Hot off our test bench and ready for review is Asus’ ROG Maximus Z790 Hero. Currently priced at $629.99, this premium he motherboard offers a ton of features in addition to the classic high-end look found on ROG Maximus motherboards. You get 12 USB ports for rear IO, a Thunderbolt 4 Type-C port, a total of 5 M.2 sockets, flagship-class audio, and robust power delivery to support the latest Raptor Lake processors. It’s a nice-looking and well-equipped option overall, but its high price makes it unattractive to some users.
At the time of this writing, Asus had a total of 13 Z790 motherboards available. ROG Maximus Extreme ($999), Maximus Apex ($699), Z790-E Gaming WIFI ($499), ProArt Z790-Creator ($469), wide variety of boards (including ITX models). There are also the more budget-minded Prime and TUF Gaming boards, which make motherboard stacks as solid as you’d find on a single chipset.
Hardware-wise, the Hero comes with everything the Z790 platform offers, plus a lot of extras. PCIe 5.0 slot and PCIe 5.0 M.2 socket, ROG Supreme FX ALC4082 codec with ESS SABER DAC, ultra-fast 40 Gbps Thunderbolt 4 Type-C port on rear IO, 20-phase 90A VRM, and sleek, modern, high-end Appearance. Performance across the test suite was, on average, the best we’ve seen in our early tests on the platform. It has also been tested and shown to be a capable gamer.
The Z790 Hero currently retails for over $600, while other similarly equipped boards cost significantly less. best motherboard list. But if you like the look and your budget allows, it’s still a great option.
Specifications: Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Hero
|voltage regulator||21 phases (20x 90A SPS MOSFET for Vcore)|
|video port||(1) HDMI (v2.1)|
|(2) Intel Thunderbolt 4 (Type C)|
|USB port||(2) Thunderbolt 4 Type-C (40Gbps)|
|(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-C (10Gbps)|
|(5) USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps)|
|(4) USB 3.2 Gen1 (5Gbps)|
|network jack||(1) 2.5GbE|
|audio jack||(5) Analog + SPDIF|
|PCIe x16||(2) v5.0 (x16, or x8/x8)|
|(1) v4.0 (x4, x4/x4)|
|PCIe x 1||✗|
|DIMM slots||(4) DDR5 7800+(OC)*, 128GB capacity|
|M.2 socket||(2) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gbps) / PCIe (up to 110mm)|
|(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gbps) / PCIe+SATA (up to 110mm)|
|From a Hyper M.2 card:|
|(1) PCIe 5.0 x4 (128Gbps) / PCIe (up to 110mm)|
|(2) PCIe 4.0 x4 (64Gbps) / PCIe (up to 110mm)|
|(NVMe supports RAID 0/1/5/10)|
|SATA port||(6) SATA3 6Gbps (supports RAID 0/1/5/10)|
|USB header||(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2×2, Type-C (20Gbps, 60W PD/QC4+)|
|(2) USB v3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps)|
|(1) USB v2.0 (480Mbps)|
|fan/pump header||(7) 4-pin (CPU, CPU OPT, AIO, Chassis)|
|RGB header||(3) aRGB (3 pin)|
|(1) AURA RGB (4 pin)|
|diagnostic panel||(1) Q-code|
|Internal button/switch||start, retry, flex|
|SATA controller||ASMedia ASM1061|
|ethernet controller||(1) Intel (2.5GbE)|
|Wi-Fi/Bluetooth||Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6E (2x2ax, MU-MIMO, 2.4/5/6GHz, 160MHz, BT 5.3)|
|USB controller||(2) ASMEDIA ASM1074|
|HD audio codec||ROG Supreme FX ALC4082 (ESS SABREES9218 Quad DAC)|
|DDL/DTS||✗ / DTS: Sound Unbound|
What’s in the Asus ROG Maximus Z790 Hero Box
Z790 Hero includes many accessories. Inside the box you’ll find a ROG Hyper M.2 card, SATA and RGB cables, a USB drive for drivers and utilities, and many other items designed to make building your system easier. Below is a complete list of included accessories.
- ARGB RGB extension cable
- (4) SATA 6Gb/s cables
- ROG Hyper M.2 card with heatsink
- (2) M.2 screw package for ROG Hyper M.2 Card
- Thermal pad for M.2
- DDR5 fan holder
- VRM fan holder
- ASUS Wi-Fi movable antenna
- (3) M.2 backplate Q-Latch package
- (3) M.2 backplate rubber package
- ROG sticker
- ROG keychain
- ROG VIP card
- USB drive containing utilities and drivers
- User guide
Z790 hero design
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When you take Hero out of the box, you know you’re dealing with a quality product. The black-on-black design is built with his 8-layer PCB and has some silver accents along with heatsink and shroud branding. The heatsink is heavy, with a deep notch to cool the VRM and a solid heatsink to cool his M.2 socket on top. Above his IO area on the back is an RGB element that lights up the ROG branding. These are the only RGBs integrated on the board. Either way, the Z790 Hero clearly looks like a piece of high-end his motherboard.
Starting at the top left corner, we’ll take a closer look at the RGB elements that match diagonals through the display. It looks much better than the dot-matrix style we saw in previous generations. It’s not extremely bright, but the colors are saturated and look great. Control of this and other RGB devices connected to the board is handled by the Asus AURA RGB software (located inside the Armory Crate).
VRM heatsinks are very heavy, with deep miter cuts and lots of surface area, sharing the load via the heatpipes that connect the two parts.They did a great job cooling the power bits underneath when running our flagship Intel Core i9-13900K, as we will see later in the review. Along the top edge are two 8-pin EPS connectors (one required) for CPU power. To the left of them is an LED that lights up when the plug is not connected.
To the right of the socket are four non-hardened DRAM slots with a single locking mechanism on top. Hero supports DDR5 up to 128GB and speeds are listed up to super fast DDR5-7800+(OC). I have had no issues with the two kits up to DDR5 6000. It’s clear, at least on paper, that there is headroom left. As always, your mileage can fluctuate, so stick to the very fast and memory QVL list to maximize your chances of success.
Above the DRAM slots, on the top edge, are the first four (out of eight) 4-pin fan headers. All headers support PWM and DC controlled devices. The CPU header automatically selects the appropriate mode, but the rest of the ports must be manually adjusted. Both the chassis and CPU fan headers output up to 1A/12W and the W_PUMP+ header outputs up to 3A/36W. Fans can be controlled from BIOS or Armory Crate.
On the right is a 2-character Q-code display and a 4-light Q-LED display. Both of these help tell what is happening during his POST process of the board. If something goes wrong, one of the four LEDs (CPU, Boot, VGA, RAM) will stay lit and the Q code will give you a detailed code indicating where the problem is.
Going down the right edge of the board is the first (of three) 3-pin ARGB header and Retry, Start and Flex key buttons. Then hit the 24-pin ATX connection to power the board along with the 6-pin PCIe connector. If you want to use the 60W PD/QC4+ charging function, you need to plug the PCIe power connector into the board. Otherwise, the charging output will be limited to 27W. Last but not least, on the top half is the front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) Type-C connector.
Moving on to power delivery, power flows from the EPS connector to the Digi+ ASP2205 PWM controller. From there it goes to twenty 90A Vishay brand Sic850A SPS power stages dedicated to Vcore using a team configuration (one signal on two MOSFETs). The 1,800A available on Vcore is more than capable of driving the i9-13900K in all situations.
The bottom half is mostly covered with a heatsink and shroud to hide the PCB. Hidden just below the Supreme FX branding on the left is his Realtek ALC4082 codec, branded Asus. Currently, this is the best codec on the motherboard, complemented by the ESS ES9218 Quad DAC and some dedicated audio capacitors. If the onboard solution isn’t enough, you’ll need to purchase a dedicated add-in card.
Most M.2 sockets and all PCIe slots are located in the middle of the board. Starting with the latter, the Z790 Hero has three full-length slots. Two enhanced slots are for video cards, delivering bandwidth through CPUs running at PCIe 5.0 x16/x0 or x8/x8. The bottom slot connects via chipset and runs at PCIe 4.0 x4, but this slot also bifurcates to x4/x4 (see BIOS) and supports Hyper M.2 AIC (add-in card) increase.
The M.2 socket is where things get fun. His M.2 socket (M.2_1) on top connects through the CPU and runs PCIe 4.0 x4 drives up to 110mm long. M.2_2 and M.2_3 connect via chipset and support up to 80mm module at PCIe 4.0 x4 speed. The M.2_3 also supports his SATA-based M.2 modules, allowing you to install modules up to 110mm in both sockets. Wait a minute! There are more!
The included Hyper M.2 module supports up to 2 modules, but the number and type of PCIe slots (4.0 or 5.0) depends on the PCIe slots installed. Inserting the AIC into the second (middle) full-length PCIe slot runs one of his M.2 drives at up to PCIe 5.0 x4 speed (also disabling his onboard Hyper M.2_2) . When installed in the bottom slot populated through the chipset, the PCIe slot bifurcates into two sets of PCIe 4.0 x4 lanes, running two PCIe 4.0 x4 modules. You can run up to five M.2 storage devices in this configuration. There are certainly a lot of options for the M.2 front, but the specs page and manual have all the details.
Moving past the chipset area to the far right, we come across six SATA ports (top four from the chipset, bottom from the ASMedia controller) and two front panel USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports.
Several headers are exposed at the bottom of the board. As usual, there are additional USB ports, RGB headers, and even a dedicated header for custom water cooling (flow and temperature) power/reset buttons. Below is the complete list from left to right.
- PCIe mode switch
- front panel audio
- 4-pin ARGB header
- (2) 3-pin RGB headers
- (3) chassis fan headers
- (2) USB 2.0 headers
- 2 pin temperature sensor
- water pump + fan header
- Water temperature in/out header
- water flow header
- system panel header
The Z790 Hero’s rear IO plate is pre-installed on the motherboard. The ports have a black background with white labels for easy reading. There are a total of 12 USB ports: 2 Thunderbolt 4 Type-C (40 Gbps, also passes video), 6 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps, 1 Type-C) port, and 4 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) port. On the left are buttons for swapping between BIOSes and a clear CMOS button. Next to it is the HDMI port for video. On the right is a 5-plug audio stack, Wi-Fi 6E antenna connections, and Intel 2.5 GbE just above the USB ports.
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