We here at ThinkComputers are finally getting a chance to take a look at some new Intel Z690 motherboards! With the introduction of their Alder Lake processors and subsequent Z690 chipset Intel is taking the fight back to AMD. Motherboards are one of the favorite things we like to cover and Intel is really stepping things up with Z690, giving the platform both PCI-Express 5.0 and DDR5 support. We are starting our Z690 journey with ASUS’s ROG Maximus Z690 Hero motherboard. If you are not familiar with the ROG Maximus line from ASUS it basically serves as their flagship with the Hero board being the entry point. This motherboard features a 20+1 power phase design with 90A power stages, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 support, dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, three M.2 slots with an add-in card that adds two more, WiFi 6E, 2.5G LAN, and the new PCIe slot release button. This seems like one very feature-packed motherboard so let’s take a look and see what it can do!
Intelligent Control: ASUS-exclusive tools including AI Overclocking, AI Cooling, AI Networking and Two-Way AI Noise-Cancelation for easy configuration
Robust Power Solution: 20+1 teamed power stages rated for 90 A, ProCool II power connectors, MicroFine alloy chokes and premium metallic capacitors
Optimized Thermal Design: Large VRM heatsinks plus integrated aluminum I/O cover, high-conductivity thermal pad, triple M.2 heatsinks and two M.2 backplates, plus ROG Water-Cooling Zone and ROG Hyper M.2 card with heatsinks.
High-Performance Networking: Onboard WiFi 6E, Intel® 2.5 Gb Ethernet, and ASUS LANGaurd.
Fastest Gaming Connectivity: PCIe® 5.0, dual Gen 4 M.2 onboard, ROG Hyper M.2 card with Gen 5 M.2 support, USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 front-panel connector, dual Thunderbolt™ 4 (USB Type-C® ports).
Industry-Leading Audio: ROG SupremeFX ALC4082 with ESS® ES9018Q2C DAC for pinpoint positioning and dynamics
Unmatched Personalization: I/O cover with Polymo Lighting, ASUS-exclusive Aura Sync RGB lighting, including one RGB header and three addressable Gen 2 RGB headers
DIY-Friendly Design: Pre-mounted I/O shield, PCIe Slot Q-Release, BIOS FlashBack™, Q-Code, FlexKey, Q-Connector, M.2 Q-Latch, SafeSlot, ROG Hyper M.2 card and ROG Graphics Card Holder
Renowned Software: Bundled 1year AIDA64 Extreme subscription and intuitive UEFI BIOS dashboard with integrated MemTest86
The ROG Maximus Z690 Hero comes in the typical ROG motherboard box, so on the front we just have the product name and emblems for many of the features. Flipping over to the back some of the main features are highlighted, we have a picture of the motherboard, and a list of specifications and rear I/O ports.
Getting everything out of the box we actually have quite a lot besides just the motherboard. You get a ROG Hyper M.2 PCIe card, four SATA 6GB/s cables, ARGB extension cable, Q-connector, ROG keychain, ROH graphics card holder, ROG stickers, WiFi Antenna, M.2 screws, ROG thank you card, ROG USB flash drive, and user’s manual.
The ROG Hyper M.2 card is a full-sized add-in card. It has a large heatsink on it and once we remove it, it reveals two M.2 slots. The first slot is actually a PCI-Express 5.0 M.2 slot, while the second is a PCI-Express 4.0 M.2 slot.