Apr 30, 2020 Written by:Chris_Barr

Z490 motherboard guide: ROG Maximus XII and ROG Strix boards unleash the power of Intel 10th Gen Core CPUs

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The latest 10th Gen Core CPUs from Intel now pack up to 10 cores, 20 threads, and higher single-threaded performance than ever. This intoxicating combination of high thread counts and soaring single-core clocks make them the perfect choice for gaming enthusiasts, while also providing the kind of horsepower needed for streaming, recording, and content creation. To take advantage of these impressive specs, the engineering corps of the Republic of Gamers have crafted a series of new Z490 motherboards that will unlock the full potential of your new CPU.

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Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational battle station

All the high-octane cores in 10th Gen Core CPUs require an appropriate power delivery subsystem. The new LGA1200 socket accepts processors with TDPs up to 125W, and we’ve tailored the power delivery of our Z490 motherboards to suit those more demanding chips. The Z490 chipset pairs plenty of cutting-edge connectivity options with these new CPUs, including a built-in Wi-Fi controller and abundant USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. Optane Memory and chipset RAID support report for duty across the entire lineup.

We’ve always taken pride in fitting our motherboards with quality power delivery and memory circuitry, and we’re piling on improvements on both fronts for this generation. The voltage regulator modules (VRMs) for our Z490 boards have been beefed up across the line to deliver reliable, responsive power, and the standard setup across for most models now includes two auxiliary power inputs with ProCool solid-pin connectors.

Every board in the line can now run faster RAM than ever, and ROG Maximus XII models are fitted with our proprietary OptiMem III technology with an enhanced trace layout for better signal integrity. That tech means overclockers can enjoy broad compatibility with ultra-fast RAM, and they’ll be able to dial in memory speeds up to 5000MHz or beyond on select boards. Most builders choose two-DIMM memory kits focused on speed rather than absolute capacity these days, so all our Z490 boards now implement a daisy-chain memory topology for enhanced overclocking potential with one DIMM installed per memory channel.

CPU

Overclocking doesn’t have to involve frequent reboots or mathematical calculations. Our AI Overclocking technology can lend you a helping hand in pushing your CPU to its limits with the click of a button. Its proprietary algorithm carefully determines the quality of your CPU’s silicon and predicts its optimal clock speed and voltage settings in a compatible motherboard. Dedicated control hardware and software keep an eye on temperature, fan speeds, and power draw to ensure there’s enough cooling power for when the system is under load. Additionally, AI Overclocking can adjust its settings over time thanks to continuous algorithm training, adapting to seasonal temperature changes and potential losses in heat dissipation due to circumstances like dust buildup.

Our boards also support 5-Way Optimization, a one-click solution that provides an incremental sequence of increasing clock speeds and voltages until the highest practical values are reached through stress testing. As an added bonus, fan speeds can be set to optimal values during the process.

To boldly go where no fan control system has gone before

A powerful PC requires a well-considered cooling system, and ever-increasing core counts and clock speeds are oftentimes at odds with a quiet PC. To help in that endeavor, we've created AI Cooling, an all-new system that can reduce fan noise by up to 37% under sustained loads. AI Cooling works in tandem with our industry-leading Q-Fan intelligence and kicks in when the CPU is operating under a steady load. It intelligently slows fans down while maintaining a consistent CPU temperature, ensuring that your cooling system isn’t making any more noise than necessary to keep temperatures low. AI Cooling is available across the ROG and ROG Strix lines.

fan

Ample fan and liquid-cooling pump headers are thoughtfully placed throughout our Z490 motherboards. Our most attainable models have as many as five headers, and the fan-control options only broaden from there. You’ll find automatic PWM and DC fan sensing in most boards for extra convenience, too. If you need headers dedicated to liquid cooling, including AIO cooler, flow and temperature sensors, and radiator headers, there’s an ROG board with your name on it.

Beam me up, Scotty

Our Z490 boards are filled to the brim with peripheral and network connectivity. The baseline Ethernet speed for most models is 2.5Gbps, courtesy of upgraded onboard controllers. A handful of premium models include 10Gbps or 5Gbps Ethernet ports for moving around hefty amounts of data at lightning speed. On models fitted with Wi-Fi, the Z490 chipset's built-in Intel CNVi tech handles air traffic control, providing multi-gigabit transmissions over the airwaves and Bluetooth® 5.1 support. For builders who want to add Wi-Fi later, most of our Z490 boards have an M.2 E-key slot for an optional Wi-Fi module, too.

Gamers building their rigs with ROG Maximus XII or ROG Strix models can put GameFirst VI traffic-shaping tech with our new AI Networking intelligence to work. This technology uses AI models to recognize the packet patterns of popular games and prioritizes their traffic for reduced lag and the absolute lowest ping time, even with other bandwidth-intensive applications running. Gamers can select profiles to prioritize different games or applications, and GameFirst VI will dynamically adjust network priority and bandwidth allocation accordingly.

The data must flow

The Z490 chipset offers more USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports, and every one of our Z490 boards offers these next-gen peripheral ports along with USB 3.2 Gen 1 and USB 2.0 connectors. Reversible USB Type-C® ports and front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 connectors grace almost every board in the lineup. That's a broad set of options on its own, but we went one step further. Almost all our Z490 boards come with Thunderbolt 3 headers to support a Thunderbolt 3 expansion card.

USB

To make use of that expansion header, you might consider the new ThunderboltEX 3-TR card. It's built around the latest-gen Intel Titan Ridge controller and has two Thunderbolt-infused USB Type-C ports at the ready. The ports support 40 Gbps connectivity as well as DisplayPort output. Two mini-DisplayPort connectors allow builders to pipe in pixels from their GPUs, while an extra USB-C port supports USB Power Delivery of up to 100W for charging compatible devices.

We kicked up our internal connectivity game a notch, as well. NVMe solid-state drives are faster and cheaper than ever, and they’re quickly replacing SATA drives as the new standard. A contemporary system is likely to have one of these swift gumstick SSDs as a system drive, and we expect many builders will add a second one down the road. Keeping an eye on the future, our Z490 boards all include at least two PCIe M.2 slots, and some models can use as many as four. To keep those speedy drives cool and performing optimally, we include M.2 heatsinks aplenty across the lineup.

From bright lights to a total blackout and everything in between

Modern desktop PCs can be any shade of the rainbow (and often several at once) thanks to RGB LED illumination. This visual revolution has grown into a world of RGB LED case strips, diffusers, addressable RGB LED fans, and other photon-emitting accessories. Marshaling all those components into a coherent color scheme can be a chore, though. The solution is Aura Sync, our RGB LED control software that allows you to set up the look of compatible components and accessories with one click.

AURA

Our Z490 motherboards fly their RGB LED colors high. ROG and ROG Strix models in particular offer several configurable RGB LED zones, some resting under tasteful diffusers or in distinctive designs made to bend light in unique ways. Beyond the built-in lights, our entire Z490 lineup offers headers for RGB LED strips, including Gen 2 addressable headers that can auto-detect connected devices, set up presets, and control each individual LED with minimal latency. All the lighting can be easily shut off if you find it too distracting during the night or when watching a movie.

Sonic nirvana is but a cable away

Quality sound draws the most enjoyment out of your favorite music and plays an important part in ensuring movies and games are as engrossing as possible. It's also important that your voice is clearly heard, whether in the middle of a business meeting or when you’re enveloped in a virtual firefight. The audio components on our Z490 motherboards have been carefully designed with shielded circuits, Japanese capacitors, and independent traces for the main outputs to provide both high-fidelity input and output.

ROG and ROG Strix Z490 motherboards come armed with SupremeFX audio based off S1220A chips coupled with dedicated op-amps. The setup ensures a 120dB signal-to-noise ratio for output and a 113 dB microphone input SnR for crystal-clear sound. Aside from the overclocking-focused ROG Maximus XII Apex, the Maximus XII lineup includes a dedicated ESS Sabre audiophile-grade DAC and a special headphone amplifier for the most discerning ears.

audio

Our Sonic Studio III software can immerse you in virtual surround sound or add handy effects to any audio device, including standard analog headphones, USB DACs, VR headsets, or even Bluetooth® headphones and speakers. The integrated virtual mixer lets you route multiple audio sources at will, a particularly useful feature for streamers and videographers. Select models include a DTS® Sound Unbound package that enables support for DTS:X® and DTS® Headphone:X spatial audio technologies. This creates a 3D sonic space and virtually projects sounds above and below you for increased immersion.

We spared no expense in attention to detail

Strong hardware specs are obviously important, but our engineers think through the entire experience of building a system around each of our motherboards. Software plays a huge role in a friction-free user experience. Easy setup, tweaking, and a polished user experience are crucial. If it's hard to configure the settings you want or you inadvertently change a setting you’re not sure of, you can experience no end of frustration. We’ve taken plenty of time to think through our boards’ software, and it shows.

Our award-winning UEFI firmware offers easy and advanced modes, and a concise, clearly organized user interface with search functionality and a summary of any changed settings for extra assurance before you save your tweaks. Updating our boards’ firmware is dead simple thanks to the EZ Flash utility. Some models even offer BIOS FlashBack™ so you can boot the board with a USB stick and PSU to update the firmware without a processor installed.

z490-a

All our Z490 boards have overvoltage and static discharge protection, and select models include LANGuard power spike protection and physical reinforcement for a cleaner signal. Primary PCIe x16 SafeSlots with a full metal jacket and extra solder are standard across almost the entire range, as are pre-mounted I/O shields. Those shields aren’t just beautiful to look at—they eliminate the frustration of forgetting to install a separate I/O shield in your case before you install the motherboard.

Sizing up our contestants

A quartet of ROG Maximus XII motherboards sits at the top of our Z490 lineup. These models are positively packed with overclocker-friendly features, so they’re raring to go for those willing to turn every single knob and eke every last MHz out of Intel's latest processors. The ROG Strix family will entrance gamers and power users alike with its finely tuned combination of features and style across a range of form factors ready for every gaming build.

All hail the Republic of Gamers

The Republic of Gamers was established in 2006 with a simple formula: build cutting-edge motherboards with top-shelf components for overclockers and demanding enthusiasts looking for the highest clocks around. We imagine that builders eyeing Intel’s highest-end 10th Gen Core chips are already rubbing their hands together at the notion of pushing their processors as far as they’ll go with ROG boards.

We number every edition of ROG motherboards to mark our long legacy of leading performance, and the Z490 series is the 12th in our line of Maximus boards for Intel’s mainstream socket. Models in the Maximus XII range are all set to juice up both stock and overclocked Core i9 chips thanks to power delivery subsystems with up to 16 teamed power stages for CPU Vcore. VRM, M.2, and PCH heatsinks are all oversized to ensure components can run all out for extended periods without losing performance, and our OptiMem III tech can overclock some of the fastest DDR4 RAM around to its limits.

Overclocker assists abound on the Maximus XII series, both in hardware and software. Q-Code status displays, onboard power and reset buttons, and our exclusive AI Overclocking technology makes it easy to extract every last drop of processor performance with minimal effort. Every model has plenty of fan headers along with dedicated AIO and pump headers to keep power-hungry components cool. SupremeFX S1220 codecs handle audio output, and we ensconce them in shielded circuitry, dedicated PCB layers, dual op-amps, and Japanese capacitors. For the highest-fidelity analog output, the Extreme, Formula, and Hero models wire up their codecs to an ESS Sabre DAC and a Texas Instruments discrete headphone amplifier

The Maximus XII Extreme leads the way with a massively powerful VRM, equally massive heatsinks, and 10Gb Ethernet adapters, followed closely by the liquid-cooling-friendly Formula. The Maximus XII Apex is tuned for daring overclockers armed with cryogenic fluids, while the Maximus XII Hero puts the lion’s share of the Maximus XII family’s overclocking-friendly trappings in an enthusiast board with mass appeal.

  ROG Maximus XII Extreme ROG Maximus XII Apex ROG Maximus XII Formula ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi)  
Size EATX ATX ATX ATX
Memory 4 x DDR4 up to 4800MHz+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 5000MHz+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4800MHz+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4800MHz+ (OC)
Multi-GPU 2-way SLI, 3-way CrossFireX 2-way SLI, 3-way CrossFireX 2-way SLI, 3-way CrossFireX 2-way SLI, 3-way CrossFireX
PCIe 2 x16 @ x16, x8/x8
1 x4
2 x16 @ x16, x8/x8
1 x4
1 x1
3 x16
1 x1
3 x16
3 x1
M.2 4 x4 3 x4 3 x4 3 x4
SATA 8 8 6 6
Ethernet Marvell 10Gb
Intel 2.5Gb
Intel 2.5Gb Marvell 10Gb
Intel 2.5Gb
Marvell 5Gb
Intel 2.5Gb
Wi-Fi/Bluetooth Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Optional
Audio SupremeFX S1220
ESS DAC + TI op-amp
SupremeFX S1220A SupremeFX S1220
ESS DAC + TI op-amp
SupremeFX S1220
ESS DAC + TI op-amp
Thunderbolt 3 ThunderboltEX 3-TR card 1x expansion header 1x expansion header 1x expansion header
USB 3.2 Gen 2 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C
1x Type-C
2x Type-A
2x front panel header
1x Type-C
4x Type-A
1x front panel header
   
1x Type-C
3x Type-A
1x front panel header
1x Type-C
3x Type-A
1x front
RGB Headers 2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
Price $750.00 USD $420.00 USD $500.00 USD $399.99 USD
Availability (USA) Amazon
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The ROG Maximus XII Extreme is your path to greatness

The ROG Maximus XII Extreme is the crème de la crème of our Z490 lineup, and it should be the first stop for builders using top-end CPUs, multiple graphics cards, and copious amounts of fast storage and peripherals. This model ticks every possible checkbox we could think of, and it comes dressed to impress.

The fun starts with an impeccable VRM made up of 16 teamed power stages, all dedicated to the CPU Vcore. We selected exotic, efficient Infineon TDA21490 integrated power stages capable of handling up to 90A of output each without losing their cool. A set of MicroFine Alloy chokes complements those power stages and helps deliver pristine, stable power to 10th Gen Core chips. To keep the power flowing to those high-core-count CPUs, the Extreme uses ProCool solid pins in its two eight-pin auxiliary 12V inputs and as part of the ATX connector.

ROG-Maximus-XII-Extreme---2D-1

The full-coverage ROG Armor resting atop the VRM and board components is an engineering achievement on top of its dashing looks. A high-octane VRM needs equally capable cooling to deliver sustained performance, so we start with highly conductive thermal pads that transfer heat into a massive heatsink array. Beyond the large heat pipe and heatsinks that serve as the first line in wicking heat away from the VRMs, we machined the entire I/O shroud from solid aluminum and coupled it with the rest of the cooling system for even greater heat-dissipation potential. A solid aluminum plate mid-board further dissipates heat from high-end NVMe storage in twin M.2 slots.

The Extreme’s memory slots may appear unassuming. Take a closer look and you’ll find they’re anything but. We combine a cutting-edge OptiMem III design approach with a daisy-chain topology that’s new for our Z490 boards. Our engineers chose this daisy-chain design after extensive research showed that builders prefer high-performance, two-DIMM memory configurations the vast majority of the time in modern systems. This topology ensures the signal integrity that overclockers need to push DDR4 memory to its limits.

The Maximus XII Extreme’s new trace topology and OptiMem III tech are a boon for memory overclockers. We set out to give builders access to everyday memory clocks of 4800MHz with this board, and speeds beyond that are attainable for those ready to explore the outer limits of overclocking. We’ve also observed out-of-the-box compatibility with over 80% of still-stratospheric 4600MHz DDR4 kits. Even with all four DIMM slots populated, we’ve pushed memory latency as low as CL16 on the Extreme with high-capacity kits. No matter how you like your DDR4 memory, the Maximus XII Extreme can deliver.

To support overclockers in extracting maximum performance from their CPU and RAM, the Extreme features an onboard POST code LED display next to power-on, retry, and safe boot buttons. There’s also a trio of boot mode DIP switches, a set of ProbeIt voltage measuring points, and a FlexKey button that can be mapped to an Aura Sync toggle, direct-to-UEFI booting, or Safe Boot. The collection of onboard fan headers lets you build and monitor complex air and liquid cooling systems, and the included Fan Extension Card II offers even more control points for the most demanding builds. You’ll find a set of dedicated headers for liquid cooling loops, including inputs for coolant flow and temperature.

ROG-Maximus-XII-Extreme---WIFI

Most overclockers tune their processors by twisting each knob manually, and we fully support that fine-grained approach. If you want to establish a quick baseline for your overclock, however, the exclusive AI Overclocking suite present in ROG boards can intelligently find the right combination of multipliers and voltage for a given CPU to get your chip running both swiftly and stably. AI Overclocking also makes it dead simple to get an extra speed boost in games and multithreaded applications with next to no effort.

The Extreme’s four M.2 slots are the ideal tools for creating a build with fast, plentiful storage. Two M.2 slots rest underneath the main body armor at the middle of the board, and two more slots come courtesy of an exclusive DIMM.2 card that wraps the storage onboard in heatsinks for reliable sustained performance. Wide-ranging RAID support is available to team drives together for sky-high storage speeds. Mass storage drives can be plugged into an octet of SATA ports, too.

An assortment of USB ports provides peripheral connectivity, including a next-generation USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port capable of speeds up to 20Gbps. That cutting-edge reversible connector is flanked with three USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports—one Type-C and two Type-A—capable of speeds up to 10Gbps. There are additional onboard headers for two front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connectors for use with the latest crop of cases. For professional needs like AV gear and massive external storage arrays, the Extreme is bundled with our ThunderboltEX 3-TR card.

In keeping with its mission, the Extreme’s networking subsystem boasts the highest-end hardware on tap these days. An Intel I225-V offers a swift baseline of 2.5Gb Ethernet, while an Aquantia 10GbE controller can shuffle gigabytes of data across the network an order of magnitude faster than good old Gigabit Ethernet. Those who prefer a cord-free office can take advantage of Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth® 5.1 connectivity.

Thanks to its stealthy gray aesthetics, the Extreme looks quite dashing even before you color-coordinate it with the rest of your system using Aura Sync. The board has two standard RGB LED headers along with a pair of Gen 2 addressable LED headers that enable control over each individual light in a device. These headers can auto-detect the capabilities of compatible lighting devices, easing the setup process. Each audio connector on the Extreme has its own colored LED for easy identification while you’re plugging in your audio gear, too.

The ROG Maximus XII Apex is the top predator in the overclocking jungle

Every motherboard flying the ROG banner comes outfitted for overclocking, but the Maximus XII Apex’s purpose in life is to wring every last MHz out of a 10th Gen Intel Core CPU and accompanying DDR4 RAM. If liquid nitrogen or helium run in your veins, the Apex is ready to help you stand atop the OC leaderboards. Past Apex boards have set plenty of records in the hands of elite overclockers the world over, and we’re extending that pedigree to Z490.

MAXIMUS-XII-APEX_2D

The Apex starts its record-breaking journey with an overclocking-optimized six-layer PCB and the same 16 teamed power stages as the Maximus XII Extreme. All 16 of those teamed stages are dedicated to the CPU Vcore. We put a huge heatsink atop the power components to ensure they stay cool even when extreme tweakers are pushing 10th Gen Core CPUs well past the limits of air or liquid cooling. To help deliver the extensive power needed to extract record-breaking potential from 10th Gen Core CPUs, the Apex includes two eight-pin power connectors at its top left corner in addition to the standard 24-pin ATX connector.

The Apex isn’t just built for peak CPU performance. Notice the two DIMM slots: one for each memory channel, each in a daisy-chain topology. Those slots sit as close to the CPU as our board layout engineers could make them. The short trace lengths this approach enables allows overclockers to pursue new records with DDR4 RAM. Our OptiMem III design put 5000MHz RAM multipliers and beyond at your fingertips, and the extensive array of OC settings in the firmware give you the tools to go well past stock performance potential.

MAXIMUS-XII-APEX_3D_1

Extreme overclockers generally roll their own cooling systems, and the comprehensive set of headers atop the Apex covers both standard and high-amperage fans, along with liquid-cooling control headers and sensors. Select fan headers are locked to full blast for clearing vapor off nitrogen pots, while a condensation detection circuit will let you know if moisture is threatening to short-circuit your world-record run.

ProbeIt voltage measurement points sit alongside the right edge, next to a quartet of DIP switches for controlling your overclocking bench’s boot sequence. The POST code display and pair of Start and remappable FlexKey buttons round out the onboard control hub. If the top of the OC leaderboards are in your crosshairs, the Maximus XII Apex is your path to glory.

The Maximus XII Formula stays hydrated for marathon endurance

If your dream Z490 system includes the ability to liquid-cool as many of your components as possible, the Maximus XII Formula is an excellent foundation. Its VRM dedicates 16 teamed power stages to the CPU Vcore. To keep that circuitry cool, this board features a CrossChill VRM water block designed in collaboration with industry luminary EK Water Blocks. If you need your board’s power-delivery circuitry to stay cool no matter what, the power of liquid coursing through the CrossChill block is the tool you want for the job.

MAXIMUS-XII-FORMULA_2D_AURA

The CrossChill EK III hybrid heatsink gives the Formula a clean look that’s guaranteed to turn heads. It’s not just about the looks, though—this is our best-performing VRM heatsink ever, and it’s capable of running up to 50°C cooler than a standard air-cooled design. Performance with simplicity is the Formula’s calling card thanks to the preinstalled VRM block and standard fittings. That forethought makes it easy to plumb the Formula into an existing loop, perhaps in anticipation of unleashing the power of a 10-core Core i9 chip and boosting it with some overclocking.

The reservoirs and radiators that channel liquid through custom loops still need fans to go with them, and the Formula’s array of sensors and headers allows for nearly any combination of liquid and air cooling you can concoct. Dedicated liquid-cooling headers are complemented by the seven additional fan headers, two of which support high-amperage fans.

MAXIMUS-XII-FORMULA_3D_2

A POST code display and dedicated power and reset buttons at the upper right corner of the board make it simple to power on and test your custom rig before you button it up in liquid-cooled bliss. Two M.2 slots lie beneath heatsinks on the front of the board and there’s one more around the back—all configurable in a RAID array for maximum parallel storage performance.

We filled out the Formula’s feature set with a tantalizing array of top-end specs. 10Gb and 2.5Gb Ethernet ports, Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth® 5.1 connectivity, and enough USB ports for an entire household’s peripherals all come standard. Owners can also take advantage of the AI Cooling and AI Networking suite with GameFirst VI technology, as well.

The ROG Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) makes it easy to be a champion

The ROG lineup is all about giving the most demanding builders everything they want, and we know that many enthusiasts want balance from their high-end systems above all. The Maximus XII Hero (Wi-Fi) delivers all the sophisticated features you expect from an ROG board in a package that’s carefully designed to cover all the bases of the modern high-end gaming system in enviable luxury. Think of it as the daily driver foil to the specialized supercars at the peak of the Maximus XII family.

ROG-Maximus-XII-Hero---2D-1

In its Z490 iteration, the Hero continues its predecessors’ legacy of balanced performance with a design that’s ready for the demands of 10th Gen Core CPUs. A 14+2 teamed power stage design sits underneath a blacked-out, high-surface-area heatsink that wraps around three sides of the socket for maximum heat dissipation. A large heatpipe running beneath each of the three VRM heatsinks ensures a more uniform heat distribution throughout the system, too.

Three swift NVMe storage devices can slot into the Hero, each under its own heatsink. The POST code readout, Start and FlexKey remappable buttons, as well as a full set of fan headers and liquid-cooling sensor headers are all present and accounted for. A 5Gb Ethernet port stands ready to shuttle gaming and data packets across your network at well-above-average speeds. An Intel Wi-Fi 6 adapter and an extra Gigabit Ethernet port give you additional tools to link up with the outside world in just the way you want.

ROG-Maximus-XII-Hero---WIFI

The Hero’s pursuit of balanced performance doesn’t leave overclocking on the roadside. In fact, you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to extract maximum performance from exotic components on this board. AI Overclocking can figure out the best clocks and voltage settings for your 10th Gen CPU at the press of a button, while our OptiMem III design brings even 4800MHz RAM along for the overclocking ride. Your system will stay both cool and quiet thanks to AI Cooling’s smarts, while AI Networking ensures your gaming packets get highest priority through your networking adapter of choice.

Style is perhaps the hardest line to walk when you’re drawing up your dream build, but the Hero deftly incorporates tasteful RGB LED accents into its stealthy, blacked-out aesthetic. You can also roll your own styling with Aura Sync and onboard Gen 2 addressable RGB LED headers. Whatever your vision for your high-end gaming PC, the Hero is ready to help you make it legendary.

ROG Strix brings elite DNA to boards for every builder

The Maximus XII boards that form the upper echelon of our Z490 lineup exploit the real estate offered by ATX and larger form factors to pack in as many power stages, ports, controllers, and heatsinks as our engineers can fit on their PCBs. The ROG Strix family takes a healthy dose of that high-performance DNA and infuses it in an attainable family of boards that give mainstream gamers everything they need for winning performance in their systems.

AI Overclocking offers ROG Strix builders an easy way to push chips past stock performance. AI Cooling automatically seeks the best balance between noise and cooling. AI Networking with GameFirst VI ensures your ping times are as low as they can be, even with downloads running in the background. SupremeFX audio on select ROG Strix boards incorporates dual op-amps, impedance matching, and DTS® Sound Unbound 3D virtualization to ensure that music sounds the way it was intended and that no enemy will ever escape your notice.

  Strix Z490-E Gaming Strix Z490-F Gaming Strix Z490-I Gaming Strix Z490-H Gaming Strix Z490-A Gaming Strix Z490-G Gaming (Wi-Fi)
Size ATX ATX Mini-ITX ATX ATX microATX
Memory 4 x DDR4 up to 4600+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4600+ (OC) 2 x DDR4 up to 4800+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4600+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4600+ (OC) 4 x DDR4 up to 4600+ (OC)
Multi-GPU 2-way SLI, 3-way CrossFireX 2-way SLI, 3-way CrossFireX N/A 2-way CrossFireX 2-way CrossFireX 2-way CrossFireX
PCIe slots 3 x16
3 x1
3 x16
3 x1
1 x16 3 x16
1 x4
1 x1
3 x16
1 x4
1 x1
2 x16
1 x1
M.2 2 PCIe x4 2 PCIe x4 2 PCIe x4 2 PCIe x4 2 PCIe x4 2 PCIe x4
SATA 6 6 4 6 6 6
Ethernet Intel 2.5Gb Intel 1Gb Intel 2.5Gb Intel 2.5Gb Intel 2.5Gb Intel 2.5Gb
WiFi Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Optional Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1 Optional Optional Optional
Audio Realtek S1200A Realtek S1200A SupremeFX S1220A
Dual op-amps
SupremeFX S1220A
Dual op-amps
SupremeFX S1220A
Dual op-amps
SupremeFX S1220A
Dual op-amps
Thunderbolt 3 1x expansion header 1x expansion header NA 1x expansion header 1x expansion header NA
USB 3.1 Gen 2 1 Type-C
3 Type-A
1 front-panel header
1 Type-C
3 Type-A
1 front-panel header
1 Type-C
3 Type-A
1 front-panel header
1 Type-C
2 Type-A
1 Type-C
1 Type-A
1 front-panel header
1 Type-C
1 Type-A
1 front-panel header
RGB Headers 2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
1 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
1 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
1 Gen 2 addressable
2 strip
2 Gen 2 addressable
Price $299.99 USD $269.99 USD $299.99 USD $219.99 USD $249.99 USD $239.99 USD
Availability (USA) Amazon
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The ROG Strix Z490-E and Z490-F Gaming are buff brothers from different mothers

The ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming and Z490-F Gaming stand at the front of the pecking order in the family. They certainly look the part, thanks to embedded LEDs across multiple zones, futuristic styling, and tasteful accents. When you want the lights off, these two boards can drop into stealth mode with blacked-out PCBs and heatsinks.

ROG-STRIX-Z490-E-GAMING_01

The ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming

The ROG Strix Z490-E employs a 14+2 teamed power stage design, while the Z490-F uses a 12+2 topology. These power-delivery subsystems stand ready to power both stock and overclocked 10th Gen Core chips with ease. The heatsink resting on those power stages incorporates a heat pipe in its foundation to ensure the components underneath can stay cool while working hard under sustained loads. A secondary heatsink cools the Z490 chipset, while ProCool II auxiliary power connectors and six-layer PCBs ensure stable power gets to where it needs to be across both boards.

For extra stability when pushing beyond stock settings, the ROG Strix Z490-E Gaming ships with an optional fan you can attach to the VRM heatsink if you’re feeling particularly frisky with its CPU multiplier settings. AI Overclocking will gladly take the wheel if you just want an easy boost on both the Z490-E and Z490-F, though. The four DIMM slots on both boards employ a daisy-chain topology for peak frequency potential, and they can drive two-stick sets of RAM at 4600MHz and beyond.

The baseline Ethernet speed for the ROG Strix range is 2.5Gb thanks to all-new Intel I225-V controllers. The Strix-E also has built-in WiFi 6 and Bluetooth® connectivity, while the Strix-F can use its M.2 E-key slot to take in an optional Wi-Fi module. Speedy NVMe solid-state drives can use either of two available slots, and both of those slots come covered by heatsinks to ensure consistent performance under intense I/O loads.

A comprehensive array of USB ports graces the back panel, while internal headers handle even more, including a USB 3.2 Gen 2 front-panel connector on the ROG Strix Z490-E. If your current or future needs call for Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and its 40 Gbps of bandwidth, you can install the optional ThunderboltEX 3-TR card.

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The ROG Strix Z490-F Gaming

A Q-Code POST code display on the Strix-E gives you quick insight into the status of your system, and the cooling control department on both boards includes headers of all types: for standard fans, AIO pumps, high-amperage fans, and a dedicated custom-loop pump header.

The multiple onboard lighting zones configurable with Aura Sync are swanky enough on their own, and you can complement them using the quartet of RGB LED headers—two of them standard, and two Gen 2 addressable headers with per-LED assignment that make it easy to color-match connected devices. Aura Sync runs the light show, and our newly developed AI Cooling smarts keep your system quiet under pressure.

The ROG Strix Z490-I Gaming is the size of a piranha with a bite to match

There used to be a time when opting for the Mini-ITX form factor meant you’d have to give up a significant amount of features compared to a standard ATX board. Those days are no more. It’s quite a marvel how many features you can cram into 6.7 in2. The Strix Z490-I proves that point quite handily.

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Just because it’s small doesn’t mean the Z490-I isn’t capable of big things when it comes to processor and memory performance. The compact PCB is made up of eight layers for signal integrity and plenty of passive heat dissipation, and it boasts an 8+2 power stage VRM with active cooling for overclocking in space-constrained cases.

The Z490-I’s memory slots offer extra performance potential with ultra-fast RAM kits. The short distance to the CPU inherent to the Mini-ITX form factor means you can try your hand at pushing compatible sticks to 4800MHz and beyond. There’s double-capacity RAM support on tap, too, meaning that you can install as much as 64GB of RAM in this tiny board.

You’ll be surprised to find the Z490-I can take in two M.2 devices just like its bigger brothers, both resting underneath heatsinks—an important consideration given the limited airflow in many extra-small cases. Despite its small size, this board comes ready to connect through 13 total USB ports from internal headers and external ports, including three Type-A ports and a Type-C USB 3.2 Gen 2 connector at the back panel.

Mini-ITX systems often find homes in entertainment centers for HTPC duty, and should you want to make use of 10th Gen Core chips’ integrated graphics, DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 outputs stand ready to pipe 4K HDR video to your big screen. Each audio jack lights up with its own LED to make for easy identification when performing living-room setup gymnastics, too. The Z490-I’s 2.5Gb Ethernet port makes moving big media files and streaming high-resolution video across your network a snap, while a WiFi 6 adapter with Bluetooth 5.1 will play nice on crowded networks when paired with a compatible router.

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When it comes time to extract full performance and dial in low noise from your system, you’ll be happy to find that the full AI Overclocking, AI Cooling, and AI Networking suites are supported on this board, as is BIOS FlashBack™. It’s the perfect pint-sized companion for your small form factor build.

The ROG Strix Z490-H Gaming is a new spin on a classic look

PC components nowadays can be any shade in the rainbow, but the combination of red on black is the gamer version of classic rock. It’ll never go out of style. The ROG Strix Z490-H Gaming takes this time-honored look and melds it with Strix aesthetics and features.

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The Z490-H isn’t just about looking pretty, of course. Generous heatsinks cover the chipset and 12+2 teamed power stages of the VRM, making this board a fine home for any chip in the 10th Gen Core family. The memory slots can take in DIMMs as fast as 4600MHz, too.

The three main PCIe slots come with SafeSlot metal reinforcement for extra durability if you need to move a system with a graphics or expansion card installed. One of the two M.2 slots is topped off by a dedicated heatsink, and a third M.2 E-key slot stands ready to take in an optional WiFi 6 module. Wired networking gives you the lowest ping times if you can run a cord, of course, and the 2.5Gb port brings a new class of speed to this relatively affordable motherboard. The pristine SupremeFX S1220A audio codec with dual amplifiers ensures your games and tunes get top-of-the-charts treatment on the way to your ears, too.

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AI Overclocking and AI Networking technologies allow you to take both processing and gaming performance to 11 on the Z490-H, and it stays cool thanks to six total fan headers, a dedicated AIO liquid cooler pump header, and a thermal sensor input. AI Cooling is at hand to keep noise levels in check during intense action, too. Aura Sync and RGB LED strip headers (two standard, one Gen 2 addressable) let you extend this board’s rockin’ style to an external light show.

The ROG Strix Z490-A Gaming proposes white as the new black

White cases, graphics cards, coolers, PSUs, and peripherals offer custom builders a bold alternative to black and grey components. We just so happen to make all of the above, so it’s only natural that our motherboards follow suit. The Strix Z490-A comes dressed in a dashing white finish that’s bound to look particularly handsome under the hues of RGB LED strips.

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Aside from its icy look, this model is quite similar to the Strix Z490-H above. The rear USB port selection is tweaked slightly, and the front-panel USB Type-C connector makes a comeback, as a modern white case is likely to have the cabling for that cutting-edge port. If you’re wondering what would be fashionable to coordinate with this board, perhaps we can suggest a matching graphics cardmouseheadset, and PSU.

The ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming (Wi-Fi) stakes out the middle ground

For many PC builders, microATX motherboards sit right in the Goldilocks zone. They’re small enough to fit into compact builds, yet large enough to accommodate all the features and expansion slots a builder might need or want. The ROG Strix Z490-G Gaming caters to microATX enthusiasts with gaming-friendly features and broad connectivity.

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Even though it starts off with a smaller PCB than its ATX brethren, the Z490-G Gaming still incorporates an efficient 12+2 teamed power stage VRM design to make the most of its AI Overclocking capabilities. Four DIMM slots let you make the choice between clocks and capacity for your specific build.

Fast 2.5Gb Ethernet lets the Z490-G blast packets across the network more than twice as fast as older Gigabit Ethernet controllers, and optional WiFi 6 connectivity lets this board enjoy all the advantages of the next-gen wireless standard when paired with a compatible router. Two PCIe x16 slots and a PCIe x1 slot—all running at Gen 3 speeds—provide ample room for expansion cards, while two M.2 slots offer real estate for high-speed NVMe storage. A heatsink on the primary M.2 slot keeps your SSD cool under sustained loads.

You can set up your cooling system with six available fan headers, and Aura Sync RGB LED lighting glory comes courtesy of two standard and two Gen 2 addressable headers. Quality sound is one of the hallmarks of the ROG and ROG Strix families, so the Z490-G delivers with a SupremeFX S1220A codec, isolated circuitry, and dual op-amps. On the audio software side, there’s support for 3D surround sound virtualization via the DTS® Sound Unbound app.

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