ASRock's Intel Z490 lineup is here, which Z490 board is right for you?

ASRock has unveiled five new Intel Z490 boards, and there seems to be an option for almost any user, from high-end overclocking-centric boards to ITX.

| Apr 30, 2020 at 8:06 am CDT

With the official announcement and release of the new Comet Lake CPU's, we can now showcase all of the new Z490 boards made for the new up to 10 Core mainstream platforms from Intel. Today we look at the offerings from ASRock and what they have to offer.

Taichi Series

The Taichi series from ASRock have been the enthusiasts pick for a reason, and that is that besides the OCF or OC Formula gear, the Taichi has proven to be a veritable powerhouse platform for enthusiasts users.

Z490 Taichi

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The Z490 Taichi is built to hold true to the Taichi performance we have gotten used to. Beyond the recognizable design ID, the Taichi also comes fully loaded with a VRM and features to make any right a potential powerhouse. The board is touted as supporting PCIe 4.0 which further adds credence to the rumors that Z490 and the LGA1200 socket will be a direct drop-in compatible with the future Rocket Lake architecture which is rumored to bring with it PCIe 4.0 support.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 12 + 2
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 12x SIC654ACD DrMOS - 50A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4666+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 1x 22110, 2x 2280
  • LAN 1: Dragon Realtek RTL8125BG - 2.5Gb
  • LAN 2: Intel I219-V - 1Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX (Chipset TBA)

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready hardware (2x PCIe slot and 3x M.2)
  • Actively cooled VRM

One thing that surprised me with this one was that ASRock documentation states that due to the size of their VRM cooler solution, they recommend a liquid cooler for the CPU to avoid potential air cooler clearance issues. This is something we will have to check out as we get the board in hand.

Phantom Gaming Series

The Phantom Gaming series is still a relatively newer series of boards that ASRock offers. The Phantom gaming series as the game alludes to is focused on gaming prowess and having a focus on gamer aesthetics and features attractive to gamer builds.

Z490 PC Velocita

ASRock's Intel Z490 lineup is here, which Z490 board is right for you? 02 | TweakTown.com

The Z490 PG Velocita is the top board for the Phantom Gaming lineup. The board comes with a stout actively cooled VRM which is large enough that the ASRock documentation advises for the use of liquid cooling on the CPU to avoid interference with the VRM heat sinks. This board is PCIe 4 ready and carries a lot of the same prowess of the Taichi but at a slightly toned-down level.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 10 + 2
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 10x SIC654CD- 50A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4666+
  • Memory Topology: Daisy Chain
  • M.2 Slots: 1x 22110, 2x 2280
  • LAN 1: Dragon Realtek RTL8125BG - 2.5Gb
  • LAN 2: Intel I219-V - 1Gb
  • Wi-Fi: N/A (M.2 E-key mid-board)

Special Features:

  • PCIe 4 ready hardware (2x PCIe slot and 2x M.2)
  • Actively cooled VRM

The ASRock Z490 PG Velocita is an interesting board as it omits the Wi-Fi, which won't be a huge deal for many users, but some may miss it. Also missing here is the SLI compatibility, which is a bit surprised, but also interests me to see what the final price will be for the Velocita, as it is overall a good looking board and if it overclocks like we have seen form ASRock boards, it could be a real winner at the right price point.

Z490 Phantom gaming-ITX/TB3

ASRock's Intel Z490 lineup is here, which Z490 board is right for you? 03 | TweakTown.com

The Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 is the only Z490 ITX model we have seen to date from ASRock. This is part of the Phantom Gaming series and carries a similar design ID. Don't let its diminutive size fool you as it packs a full 8-phase VRM with active cooling to make sure even under the load of the new i9 deca-core processor it can stay cool and stable. Add to this the onboard Thunderbolt 3 port, Wi-Fi AX, and 2.5G LAN and this is one capable tiny board option.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ITX
  • VRM Configuration 6 + 2
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 6x ISL99390 - 90A
  • Memory slots: 2
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4666+
  • M.2 Slots:2x 2280
  • LAN 1: Dragon Realtek RTL8125BG - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX (Chipset TBA)

Special Features:

  • Integrated Thunderbolt 3
  • Actively cooled VRM

The ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB# looks like it could be a very powerful contender, but it will all come down to how it performs. Will the new ITX beast be all gamer aesthetic or will it have the performance to back up its ASRock performance lineage? Also worth noting is that the VRM sink once again is listed as being large enough that ASRock recommends liquid cooling for the CPU to avoid interference. Then again with the deca-core i9, and the relative thermal density for such a small package, you would likely be best served to cool these with at least an AIO.

Steel Legend Series

The Steel legend series is the more value-oriented mainstream level gaming series, boards. The Steel legend series is designed to bring RGB and key gaming features to a more competitive value segment while still offering quality design and build with a moderate aesthetic effect.

Z490 Steel Legend

ASRock's Intel Z490 lineup is here, which Z490 board is right for you? 04 | TweakTown.com

The Z490 Steel Legend shows up with a black PCB emblazoned with a digital camo effect and some stylized but still more basic heat sink designs. The board comes with ARGB and PCIe 4 ready hardware such as PCIe slots and of course M.2 slots. The Steel Legend is sans SLI but still supports CrossFire X.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 8 + 2
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 8x SIC654ACD - 50A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4266+
  • M.2 Slots:1x 2280, 1x 22110
  • LAN 1: Dragon Realtek RTL8125BG - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: N/A (M.2 E-key mid-board)(Chipset TBA)

The Z490 Steel Legend definitely looks like a more mainstream-oriented value-centric board. However, with the inclusion of 2.5G LAN, it has the potential to punch above its weight class. We still do not have final pricing on these boards, so a lot is up in the air, but the Steel Legend could prove to be an awesome option for some users. One thing I noticed is there was no suggestion of the need for liquid cooling of the CPU to avoid contact with the VRM heat sink. so this may be the ideal board for some users who want a simple gaming build with air cooling. I do also like that ASRock left the option open for users to add Wi-Fi to the Steel legend via a mid-board slot and they even have cutouts in the I/O shield for antennae, should you decide to add the feature.

ASRock Extreme Series

The Extreme series of boards, while it may sound like some special overclocker centric or performance-oriented board. In truth, this is the mainstream builder series of boards, and that's not a bad thing as they are made with the necessary features that mainstream gamers and builders need. In many cases, the standard Extreme model board like we are about to look at will fit the need for most gamers or users wanting to adopt the Z490 platform.

Z490 Extreme 4

ASRock's Intel Z490 lineup is here, which Z490 board is right for you? 05 | TweakTown.com

The Z490 Extreme 4 shows up with a mostly black design, but with some white, gray, and blue silk screening styling on the PCB. Add to this the styling and RGB effects on the board edge and heat sinks and the Extreme 4 feels like a higher-end gaming board than it likely will be priced. The Extreme 4 comes with PCIe 4 ready hardware such as PCIe slots and M.2 slots to ensure you can be ready for even the next processor that is rumored down the pipe that will drop into this socket.

  • Price: $TBA
  • Form Factor: ATX
  • VRM Configuration 8 + 2
  • VRM controller: ISL69269
  • VRM power stages: 8x SIC654ACD - 50A
  • Memory slots: 4
  • Memory Speed (MHz): 4266+
  • M.2 Slots:1x 2280, 1x 22110
  • LAN 1: Dragon Realtek RTL8125BG - 2.5Gb
  • Wi-Fi: N/A (M.2 E-key mid-board)(Chipset TBA)

The Z490 Extreme 4 seems to be quite similar in spec to the Steel Legend model, and that's not a bad thing as long as in the end, these boards perform well. If these boards are priced right, we could see the Extreme series of boards be real monsters on the market for users not looking to break overclocking records, but instead simply build a gaming rig on the newest Z490 platform.

And there you have it, the launch of Z490 sees five ASRock models spanning several potential user bases. The only thing I see missing so far is a potential OCF model, and of course mATX. Time will tell if ASRock pushes into an XOC focused board for Z490, and also if mATX will get any love on this platform.

Last updated: Jun 16, 2020 at 04:29 pm CDT

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR -

Shannon started his PC journey around the age of six in 1989. Now till present day, he has established himself in the overclocking world, spending many years pushing the limits of hardware on LN2. Shannon has worked with design and R&D on various components, including PC systems and chassis, to optimize the layout and performance for enthusiasts.

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