Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
We are winding down our coverage of Z590 with Alder Lake on the horizon and what a platform it has been. I think everyone had pretty much counted Rocket Lake out before it was released, but it turned out to be a rather solid CPU that boosted Intel neck and neck with Zen 3. Z590 offered one of the best chipsets when it comes to connectivity, with Thunderbolt 4, WiFi6, 2.5Gbe as standard, and a host of USB 3.2 technologies.
One of the last boards we will review on Intel's 500 series chipset is the Maximus XIII Apex. Apex has been one hell of a platform for overclocking Rocket Lake, though we have seen more competition in the market, with every vendor offering a top-end clocking platform currently.
Like all Z590, we have compatibility with 10th and 11th Gen CPUs. 64GB of memory support up to DDR4 5100 over two slots. DIMM.2 takes on the task of Gen3 NVMe storage, while a single slot up top will handle your Gen4 NVMe. Eight SATA ports are included for legacy storage needs, while a host of USB 3.2 connectivity is offered both on internal headers and the rear I/O.
2.5Gbe is offered as standard, while WiFi6e is included on this board. We also have 20Gbps USB 3.2 Gen2x2 on the rear panel and the traditional 3.5mm audio setup.
The ROG Maximus XIII Apex carries an MSRP of $599.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Packaging includes the familiar ROG theme.
Included with we have the Wi-Fi antenna, Dimm.2 carrier, and SATA cables. Off to the left, we have the ROG graphics holder.
ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex Overview
The board is an ATX form factor with, small cutout for the SATA ports bottom right. Heatsinks are aluminum and cover the VRM area and the top NVMe. A secondary heat sink handles the chipset and M.2 between the PCIe slots.
The back does not have armor, and no doublers are used for power. There are a set of PCIe switches sitting between the lanes towards the bottom of the board.
Starting at the bottom of the board, we have the Audio area separated electrically from the motherboard's PCB. 6pin power is included for added slot power, and a set of USB 2.0 headers are available.
Further down, we have a bank of fan headers and front panel connections.
Up the side, we have the cutout for SATA ports and USB 3.2 headers.
Near the top, we have the 24pin power and USB 3.2 Gen 2 header.
To the top of the board includes RGB headers and fan connections.
To the end, we have dual eight-pin power.
Rear I/O includes PS2 for mouse and keyboard, a set of four USB 3.2 Gen ports in blue, and Gen 2 in red. We then have a USB-C for 20Gbps connections and 2.5Gbe LAN.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
The Apex uses a 17 phase design, all Intersil 90A. To the left, we also have ICs for USB 3.2 with the ASMedia. The PMIC is top left.
A closer look shows us the ISL93990 stages; all 17 of them are 90A.
UEFI, Software and Test System
Setup is the default EFI design from ASUS with the ROG theme installed. This is a well-laid-out solution with the main section to show system specs, Ai Tweaker for overclocking CPU and Memory. Advanced will push you through onboard device configuration such as audio, LAN, and thunderbolt if your board supports it.
The monitor section offers temperatures and fans control options, while the tools menu gives you the ability to flash BIOS, secure erase your SSDs, or set up profiles.
Armoury Crate supports the Maximus XIII Apex with monitoring, fan control, and RGB configuration.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Thermaltake has come onboard with their Toughram XG for all Z590 reviews.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i7 11700K
- GPU: RTX 2080
- RAM: Thermaltake Toughram XG 2x8G DDR4 4000 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: WD Black SN850 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000X (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 (buy from Amazon)
CrystalDiskMark and CDI
The Maximus Apex is our first Intel board to be tested with Windows 11. We run the latest beta build in testing to minimize the chance of bugs.
We begin with SATA performance testing with our WD Blue 1TB. This drive gave us 558 MB/s reads, and 508 MB/s write on the Extreme.
Next, we move to NVMe testing with our SN850. This drive offered 6962 MB/s reads, and 5249 MB/s write.
Gen2x2 was tested with our WD P50, results coming in at 2018 MB/s read and 1962 MB/s write.
Our last metric is how well the integrated heat sinks cool the SN850 during testing. In the middle of testing, we refreshed CDI to see a temp of 36c on our drive.
System Performance Benchmarks
AIDA64,Cinebench and WPrime
We start AIDA64 with a memory performance bench. With our Toughram running at 4000MHz on Gear 1, we see 56K read 57K write and 50K copy. Latency runs at 62ns.
AES shows 165032 in testing.
SHA3 came in at 5314 MB/s.
R23 gave us a single-core result of 1562 for the Apex and an nT score of 14105.
Our WPrime times are 4.5 seconds for 32M and 83 seconds for 1024M.
PCMark 10, Crossmark, Final Thoughts
PCMark 10 and Crossmark
Running the Apex through PCMark, we end with an overall score of 7819. Breakdown includes 10251 for essentials, 10397 for productivity, and 12174 for content creation.
We ran through the new CPU Profile bench in 3DMark. Top marks were 8217 at 16 threads.
Crossmark gives us an overall score of 1816. This is broken down with 1801 to productivity, 1848 for creativity, and 1766 for a response.
Enthusiasts building with and looking for OC records have no shortage of options on Z590. Apex is top billing, offering a beefed-up 17-phase power design with 90A stages. It also doesn't lack connectivity, something we have seen vendors go soft on when building high-end OC platforms.
Currently, we don't have much for comparison, this platform being our first to run through Windows 11 testing. It is, however, our benchmark for upcoming reviews and comparison now when we move to Alder Lake later in the year. I will say that Storage performance was as expected, pushing upwards of 550 MB/s over SATA and near 7000 MB/s with Gen4 NVMe.
EFI is pretty standard now, with the last few generations of ROG boards using a very similar platform and layout. This, too, can be said with Armoury Crate. AC offers a robust platform that's a hybrid of GeForce Now and AI Suite, offering monitoring of the system components and fan controls and AURA Sync.
What We Like
Design: Board design, layout and components all great.
Connectivity: 2.5Gbe, WiFi6e and USB 3.2 Gen2x2 standard.
Compatibility: 10th and 11th Gen CPU support.
Price: $599 MSRP on par with other Z590 OC boards.
What Could Be Better
Thunderbolt: No Thunderbolt support.
The Bottom Line
The ROG Maximus XIII Apex is a top tier offering for enthusiast wanting to push their 11th Gen Core CPUs to the max!