Board Layout and Pictures

So the Maximus Z690 Extreme along with the watercooled Maximus Z690 Extreme Glacial are Asus’s highest-end Z690 motherboards so it isn’t a surprise that the Maximus Z690 Extreme is pushing the limits of the EATX form factor at 305 mm tall and 277 mm wide. The Maximus Z690 Extreme stands out when compared to their other motherboards because a majority of the board is covered with heatsinks and displays with only small bits of the PCB being visible around the CPU socket and the ram DIMMS. 

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Just around the CPU socket along the Maximus Z690 Extreme has three large heatsinks in place to handle keeping the VRMs cool. Each has its own unique design and Asus has a heatpipe connecting all three. The top has grooves cut into it from the side and at a 45-degree angle. The left side heatsink is similar but it integrates in with the rear I/O cover which has a unique matrix LED set up across the top. Then the bottom heatsink only has fins on the top half because the bottom half also houses the OLED livedash display on top. All of this sits on top of the 24+1 phase VRM setup which can provide 105 amps.

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Starting in the top left corner we have the VRM heatsinks and the OLED and LED Matrix displays taking up a majority of the space but there are a few other things going on in this area. The top of the rear I/O had the Maximus Extreme branding on the top edge with a chrome finish before you get into the glossy plastic which covers the LED matrix display. Normally there would be a fan header or two tucked up under all of this but the bottom heatsink/cover runs up to the bottom of the rear I/O. Up on the top edge, there are a few things going on though starting with the two 8-pin CPU power plugs which have metal housings to help dissipate heat. I’ve had these connections melt before so the ProCool shielding does help in some situations. Next to those is the WB_Sensor plug which is designed for the Glacier model’s waterblock to plug into. The connection passes temperature probe headers, water flow, and leakage detection to the motherboard but being a proprietary plug I don’t see any waterblocks that support it (other than the glacier board of course). There is a small detail in the CPU socket area that some people will be happy to see. Like in the past when Intel changed socket sizes, Asus has doubled up on their mounting holes so you can install LGA1700 coolers or if needed older Intel socket coolers if your cooler doesn’t have an updated bracket.

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The top right corner of the Maximus Z690 Extreme is where things start to happen. To the right of the CPU socket, you have four black DDR5 ram DIMMs. Next to that Asus has also included a DIMM.2 slot which pairs up with the included DIMM.2 riser card and allows you to install two PCIe 4.0 M.2 devices. Up on the top edge above the memory, there are three PWM fan headers, one is grey to let you know this is the CPU fan header and then you have CPU fan optional and a chassis fan. Next to that, there are small pinholes in the PCB with gold contacts. These are there for overclocking so that you can use your multi-meter to pick up and check any of the voltages on the board. In the top right corner, they have a cover that runs down this side of the board. At the top, there is an opening so you can see the two-digit LED readout that shows the boot codes when booting up. Below that the Maximus Z690 Extreme has two buttons, one is the start button that you can use to power up your PC which is easy to get to and useful for testing and overclocking. The second button is the Flexkey button which can be programmed to do a variety of things but by default, I believe it is set to reset for the Maximus Z690 Extreme but sometimes I’ve seen it come set to turn the RGB lighting off. The cover down the right side of the Maximus Z690 Extreme hides the right-angled connections running up the side. In the top corner, you have the 24-pin motherboard power and a 6-pin additional power, and two more PWM fan headers. There is also a tiny 6-pin plug for addressable RGB lighting using the Y cable that comes with the board. All of these plugs have legends printed on top as well. This side view also gives us a great look at the light diffuser that runs under the PCB on top of the backplate as well. There is one upward-facing plug which is a new style USB 3.2 Gen 2 header.

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Right next to the USB header Asus has a button sticking up and this has to be one of the best additions they have added to some of their Z690 boards. This is a PCIe release button and it hooks to the top PCIe slot with a tiny cable, which you can see in the picture below. When you push the button it pulls on the cable and unlocks your GPU to make pulling it out easier. If you haven’t had to fight with reaching the PCIe lock when your video card covers it up and you have a big heatsink right on top you are lucky. This helps avoid that completely. 

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The bottom right corner has more of the LED Matrix but this one is shaped like half of the ROG logo and ties in with the logo on the main cover for the bottom half. The cover along the right edge of the Maximus Z690 Extreme continues down to the bottom and has an internal Type-C Thunderbolt 4 connection alongside two standard USB 3.2 headers. There is another four-pin fan header which is labeled for the radiator fan and then you have six SATA 6 plugs all right-angled and facing out the side. The bottom row on the Maximus Z690 Extreme has the front panel connection in the bottom right corner. The white plug is a water flow sensor header and there are two 2-pin headers right next to that for water temperature in and water temperature out. Next to that, there are two more 4-pin fan headers but the left one is for another radiator fan and the right is a water pump header that supports extra amperage. There are three small buttons, one is the retry button for overclocking that reboots with the same settings, the middle button switches between the two BIOS, and the right button is for safe booting when overclocking. Next to those, there is another temperature probe hookup and an LN2 jumper. There are also two USB 2.0 headers here for cases that still need that and for devices like lighting controllers.

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The bottom row of headers continues to the bottom left corner of the Maximus Z690 Extreme. There are three switches, one is slow mode for a slowed boot process when overclocking. One switch is for V Latch which is another overclocking feature used to help identify load line settings and then the RSVD switch is for Asus’s techs the RSVD plug is for them as well. To the left of that there is an addressable RGB header and a standard RGB header and then two small buttons for quickly bumping the BClock up and down. The last header on the left is the front panel audio header which ties in with the onboard audio. You can hardly see it because of the heatsink but the PCB is split to keep the onboard isolated. Then from there, we have the PCIe section. The Maximus Z690 Extreme doesn’t have a crazy amount of PCIe slots. You get three, two are X16 length and there is one x1 slot. The two x16 slots can run at full X16 if running on their own or when running together they drop down to x8 PCIe 5.0 speeds. The bottom slot is also tied in with the M.2_1 slot so when that is in use the bottom x16 slot doesn’t function as well. With the cover off you can see the three M.2 slots with one up top above the top PCIe slot and then two sitting between the two X16 slots. All three support 2280 M.2 drives and the top slot has support for shorter drives as well. The top two M.2 slots run off of the CPU and can run PCIe 5.0 and the bottom slot runs off of the chipset and supports PCIe 4.0 with all three supporting x4 lanes.

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While the Maximus Z690 Extreme is packed with features, what I love the most are the smaller details like the PCIe release button. When you have the PCIe area heatsink removed Asus has printed on the bottom half of that heatsink a warning that once you ROG you will forever be ROG. They have also improved the M.2 mounting up under this heatsink with simple little twist clips that hold your M.2 drive down without using any tools. This might seem like a small touch, but it’s really easy to drop the tiny M.2 screws and if you dropped it down between the PCB and this heatsink it would be a nightmare and would easily short things out if you didn’t get it.

 

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The rear I/O on the Maximus Z690 Extreme is completely packed full which is what I always love to see. So many high-end boards don’t take advantage of the limited amount of space you get on the rear I/O. The rear I/O also comes with its cover plate preinstalled so you don’t need to worry about fighting with that when installing the board and it has a textured black finish that should match up nicely with most cases and white legends for all of the plugs. On the far left you get a clear CMOS button for quickly resetting the BIOS without having to get inside of your PC and below that the bios swap button to switch between the two BIOS. That button also lets you update the BIOS without ram or CPU installed using the USB plug that also says BIOS on it. This is great for updating when your CPU isn’t supported, you don’t need to borrow another CPU to get it done. On the far right, you have the onboard audio connections which all have gold contacts and LED lights inside as well that make figuring out the correct plug in the dark so easy. Next to that are the two WiFi antenna plugs for the included antenna, these work with the Intel 6E wireless NIC. In the middle you have two ethernet connections, one is the 2.5G port that works with the Intel I225V NIC built into the chipset, and then next to that is the Marvell FastLinQ Edge 10G NIC. There are seven USB Type-A connections which are all res and support SuperSpeed 10 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 and then on the bottom row, there are three Type-C connections with the port on the left being the one USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C connection. Then the middle port is Thunderbolt 4 and on the far right is USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 which has double the speed so they have all of the connection possibilities covered. There is also an HDMI port on the left should you need to use the built-in GPU in your CPU if it supports it.

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Even the back of the Maximus Z690 Extreme has a few things going on. We can see the black PCB around the CPU socket but the rest of the back of the board is completely covered by a metal backplate. The backplate has EXTREME printed on it in a huge font and then a pixelated version of the ROG logo as well, both with a gloss black so that they blend in and stand out at the same time on the flat black backplate. Your serial number is tucked in the CPU socket area on a small sticker and then all of the required logos are all printed there as well. The nice thing about the serial number location is you will most likely be able to see this through the CPU install hole in the motherboard tray in most cases. The backplate also hides addressable RGB lighting that Asus has placed around the outside edges to give a little underglow look between the PCB and the backplate.

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I don’t normally put motherboards on the scale but the Maximus Z690 Extreme is the heaviest motherboard that I have ever seen short of a few that have full-cover water cooling preinstalled. But the weight here comes from a few areas. The backplate that helps protect the back of the PCB adds to it but so does the overall thickness of the PCB, and the large heatsinks up top as well. Higher-end boards also use more copper in their PCBs which helps with heat dissipation

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