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Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula Z490 Motherboard Review – Built For Water Cooling Enthusiasts

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Test Setup Used For This Review

Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula review test setup

I used the following components to test the Asus Z490 motherboard for this review.

Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro 64bit version 2004
ProcessorIntel core i7-10700K
MotherboardAsus ROG Maximus XII Formula
MemoryCrucial Ballistix Elite 16GB DDR4-4000 CL18
Graphics CardNVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition
OS DriveCrucial P1 1TB NVMe
Power SupplySilverstone ST1000-PT
ChassisThermaltake Core P3

Additional Notes:

  • The MCE or Multi-Core Enhancement was disabled during the tests.
  • If you want to see a more CPU-focused benchmark results, including the performance is when MCE is enabled or CPU is overclocked, check our Intel Core i7-10700K review here.
  • I wasn’t able to use the same memory kit on the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike. For some unknown reason, it won’t boot or post with the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 kit. Unfortunately, I have no choice but to use another memory kit. The MSI Z490 Godlike was running using a Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4-3200MHz instead.
  • Lastly, I included an AMD Ryzen system just for the sake of comparison.

Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula Benchmarks

Below are the benchmark results I got when it comes to CPU computational workloads.

As you can see from the benchmark results above, there’s no significant difference between the three Z490 motherboards. Even the mini-ITX Asus Strix Z490-I Gaming was able to perform on par with the big boys. It’s only expected to see the Ryzen 3700X perform (slightly) different from the Intel system since it is running on a different platform and CPU.

In addition, I was also surprised to see that in some benchmarks, the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike performed similarly with the other two Z490 motherboards running with a much faster DDR4-4000MHz memory kit. Now, let’s check out how it performs when it comes to gaming.

Gaming Benchmarks

For the gaming benchmarks, I only tested the system on 1080p and 1440p graphics resolution. Graphic details were set to their respective highest preset. I am also using the same NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition graphics card on all four systems. I also included a few synthetic benchmarks: 3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy suite and Unigine’s Superposition benchmark.

Again, the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike was running on a slower DDR4-3200MHz memory, since it didn’t boot with the Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4-4000 memory kit. Below are the results I got.

Interestingly, the MSI MEG Z490 Godlike was able to perform similarly on some benchmark results. But there are games where it fell behind due to the slower memory speed. For example, in F1 2019, Ghost Recon Wildlands, Monster Hunter World, and Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It was a few frames behind the Asus Maximus XII Formula and Strix Z490-I Gaming.

By the way, the Strix Z490-I Gaming was performing better on Shadow of the Tomb Raider compared to the other two Z490 motherboards. This is because I (unintentionally) set the DirectX version to 12, instead of DX11. I didn’t realize it when I was benchmarking the game. I only noticed the difference when I was making the graphs.

Price and Availability

The Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula Z490 motherboard is now available. It comes with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $499.99 USD. For the latest pricing and availability of this motherboard, you can check them via the links below.

Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula latest pricing and availability:
For US: available on here
For US/Global: available on here
For UK: available on Amazon UK here

10th Gen Intel Core Processors latest pricing and availability:
Intel Core i9-10900k check at here and here
Intel Core i7-10700K check at here and here
Intel Core i5-10600K check at here and here

Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula Review Conclusion

Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula Review Conclusion

At the end of the day, the conclusion to this review is clear as a sunny day. This is simply a great motherboard that screams premium, literally both front and back. Starting with the box alone, you already get the idea that this is not your typical or ordinary motherboard.

The good…

The motherboard itself is quite heavy, solid, and built with attention to detail. There are RGB lighting, but in my opinion, it doesn’t feel like the RGB lighting is screaming at you. It’s simply a subtle glow with a mirror finish. Mind you, you won’t be able to see that big ROG “eye” logo once you installed the graphics card on the first PCIe slot.

When it comes to performance, the Maximus XII Formula is very capable, especially when it comes to overclocking. However, no matter how good the motherboard is, if you get a dud CPU when it comes to overclocking, then you are out of luck. Silicon quality still plays a factor when it comes to overclocking. But if you won the silicon lottery, and got a really good CPU with great overclocking potential, this motherboard can really push it.

Speaking of overclocking, you can easily overclock your CPU via enabling multi-core enhancement. This basically “enhances” the performance of the system (a bit); similar to what AI OC does. But in my opinion, manual overclocking is still much better than simply relying on “automatic” or AI OC. The system suggested to increase the voltage to 1.4v~1.5v just to hit an overclock of 5.1GHz. I was able to hit ~5.3GHz with only 1.35v, although an AVX offset of 2 was needed.

The Maximus XII Formula also comes with unique features like the hybrid cooling solution for the VRM area, especially the MOSFETs. Since this is a motherboard built for water cooling enthusiasts, there are headers that are useful in a custom water-cooling loop.

Let’s not forget the cool Livedash OLED display that can easily display system information for quick viewing. And the WiFi 6 wireless connectivity option and dual Ethernet LAN; to which one is a 10Gb Ethernet connection.

The not so good…

However, this motherboard is not perfect. There are some features that I wish were included in this motherboard. There’s no onboard display output since there’s no power for the iGPU. This also means you can’t use Intel Quick Sync, in case you need that feature. A dedicated Thunderbolt port or at least a Thunderbolt adapter is not included as well. And finally, there’s no dual BIOS in this motherboard.

These are just some of the things that you may need to consider or at least should be aware of. Not really a deal-breaker though, but you also can’t deny the fact that this motherboard is on the expensive side, at $500 USD. If you’re not really into custom water cooling, the Asus ROG Maximus XII Hero is a great alternative. It’s still a premium looking motherboard and with a good set of features. And it’s definitely cheaper than the Maximus XII Formula.


I simply can’t find any fault or reason not to recommend this, other than it’s expensive. It’s not the most expensive Z490 motherboard though, but it is still pricey. If you’re a water-cooling enthusiast or plan to build a (gaming) system with a custom water cooling loop; consider this motherboard on the top of your list.

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A PC enthusiast and a gamer, and my eyes eat frames for breakfast, I guess. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

2 thoughts on “Asus ROG Maximus XII Formula Z490 Motherboard Review – Built For Water Cooling Enthusiasts”

  1. If your in the market for a motherboard with igpu compatibility this isn’t the motherboard for you.

    There’s method to the madness much like the z490 dark only having two dimm slots & a rotated CPU socket.

    • Yes, we’ve mentioned that already at the concluding part. The Z490 Dark is made for extreme overclockers. Even Asus Apex motherboard has only two dimm slots.
      But I like the unique approach to the rotated CPU socket though. Still, those are very niche-type of motherboards.


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