Review : ROG Maximus Z790 APEX


ROG Maximus Z790 APEX:

With each new generation of Maximus motherboards, Asus offers us an APEX model which represents the “ultimate” board for overclockers. So it was with some excitement that we started our tests, which focused mainly on the overclocking potential of the DDR5 memory.

The bundle:

A small tour through the bundle of this ROG Maximus Z790 APEX to see if it benefits from “special accessories”. And the least we can say is that there is quite a lot to show you!

For once, the bundle is a bit lighter and the “ROG True Voltician” oscilloscope is no longer present. On the other hand, there is a USB key containing the drivers, an SSD M.2 DIMM2 support as well as a PCIe card which has a slot for a hard disk in SSD M.2 format and PCIe 5.0 compatible. The point is that when these drives become available, you can add one to your configuration via this card. Currently no GPU or SSD is available in this standard.

A nice little accessory makes its entrance in this bundle, it’s a six digit padlock. It is not really a “real” lock, but this one was used to display the 8812.85 MHz frequency reached with an APEX Z790 and an i9-13900K which became the highest frequency ever reached with an Intel processor. Finally, we find the usual cables as well as a support and a fan that can be added to the power stage.

The architecture:

This is actually the fifteenth Maximus, one of the most famous models of the Asus brand. This one is of course part of the ROG (Republic Of Gamers) series. It seems that Asus no longer names the number of the series since the title on the box is Maximus Z790 APEX. We no longer have a reference to the number “XV”.

A quick word on the box, which becomes black and distinguishes itself from other models and previous generations by forgetting the traditional color code of the brand. The ROG Maximus Z790 APEX is built around Intel’s new Z790 chipset, which retains the socket of the previous generation with the LGA-1700 since the processor has grown in size since the Rocket Lake.

The Z790 chipset supports PCIe 5.0 offering higher storage performance than the previous generation as well as DDR5 support.

The different heat sinks:

The dimensions of the board are 305 mm x 244 mm, which corresponds to the ATX format. The dominant colors on the PCB are metallic gray and white. This is a radical change of color for the PCB. The design is still peculiar but on this version, the PCB resumes its rectangular shape. Aesthetically, it looks quite similar to the previous version of the APEX model, the Z690.

Let’s start the tour with the radiators, of which there are four!
First of all, the three radiators located on the top of the motherboard and surrounding the socket. The two largest ones cover the power supply stage. These two radiators are connected by a heat pipe.

A third, smaller, and also connected through a heat pipe is responsible for keeping the stage cool a part of the supply stage. We are here on an entirely passive system. The radiator stamped with the quote ” For those who dare “. It is composed of two parts and hides under the upper part, a slot for an SSD type M2 PCIe 4.0.

The fourth part is the one that covers the chipset and has a fairly large surface area but a low height to allow easy installation of graphics cards. The Asus ROG logo can be found there, which benefits from an RGB backlighting system.

No M.2 5.0 SSD on the PCB:

A white aluminum plate, whose cut-out perfectly matches the one on the chipset, covers an M.2 SSD slot on the PCB. As you can see, the SSD is sandwiched between two thermal pads. You also have the option of using the vertical bracket (ROG DIMM2), present in the bundle, which can also accommodate two M.2 SSDs. This brings the total number of M.2 SSDs to four, but they are PCIe 4.0 x4 versions.

If you want to use a Gen 5.0 slot, you will have to use the PCIe card in the bundle.

The socket and PCIe :

The space around the socket is pretty clear and will be easy enough to isolate with rubber for testing under LN2. Moreover, Asus offers two mounting holes on the ROG models. One of them is compatible with LGA-1700 but also LGA-115x coolers! A very good point for Asus.

This Maximus Z790 APEX can accommodate a maximum of two DDR5 memory bars. Who says new processors says at Intel new chipsets . At first, it is the Z790 chipset which will be available. Good news because this one keeps the LGA-1700 socket as well as the backward compatibility. In other words, you will be able to use an i9-12900K on the Z790 chipset and conversely, an i9-13900K on the Z690 chipset. Intel will continue to support DDR4 on this chipset but this should be the last time since the switch will be made definitively to DDR5 in 2024.

Like the Extreme version, this APEX has a button called Q-Release. When a card is plugged into the first PCIe slot, pressing this button opens the retention system and releases your graphics card. This was a concern we had with the previous generation when a heatsink was too close to the first PCIe slot. Good job Asus!

This APEX supports dual channel memory kits up to 8000 MHz+ (OC) and for a maximum amount of 64 GB. There are two PCIe 5.0 16x slots that will work in x8/x8 if you opt for SLI or CrossfireX. A third PCIe 4.0 x4 slot is also available as well as a PCIe 4.0 x1. To power all this, the card has a 24-pin flat connector and two 8-pin connectors next to the power stages.

RGB or not RGB ?

As is the case for a large part of the ROG range, it has the AURA system with LEDs present on the PCB at the level of the heatsink covering the connectors and the logo placed on the chipset. The management of these lights is set via the AURA software but it is possible to disable them, quite easily, via the BIOS if you wish.