Acting as the ‘entry-level’ if it can be called that to ASUS’s ROG Maximus series is the Hero, or the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690 Hero to be exact. Adopting a more futuristic and modern design compared to last year’s ROG Maximus XIII Hero, the new Z690 Hero includes its dot matrix display integrated into the rear panel cover and chipset heatsink, which looks fancy and neat. All across the board are oodles of matte black including the M.2 heatsinks, with a central M.2 heatsink that has a black treadplate-looking design on it for contrast.
Looking at the lower half of the board, it is dominated by PCIe slots, including two full-length PCIe 5.0 slots operating at either x16 or x8/x8, with a third full-length PCIe 3.0 x4 slot. Storage options are aplenty including four PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots, with a fifth M.2 slot locked down to PCIe 3.0 x4. Other storage options include six SATA ports that benefit from support for RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays. Located in the top-right hand corner are four memory slots that are capable of supporting up to DDR5-6400 with a maximum combined capacity of 128 GB.
On the rear panel of the Z690 Hero are a pair of Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports, with one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, six USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. Networking options include an Intel I225-V 2.5 GbE controller with an Intel Wi-Fi 6E CNVi offering both wireless and BT 5.2 device connectivity. There are five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output powered by a SupremeFX ALC4082 HD audio codec and ESS Sabre 9018Q2C DAC pairing, while the board also has one HDMI 2.1 video output. Finishing off the rear panel is a pair of buttons, one for BIOS Flashback and another to clear the CMOS.