ASUS Maximus XII Extreme (Intel Z490) Motherboard Review (Page 4)

| Jun 9, 2020 at 1:06 am CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: ASUSModel: ROG MAXIMUS XII EXTREME

Maximus XII Extreme Overview


Here we see the Maximus XII Extreme, and it is mostly covered by the previously mentioned covering, which doubles as cooling plates or heat sinks. The fan headers I circled in blue, but each is also named with silkscreen to help better match them to the name in the UEFI. There are also two-pronged white connectors that correspond to water in/out sensors and even a white three-pin header at the bottom right, which is made for a flow meter to plug into.

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The rear of the board has a backplate that covers most of the board but makes an angled cutaway where the PCIe slots start. The backplate is more for style and stiffening the PCB, as there is no thermal interface between the PCB and the backplate.

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The I/O on the Maximus XII Extreme is as follows:

  • BIOS Flashback Button
  • Clear CMOS Button
  • Wi-Fi Antennae Connectors
  • 2x USB 2.0 Type-A ports
  • 6x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) Type-C port
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps) Type-C port
  • Analog 7.1ch audio with gold connectors
  • Optical SPDIF port
  • 2.5Gb RJ45 Intel LAN port
  • 10Gb RJ45 Aquantia LAN port

ASUS opted with the addition of the Thunderbolt card, to leave no stone unturned or no box unchecked. The Maximus XII Extreme offers a form of every modern high-speed communication you would want on a new motherboard.

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The slot arrangement for the Extreme is two full-length x16 slots, which will run at x16 for a single card or x8/x8. Above the primary slot is an x4, which runs through the PCH. This slot is likely intended for the bundled Thunderbolt card; however if you opt not to use it, and AIC SSD or other x4 or lower device should fit here. One thing to note is that if using the DIMM.2 with two installed SSD's, then your top GPU slot will drop to x8, and the second slot will not be usable. If using a single SSD in the DIMM.2, the second slot will be x4.

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Here we see the lower cooling plate removed; this is the one that cools the two onboard M.2 devices. We also see the two M.2 slots seated below it. The upper M.2 slot or the one closer to the CPU socket supports SATA, while the one below it is PCIe only.

The cooling plate is large, and it has thermal pad strips on both locations to ensure thermal transfer from eth drives to the heat sink.

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The lower edge of the board carries various connectivity as follows:

  • Front panel audio header
  • Thunderbolt header
  • 4-pin PATA power connector
  • 12V RGB and 5V ARGB headers
  • NODE Connector
  • 2x USB 2.0 headers
  • 4x radiator fan headers
  • 2x Water Pump+ headers
  • Water in/Out headers
  • Water flow header
  • Onboard BIOS switch
  • Front panel and speaker header

The lower appointment has as many fan headers as some full motherboards. Overall everywhere you look, there is a connector for something, as this board has tons.

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The 24-pin side of the board hosts various connectivity as follows:

  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 headers
  • 8x SATA 6Gb ports
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 header
  • 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers
  • 24-pin main ATX connector
  • Safe Boot button
  • Retry Button
  • Flex Key (reset) button
  • Start (power) button
  • 2x RSVD Switch
  • Slow Mode switch
  • two digit Q-code display
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The VRM on the Extreme is powered by two EPS 8-pin connectors. The connectors have an outer metal shield labeled ProCool. I don't know if I would consider the shielding helpful as the connectors are plenty strong at spec, but it does add a more premium feel to the board.

Here we see the top-down of the upper edge or where I have called "overclockers corner" on ASUS boards for several years now. Here you will find most of the controls you will use during an XOC bench session, and the board has several features for when you are using the board on an open testbench in an XOC role. Note that adjacent to the RSVD and Slow Mode switches, you also have an LN2 mode jumper tucked in there.

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Here we get a shot of the CPU area, including the VRM. We can see the 10K capacitors and 45A rated microfine alloy chokes. The VRM cooling is massive, as you can see, but there is more.

Here we see the I/O cover, which is traditionally plastic and LED-lit. ASUS has opted to make the I/O cover part of the VRM cooler, which helps spread heat load with far more surface area.

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The backplate for the board you can see here, I was surprised, but I was incorrect in my initial assessment as the contact area is minimal, but there is thermal contact behind both VRM sections, which means this plate is indeed a passive heat spreader of sorts. The board edge, you can see a PCB and diffuser for the ARGB lighting. The connectors you see connect to the rear of the motherboard.

Next up is all of the cooling heat sinks, and you can see that the power circuits below the socket are cooled by the heat pipe connected heat sink from the PCH. These lower rails look to be the VCCIO and VCCSA. The main VRM heat sink, we see a small thermal pad toward the I/O side, this is for the Aquantial 10Gb chipset.

Now, I think it's about time we move on to the PCB and circuit analysis of the Maximus XII Extreme.

Last updated: Jun 11, 2020 at 04:13 pm CDT

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Shannon started his PC journey around the age of six in 1989. Now till present day, he has established himself in the overclocking world, spending many years pushing the limits of hardware on LN2. Shannon has worked with design and R&D on various components, including PC systems and chassis, to optimize the layout and performance for enthusiasts.

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