Alderlake’s release is hyping up as embargoes for the motherboard preview as well as some specifications are lifted with the review embargo to follow the week after. We have the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula which we’ll be Unboxing in this article as well as discuss the improvements over the last generation and share our thoughts about the motherboard. What gets us exciting is the comeback of the Formula model as it was the only motherboard skipped on the ASUS Maximus series on the Z590 chipset. Unfortunately, we don’t have any benchmark numbers as we are bound to an embargo so be sure to check out our site for the upcoming full review of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula.
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula Specs
|CPU||Intel® Socket LGA1700 for 12th Gen Intel® Core™, Pentium® Gold and Celeron® Processors|
|Supports Intel® Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0**|
|* Refer to www.asus.com for CPU support list.|
|** Intel® Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 support depends on the CPU types.|
|Chipset||Intel® Z690 Chipset|
|Memory||4 x DIMM, Max. 128GB, DDR5 6400+(OC)/ 6200(OC)/ 6000(OC)/ 5800(OC)/ 5600(OC)/ 5400(OC)/ 5200(OC)/ 5000(OC)/ 4800MHz Non-ECC, Un-buffered Memory*|
|Dual Channel Memory Architecture|
|Supports Intel® Extreme Memory Profile (XMP)|
|**Actual memory data rate depends on the CPU types and DRAM modules, for more information refer to www.asus.com for the Memory QVL (Qualified Vendors Lists).|
|Graphics||1 x HDMI® port**|
|2 x Intel® Thunderbolt™ 4 ports (USB Type-C®) support DisplayPort 1.4 and Thunderbolt™ video outputs***|
|* Graphics specifications may vary between CPU types.|
|** Support [email protected] as specified in HDMI 2.1.|
|*** VGA resolution support depends on processors’ or graphic cards’ resolution.|
|Expansion Slots||Intel® 12th Gen Processors*|
|2 x PCIe 5.0 x16 slot(s) (supports x16 or x8/x8 mode(s))**|
|Intel® Z690 Chipset***|
|1 x PCIe 4.0 x16 slot (supports x4 or x4/x4 mode)***|
|* Please check PCIe bifurcation table in manual Chapter 1|
|** When ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G5)_1, PCIEX16(G5)_2 will run x8 only and if ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G5)_2, PCIEX16(G5)_1 will run x8 only.|
|*** Supports Intel® Optane Memory H Series on PCH-attached PCIe slot|
|Storage||Total supports 5 x M.2 slots and 6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports*|
|Intel® 12th Gen Processors|
|M.2_1 slot (Key M), type 2242/2260/2280/22110|
|– Intel® 12th Gen processors support PCIe 4.0 x4 mode.|
|Hyper M.2_1 slot (Key M) via ROG Hyper M.2 card, type 2242/2260/2280/22110***|
|– Intel® 12th Gen processors support PCIe 5.0 x4 mode|
|Intel® Z690 Chipset**|
|M.2_2 slot (Key M), type 2242/2260/2280 (supports PCIe 3.0 x4 mode)|
|M.2_3 slot (Key M), type 2242/2260/2280 (supports PCIe 4.0 x4 & SATA modes)|
|Hyper M.2_1 slot (Key M) via ROG Hyper M.2 card, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 (suppports PCIe 4.0 x4 mode)***|
|Hyper M.2_2 slot (Key M) via ROG Hyper M.2 card, type 2242/2260/2280/22110 (suppports PCIe 4.0 x4 mode)****|
|6 x SATA 6Gb/s ports*****|
|* Intel® Rapid Storage Technology supports NVMe RAID 0/1/5, SATA RAID 0/1/5/10.|
|** Intel® Rapid Storage Technology supports Intel® Optane Memory H Series on PCH attached M.2 slots.|
|*** When ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G5)_1, Hyper M.2_1 slot can support PCIe 4.0 x4 mode. When ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G5)_2, Hyper M.2_1 slot can support PCIe 5.0 x4 mode. When ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G4)_3, Hyper M.2_1 and Hyper M.2_2 slots can support PCIe 4.0 x4 mode.|
|**** When ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G5)_1 or PCIEX16(G5)_2, Hyper M.2_2 slot will be disabled. When ROG Hyper M.2 card is installed on PCIEX16(G4)_3, Hyper M.2_1 and Hyper M.2_2 slots can support PCIe 4.0 x4 mode.|
|***** SATA6G_E12 cannot support RAID 0/1/5/10.|
|Ethernet||1 x Marvell® AQtion 10Gb Ethernet|
|Wireless & Bluetooth||Wi-Fi 6E|
2×2 Wi-Fi 6E (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax)
Supports 2.4/5/6GHz frequency band*
* WiFi 6E 6GHz regulatory may vary between countries, and function will be ready in Windows 11 or later.
|USB||Rear USB (Total 12 ports)|
|2 x Thunderbolt™ 4 port(s) (2 x USB Type-C®)|
|7 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 port(s) (6 x Type-A + 1 x USB Type-C®)|
|3 x USB 2.0 port(s) (3 x Type-A)|
|Front USB (Total 9 ports)|
|1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 connector (supports USB Type-C®)|
|2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 header(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports|
|2 x USB 2.0 header(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 ports|
|Audio||ROG SupremeFX 7.1 Surround Sound High Definition Audio CODEC ALC4082|
– Impedance sense for front and rear headphone outputs
– Supports: Jack-detection, Multi-streaming, Front Panel Jack-retasking
– High quality 120 dB SNR stereo playback output and 113 dB SNR recording input
– Supports up to 32-Bit/384 kHz playback
|– SupremeFX Shielding Technology|
|– ESS® SABRE9018Q2C DAC/AMP|
|– Gold-plated audio jacks|
|– Rear optical S/PDIF out port|
|– Premium audio capacitors|
ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula Unboxing and First Impressions
The ROG Maximus Z690 Formula comes in a packaging design similar to the ROG Zephyrus G14 Moonlight White gaming notebook. With a new platform featuring DDR5 and PCI-E Gen 5, ASUS slapped lots of badges on the lower right part of the box. Like the previous ROG motherboards, the Z690 Formula’s key features and specs are highlighted at the backside of the packaging.
- USB Flashdrive
- 4x SATA 6Gb/s cables
- 1x ROG Graphics Card Holder
- 4x M.2 SSD screw package
- 1x ROG Hyper M.2 Card
- 1x ROG Keychain
- 1x Wi-Fi 6E moving antenna
- 1x Thermistor cable
- 1x 2-in-1 Rubber pad
- 1x Q-connector
ASUS decided to give the Maximus Z690 Formula a white treatment as its heatsinks and heat spreaders now come in a moonlight white finish. The ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula is the first Maximus-line motherboard to have a white design not a special-edition motherboard like the now-last gen Maximus Extreme Glacial that’s arguably more gray than white.
ASUS’ dedication to make the Maximus Z690 Formula a clean all-white aesthetic is commendable as the back armor plate is also colored in white with a very minimalist ROG logo design as opposed to the previous boards having the signature ROG Cybertext design.
Two 8pin EPS 12V connectors are on the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula to accommodate the latest Intel 12th Generation Core series processors. ASUS went for the proven and tested ProCool II power connectors found on the ROG Z590 motherboards for a reinforced contact between the solid-core pins and PSU cables.
ASUS has upped the VRM configuration on all of its motherboards from entry-level to high-end for better performance and stability on the upcoming Intel 12th Gen Core series processors. The ROG Maximus Z690 Formula has a 20+1 Power Stages that are in a teamed configuration for a total power delivery output of 105A.
Built-in waterblocks on the VRM heatsink remain a distinct feature of the Formula family. ASUS has teamed up with EK water blocks to equip the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula with the latest CrossChill EK III VRM water block allowing the Z690 Formula to handle the latest Intel 12th Gen Processors, even the flagship Intel Core i9 12900K.
Like the Skylake platform, motherboards manufacturers have the choice to select which memory generation to support as the market transitions to the new JEDEC DDR5 standard. The ROG Maximus Z690 family supports only DDR5 in all of the four DIMM slots available. Memory support on the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula is capped at a total of 128GBs with a maximum DDR5 frequency of 6,400Mhz. Like the previous ROG Z590 motherboards, the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula also uses a daisy chain trace design instead of a T-Tpology layout allowing the motherboard to achieve a higher peak frequency and enhanced memory compatibility, performance, and overclocking margin per DIMM.
A new chipset always comes with better connectivity with the Intel Z690 Chipset officially supporting up to 4 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 ports and up to 10 USB 3.2 Gen 2. Connectivity on the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula is robust with seven USB ports including one USB type-c port supporting USB 3.2 Gen 2 and three USB 2.0 ports. The remaining USB Type-C ports support Thunderbolt 4 for 40Gbps transfer speeds as well as 8K video support via Alderlake’s integrated graphics.
ASUS opted for a single block solution for its M.2 heatsink instead of the modular, two-piece M.2 heatsinks shrouds found on last generation Z590 and Z490 motherboards. The whole bottom armor acts as a heatsink for the M.2 slots as well as the Z690 chipset. Both PCIe x16 slots support the latest PCIe 5.0 which has double the bandwidth of PCIe Gen 4 with a max bandwidth of 63.02 GB/s.
A total of five M.2 SSDs can be installed on the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula. Three M.2 slots are available on the motherboard itself while the last two M.2 slots can be accessed via the ROG Hyper M.2 card which we’ll talk about later in the article.
As mentioned earlier, the whole bottom armor acts as a heatsink for both the M.2 slots and the Z590 chipset itself. The topmost m.2 slot has a separate heatsink as it’s positioned above the first PCI-E x16 slot. The heatsink also has an LED panel for aesthetics.
LGA1200 Cooler Mounting Support
A new LGA socket means a new mounting bracket for coolers which is the worst part of socket upgrade especially for consumers sporting old or discontinued coolers. New coolers supporting the latest brackets take a while to ship and that’s if you find a cooler that could fit your personal preference. Fortunately for ASUS Z690 motherboard bios, all motherboards have LGA 1200 cooler cutouts so that users have the option to use their old cooler without the need for a new mounting bracket or a new cooler. However, ASUS advises using LGA 1700 compatible coolers and brackets as Alderlake CPUs are relatively lower and the small height difference may cause compatibility issues for some coolers.
ASUS implemented Q-Latch support for all of the M.2 slots on the ROG Maximus Z690 Formula removing the need for M.2 screws that are relatively annoying to install. The Q-Latch feature debuted on select ROG, TUF, and Prime Z590 motherboards. Q-Latch is installed Z690 in every ASUS Z690 chipset motherboards except for the ASUS Prime -P series motherboards.
Q-Release is a new feature only found on top-end ROG Strix Z690 motherboards and the whole ROG Maximus lineup. Q-Release is a convenient way of removing your graphics card without having to go through the ordeal of sticking your fingers to find the PCIe lock. Users only need to push the button found between the DIMM slots and chipset heatsink to instantly unlock the top-most PCIe x16 slot.
ROG HYPER M.2 CARD
To maximize the Z690’s superb connectivity, select ROG Maximus and ROG Strix gaming motherboards comes with an ROG Hyper M.2 card for expanded storage. The M.2 that comes with the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula can be configured with either a single PCIe 5.0 or Dual PCIe 4.0 SSDs.
The ROG Hyper M.2 card on the Maximus Z690 Formula follows the general Moonlight White theme of the motherboard. Users need to manually select their desired Hyper M.2 card configuration in the UEFI BIOS.
Just by going with the overall physical appearance and spec sheet of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula, we can really tell that ASUS has bumped up the board’s quality, performance, and user-friendliness especially considering that the Maximus Formula was absent on the Z590 chipset. Design-wise, the Moonlight White theme is on the Z690 Formula is well executed with a clean layout that’s very refreshing to see as we’ve seen repetitive dystopian and ROG cybertext designs on the last three generations of ASUS motherboards even AMD boards. The implementation of the white redesigns also comes with improvements such as the Q-release, block-sized heatsink, and Crosschill VRM. If you already have your eyes on the Z690 Formula, then be prepared to shell out $825 US / Php 41,790 for the motherboard alone. Despite the hefty price tag, the ASUS ROG Z690 Formula is a very tempting motherboard and the only thing that’s holding back the purchase for most interested users is the availability as we still have to wait until November for in-store availability and review embargoes to solidify the position of the ASUS ROG Z690 Formula as well as answer our questions regarding performance and stability. That said, we will be releasing our full review of the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Formula once the embargo lifts.
Grant is a Financial Management graduate from UST. His passion for gadgets and tech crossed him over in the industry where he could apply his knowledge as an enthusiast and in-depth analytic skills as a Finance Major. His passion allows him to earn at the same time help Gadget Pilipinas' readers in making smart, value-based decisions and purchases with his reviews and guides.