Intel Z690 vs Z790 chipset: What are the differences?

The ASUS ROG Maximus HERO Z790 motherboard and its packaging
The ASUS ROG Maximus HERO Z790 for the Intel 13th Gen CPUs. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

When we took a look at the Z690 platform for the release of the Intel 12th Gen processors last year, I had the opportunity to test one of the most highly praised motherboard line from ASUS, the Maximus HERO series.

This year for our Intel 13th Gen reviews, ASUS provided us with the ROG Maximus Z790 HERO.

Since I had access to both versions of the HERO, I proceeded to test the differences between the Z690 platform and the Z790 platform, so you can make a conscious choice as a customer on whether you should buy the latter over its older brethren.

To be absolutely honest, both the HERO motherboards look almost physically identical. There are minor visual changes for the Z790 version, but that's about it.

The Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero out of the box in a pc case
This is the ASUS ROG Maximus Z690. Have a glance and see if you can spot the minor differences in aesthetics. (Photo: Yahoo Gaming SEA)

Even when it comes to internals, features like the the power delivery remains similar. Both even have all the ports and connectors at the same places.

However, the Z790 HERO has a backplate on the rear of the motherboard, offering better protection for the solder points at the back.

You could easily mistake both for one or the other, if you are not paying attention.

When it comes to the chipsets themselves, the Z790 platform offers more PCIe 4.0 lanes and extra USB 3.2 ports.

The Z790 also supposedly supports higher RAM bandwidth, but the older Z690 chipset could handle the 6200Mhz RAM that I possess anyway. I do not have any other higher clocking RAM to test the limits of the Z790.

Yep, that's about the only relevant differences between the two.

So, when it comes to pure performance, what sets them apart?


I honestly lost count on how many times I had to retest the CPUs between both the Z690 HERO and the Z790 HERO to come up with this simple sentence:

There is absolutely no performance difference between the two chipsets.

Both the Intel Core i9-13900K and the i5-13600K performed the same on both of these motherboards.

There were times where I had to do a check on which motherboard I was using. Both of them had no issues running my Corsair Dominator DDR5 6200Mhz RAM as well.

The only significant difference if you decide to buy the Z790 HERO is that it supports three PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs, as opposed to only two on the Z690 HERO, with an additional PCIe 3.0 NVMe slot.

If you are in the market to purchase a motherboard for an Intel 13th Gen CPU, rest assured that you are not losing out on anything if you spot a great deal on a Z690 motherboard, which is highly likely to be discounted since it is an 'old' product.

This is also one of the reasons that it is more affordable to purchase a system powered by an Intel 13th Gen CPU than purchasing one that is powered by AMD's new Ryzen 7000 processors.

Dominic loves tech and games. When he is not busy getting bodied in games or watercooling anything he sees, he does some pro wrestling.

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