Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
We have mentioned in past reviews that ITX platforms are few and far between on the Z690 chipset, mostly due to the new board requirements for DDR5 and PCIe5 but also VRM needs for Intel's Alder Lake CPUs. This pushes vendors to strike a balance between a high-end ITX platform and a motherboard that has enough features and connectivity to be viable in the market.
For ASRock, they have deployed the Phantom Gaming lineup to handle their single Z690 ITX chipset platform similarly as they did with Z590. The PG ITX/TB4, as the name would suggest, packs a significant amount of connectivity into the SFF ITX form factor, including Thunderbolt 4, as one would expect.
The rest of the hardware platform plays out as usual with LGA1700 socket support alongside a two-slot memory system that supports 64GB of DDR5. Speeds start at 4800MHz and run up to 6400MHz via XMP.
Expansion is limited being an ITX platform, with a single PCIe 5 slots pulling sixteen lanes from the CPU. M.2 slots include one pulling its lanes from the CPU and one pulling from the chipset, both supporting Gen4. Additionally, we have three SATA 6GB/s connectors for legacy storage.
Networking takes advantage of the Killer Networking Suite, including the E3100G LAN controller for 2.5Gbe and the AX1675 WiFi6e controller. Audio is powered by the popular ALC1220.
The ASRock Z690 PG ITX/TB4 carries an MSRP of $329.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
ASRock has given the PG its usual black and red colorway. The box highlights the chipset and CPU support along with its DDR5 support.
Specifications are listed below with features along the top on the back.
The PG includes a host of cables for SATA and Wi-Fi.
ASRock Z690 PG ITX/TB4 Overview
The PG is an ITX platform with an ample heat pipe solution handling the heat from the VRM. A small chipset heat sinks doubles as the M.2 slot.
On the back of the board, we do have armor with enough space cutout for the second m.2 at the bottom.
Rear I/O includes both HDMI and DP at the top. We then run into a host of USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, followed by the Thunderbolt 4 and USB 3.2 Gen 2 port. 2.5Gbe lives just off to the side while Wi-Fi and Audio land at the bottom of the board.
The board layout includes the PCIe slot at the bottom with the front panel audio header just above.
Around the corner, we run into SATA and USB 3.2 headers. The memory slots run tight against the edge here as well.
Up towards the top of the board, we have the 24pin power connection.
Across the top, we have several fan headers along with a single 8pin power connection.
UEFI, Software and Test System
This BIOS should look familiar for anyone that has used an ASRock platform in the last few generations though this one does have a PG theme added to it. 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 their own 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 can 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 PG got off to a great start pulling in 2004 in 1t.
nT showed 27653.
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, we found 207829 for the ITX platform.
SHA3 tapped in at 6038, on par with past boards.
Memory throughput was good and on par with what we have seen from other DDR5 boards. The PG grabbed up 81K for read, followed by 73K for write and 72K for 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, and this offers us the ability for more real-world testing in motherboard reviews. The PG ITX landed on par with the Taichi from earlier this month, office score at 9160 followed by 7985 for Photo and 2971 for Video.
Crossmark turned a score of 2341, slightly above the working average for Z690.
The PG ended up in the middle of the pack of all boards tested with CPU Profile. 16t came in at 10538.
Timespy showed the PG on par with all other platforms. The score came in at 933 using the UHD graphics.
Firestrike, like Timespy, shows performance on par with other Z690 motherboards at 2736.
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. In this scenario, the PG ITX grabbed 510 MB/s.
The PG ITX/TB4 was a solid board in testing, and the results speak for themselves as the board performs right with any other Z690 platform and, in some cases, did just as good as the ASRock flagship Taichi motherboard.
Features are in some cases better on this platform than some entry-level ATX motherboards with support for USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4, alongside a host of USB 3.2, both gen 1 and 2, and even Intel's Killer Suite with the E3100G and AX1675.
ASRock has added all of this to a capable platform that features an 11-phase SPS VRM, and while this isn't going to be an overclocking king, this board can easily handle any current-gen Alder Lake CPU.
On top of that, ASRock is somehow keeping the cost of this board within reason, as the MSRP of $329 makes it one of the lowest cost options for Z690, and it gets even cheaper if you shop around. The lowest I've seen currently is $299.
The Bottom Line
ASRock's Z690 PG ITX/TB4 offer the highest value among ITX motherboard using the Intel Z690 chipset.