The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Today we take at an ASRock Z390 motherboard designed to satisfy the needs of the masses. Most people don't need really crazy motherboards with high-end features and don't want to spend over $200 on a motherboard.
For those people, motherboards such as the Extreme4 line from ASRock make a lot of sense. Let's see how this motherboard does with a 9900K!
The Z390 Extreme4 features two M.2 slots, Intel LAN, USB 3.1, and SATA6Gb/s.
The Z390 Extreme4 costs $289.99.
Packaging and Z390 Extreme4 Overview
Packaging and Overview
The box and packaging will do a good job of protecting the motherboard.
The accessory package includes four SATA6Gb/s cables, SLI HB bridge, IO shield, postcard, M.2 screws, driver DVD, manual, and software manual.
ASRock has five fan headers on this motherboard. The CPU fan header is circled in red and supports PWM fans. The other four circled in blue work with either 3-pin DC fans or 4-pin PWM fans. The headers circled in blue also offer up to 2A of current.
The motherboard has some high-end aesthetics with a gray and black color theme. The IO panel cover is a nice touch, as is the merging of the silkscreen on the PCB and design of the heat sinks. The back of the motherboard is bare of most components.
The rear IO panel features PS/2 keyboard/mouse, four USB 3.0 ports, DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, USB 3.1 type-A, USB 3.1 type-C, Gbit LAN, WIFI antenna bracket, and 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF out.
The PCI-E layout is as follows, x16/x0/x4 or x8/x8/x4 as the last PCI-E slot is routed to the PCH. While one of the M.2 slots has a heat sink, both of them run at x4 PCI-E 3.0 and offer SATA support, but they both also share bandwidth with two SATA6Gb/s ports. The M.2 WIFI card slot only supports WIFI cards, but it also supports Intel's new CVNI standard.
Six of the eight SATA6Gb/s ports are wired to the PCH, the other two come from an ASMedia adapter. There are two internal USB 3.0 headers and one internal USB 3.0 type-C header.
At the bottom of the motherboard, we find two USB 2.0 internal headers near a COM port. At the top of the motherboard, we find an 8-pin CPU power connector as well as a 4-pin CPU power connector.
At the bottom we find two RGB LED headers, a Thunderbolt GPIO header, and an addressable RGB LED header. Heatsinks make solid contacts with the components they cool.
ASRock Z390 Extreme4 Circuit Analysis
The Z390 Extreme4 shows us the goods with the heat sinks removed!
The VRM is in a 10+2 phase configuration. Each of the CPU and iGPU phases utilizes a dual N-channel SinoPower SM7341EH 25A MOSFET and a high current inductor. The main PWM controller is the UPI Semiconductor UP9521 in 5+2 phase mode.
Each of the five phases goes to a UP1965 driver, which them outputs to two power stages. The two phases for the iGPU phases use UP1962 drivers. The memory VRM is a large single phase set up as two phases and is controlled by a Richtek RT8120.
ASRock Z390 Extreme4 Circuit Analysis Continued
Audio is pretty straightforward; ASRock uses the ALC1220 and adds an additional amplifier to amplify the front output. The Texas Instruments NE5532 is used for the internal header while the rear IO gets the internal AMP in the codec. ASRock adds some Gold series audio capacitors to improve audio.
The NIC uses an Intel i219v PHY. The rear USB 3.1 ports utilize a dual channel PI3EQX re-driver for both ports along with an ASM1543 for the rear type-C port.
The two USB 3.0 internal headers are provided through an ASMedia ASM1074 hub. There is also an ASM1543 type-C controller used for the internal USB 3.0 port. The Realtek RTD2168 is what makes the VGA port possible on the motherboard.
The main SuperIO is the Nuvoton NCT6791D. A Nuvoton N76E885 is a microcontroller that provides RGB LED capabilities. Each of the RGB headers also has a Texas Instruments E-Fuse.
The motherboard also features dual 128Mbit BIOS ROMs. An ASMedia ASM1442K level shifter makes the HDMI port on the rear IO possible.
BIOS and Software
Here we have ASRock's UEFI, which is much like their other UEFIs. It offers all the basic and more advanced settings you need to overclock the CPU correctly. Fan control is present in both GUI form and manual input. Changing overclocking settings like setting a voltage will engage auto rules, such as increase LLC to level 1.
Software includes A-Tuning, Polychrome RGB, XFast LAN, and BIOS flashing.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Extreme4
- CPU: Intel Core i9 9900K
- Cooler: Corsair H110 - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum (2x8GB) 3200MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti FE - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Kingston KC1000 480GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Corsair Force LS 240GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - M.2 Drive: Intel 750 400GB U.2
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 900D - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor: EVGA PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
The Z390 Extreme4 has some basic RGBs built into it. It's not too flashy, but it looks good.
We hit an issue we believe is specific to our model, so we were not able to overclock the CPU for results.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 FLOPS and IOPS
3DMark: Fire Strike
3DMark: Cloud Gate
Overall, performance is pretty good. There aren't any issues with performance that we can see.
System IO Benchmarks
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The storage and networking performance is solid.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.
Sound Judgment by Ear: Excellent, ASRock's audio implementation is solid. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
System power is measured at the wall with an AC power meter.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and back side of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans to the right of the motherboard from the (Corsair H110i) radiator are left on automatic mode (ramps with internal block temperature). Additionally, a 120mm fan is situated right above the VRM, and it blows down at a medium rate (very quiet). Thermal Images are taken at loop 15 of Intel Burn Test
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The Z390 Extreme4 has very good thermal performance at stock. We can't currently vouch for it under overclocking, but we figure it should hold up with good cooling over the VRM area. Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts
Lots of features: The motherboard has many features, many more than you might think. You get two internal USB 3.0 headers, an internal type-C header, and two extra SATA ports. It also offers the infrastructure to upgrade to WIFI, and it features VGA, DP, and HDMI.
Triple M.2 slots: ASRock put in a whopping three M.2 slots, and in this day and age it seems they didn't remove one as many other vendors have done. That means you can utilize three of the latest M.2 drives for super-fast storage.
Aesthetics: ASRock's use of the PCB silkscreen to enhance the look of the motherboard is solid, and matches the heat sinks. The motherboard also has a bunch of RGB LEDs, as well as two RGB headers and an addressable RGB LED header.
Little low on USB on Rear IO: The motherboard has only five type-A USB ports on the rear IO, and four are USB 3.0. We like to see more, especially with space given to a VGA port and WIFI bracket that most people won't use.
Many people don't want to spend over $200 on a motherboard for their CPU, and if you are one of those people the Z390 Extreme4 might be the perfect motherboard for you. It offers a very large variety of features, and decent quality design all-in-one.
The motherboard also looks pretty good, with heat sinks and shields, and it includes built-in RGB LEDs as well as headers for both RGB LEDs and addressable RGB LEDs. If you are in the market for a Z390 motherboard with a lot of value, give the Z390 Extreme4 a look.
The Bottom Line: Loaded with tons of unexpected features at the sub $200 price point, the ASRock Z390 Extreme4 is excellent for anyone who wants the most features for their money.
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