ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard - Close-Up
The ASRock Z490 Taichi is styled in black and silver accents. This is a top-tier product that retails at $369.99 US, making this the most expensive mainstream Taichi motherboard to date so expect lots of features packed inside this motherboard. The motherboard comes in the standard ATX form factor.
The board uses the LGA 1200 socket to support Intel Core processors. The socket is compatible only with Intel's 10th Generation core family but is expected to support future generation CPUs too. The socket has a protective cover on top of it that points out the exclusivity with Comet Lake 10th Gen CPUs and refrains users from running an older 8th or 9th generation CPUs as they won't fit in the socket at all and forcing them in the socket is only going to cause permanent damage to your motherboard.
Next to the socket are four DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 128 GB dual-channel memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4666 MHz (OC Plus). Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.
The ASRock Z490 Taichi packs a 15 phase Dr.MOS power design. The design is packed with 2 phase power for the DRAM and uses 50A power chokes, Premium Memory Alloy Chokes, Dual-Stack MOSFET (DSM), Combo Caps, and Nichicon 12K capacitors that deliver un-precedented stability and overclocking capabilities.
As you can see, the VRMs are getting ample cooling from the XXL Aluminum heatsinks that are both beefy in terms of size and also feature active cooling technology. This motherboard is designed for overclocking so expect a smooth & stable operation of the electrical circuitry when this board is running.
If you look in closely, the heatsink solution comes with Heatpipe cooling that runs across the entire length of the dual heatsinks. ASRock is also using an aluminum-based heatsink under the IO cover which can provide even better thermal operation under load. The active cooling solution comes in the form of three PWM controlled fans, two of which are featured in the topmost heatsink and one featured underneath the second heatsink's cover.
All three fans come with 0dB silent cooling tech and will ensure that the VRMs stay cool under intense workloads, offering up to 15C reduction in temperatures.
The CPU is supplied power through dual 8 pin power connectors. This will feed the CPU with up to 300 Watts of power. The Intel 10th Gen Unlocked CPUs are very power-hungry, consuming 125W at the base and up to 250W at boost frequencies while overclocking them would require even more power so the extra power input is a necessity rather than a feature on the high-end Z490 boards.
Getting a closer look at the VRM heatsinks reveals an aluminum fin design underneath the baseplate for the topmost heatsink. Each heatsink has thermal pads located underneath for efficient transfer of heat.
Below, you can see the second heatsink which includes the third fan. This heatsink is connected with the topmost heatsink and has exhaust vents on the top baseplate to deliver cool air to the VRMs.
Expansion slots include three PCI Express 3.0 x16, two PCI Express 3.0 x1 and three M.2 slots. The board can support three-way multi-GPU (CrossFireX / SLI). The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCIe gen3 x4 and Intel Optane series memory.
ASRock is using a metallic cover on the sides of the expansion slots which provides protection to some extent. It adds more retention and shearing resistance by reinforcing the slots with metal plates. Aside from adding more protection, they do look really sweet.
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. For this purpose, the motherboard features key technologies such as PCIe Gen 4 Re-Drivers, slots, and clock generators which enable PCIe Gen 4.0 on the top Hyper M.2 and top two PCIe x16 slots which are also clearly labeled with Gen 4 support.
The trio of M.2 slots is cooled off by the thermal pad and aluminum baseplate cooling. This will ensure stable operation for M.2 storage devices. The thermal adhesive has a plastic cover over them which needs to be removed before using them with the storage devices.
The Z490 PCH is housed beneath a large heatsink with a set of metal gears embedded within it for aesthetics. The PCH comes also utilizes Polychrome Sync RGB which is fully user-customizable. It also comes with an active fan solution that runs all the time to keep the PCH cool.
The PCH heat sink has embedded RGB LEDs and provides a good light show for those that are interested in RGBs trend. You can also turn off the LEDs entirely through ASRock's bundled software if you are not a fan of such LEDs.
Storage options include eight SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support eight different storage devices at once. There are also two USB 3.0 front panel connectors of which one is right-angled. Many fan headers and jumpers can be found beneath the storage ports.
ASRock is using its Purity Sound4 system for audio which is a combination of hardware, software audio solutions. 7.1 CH HD audio with the latest Realtek ALC1220 audio codec plus an ESS SABRE 9218 DAC with WIMA Audio caps (NAHIMIC Audio), individual PCB layers for R/L audio channel. In addition to that, there's also a NE5532 headset amplifier for front panel audio connector that supports up to 600 Ohm headsets.
ASRock has placed two buttons at the bottom right-hand corner of the board. The purpose of these switches is to allow users to easily Power or Reset the board in overclocking and system tuning cases. A bunch of other connectors for chassis power, DEBUG LED, RGB, and fan headers can be spotted next to them.
The full list of connectors on the motherboard is listed as follows.
- 1 x SPI TPM Header
- 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
- 2 x RGB LED Headers
- 2 x Addressable LED Headers
- 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)
- 1 x CPU/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 6 x Chassis/Water Pump Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
- 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 2 x 8 pin 12V Power Connectors (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
- 1 x Thunderbolt AIC Connector (5-pin) (Supports ASRock Thunderbolt 3 AIC R2.0 Card only)
- 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Intel Z490) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 2 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports) (ASMedia ASM1074 hub)
- 1 x Front Panel Type C USB 3.2 Gen2 Header (Intel Z490) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x Clear CMOS Button
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
- 1 x Power Button with LED
- 1 x Reset Button with LED
ASRock is using the Intel's WiFi 6 802.11ax WiFi Module to power wireless connectivity such as 802.11ax WiFi (2.4G WiFi) and Bluetooth 5.1. In terms of Ethernet, there are dual Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports which include a 1GbE Intel & 2.5GbE Killer LAN which means networking on this board is going to be really good, however, the Z390 Taichi Ultimate did come with 10GbE and dual Intel GbE LAN ports at a lower price point.
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.
ASRock Z490 Taichi Polychrome RGB:
ASRock is using its Polychrome RGB and Polychrome Sync technologies to power the lighting system on the Z490 Taichi. There's a range of customization available through the app which can be downloaded directly from ASRock's official webpage.
In addition to the built-in RGB illumination, it also features onboard RGB headers and an addressable RGB header that allow the motherboard to be connected to compatible LED devices such as strip, CPU fans, coolers, chassis and so on. Users may also synchronize RGB LED devices across the Polychrome RGB Sync-certified accessories to create their own unique lighting effects.