The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Taichi has long been one of ASRock's best platforms for gamers and enthusiasts alike. For the most part, it's their top-tier motherboard platform unless you push more into extreme overclocking, where the OC Formula has traditionally been the board of choice.
With Z590, ASRock has come to market with a packed motherboard complete with all of the latest connectivity, including Killer Networks WiFi6e and 2.5GBe, Thunderbolt 4, and USB 3.2 Gen2x2. Additionally, the Taichi offers ASRock eight-layer, 2oz copper PCB. On top of that, SPS or smart power stages and premium 90A power chokes can take up to three times the traditional saturation current. A unique feature ASRock has implemented on Taichi are Lightning Gaming ports that use a conventional USB 3.2 Type-A connection, with each port having a separate controller to reduce latency in gaming.
Running through the specification of this board, processor compatibility includes both 10th and 11th Gen Intel CPUs; 10th Gen won't allow for PCIe Gen4 support and will disable the Hyper M.2 slot. The Taichi operates on the Z590 chipset with a 14-phase 12+2 VRM design that includes Dr. Mos power stages.
Memory support includes DDR4 2133MHz JEDEC for 10th Gen CPUs and DDR4 3200 MHz JEDEC for 11th Gen. Overclocking is supported up to DDR4 5000MHz. Eight SATA ports engage our storage connectivity with 2x Ultra M.2 ports tucked between the PCIe slots and one Hyper M.2 at the top.
Networking is handled by the Killer Suite that includes both the new E3100G 2.5Gbe controller and AX1675s WiFi6e chipset. Bluetooth 5.1 is supported here as well. Audio is handled by the Realtek ALC1220 that we have seen on many boards in recent memory.
External connectivity includes a 2x USB 3.2 port outlined on the rear panel for Lightning Gaming. You will also find another two USB 3.2 Gen 1 and two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. Rounding things out, we have Thunderbolt 4, HDMI, and audio connectivity along with antenna connections for those using WiFI.
The ASRock Z590 Taichi carries an MSRP of $459.99 with a three-year warranty.
Packaging, Accessories, and Overview
Packaging and Accessories
Packaging includes a dark-themed box Taichi logo centered. Chipset and CPU compatibility is listed top right.
On the back, we have additional details about the motherboard, including specifications at the bottom and features outlined above.
Included with the motherboard, you will find driver discs, reading materials, and extras, including a VRM fan, GPU holder, and SATA cables.
ASRock Z590 Taichi Overview
Taichi carries a mechanical aesthetic with gears that rotate on the Rear I/O cover, while the dark-themed armor on the motherboard has a rugged texture. The layout is quite familiar with Three PCIe x16 slots and three M.2 taking up the center real estate and the CPU socket and memory handling the top. The back of the motherboard is covered in an aluminum plate with Taichi branding to add stiffness to the board and aid cooling.
Rear I/O starts on the left with BIOS flashback and Antenna connections. We then move into HDMI and the two Lightning Gaming USB 3.2 ports. This is split by audio, including optical and another set of USB 3.2 and Thunderbolt 4 ports. Above these, you will find both i219v Intel Gbe and Killer E3100G 2.5Gbe.
Along the bottom of the board, we have front panel audio complete with WIMA audio caps. This is followed by fan and RGB headers, USB 2.0 to the far right.
As we get to the far end of the bottom row, you will find the debug LED, power, and rest along with front panel connections.
Wrapping around, we hit the eight SATA ports, the two on the left handled by an ASmedia controller while the last six are chipset. Far-right in this image, you can see the USB 3.2 Gen 1 and Gen2x2 headers.
24Pin power, along with the memory slots and additional fan headers, make an appearance in this image.
Last, we have the two eight-pin connections for CPU power.
PCB and Circuit Analysis
Getting in close with the VRM, we have a series of Renesas ISL99390 power stages, each handling 90A for a total of 1080A to the CPU and 180A for SoC.
Chipset is the focus in the image above, but we do have an ASmedia tucked away near the bottom SATA ports.
ALC1220 is pretty clear in the image above, but we do have the Killer E3100G up above.
UEFI, Software and Test System
ASRock offers one of the most intuitive BIOS platforms and one that handles mouse input quite well. EZ Mode provides a quick overview of the board's hardware, connectivity, and installed devices. You can enable XMP here and change fan settings.
The advanced mode starts with OC Tweaker; with full overclocking support, the big three split into their sections. CPU configuration includes BCLK and ratio support for AVX and Cache, while memory configuration includes XMP profiles settings and Gear 1,2 control for Rocket Lake CPUs. Voltage has its area as well, with every voltage listed with its current setting and the ability to change it to the right.
Further configuration is available in the advanced menu; this includes support for chipset, storage, and Thunderbolt along with USB and NVMe devices. Tools allow control over RGB functionality of the motherboard without software, and this board does allow you to change the I/O Gear timing. NVMe Sanitization and Secure erase are available along with BIOS and ME update tools.
Software for the Taichi is A-Tuning; we became familiar with this software in past platforms. This software offers basic BIOS control within windows with preset modes.
OC Tweaker allows you to change settings while in windows to better tune your OC. The settings you change here are changed in BIOS.
Settings show you the setup of your system, including voltages and temps.
Last we have Fan-Tastic tuning that will auto-tune your fans for efficient operation.
Motherboard Testing Supporters
Sabrent supports our motherboard testing with its fantastic Rocket 4 Plus
Thermaltake has recently come on board supporting our Z590 testing with their Toughram XG!
TweakTown Intel Motherboard Test System
- CPU: Intel Core i7 11700K
- GPU: ASUS TUF RTX 3080 10GB
- RAM: Thermaltake Toughram XG 2x8GB DDR4 4000 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: MSI CoreLiquid K360
- OS Storage: Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM1000X (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
Cinebench, Realbench and AIDA64
Cinebench is a long-standing render benchmark that has been heavily relied upon by both Intel and AMD to showcase 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.
Taichi did quite well in R23, showing 1549 single thread and 14670 nT.
Realbench uses both video and photo workloads to benchmark your CPU. We use all three workloads in this scenario.
Realbench gave us a time of 25.1 seconds for image editing, 25.4 seconds for encoding, and a combined time of 37.8 in multi-tasking.
Taichi grabbed up 57K in memory read, 39K write, and 43K copy. Of note, all three ASRock boards we have tested show this odd memory behavior where write and copy lag behind read.
Memory Latency was 58.9ns for the Taichi.
In AES, we reach 162034 with the Taichi.
SHA3 showed 5342, right in line with other platforms.
PCMark10 and PugetSystems Benchmarks
PCMark is a benchmark from UL and tests various workload types to represent typical workloads for a PC. Everything from video conferencing, image import, and editing, along with 3D rendering, are tested.
PCMark testing gave an overall score of 7947 for the Taichi, right with the Extreme and a few points off the PG Velocita.
Applications gave an overall score of 12329, right in line with the other platforms tested.
PugetBench comes from the fantastic people over at Puget Systems that have done countless hours and years benchmarking hardware. For our testing, we will utilize their Davinci Resolve, Photoshop, and Lightroom benchmarks, you can look into them more here
Puget for Photoshop ended with a score of 934
In Davinci Resolve, we see a score of 1110
System I/O Benchmarks
Storage with CrystalDiskMark
Storage tests are all handled by our Sabrent Rocket Plus NVMe 4.0 SSD. Secondary storage tests are conducted with our WD_Black P50 SSD.
Storage testing begins with sequential, Taichi pulling in 7021 MB/s read and 5392 MB/s write.
Q1 Random shows 74 MB/s read and 298 MB/s write, the best to date.
In our external storage testing, we see 469 MB/s from Gen 1, 1071 MB/s from Gen 2, and 1992 MB/s from Gen 2x2.
Audio - Dynamic Range
Testing audio, we set up RMAA with a 3.5mm cable from the line-in to speaker out (green to blue) and set both to 24Bit 192KHz. The Taichi produced 94.6dBA
Network testing showed pretty solid numbers for the Taichi, 2349Mbps for Wired, and 1296.4 for Wi-Fi.
Power, Thermals and Final Thoughts
Finishing up our testing, we logged a peak power draw of 481 watts during R23 testing; idle was around 124 watts.
Thermals were much lower with the 11700K, 21c idle and 61c load.
We did not explore overclocking formerly with the 11700K and Taichi in this article, but we wanted more time to tune our sample with several boards. That said, we did get some thermal images from our camera. The board does run relatively cool even on an open test bench like our Wetbench. Peak temps coming just below the memory slots, around 36c board temp with most of the motherboard hovering around 28c
Taichi is the epitome of an enthusiast motherboard, it has all of the bells and whistles one would expect from the platform, and with Z590, this means Thunderbolt 4, USB 3.2 Gen 1, 2, and 2x2, along with the full suite from Killer Networks with 2.5Gbe and Wi-Fi 6e. Further, this is a well laid out motherboard with a nod to aesthetics with its dark mechanical theme with the rotating gears.
Taichi was the first Z590 we tested with our Core i7-11700K, and after getting through a second run at testing the previous five boards we have reviewed, this Taichi holds its own against some solid competition from the Z590 ACE and Maximus HERO 13. It did take top marks in R23, AES, and SHA3 scenarios and was right in line with competing Z590 platforms in PCMark applications testing and Puget Bench Photoshop and Davinci Resolve. Taichi does seem to stand out when it comes to storage performance, with our top marks in 4KQ1 and Sequentials.
BIOS for the Taichi are a step above other motherboard platforms, especially if you are coming from an older platform; keyboard navigation is still very much alive with this platform, but it does have one of the best implementations of mouse support I've come across as well.
With all of this said, Taichi is not a cheap board by any means; at $459 MSRP, the $90 US price hike over Z490 does come with some benefits. For starters, you now have both USB 3.2 Gen2x2 and Thunderbolt 4 support coupled with 11th Gen RLS memory support up over 5000MHz and PCIe Gen4. To me, that's well worth the additional cost and puts Taichi as a top-five motherboard for enthusiasts to check out!
What We Like
Aesthetics: The motherboard theme brings life to your chassis.
Thunderbolt / USB 3.2: Plethora of high-speed external connectivity.
Killer Networks: More control over your network connectivity with Killer.
What Could Be Better
Price: ASRock continues to increase the price on Taichi, up another $90 this generation.
Z590 Taichi is as legit as ever with a feature packed platform fit for the PC enthusiast!