Intel Core i9-9900K 8 Core and 16 Thread 5.0 GHz CPU Review Ft. ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate Motherboard
ASRock Z390 Taichi UltimateOctober, 2018
ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate Motherboard - Close Up
The ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate is styled in black and silver. This is a top-tier product that retails at $300 US so expect lots of features packed inside this motherboard. The motherboard comes in the standard ATX form factor. The Taichi Ultimate theme has been present on the X470 series now for a while and is now coming to the Intel mainstream platform.
The board uses the LGA 1151 socket to support Intel Core processors. The socket is compatible with Intel's 8th & 9th Generation core family. The socket has a protective cover on top of it that points out the exclusivity with Coffee Lake CPUs and refrains users from running an older 6th or 7th generation CPU as they won't work with these motherboards at all.
Next to the socket are four DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 64 GB dual channel memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4200 MHz (OC Plus). Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.
The interesting thing is that Intel has said to allow memory capacity support of up to 128 GB but that would mean that DRAM vendors would have to release dual-capacity memory kits that are compatible with these boards.
The ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate packs a 12 phase super alloy power design. The design is packed with 2 phase power for the DRAM and uses Premium 60A power chokes, Premium Memory Alloy Chokes, Dual-Stack MOSFET (DSM), Combo Caps and Nichicon 12K Black caps that deliver un-precedented stability and overclocking capabilities.
As you can see, the VRMs are getting ample cooling from the two metallic heatsinks that are beefy in terms of overall size. This motherboard is designed for overclocking so expect stable operation of the electrical circuitry when this board is running.
If you look in closely, the heatsink solution comes with heatpipe coolig 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 CPU is supplied power through an 8+4 pin power connector configuration. This will feed the CPU with up to 225W of power. Most Intel CPUs will be shipping with TDPs under 100W but that changes when users overclock since that changes the power limit based on applied voltages and clock speed.
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.
The PCH is cooled off by a large metallic heatsink which runs next to the SATA ports. The PCH heat sink has embedded RGB LEDs and provide 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.
The PCH heatsink is themed to look like the represent the Taichi symbol and features gears that although don't provide any functionality but do give a nice touch the motherboard.
Storage options include eight SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s. These can support eight different storage devices at once. There's also a right angled USB 3.0 front panel connector. Many fan headers and jumpers can be found beneath the storage ports.
ASRock is using their 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, individual PCB layers for R/L audio channel, 120dB SNR DAC. 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 very interesting, gold colored 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, RGB and fan headers can be spotted next to them. The full list of connectors on the motherboard is listed as follows.
- 1 x TPM Header
- 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
- 2 x RGB LED Headers
- 1 x Addressable LED Header
- 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)
- 1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 1 x 4 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
- 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
- 1 x Thunderbolt AIC Connector (5-pin)
- 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 3 USB 2.0 ports) (Intel® Z390) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 2 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (ASMedia ASM1074 hub) (Supports ESD Protection)
- 1 x Front Panel Type C USB 3.1 Gen2 Header (ASMedia ASM1562 Retimer)
- 1 x Performance Mode / Easy OC Header
- 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
- 1 x Power Button with LED
- 1 x Reset Button with LED
ASRock is using the Intel 802.11ac WiFi Module to power wireless connectivity such as 802.11ac WiFi (2.4G / 5G WiFi) and Bluetooth 5.0. In terms of Ethernet, there are dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and a 10 Gigabit Aquantia LAN port which means networking on this board is going to be really impressive.
Finally, we have the I/O panel which includes the Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac module, PS/2 port, HDMI, Display Port, Dual Intel Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, a single 10 Gigabit Ethernet LAN port, 4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, four USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (Type-A + Type-C), a clear CMOS button and a 7.1 channel audio jack.
ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate Polychrome RGB:
ASRock is using their Polychrome RGB and Polychrome Sync technologies to power the lighting system on the Z390 Taichi Ultimate. 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.