The Bottom LineThe ASUS ROG Z690 Maximus Extreme is a full featured hardware platform for gamers looking to take their Intel 12th Gen experience to the highest level!
- + Big discount over Glacial
- + Performance
- + 10Gbe
- + Thunderbolt 4
- + PCIe Gen5
- - Still expensive
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
With Intel's 13th Gen launch window fast approaching, we are down to our last few 600 series motherboards in the lab. While we do know the upcoming Raptor Lake CPUs are said to work with Z690 and B660 motherboards, it will be interesting to see where the new run of 700 series boards land in comparison.
Over the years, one of the more popular motherboard platforms has been the top-end ROG Maximus Extreme from ASUS, going to the end of the earth to offer the best available hardware for gamers wanting the best in every category. That said, we have had its water-blocked counterpart in house already, so it will be interesting to see if any performance gains are to be had from the much more expensive "Glacial" model.
As for hardware, the two boards are identical. 600 series platforms supporting 12th Gen CPUs. The Maximus Extreme is a DDR5 platform that supports the low-end 4800MHz kits as a base, with the high-end being 6400MHz with an OC, max capacity is 128GB over four slots.
The expansion includes two PCIe 5.0 slots, with the split being x16 if using one slot and x8x8 if utilizing both. A third slot is available, too, an x1 slot offering PCIe Gen3 connectivity. For storage, this board has five m.2 slots; the top slot support Gen5, and the rest on Gen4. We do also have SATA III for legacy devices.
Connectivity includes Thunderbolt 4 and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 for high throughput applications, and this board has seven USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports alongside 10Gbe from Marvell and 2.5Gbe via Intel. Wi-Fi is the AX211 6e chipset, again from Intel.
As for pricing, even the standard Maximus Extreme will set you back a pretty penny, as its MSRP sits at $1099.99.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
ASUS has given the Extreme the ROG black and red treatment. The box does offer a few details, including chipset and CPU support alongside DDR5 and WiFi6e.
On the back, we have features listed off to the right and specs below.
The delivery scope includes a Wi-Fi antenna and SATA cables, the DIMM.2 module, and the ROG fan controller.
ROG Z690 Maximus Extreme Overview
The Extreme is an eATX platform taking up another inch of real estate inside your chassis. The board is covered with "Armor" and a large heat pipe connecting all three VRM heat sinks and the chipset.
On the back of the board, we do have armor as well.
Rear I/O includes HDMI at the top along with USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports in red. We have a 20Gbps USB 3.2 port next to the Thunderbolt 4 port, and along the top edge are the 10GBE and 2.5GBE ports. At the bottom, we have audio with gold-plated connectors and Wi-Fi.
The board layout starts with the headers for audio and ARGB lighting.
Further down, we run into the USB 2.0 headers and several BIOS switches.
Along the edge, we have the SATA connectors, two USB 3.2 headers, and USB-C.
Getting to the top of the board, we have 6-pin additional power and 24-pin mains.
Across the top, we have voltage measuring points and a host of fan headers.
Rounding this out, we have two 8-pin CPU power connections.
UEFI, Software and Test System
This BIOS should look familiar to anyone that has used a ROG platform in the last few generations. For the 12th Gen, we have CPU information in the right panel and BIOS info in the center.
Extreme Tweaker includes current CPU and memory clocks at the top, tuning for both below. The Advanced menu contains options for SATA storage, PCH, Thunderbolt, and NVMe. CPU config includes the ability to enable/disable cores, including E cores and P cores, separately.
Monitoring is included alongside fan control, while the tool menu allows you to control RGB and Secure Erase storage devices.
ASUS offers the software above for tuning your CPU and memory within Windows with features like AI overclocking.
Users also can manually tune within the software.
In manual tune mode, E cores and P cores are separated, and you can control the multiplier accordingly.
Additionally, you can control the power output of the VRM.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
- RAM: Kingston Fury DDR5 6000MHz 16GB CL40 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: ASUS Thor 1200W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench R23 and AIDA64
Cinebench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
Starting our testing, the Extreme landed a fantastic 2009 score from a single thread workload.
nT showed 27781.
AIDA was recently updated to version 6.6, which improved performance in both AES and SHA3 workloads for Alder Lake CPUs. You will notice this performance jump in the charts below compared to any earlier Z690 reviews.
In AES, we picked up 207785 for the Extreme.
SHA3 tapped in at 6036, on par with past boards.
Memory throughput was perfect, on par with other X690 platforms. Read landed at 81K, followed by write at 77k, and copy at 79k.
UL Procyon, 3DMark, and CrossMark Benchmarks
UL Procyon Suite
The UL Procyon Office Productivity Benchmark uses Microsoft Office apps to measure PC performance for office productivity work.
The Photo Editing benchmark uses Adobe® Lightroom® to import, process, and modify a selection of images. In the second part of the test, multiple edits and layer effects are applied to a photograph in Adobe® Photoshop®.
The Video editing benchmark uses Adobe® Premiere® Pro to export video project files to common formats. Each video project includes various edits, adjustments, and effects. The benchmark score is based on the time taken to export the videos.
UL Procyon is new to our testing, which offers us the ability for more real-world testing in motherboard reviews. The Extreme gave us 8289 for Office, 7534 for Photo, and 2967 for Video.
Crossmark scored 2320, slightly above the working average for Z690.
The Maximus did well with CPU profile, 16-threads giving us a score of 10872.
Timespy showed the Extreme running on par with other platforms, scoring 927 from the integrated graphics.
Firestrike, like Timespy, shows performance on par with other Z690 motherboards at 2759.
Storage Benchmarks and Final Thoughts
3DMark Storage Benchmarks
UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it to be superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is, in fact, the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.
In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:
- Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
- Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
- Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
- Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
- Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
Storage for the Extreme gave us a score of 568 MB/s, making it one of the better boards in this category.
Even with the cost of the Maximus Extreme being half of its Glacial counterpart, these boards are downright expensive still. That said, like the Glacial, the standard Maximus Extreme packs in some of the best hardware I've ever seen on a motherboard, including 10Gbe, Thunderbolt 4, and PCIe Gen5 support on more than one slot. It's also one of the few platforms to allow Gen5 for m.2, ready for whoever can provide the first drives to market.
In testing, this variant of the Extreme was within 2% of the Glacial in every scenario we ran. R23 numbers were identical in single thread operations and within a few in multi. The same can be said for CrossMark and CPU Profile, and the storage benchmark in 3DMark ran just as well on this standard model, scoring 568 MB/s.
Software too is identical and equally good as is the BIOS/EFI, offering plenty of configuration options and tools to update the BIOS, clean your NVMe and test your memory.
At the end of the day, this board sacrifices only the additional cooling from the full board water block on the Glacial but produces identical performance at a $900 discount. Along with this comes a fantastic aesthetic nearly blacked out with minimal RGB.
The Bottom Line
The ASUS ROG Z690 Maximus Extreme is a full featured hardware platform for gamers looking to take their Intel 12th Gen experience to the highest level!