ASUS ROG Maximus XII HERO Motherboard - Close-Up

The ASUS ROG Maximus XII HERO is styled in complete black with slight glossy hints on the I/O and PCH covers. This is a top-tier product that retails at $399.99 US so expect lots of features packed inside this motherboard. The motherboard comes in the standard ATX form factor. You can note the aggressive design language of this motherboard all the way from top to bottom and while it is something that ASUS ROG Maximus series motherboards are known for, it wasn't seen in this form or shape on the entry-level ROG HERO ever before!

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The board uses the LGA 1200 socket to support Intel Core processors. The socket is compatible only with Intel's 10th Generation core family but is expected to support future generation CPUs too. The socket has a protective cover on top of it that points out the exclusivity with Comet Lake 10th Gen CPUs and refrains users from running an older 8th or 9th generation CPUs as they won't fit in the socket at all and forcing them in the socket is only going to cause permanent damage to your motherboard.

Next to the socket are four DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 128 GB dual-channel memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4800 MHz (OC Plus). Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.

The motherboard packs a 14+2 (60A) Phase Extreme Engine Digi+ VRM supply with 45A micro-fine alloy chokes. The board also uses Micro-Fine Alloy Chokes and 10,000 hours rated black metallic capacitors.  ASUS states that they don't rely on doublers like other manufacturers for its ROG Maximus XII VRM hierarchy, offering better support for Intel's mainstream high-core count platform.

As you can see, the VRMs are getting ample cooling from the three metallic heatsinks that are beefy in terms of overall size. This motherboard is designed for overclocking so expect a stable operation of the electrical circuitry when this board is running.

If you look in closely, the heatsink solution comes with heat pipe cooling that runs across the entire length of the dual heatsinks. The heat pipe forms a U-shape across the three heatsinks and features a large diameter to ensure more thermal coverage. This ensures that heat is dissipated faster across the three blocks to offer extra cooling.

ASUS is also using Digital RGB LEDs within the top I/O cover that gives a nice effect, emitting light through the I/O panel and front of the heatsinks when the motherboard is operational.


The CPU is supplied power through an 8+4 pin power connector configuration. This will feed the CPU with over 250W of power. The Intel 10th Gen Unlocked CPUs are very power-hungry, consuming 125W at the base and up to 250W at boost frequencies while overclocking them would require even more power so the extra power input is a necessity rather than a feature on the high-end Z490 boards.


Expansion slots include three PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16/x16/x4 electrical), three PCI Express 3.0 x1, and triple M.2 slots. The board can support 2-way multi-GPU (CrossFireX /SLI/NVLINK). The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCIe gen3 x4 and Intel Optane series memory. ASUS is so far the only manufacturer that hasn't explicitly stated support for PCIe Gen 4.0 with the future generation of Intel CPUs.

ASUS is using their PCI-E Safe Slots on the sides of the expansion slots which provides protection to some extent. It adds more retention and shearing resistance by reinforcing the slots with metal plates. Aside from adding more protection, they do look really sweet. You can also note that the top two PCIe slots have CPU labels underneath them which shows that they are directly accessing PCIe lanes through the CPU rather than the PCH, making them the most ideal choice for your new GPU.

All three M.2 slots feature the M.2 heatsink that comes with a large metallic plate, acting as a heatsink and further includes a thermal pad that can sustain higher temperatures when storage devices (M.2 SSDs) are stressed for long durations. Once again, two of the M.2 slots are full-length while the one in the middle is a half-length slot.

The PCH is cooled off by a large metallic heatsink which runs next to the SATA ports. The PCH heatsink has embedded Digital LEDs and provides a good light show for those that are interested in RGBs trend. You can also turn off the LEDs entirely through ASUS's bundled software if you are not a fan of such LEDs.


The PCH heatsink is themed to represent the ASUS ROG Eye logo which offers a nice touch on the motherboard.

Storage options include six SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support a total of six different storage devices at once. Many fan headers and jumpers can be found beneath the storage ports.

ASUS is using the latest high-end SupremeFX S1220 CODEC which makes use of the ESS ES9023P DAC, Impedance sense for front and rear channels, 120dB SNR stereo playback output, 113dB SNR recording input, Sonic Studio III and Sonic Radar III, to deliver the most high-end, onboard sound system, a motherboard can offer.

The full list of connectors on the motherboard is listed as follows.

  • 1 x CPU Fan connector(s)
  • 1 x CPU OPT Fan connector(s)
  • 3 x Chassis Fan connector(s)
  • 1 x AIO_PUMP connector
  • 1 x H_AMP fan connector
  • 1 x W_PUMP+ connector
  • 1 x W_IN header
  • 1 x W_OUT header
  • 1 x W_FLOW header
  • 1 x AAFP connector
  • 2 x Aura RGB Strip Headers
  • 2 x Addressable Gen 2 header(s)
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1(up to 5Gbps) connector(s) support(s) additional 2 USB 3.2 Gen 1 port(s)
  • 2 x USB 2.0 connector(s) support(s) additional 4 USB 2.0 port(s)
  • 3 x M.2 Socket 3
  • 6 x SATA 6Gb/s connector(s)
  • 1 x Thunderbolt header(s)
  • 1 x 24-pin EATX Power connector(s)
  • 1 x 8-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
  • 1 x 4-pin ATX 12V Power connector(s)
  • 1 x Thermal sensor connector(s)
  • 1 x ReTry button
  • 1 x System panel connector
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 front-panel connector
  • 1 x Speaker connector
  • 1 x Start button
  • 1 x FlexKey button

ASUS is using the Intel WiFI 6 AX201 controller that offers wireless capabilities along with Bluetooth 5.1. In terms of I/O, you get a 5G (Aquantia AQC111C) ethernet port and a 1G Intel I219-V Ethernet port. There are a total of 17 USB ports to be found on the board with a single front panel USB 3.2 Gen 2 x2 port. You also get SupremeFX S1220 audio and a TB header on the motherboard. All three M.2 slots are cooled by heatsinks and you can find ROG specific features such as the power, reset, clear CMOS, and BIOS flashback buttons. Following is the full list of I/O:

  • 1 x Marvell AQtion AQC111C 5Gb Ethernet
  • 1 x Intel I219-V 1Gb Ethernet
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Optical S/PDIF out
  • 1 x Clear CMOS button(s)
  • 1 x USB BIOS FlashBack Button(s)
  • 1 x ASUS Wi-Fi Module
  • 5 x Gold-plated audio jacks

As you can see, the rear panel comes with a pre-mounted I/O shield that additionally uses ASUS's ESD Guard technology for protection against electrostatic charges and also the TrueVolt USB tech that offers 5V to all USB ports stability, minimizing the risk of power fluctuations.


ASUS is using its AURA SYNC RGB technology to power the lighting system on the ROG Maximus XII series motherboards. There's a range of customization options available through the ROG app that can be downloaded directly from ASUS's official webpage.

In addition to the built-in RGB illumination, it also features onboard RGB headers and an addressable RGB header that allow the motherboard to be connected to compatible LED devices such as strip, CPU fans, coolers, chassis and so on. Users may also synchronize RGB LED devices across the AURA Sync-certified accessories to create their own unique lighting effects.

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