Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Taichi is the top end of the ASRock mainstream lineup and has been for many years. With Intel Z690, we have some carry over in the board design from last year's Z590 platform, including the "gear" elements, but most of the hardware has been updated to reflect the latest available technology.
The Z690 Taichi comes in two SKUs; the standard Z690 Taichi and a Razer Edition, which we will be looking at in an upcoming review. Hardware-wise, these two platforms are nearly identical; Taichi is a Z690 chipset platform using DDR5 memory. Memory support is across four slots with a maximum capacity of 128GB. Speeds supported start at the bottom with JEDEC 4800 and run up to 6400MHz with XMP.
The expansion includes two PCIe x16 Gen5 slots, these run in x16 or x8x8 modes. Like the Aqua OC, the Taichi also has an added x16 slot that pulls from the chipset and a x1 also from the chipset. Storage support includes three m.2 slots; two operating in Gen4 and a third at Gen3. SATA support includes six ports from the chipset and a single independent port.
Networking on this board gets the top end treatment from Intel, pulling in its Killer Networking E3100G for 2.5GBE and AX1675 for WiFi6e. Port connectivity on the rear of this board includes a host of USB ports, including four Gen 1, two Gen 2, and two Thunderbolt 4.
The ASRock Z690 Taichi carries an MSRP of $499.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
ASRock has given the Taichi a gold and black colorway reflected on the packaging.
On the back, specifications are listed off to the right, and a board diagram above.
The Taichi includes a host of cables for SATA and Wi-Fi. It also includes a GPU support bracket and PCI expansion kit for USB 2.0.
ASRock Z690 Taichi Overview
The Taichi, as mentioned in the opening words, carries over the gear design from last year's Z590. Chipset and VRM are covered by heat pipe solutions that extend to the m.2 slots.
On the back of the board, we have a full thermal armor covering 70% of the motherboard.
Rear I/O includes Wi-Fi and Audio connections plated in gold. HDMI at the top, followed by two USB 3.2 Gen 1. Thunderbolt 4 sits next to the 2.5Gbe and 1Gbe connections
The board layout starts at the bottom with front panel audio followed by RGB and fan connections.
Further down, we run into power and reset buttons and the debug and front panel chassis connections.
Up the side of the board, we start with fan connections and run into SATA ports.
Moving towards the top of the board, we have a single USB 3.2 port and internal headers for Gen1 and Gen 2. Rounding things out, we have the 24-pin.
Across the top, we have two fan connections.
Along the top, we have two 8-pin power connections.
UEFI, Software and Test System
This BIOS should look familiar to anyone that has used an ASRock platform in the last few generations. Starting with EZ Mode, we have CPU and memory information top left and temperatures to the right. Down below, the dashboard is split up into categories for DRAM, fans, and storage, each having its respective options. To the far right, we have quick access to boot priority.
OC Tweaker includes current CPU and memory clocks at the top, tuning for both down below. The Advanced menu includes options for SATA storage and PCH along with Thunderbolt and NVMe. CPU config includes the ability to enable/disable cores, including E cores and P cores, separately.
Monitoring is included alongside fan control, while the tool menu allows you to control RGB and Secure Erase storage devices.
ASRock A-Tuning allows for quick access to performance profiles seen above.
Users also have the ability to manually tune from the OC Tweaker menu.
Additionally, with this platform using Killer for LAN and WLAN, you have access to Killer Intelligence Center.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our storage testing with the Rocket 4 Plus.
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i9 12900K
- RAM: Kingston Fury DDR5 6000MHz 16GB CL40 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: ASUS Thor 1200W (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench R23 and AIDA64
Cinebench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to highlight their newest platforms during unveils. The benchmark has two tests, a single-core workload that will utilize one thread or 1T. There is also a multi-threaded test that uses all threads or nT of a tested CPU.
Starting our testing, the Taichi got off to a great start pulling in 2011 in 1t.
nT showed 27640.
AIDA was recently updated to version 6.6, which improved performance in both AES and SHA3 workloads for Alder Lake CPUs. You will notice this performance jump in the charts below when compared to any earlier Z690 reviews.
In AES, Taichi did quite well, pulling in 207210.
SHA3 tapped in at 6037.
Memory throughput was a bit below our Z690 platform average, 75K read, 68K write, and 69K copy.
PCMark10,3DMark and CrossMark Benchmarks
UL Procyon Suite
The UL Procyon Office Productivity Benchmark uses Microsoft Office apps to measure PC performance for office productivity work.
The Photo Editing benchmark uses Adobe® Lightroom® to import, process, and modify a selection of images. In the second part of the test, multiple edits and layer effects are applied to a photograph in Adobe® Photoshop®.
The Video editing benchmark uses Adobe® Premiere® Pro to export video project files to common formats. Each video project includes various edits, adjustments, and effects. The benchmark score is based on the time taken to export the videos.
New to our testing is UL Procyon, which offers us the ability for more real-world testing in motherboard reviews. As seen above, the Taichi was the highest performing board to date.
Crossmark turned a score of 2383, which is slightly above average.
The Taichi ended up at the top end of all boards tested with CPU Profile. 16t came in at 10519.
Timespy showed the Taichi on par with all other platforms, the score came in at 922 using the UHD graphics.
Firestrike, like Timespy, shows performance on par with other Z690 motherboards.
Storage Benchmarks and Final Thoughts
3DMark Storage Benchmarks
UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it to be superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is, in fact, the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.
In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:
- Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
- Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
- Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
- Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
- Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
- Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
With several motherboards now tested under the new storage benchmark, we are starting to get a good idea of where our Rocket Plus should run. That said, the Taichi was middle of the pack, scoring 498 MB/s.
With each new chipset deployed, the Taichi is always one of the top boards I look for. This time around, it doesn't disappoint, offering the latest technology available, even packing in Thunderbolt 4 alongside Killer Networking. This, above all, cements this board's place in the market as a top bang for your buck platform in my eyes, as its $499 MSRP is really at the low end when we look at the overall market where Z690 motherboards have reached upwards of $2000.
The Taichi did quite well in testing, coming in near the top of most charts, including R23, Crossmark, and UL Procyon. Outside of that, DDR5 memory performance was on par with past Z690 platforms, and CPU Profile landed the board at the upper end of all boards.
Thermals for the board can be seen in the image above taken during the middle of Procyon testing. We have a small hotspot under the CPU socket that hits 39c, while the VRM sinks and chipset run between 32-35c.
Overall, the Taichi is a fantastic board with one of the best and most complete EFI/BIOS platforms available, coupled with top-notch software support with A-Tuning and KIC.
The Bottom Line
ASRock's Taichi represents the one of the best "bang for your buck" platforms available for Intel Alder Lake CPUs.