Like all motherboard manufacturers, ASUS is one of the brands that has wholeheartedly embraced Intel’s new 10th gen Comet Lake-S CPUs and with it, the accompanying LGA 1200 chipset. To that end, the Taiwanese brand officially launched a new range of gaming-grade motherboards based on the said chipset.
In this lightning review, we’ll be taking a look at the ROG Maximus XII Extreme, the brand’s top-of-the-line, feature-packed, and by far priciest game-ready motherboard in its arsenal.
What Is It?
The ROG Maximus XII Extreme is an Intel Z490 motherboard, designed to accommodate the semiconductor brand’s new 10th generation Comet Lake-S Core series CPUs. Also, if it wasn’t clear at the start, the motherboard also features a new LGA 1200 chipset. What that means is: no, it isn’t backwards compatible with Intel’s 9th generation CPUs, but is technically forward compatible with Intel’s next-generation Rocket Lake CPU lineup.
As a premium motherboard, you can pretty get all the accoutrements that is afforded: there are dual NVMe M.2 SSD slots – although getting to those slots require some fiddling (more on that later) – individual 2.5G and 10G LAN ports, USB-C support, lots of USB ports on the back I/O. Plus, a DIMM.2 slot that can accommodate an additional two NVMe M.2 SSDs. Oh, and it also supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1, and before I forget, up to 128GB of DDR4 RAM at speeds of up to 4800MHz.
Of course, no motherboard in this day and age is complete without the ubiquitous RGB LED, provided in this case, through ASUS’ Aura Sync RGB lighting technology. Oh, and there’s also a built-in LED in the middle of the board that gives you a basic status update of the motherboard’s health
Is It Any Good?
The performance of the ROG Maximus XII Extreme is what I have come to expect from a high-end gaming motherboard, as well as its predecessors prior: powerful, stable, and near fuss-free installation. Again, like its predecessors, It’s a pretty looking motherboard with its machine-cut cooler shrouds that pepper the entire board.
Out of the box, the ROG Maximus XII Extreme runs fast and relatively cool, with overall temperatures never going above the 42°C mark with daily and everyday workloads. Such as internet browsing, watching the occasional YouTube and Netflix show, and some general writing.
The story’s pretty much the same with gaming with the motherboard maintaining the same average temperatures, even on the most graphically demanding and CPU intensive titles. These include DOOM Eternal, Battlefield V, and Cities Skyline, the latter title more to stress-test the CPU instead of the GPU.
Clearly, the motherboard is designed to throw the heat, but more importantly, it’s designed to handle Intel’s highest-tier 10th generation Intel processors, such as the Core i9-10900K. Without breaking too much of a sweat, even when I try and push it to the brink. On that note, I’ll be releasing an in-depth review of the CPU a little later, so check back with us.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
There isn’t a lot of issues I can find with the ROG Maximus XII Extreme. But, as I said in the previous section, the ROG Maximus XII Extreme is a near fuss-free, save for one flaw: gaining access to the M.2 slots beneath the thermal guards.
I understand why ASUS’ decision – and all other motherboard makers, for that matter – to have the thermal guards fastened securely through with screws. What I don’t find appealing is the fact that in my quest to access said ports, I am forced to unscrew not one, but two plates off the board. Before I am able to even see the slots.
Also – and while this may not tickle everyone the same way – it’s still a motherboard designed to house a 14nm CPU, but more to the point, it’s still lacking any support for the newer PCIe 4.0 interface. Yes, I am fully aware that the benefits of PCIe 4.0 are not as noticeable for the GPU application as it is for NVMe Gen4 SSDs, and honestly speaking, the speeds on the current NVMe Gen3 SSDs are nothing if not blinding.
Lastly, and this really shouldn’t come as a surprise, is the price of the ROG Maximus XII Extreme: brand new, the motherboard retails for a heart-stopping RM4379. For context, that is nearly double the price the Core i9-10900K, which retails at RM2499.
At that price, I am almost certain I can build an entire desktop PC for the slightly more budget-conscious gamer, and still have a little change left over.
Should I Buy It?
At its asking price of RM4379, the ASUS ROG Maximus XII Extreme is most certainly one of the most expensive Z490 I’ve tested to date. Unfortunately, that same price makes this a very difficult piece of hardware to recommend to gamers, most especially gamers seeking to build a gaming system without breaking the bank.
For that matter, it also doesn’t help that the demand for Intel’s CPU have been on a slow downward trend, and that an AMD alternative motherboard from ASUS costs significantly less. While having similar, if not better efficiency and performance numbers.
Again, I’m not saying that the ROG Maximus XII Extreme is a bad investment: by any and all counts, it’s a marvelous piece of engineering and it definitely screams both premium and high-end in every conceivable way. So, if you’re thinking of sticking with Intel’s new Z490 chipset and you’ve got disposable income, this motherboard may be for you.