ASRock Z490 ‘LGA 1200’ Motherboard Roundup – Taichi, Phantom Gaming, Extreme & Steel Legend All In Action!

Apr 30, 2020
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ASRock has unveiled its performance-oriented Z490 lineup for the 10th Gen Intel Desktop CPU family which is comprised of 12 motherboards. The new family aims at various different prices, offering unique features and design aesthetics that we all know and love about ASRock's boards.

ASRock Z490 Motherboard Roundup - Taichi, Phantom Gaming, Extreme, Steel Legend & Pro Series With BFB Technology - Overclocking on Non-K CPUs & Non-Z Motherboards!

The ASRock Z490 lineup has 5 key segments, there's a single flagship motherboard while the high-end lineup comprises of the Taichi and the Velocita. The mainstream and Mini ITX series are also comprised of two motherboards each while the value segment includes 6 motherboards, making it the largest segment in ASRock's lineup. Following is the list of all the motherboards in ASRock's line up.

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  • Z490 (Undisclosed Flagship)
  • Z490 Taichi
  • Z490 PG Velocita
  • Z490 Steel Legend
  • Z490 Extreme 4
  • Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/ac
  • Z490 Pro 4
  • Z490 Phantom Gaming 4/2.5G
  • Z490 Phantom Gaming 4
  • Z490M PRO 4
  • Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3
  • Z490M-ITX/ac

As you can tell, the value-oriented lineup is huge due to several variants of the Phantom Gaming 4 with different connectivity options. Before we start off with the specifications for each board, there are a few features that we need to take a look at that will be exclusive to ASRock's 400-series board lineup. First up, we have an ASRock exclusive Heat dissipating PCB technology which takes the heat away from critical PCB components, offering up to 4 degrees (C) temperature reduction.

The most important technology, however, is ASRock's BFB or Base Frequency Boost. ASRock makes use of the extra power on all of its 400-series chipset motherboards, offering higher base clocks on non-K CPUs. The feature is dependent on the cooling system but you can see a major boost in CPU performance since the CPUs will be operating at a much higher base frequency when coupled with an ASRock 400-series motherboard.

I will detail these variants below starting off with the high-end Z490 Taichi (Just note that an undisclosed flagship Z490 model will be revealed by ASRock later and that would also be added to the roundup once it's officially released).

ASRock Z490 Taichi

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The ASRock Z490 Taichi is a high-end motherboard and continuation of the Taichi family. The latest version features an updated design and supports a much bigger variety of features that make this Taichi the best one yet! ASRock is going all out with a 14 Phase Dr.MOS Power Design which is given power through dual 8-pin connectors. The ASRock Z490 Taichi features four DDR4 DIMM slots that can support up to 4666 MHz (OC+) frequencies and up to 128 GB of capacity. The board has large heatsinks over the VRMs and a Taichi logo embedded real panel I/O plate which looks great.

While the VRM heatsinks are massive with aluminum fin design, there are interconnected with heat pipes to dissipate heat. There's also active cooling in the form of three PWM controlled fans which come with 0dB Silent cooling technology. This means that the fans would only operate under heavy workloads and stay silent under idle scenarios. The entire cooling is part of the XXL Aluminum Alloy design that ASRock has taken years to perfect. With the cooling solution, ASRock claims up to 15C lower temperatures than when the fans are not operating. There are Power and Reset buttons at the bottom next to the Debug LED which is always a great addition to high-end boards.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Features:

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1200)
  • 14 Phase Dr.MOS Power Design
  • Supports DDR4 4666MHz+ (OC)
  • 3 PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 PCIe 3.0 x1
  • Supports NVIDIA SLITM, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
  • 8 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3), 1 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 1 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gb/s Rear Type-C
  • 3 USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gb/s (2 Rear Type-A, 1 Front Type-C)
  • 9 USB 3.2 Gen1 (4 Front, 5 Rear)
  • Dragon 2.5 Gigabit LAN, Intel Gigabit LAN
  • Intel® Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax (2.4Gbps) + BT 5.1
  • ASRock Polychrome SYNC

Storage options include 8 SATA III ports while expansion includes three PCIe 3.0 x16, two PCIe 3.0 x1, and four M.2 (32 Gb/s) ports. ASRock is also confirming support for PCIe Gen 4.0 on the entirety of its Z490 motherboard lineup which will be available with the launch of Intel's Future 12 Gen CPUs codenamed Rocket Lake. They are expected to launch in late 2020. All four M.2 slots come with heatsinks that are part of the PCB armor which covers the lower half of the motherboard. The PCH heatsink is made up of a brushed aluminum design, same as the I/O cover and features the ASRock Gear logo design etched into it along with a great display of ASRock's Polychrome Sync RGB effects. Underneath the side of the PCB, there's an RGB strip lighting it up which also looks great.

For I/O, ASRock features 1 USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (Type-C), 3 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (2 Type-A Rear + 1 Type-C Front), 9 USB 3.2 Gen 1 (4 front, 5 Rear) ports, Dragon 2.5 Gb / Intel 1Gb Ethernet LAN ports, WiFi 6 (2x antenna ports), 1 HDMI, 1 Display Port 1.4, 1 PS/2 port, 1 SPDIF port, 1 BIOS flashback switch and an HD audio jack that is powered by the Realtek ALC1220 codec plus an ESS SABRE 9218 DAC with WIMA Audio caps (NAHIMIC Audio). The Z490 Taichi should cost around $299-$349 US since the Z390 Taichi launched at $299 US.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming Velocita

ASRock is introducing a new variant to its Phantom Gaming lineup, the Z490 PG Velocita. This Z490 board seemingly replaces the Z390 Phantom Gaming 7 from the looks of its design and features. It indicates that there might be a higher-end PG variant planned for the future. The Velocita comes with a 12 Phase Dr.MOS VRM design which is powered by dual 8-pin connectors and features four DDR4 DIMM slots with support of up to 4266 MHz memory.

The Phantom Gaming design has been kept in tradition with the older motherboards, supporting a red/black/silver color scheme with fine use of PolyChrome SYNC RGB on the board. The VRMs are cooled off by two large heatsinks with a copper heat pipe running through them and like the Taichi, the Velocita also features triple fans as part of its XXL Aluminum Alloy heatsink design which offers active cooling to the VRMs and is primarily optimized for water-cooling builds.

Storage options include 8 SATA III ports while expansion slots include two PCIe 3.0 x16, three PCIe 3.0 x1, and triple M.2 slots (2 Ultra M.2 for storage & 1 M.2 WiFi slot). All expansion slots are PCIe 4 compliant and the M.2 storage slots come with M.2 Armor heatsinks. I/O on the board includes 9 USB 3.2 Gen 1 (4 Front, 4 Rear Type-C), 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A + Type-C) ports, Phantom Gaming 2.5G (Dragon RTL8125BG) and Intel 1G (I1219V) Ethernet LAN ports, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort 1.4 out puts, a single PS/2 port and an HD Audio jack powered by the Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec along with the fancy Nahimic 3D sound support.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming Velocita Features:

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel CoreTM Processors (Socket 1200)
  • 12 Phase Dr.MOS Power Design
  • Supports DDR4 4666MHz+ (OC)
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 x16, 3 PCIe 3.0 x1, 1 M.2 (Key E) for WiFi
  • AMD Quad CrossFireX and CrossFireX
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
  • 8 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 (Rear Type A+C),
  • 9 USB 3.2 Gen1 (4 Front, 4 Rear, Front Type-C)
  • Phantom Gaming 2.5 Gigabit LAN,
  • Intel Gigabit LAN
  • ASRock Polychrome SYNC

The motherboard also comes with a pre-fitted I/O shield like the Taichi model. Expect pricing to be around $199-$249 US.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX

The Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX is the sole ITX model of the PG lineup, featuring the gaming look on it. The motherboard comes with a 7 phase DIGI Power Design and power is provided to the CPU by a single 8-pin connector. The motherboard supports up to DDR4-4666 MHz memory with up to 64 GB capacities on its two DIMM slots. The VRMs feature two aluminum fin stacks and both come with active cooling support. The board additionally features a large I/O cover which has vents for the fan to blow hot air out. The VRM heatsinks run all the way to a third heatsink through a single heat pipe that houses the extra 3rd party controllers.

Storage includes four SATA III ports, two of which are oddly located just on top of the PCIe 3.0 x16 slot which is kind of a strange position to route cables through. There are two M.2 slots that go on the back and do feature M.2 Armor heatsinks. The Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX doesn't include PCIe Gen 4 support but it comes with a range of extra features in terms of I/O such as a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port, 3 USB 4.2 Gen 2, 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2.5G (Dragon RTL8125BG) Ethernet LAN, WiFi 6, 7.1 Channel HD Audio Jack (ALC 1220), HDMI / Displayport outputs, a Clear CMOS Button and a SPDIF out port.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX Features:

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1200)
  • Supports DDR4 4666MHz+ (OC)
  • 1 PCIe 3.0 x16
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DisplayPort,
  • Intel Thunderbolt 3
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
  • 4 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • 1 Intel Thunderbolt 3 Type-C
  • 3 USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gb/s (Rear)
  • 4 USB 3.2 Gen1 5Gb/s (2 Front, 2 Rear)
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax (2.4Gbps) + BT 5.1
  • Phantom Gaming 2.5 Gigabit LAN
  • Polychrome SYNC

The Z490 Phantom Gaming ITX / TB3 motherboard should be priced around $249-$299 US at launch.

ASRock Z490 Extreme 4

The ASRock Z490 Extreme 4 aims to be the $199-$249 US option with features close to the PG line. The motherboard has a very stylish touch to it with black and grey accents all over that heavily use Polychrome Sync RGB LEDs on the PCH Heatsink, Front Panel I/O Cover, and the side of the board. The CPU is powered by a 10 Phase Dr.MOS VRM which is run by an 8+4 pin connector configuration and there are four DDR4 DIMM slots offering support of up to 128 GB capacities with speeds of up to 4266 MHz (OC+). Storage options include 6 SATA III ports. The VRMs do come with aluminum heatsink blocks but don't feature any active cooling or heat pipe solution.

ASRock Z490 Extreme 4 Features:

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1200)
  • 10 Phase Dr.MOS Power Design
  • Supports DDR4 4266MHz+ (OC)
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 x16, 3 PCIe 3.0 x1, 1 M.2 (Key E) for WiFi
  • AMD CrossFireX
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1200 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
  • 6 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 (Rear Type-A+C), 7 USB 3.2 Gen1 (4Front, 2 Rear, 1 Front Type-C)
  • Dragon 2.5 Gigabit LAN
  • ASRock Polychrome SYNC

Expansion slots include two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots and four M.2 slots (2 Ultra M.2, 1 Hyper M.2, 1 M.2 WiFi). The two Ultra M.2 slots are cooled by M.2 Armor heatsinks while the rest don't feature any cooling. The motherboard is PCIe Gen 4.0 compliant too. I/O includes a 2.5G Dragon LAN port, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A + Type-C) ports, 7 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, HDMI / DP out-puts, PS/2 port and a 7.1 channel HD Audio jack powered by the ALC 1200 Codec.

ASRock Z490 Steel Legend

The ASRock Z490 Steel Legend aims to be another $199-$249 US option with features similar to the Extreme 4. The motherboard has an arctic camo design scheme all over and makes use of ASRock's Polychrome Sync RGB LEDs on the PCH Heatsink, Front Panel I/O Cover, and the side of the board. The CPU is powered by a 10 Phase Dr.MOS VRM which is run by an 8+4 pin connector configuration and there are four DDR4 DIMM slots offering support of up to 128 GB capacities with speeds of up to 4266 MHz (OC+). Storage options include 6 SATA III ports. The VRMs do come with aluminum heatsink blocks but don't feature any active cooling or heat pipe solution.

ASRock Z490 Steel Legend Features:

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1200)
  • 10 Phase Dr.MOS Power Design
  • Supports DDR4 4266MHz+ (OC)
  • 2 PCIe 3.0 x16, 3 PCIe 3.0 x1, 1 M.2 (Key E) for WiFi
  • AMD CrossFireX
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1200 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
  • 6 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 (Rear Type-A+C), 7 USB 3.2 Gen1 (4Front, 2 Rear, 1 Front Type-C)
  • Dragon 2.5 Gigabit LAN
  • ASRock Polychrome SYNC

Expansion slots include two PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots and four M.2 slots (2 Ultra M.2, 1 Hyper M.2, 1 M.2 WiFi). The two Ultra M.2 slots are cooled by M.2 Armor heatsinks while the rest don't feature any cooling. The motherboard is PCIe Gen 4.0 compliant too. I/O includes a 2.5G Dragon LAN port, 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Type-A + Type-C) ports, 7 USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports, HDMI / DP out-puts, PS/2 port and a 7.1 channel HD Audio jack powered by the ALC 1200 Codec.

ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming 4

The last official PG model is the Phantom Gaming 4 which will come in various flavors, a regular variant with 1Gbe LAN, a 2.5GBe LAN variant, and one with WiFI 6 support. The specifications are the same for all three models aside from the networking capabilities that I mentioned above. All Phantom Gaming 4 variants would feature a 12 Phase VRM design which will be powered by an 8+4 pin connector config. The board will have heatsinks placed on the VRMs but you won't be getting any of the extra features such as a pre-fitted I/O shield or an I/O cover either. There are four DDR4 DIMM slots capable of supporting speeds of up to 4266 MHz and up to 128 GB capacities. Storage options include 6 SATA III ports.

For expansion, you get two PCIe 3.0 x16, three PCIe 3.0 x1, and three M.2 ports (2 M.2 Ultra and 1 M.2 WiFI). The motherboard is PCIe Gen 4 ready but doesn't feature any M.2 cooling support such as the heatsinks we saw on the other variants. The motherboard does get a standard PCH heatsink block which should do the job well. There's no visible RGB LED lighting on the board but you do get the support of Polychrome Sync which would let you put on your own RGB/ARGB LEDs on the Z490 Phantom Gaming 4. Rear panel I/O includes 4 USB 3.2 Gen 1 and 2 USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports (Type-A + Type-C), a 5 channel audio jack, a single HDMI port, and a PS/2 port.

The motherboard has cut out for WiFi antennas but as mentioned, you would get 1 variant with a bundled WiFi 6 controller card while the other two variants feature 1Gbe or 2.5Gbe LAN ports. Expect the motherboard to come at a really killer price of around $149-$189 US.

ASRock Z490 PRO 4 & Mini-ITX Series

Lastly, we have three ASRock Z490 PRO & Mini-ITX series motherboards. The PRO 4 models come in ATX & MATX flavors. Both variants feature a 12 Phase Power delivery and are delivered juice by an 8+6 pin connector configuration. Both boards offer support for 4266 MHz memory with up to 128 GB capacities and storage options include six SATA III ports. Expansion slots on the ATX variant include two PCIe 3.0 x16, three PCIe 3.0 x1, and three M.2 (2 Ultra M.2 and 1 M.2 WiFi) slots.

The mATX variant features two PCIe 3.0x 16, two PCIe 3.0 x1, and three M.2 (2 Ultra M.2 and 1 M.2 WiFi) slots. Both models feature a single M.2 armor heatsink over their topmost M.2 slot. Design-wise, both models feature brushed silver heatsinks which look great for these budget Z490 options.

The Z490M-ITX AC comes with an 8 Phase power design which is powered by a single 8-Pin power connector. It features two DDR4 DIMM slots, four SATA III ports, and heatsinks over the VRMs which cover the top I/O. Expansion slots include a single PCIe 3.0 x16 and dual Ultra M.2 slots, both of which feature M.2 armor heatsinks. This board should be priced under the $200 US range.

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