibly high price? Continue reading to find out more.
As expected, the Asus Maximus Z690 Extreme arrives in a thick and very heavy box, just like all the other company’s premium motherboards do. The majority of this mass falls on the board itself, which is made in EATX format, but you also get a very rich set of various accessories inside the box. There is no point mentioning the standard ones, like SATA cables (which are braided), which come even with entry-level motherboards these days, so we’ll just list the special ones. These include an external USB-C DAC for headphones (ROG Clavis DAC based on ESS 9281 QUAD DAC), cross-head screwdriver, ROG Fan Controller (basically a box with additional connectors for fans and thermal sensors), ROG DIMM.2 heatsink, ROG GPU support bracket, USB memory stick with drivers and software, as well as USB oscilloscope, also known as ROG True Voltician.
ASUS ROG MAXIMUS Z690 EXTREME Specs
|Processor Support||12th Gen Intel Core, Pentium Gold and Celeron CPUs|
|Memory Support||4 x DDR5, 6400+ MHz (OC), up to 128GB|
Supports Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)
|PCIe Connectors||2 × PCIe 5.0 x16 (x16 or x8/x8, CPU)|
1 x PCIe 3.0 x1 (Chipset)
|Storage||6 × SATA 3, RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 (chipset)|
1 x M.2 to 22110 NVMe x4 (PCIe 5.0, CPU)
1 x M.2 to 2280 NVMe x4 (PCIe 4.0, CPU)
1 x M.2 to 2280 NVMe x4 (PCIe 4.0, chipset)
2 x DIMM.2 to 22110 NVMe x4 (PCIe 4.0, chipset)
|Networking||1 × 2.5 Gb/s Intel LAN Chip|
1 x 10.0 Gb/s Marvell LAN Chip
1 x Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax + Bluetooth 5.2
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX 7.1 Surround Sound HD Audio CODEC ALC4082|
|Rear Connectors||2 × LAN (RJ45)|
1 x ASUS Wi-Fi Module
1 x BIOS FlashBack button
1 × HDMI 2.1
8 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (7 x Type-A + 1 x USB Type-C)
1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port (1 x USB Type-C)
1 x Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C port
1 x Optical S/PDIF Out
5 x Audio jacks
The most useful pieces of additional accessories are probably USB DAC and DIMM.2 heatsink. The latter device looks like a large memory module with passive coolers, which is inserted into a special slot near the DDR5 slots. Below the heatsink are two M.2 slots, so DIMM.2 is actually NVMe on PCIe. The slots support NVMe Gen4 because they are connected to a PCIe 4.0 chipset controller. True Voltician is interesting only to more demanding overclockers, just like some other OC accessories that this board comes with.
The new Maximus Extreme is shielded from head to toe, both from above and below. The upper half of the board is dominated by massive heatsinks cooling the 24-phase (+1 phase for GPU) voltage regulator module with DrMOS elements, which can deliver electrical current of up to 105 amps. The VRM module can handle the 12th Gen Intel Core i9 processor under full load (VRM temperature goes up to 50°C) without any problems, which is not surprising since the board is designed to get the most out of this processor by manual overclocking.
The VRM heatsinks are connected to a metal cover on the rear connectors, and there is an implemented AniMe Matrix LED display – a screen made of bunch of large LEDs, which can display some very impressive animations. A drawback of this huge heatsink is the difficulty of accessing the CPU cooler’s mounting holes. Maximus, like other Asus’ boards, has double holes – for LGA1700 and LGA1200 coolers, so that the old coolers and AIOs can be used on a new board. At the top edge of the board are three connectors for fans and ports for direct voltage measurement.
The right edge of the board is covered with two plastic covers, on which different connectors are marked. These connectors are placed on the very edge of the board and are rotated 90 degrees. For better boards, this is traditionally done with SATA ports, but here are the main ATX connector, 8-pin connector for additional power supply of PCIe slots, three connectors for fans, two USB 3.2 Gen1 headers, internal Thunderbolt 4, and a connector for connecting RGB devices. The only upright placed connector is an internal USB-C 3.2 Gen2x2.
The upper plastic cover has two buttons on it, and the PCB has a built-in screen for LED diagnostics on the upper part. At the bottom of the cover is an unusual cylindrical button. It serves to unlock the lock on the primary PCIe slot, which is a great gimmick. We mentioned that the board features an EATX format, which means that it is very wide and that you will need a fairly large case for it. We had to carefully rearrange the cables in our Fractal Design Meshify 2 because the right part of the board covered the holes for pulling the cables out of the back of the case.
The lower part of the board is dominated by a huge chipset cooler and secondary M.2 slots, which incorporate simpler RGB lighting in the form of the ROG logo. Part of the logo is made so, while the other half is printed onto a plate covering two M.2 slots. One M.2 slot is NVMe Gen4, and is connected to a controller in the chipset, and the other is connected to dedicated four PCIe 4.0 CPU channels.
But the board has another M.2 slot, placed above the primary PCIe x16 slot and hidden behind a massive cooler equipped with an OLED screen. This M.2 slot is connected to the PCIe 5.0 processor controller and when filled it disables the operation of the secondary PCIe x16 slot, while the primary then has half the maximum bandwidth. It’s not a tragedy, but it’s certainly not the most elegantly performed. The two x16 slots are very far off from each other, and between them is one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. The bottom edge of the board is crowded with various overclocking accessories, such as buttons for directly adjusting the bclk system clock speed, switches to optimize overclocking at sub-zero temperatures, connectors for connecting water cooling flow meters, etc.
The offer of external connectors is, of course, top notch. There are seven 10-gigabit USB ports, three USB Type-C ports (10-gigabit, 20-gigabit and Thunderbolt 4), two network ports (10-gigabit and 2.5-gigabit), Wi-Fi 6E adapter antennas, HDMI 2.1 integrated graphics output, five analog and one digital port for integrated sound card, as well as buttons and for resetting BIOS settings and automatic BIOS upgrade via USB memory. The board has two BIOS chips, which is very unusual with Asus boards, and the user can choose which one to use. The analog card connectors are backlit (green for front speakers, blue for line input, etc.), and behind them is the state-of-the-art ALC4082 audio codec paired with the ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC, which takes care of front audio connectors on the case.
All in all, this is one of the most complete motherboards we’ve had a chance to try so far, but with a price that brings tears to our eyes. Maximus Extreme will easily satisfy extreme overclockers, professionals who want to put together an uncompromising workstation, or passionate PC gamers with deep pockets, who do not skimp when it comes to their hobby. The vast majority of users will be satisfied with the less glamorous Z690 boards, which offer the same performance at a significantly lower price.