Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Apex Encore Review: Premium Overclocking Option

Designed for extreme overclocking, but a solid all-around option if you’re willing to pay extra

Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Apex Encore
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

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Asus’ BIOS on the Z790 Formula remains unchanged. The BIOS sports the familiar black, red, and yellow ROG theme that’s easy to read. Asus starts in an Easy Mode that displays high-level information, including CPU and memory clock speeds, temperatures, fan speeds, storage information, etc. Advanced Mode has several headers across the top that drop down additional options. The BIOS is one of my favorites, as almost everything you need isn’t buried deep within menus.

A unique feature of Asus BIOS is the integrated Memtest functionality. As the name implies, Memtest86, a memory testing application, is in the BIOS ready to use. This is most useful to the tweaker and overclocker, but even those who ‘just’ set XMP can find it useful.


Armory Crate for the Formula is the same as other ROG-based boards and follows the ROG-inspired theme. Several applications exist for various functions, ranging from RGB lighting control, audio, system monitoring, overclocking, etc. We’ve captured several screenshots of the applications below. Here’s a look at Ai Suite 3, Armoury Crate, Sonic Studio, and the Realtek Audio application.

Also worth mentioning is the included software. When buying Asus motherboards, you get a year of AV software (McAfee, not a trial). You also get a full 1-year license of AIDA64 - a good application for stress and performance testing.

Test System / Comparison Products 

 We’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied as of mid-October 2023. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 video card from our previous testing platforms but have updated the driver to the latest, keeping our games, F1 22 and Far Cry 6, the same. Unless otherwise noted, we use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public using ‘optimized default’ settings, except for the memory (XMP). The hardware and drivers we used are as follows: 

Test System Components

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CPUIntel Core i9-14900K
MemoryKingston Fury Beast DDR5-6000 CL36 (KF560C36BBEAK2-32)
Row 2 - Cell 0 Teamgroup T-Force Delta RGB DDR5- 7200 CL34 (FF3D516G7200HC34ABK)
GPUAsus TUF RTX 3070
CoolingCoolermaster MasterLiquid PL360 Flux
PSUEVGA Supernova 850W P6
SoftwareWindows 11 64-bit (22H2)
GraphicsNVIDIA Driver 537.42

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

 Benchmark Settings 

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Synthetic Benchmarks and SettingsRow 0 - Cell 1
ProcyonVersion 2.6.848 64
Row 2 - Cell 0 Office Suite (Office 365), Video Editing (Premiere Pro 23.6), Photo Editing (Photoshop 25.0, Lightroom Classic 12.5)
3DMarkVersion 2.27.8177 64
Row 4 - Cell 0 Firestrike Extreme (v1.1) and Time Spy (v1.2) Default Presets
Cinebench R24Version ‘build unknown’
Row 6 - Cell 0 Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
BlenderVersion 3.6.0
Row 8 - Cell 0 Full benchmark (all 3 tests)
Application Tests and SettingsRow 9 - Cell 1
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
Row 11 - Cell 0 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
Row 13 - Cell 0 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX)
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
Row 15 - Cell 0 Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 21.03-beta
Row 17 - Cell 0 Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and SettingsRow 18 - Cell 1
Far Cry 6Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2022Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, Ultra High (default) Bahrain (Clear/Dry), FPS Counter ON

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • Order 66
    1. $650 is insane for a motherboard. 2. Overclocking isn't nearly as beneficial as it used to be. 3. There is very little point to this motherboard for ~99% of people.
  • CmdrShepard
    Order 66 said:
    1. $650 is insane for a motherboard. 2. Overclocking isn't nearly as beneficial as it used to be. 3. There is very little point to this motherboard for ~99% of people.
    It's hard to disagree with your 3rd point, however point 2 is up for debate because "overclocking" also means the ability to tweak your system to optimal power / performance ratio (you can't do that with non-O/C boards).

    As for the price it's on the higher end, but admittedly the board has 26-phase power delivery and ticks "new standards" boxes such as Wi-Fi 7, Bluetooth 5.4 and PCI-E 5.0 M.2.

    I use a HEDT / workstation board (unlocked Xeon on W790 board with O/C capability) which nowadays start at $750 and IMO are much better value for money than this consumer stuff but that's not for everyone either and considering those prices this one is still relatively "cheap".
  • thestryker
    Order 66 said:
    1. $650 is insane for a motherboard. 2. Overclocking isn't nearly as beneficial as it used to be. 3. There is very little point to this motherboard for ~99% of people.
    Unlike most $500+ motherboards you're actually getting a lot for your money here from a useful perspective. So yes it's expensive, but you're also not throwing your money away for it to look cool and have a lot of connectivity. The only boards which can touch this memory wise are the Z790 Tachyon and Tachyon X which have poor availability and cost more.

    It's a shame that more manufacturers haven't put out more 2 DIMM variants because as you say most people don't need the majority of features at play here, but could benefit from some.
  • Amdlova
    Looking at power numbers :) the ryzen 7950x power draw is my entire machine with sound and monitor when gaming...
    The 14900k is two times...
    The h670 I have cost only 105 bucks... that 650 don't justified the price :)

    Insanely high price for a dead platform :)
  • GettnBetter
    My experience with the Encore was good but, I was unable to find or get Sonic Studio to work. There's no drivers available that support any audio enhancements for this board, the equalizer is completely missing as an available analog audio option. It's not part of Armory Crate or MoKiChU's updated drivers and going backwards with the legacy USB Audio drivers didn't work either. How did you determine this board supports Sonic Studio?