ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex
~ $899 AUD
There was a time when you’d look at the rear panel of a motherboard and based on the number of USB ports you saw, determine its overall quality. Kind of like the thing that happens in the fruit and veggies aisle, except with tech. Oh, this one has multiple Blue ones.
Fast forward to 2021 and the motherboard aisle is stacked and packed with boards that suit all manner of processors, graphics cards, builds, and high-end creative activities. Plus they’re able to house modern-day USB 3.0+ peripherals, which connect via faster (and naturally Red) USB 3.2 ports.
For those keeping score, the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex
has an impressive 10 USB ports on the rear -- so you know it’s serious. Doubly so when you notice it sports a price tag you’d call “premium, with sales executives available by appointment only”. But, outside of more USB action than just about anyone could handle, the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex is best summed up by taking a look at the overclocking scene.
With the release of the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors, professional overclockers were able to break a number of world records across CPU and GPU benchmarks using the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex. A motherboard that features AI-driven overclocking, cooling, and networking tools, cutting-edge power management and thermals, an impressive four PCIe 4.0 M2 slots, and plenty of other features that make it an overclocker's delight.
With that in mind, we can probably forget about the fruit and veggies aisle completely and instead cast our comparative vision towards the realm of the sleek and expensive Italian sports car.
If you’re the sort that might purchase a Ferrari and use it to drive 50km-100km/hour around an Australian metropolitan city -- well, odds are you’re barely scratching the surface of what it can do. The same sentiment applies to the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex, a board clearly designed and built around the concept of overclocking all of the key ingredients that make up a modern PC rig -- these being your CPU, your GPU, and your memory.
With the release of the new 11th Gen Intel Core processors, professional overclockers were able to break a number of world records across CPU and GPU benchmarks using the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex.
In the case of the latter, the ol’ RAM, the Maximus III Apex features two DDR4 slots for two high-speed, high-capacity modules, as opposed to the standard four we see elsewhere.
Here the other two slots are taken up by a ROG DIMM.2 module that allows for two M.2 drives to be connected via a DDR4 interface. It’s definitely an initially strange and interesting approach, but the decision is clearly aimed at those looking to add heatsinks to keep their drive temperatures as cool as can be. All in all the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex is equipped with four M.2 slots, with two of them offering PCIe 4.0 support -- something that has finally arrived in full as a part of the new 11th Gen Intel Z590 Chipset.
CPU Socket: Intel Socket LGA1200 (11th Gen Intel Support)
Chipset: Intel Z590 Chipset
Graphics Interface: 2x PCI-E 4.0 x16 slots, 1 x PCIe 3.0 x4 slot
Memory Support: 2DDR4 (Dual Channel), 64GB (Max Size)
Storage: Supports 4 x M.2 slots and 8 x SATA 6Gb/s ports
USB Ports: Rear USB: Total 10 ports, Front USB: Total 9 ports
Network: 1 x Intel I225-V 2.5Gb Ethernet, Intel Wi-Fi 6E
Audio: ROG SupremeFX ALC4080 codec and Savitech SV3H712 amplifier
With a more level playing field when it comes to PCIe and memory speeds, not to mention networking and other elements, the decision to go either Intel or AMD is one that mostly comes down to personal preference. Though it’s worth noting that the new flagship 11th Gen Intel Core i9 11900K has been met with mixed responses on the account of it’s price, performance, and power-usage compared to AMD’s top Ryzen. Anyway, for this review we used the still very much a beast Intel Core i9-10900K.
Again as Intel’s latest CPU range has seen the arrival of the new Z590 chipset, which can be found in the Apex. Alongside out-of-the-box PCIe 4.0 support, ASUS has thrown in cutting-edge Intel Wi-Fi 6E and it’s own premium on-board audio. And by premium we mean the sort of shielding and capacitors you’d find in high-quality dedicated audio equipment. Top of the line stuff for what is a top of the line board. This is bolstered by an overall build that is as sturdy as it is covered with heatsinks and advanced cooling and other power management features.
If you’re the sort to care about VRM (that is, voltage regulator modules) ASUS has included what is no doubt one of the best we’ve seen in terms of power distribution and management. Not that we did anything close to the sort of overclocking this thing can handle.
Okay, so calling the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex an overclocker’s delight is said without pretense -- this thing is packed with OC goodness. There’s an LN2 mode for liquid nitrogen cooling, a boost button that instantly sets all fans to maximum speed, and even a pause button to stop your system mid-benchmark. With all of that in mind it’s not really something that we’d use day-to-day, for that we’d much rather pick up the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII HERO
. Which also supports ASUS’s easy-to-use BIOS interface for messing about with voltages and other less intensive tweaks and adjustments.
Intel’s latest CPU range has seen the arrival of the new Z590 chipset, which can be found here. Alongside out-of-the-box PCIe 4.0 support, ASUS has thrown in cutting-edge Intel Wi-Fi 6E and it’s own premium on-board audio.
That said, for everyday usage the cooling and power management does lead to a more efficient non-OC build for Intel CPUs.
In the end, if you are serious about overclocking then it’s easy to see what makes the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex attractive as a motherboard -- you get the tools and assurance you need to ensure that precise changes in voltage and memory speeds and fan adjustment and other cooling measures are all handled with care. And checks are in place to ensure that there’s no permanent damage being done. And hey, what better endorsement do you need than knowing this is the hardware used to break world records across all of the above.