ASUS Z590 ROG Maximus XIII Hero Review
Published: 30th March 2021 | Source: ASUS | Price: |
Pricing and Conclusion
It's fair to say that Intel product launches have been very successful for the longest time. AMD would wheeze up a processor that was incredibly slow and overly hot, like Tweedledee and Tweedledum doing the three-legged race in Dubai, whilst Intel would effortlessly annihilate them with products that were faster, cooler, and generally more desirable. The problem became that Intel's market position was so dominant that they became complacent and the price rose higher than Boris Johnson's trousers at the thought of screwing over the poor. Then AMD released the Ryzen series of processors and shook the market to its very core. Initially as good as the Intel offerings, then very quickly with the latest generation faster, more affordable and with the added benefit of PCI Express 4.0.
All of which leads us to the Z590 range of motherboards and their attendant processors. If you look at what is new from the Z590 when compared to the Z490 that came before, the answer is largely "PCI Express 4.0". Sure there is the ability to overclock your memory a bit more if you happen to have spent your life savings on insane DDR4 instead of a better graphics card or monitor so big you can see if from Mars, and there is Thunderbolt 4 now, so the 12 people who have a need for Thunderbolt connections get a slightly faster one. No, what the Z590 is all about is bringing another CPU tick in the endless climb to the stratosphere and doing it with M.2 transfer speeds hitherto only the purvey of the AMD platform. It's a surprise to have a new Intel product launch which is less about how it's clearly the best thing since tummy rubs, but instead is crawling over the line six months late and finally matching up to the competition.
All of which brings us to the latest iteration of the long line of Maximus motherboards, the ASUS Z590 ROG Maximus XIII Hero. Regular readers will note that we usually start our CPU reviews using the ASUS Prime motherboard, and then compare that to all the others. With the Rocket Lake launch though the Maximus XIII Hero is the default motherboard and, of the ones we've got for launch, the most expensive. See :
Available to purchase here: https://geni.us/Maximus_Hero_XIII
Performance across all of the Z590s we've tested is broadly the same. We think that the ABT that is one of the key parts of the Core i9-11900K isn't entirely helping this situation, being hotter than trading in Gamestop shares. It feels like Intel have gone all in on that big 5.3GHz on all cores headline without necessarily thinking about the long-term ramifications of that. Namely, it gets really hot, really fast, and then clocks down to its rated speed, which means that all of our Z590s end up performing basically the same because the clock speed is basically the same. This isn't for want of cooling, as with 3000 RPM Noctua fans on a 360mm AIO we think it's got enough cooling.
Instead, you have to stop considering performance and instead think solely about brand loyalty, connectivity and aesthetics. The Maximus XIII Hero continues the trend of high end ASUS Motherboards being excellent in these regards. We love the looks, which are significantly more sane and thus more liveable with than the Strix. Connectivity is tremendously flexible from 4 M.2 slots - two PCIe 4.0 and two PCIe 3.0 - through to two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C and 6 USB 3.2 Gen2 for all your peripheral needs. As well as all the usual Republic of Gamers highlights such as dedicated watercooling monitoring points and headers, and some of the best power arrangements available that our Core i9-11900K barely made the VRMs break into any kind of sweat.
There is a premium to be paid for any ROG product, but the Maximus XIII Hero worked flawlessly in our testing, and that's on a pre-release BIOS. ASUS are famous for updating their BIOS until every tiny bug is squashed and we don't expect that this will be any different. Putting that on top of their legendary reliability and build quality and you end up with a product which might cost more than many Z590s around, but it has the reassuring feel that it will only improve in time, and for that reason wins our OC3D Gamers Choice Award. Particularly if you're installing a Core i7 or Core i5 11th Gen into it, where the CPU temperatures will be less onerous.