Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero Review: DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 Arrive

The Z690 Hero sports a powerful VRM, PCIe 5.0 storage, and Thunderbolt 4 connectivity for $599.99.

Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero
(Image: © Asus)

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Firmware

Asus’ Z690 ROG BIOS is essentially the same as what we saw with Z590--save some items new to Alder Lake (P and E core adjustments, to name a couple). The ROG red theme remains, as does the ease of movement through the UEFI. It’s loaded with options and menus, though the most frequently accessed items are easily accessible and not buried several layers down. There’s also an easy mode that’s more of a dashboard with limited functionality. In all, we’re a fan of the Asus BIOS and its logical layout. It has everything you need, and then some, to tweak your motherboard and component settings.

Software

Asus has applications designed for various functions, ranging from RGB lighting control, audio, system monitoring, overclocking and more. Instead of plodding through each application as if it changes for each review, we’ll capture several screenshots of a few major utilities moving forward. In this case, here’s a look at Ai Suite 3, Armoury Crate, Sonic Studio and the Realtek Audio application.

Test System / Comparison Products 

As of October 2021, we’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 (opens in new tab) video card as on our previous testing platforms, but updated the driver to version 496.13. Additionally, our game selection was updated, as noted in the table below. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public, unless otherwise noted. The hardware used is as follows:

Test System Components

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CPUIntel Core i9-12900K
MemoryKingston Fury DDR5 5200 CL40 (9KF552C40BBK2-32)
GSkill Trident Z DDR5 5600 CL36 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK)
GPUAsus TUF RTX 3070
CoolingMSI MEG Coreliquid S360
PSUEVGA Supernova 850W P6
SoftwareWindows 11 64-bit (21H2, Build 22000.282)
Graphics DriverNVIDIA Driver 496.13
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

EVGA supplied our Supernova 850W P6 power supply (appropriately sized and more efficient than the outgoing 1.2KW monster we used) for our test systems, and GSkill for sent us a fast and good-looking DDR5-5600 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK) memory kit for launch day testing. MSI and Asus also sent launch day kits. 

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and Settings
ProcyonVersion 2.0.249 64
Office Suite, Video Editing (Premier Pro), Photo Editing (Photoshop, Lightroom Classic)
3DMarkVersion 2.20.7290 64
Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets
Cinebench R20Version RBBENCHMARK330542
Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
BlenderVersion 2.93.1
Full benchmark (all six sub-tests)
Application Tests and Settings
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX)
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 21.03-beta
Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and Settings
Far Cry 6Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2021Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HBAO+, RT Med, TAA + 16xAF, Bahrain, 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.

  • litcube
    Hi. Stupid question: Wouldn't there have been more value in benchmarking different z690 boards with the same CPU/RAM configuration? What useful information could we possibly glean from different CPU, different ram, different boards?
    Reply
  • PapaCrazy
    $600 is outrageous. DDR5/PCI5 don't justify this kind of gen to gen price increase. Asus seems intent to drive customers to the Aorus Master, which at $470 has even stronger VRM and looks better too.
    Reply
  • laxman10100
    PapaCrazy said:
    $600 is outrageous. DDR5/PCI5 don't justify this kind of gen to gen price increase. Asus seems intent to drive customers to the Aorus Master, which at $470 has even stronger VRM and looks better too.
    I 100% agree with you. I do, however, find a few useful bits of information in this review. There have been some supposed issues with the Z690 platform and RAM not reaching it's advertised XMP speeds on multiple different boards... So it was nice to see that the GSkill 5600 CL36 RAM was working well on this board (even though it isn't on the QVL list) is good news to me. Thus far, I've only seen reviews/comments on this board and on the MSI boards actually supporting DDR5 CL36 sticks =(
    Reply