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ASUS ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) Z490 Motherboard Review

There is no escaping the ROG nature of the Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) with its black colour scheme and the occasional mirrored part to give some contrast. The three M.2 slots are covered by some visually appealing hardware that is vexing to remove. At the top of the board the substantial I/O shroud gives you reasonable access to the 8+4 EPS power connectors.

Arranged around three sides of the board there is a long list of headers and connectors including eight fan headers, two pairs of RGB/ARGB headers at the top and bottom of the board and decent provision for USB. In our video we commented that the Flex Key button next to the Power button can be configured as Reset, RGB, Boot into UEFI or Safe Boot however we were unable to find the correct option in the BIOS. We can now reveal it is in Tools, which seems like a reasonable location, but blimey, it led us a merry dance.

At first glance the Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) shares a fair amount of the DNA of the Z390 Asus ROG Maximus XI Hero, however there have been some significant changes. Luke criticised the Maximus XI Hero for its use of 8x 50A power stages arranged in four phases so we are pleased to see the ROG Maximus XII Hero uses a VRM that has been significantly upgraded.

The ASP14051 VRM controller looks like a rebadged IR35201 with 14+2 power stages in 7+1 configuration using Infineon IR TDA21462 60A VRMs. In addition the Maximus XII has the VRM arranged in a C-shape with the main components above and beside the CPU socket while the power delivery hardware for the DDR4 memory is laid out between the CPU socket and the main graphics slot. This change has led Asus to extend the VRM cooler in the same C-shape and it is notable that the cooler is both large and also heavily finned to provide a decent amount of surface area.

As we show in our video, Asus has included a tiny 40mm fan that can be secured above the VRM cooler to add some active cooling. This strikes us both as unnecessary and also slightly concerning as it suggests Asus may not have complete confidence in their VRM hardware. We are happy to confirm the VRMs are superb and that the active fan can be safely left in the box.

Testing, Performance and Overclocking
To test the Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) we used the same hardware you saw in our review of Intel Core i9-10900K with the addition of performance figures from MSI MEG Z490 Ace and Gigabyte Z490I Aorus Ultra.

Test system

  • CPU: Intel Core i9-10900K
  • CPU Cooler: Fractal Design Celsius S36 with 3x Noctua Chromax NF-F12 fans
  • RAM: 32GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 3600MHz 16-18-18-36
  • Motherboard: MSI MEG Z490 Ace
  • Graphics: Gigabyte RTX 2080 Super 8GB
  • SSD: 1TB WD Blue M.2 NVMe
  • Power Supply: Seasonic Prime Platinum 1300W

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