All the Intel Z390 motherboards announced so far
Intel is finally fixing some of the glaring omissions in the Z370 chipset. On October 8, the chipmaker announced its new Z390 chipset, which will replace Z370 at the top of its line-up of mainstream chipsets. Z390 will work with Intel's new 9th-generation desktop chips – the Core i9-9900K, Core i7-9700K, and Core i5-9600K – providing a fitting conclusion to Intel's somewhat patchy rollout of its 300-series chipsets.
When Intel first released its 8th-generation Coffee Lake desktop chips in September last year, you could only pair them with high-end Z370 motherboards. Intel didn't release more affordable offerings till April this year in the form of the B360, H310, and H370 chipsets, and the strange thing was that these cheaper chipsets came with features that Z370 lacked.
This included native support for USB 3.1 (Gen 2) and integrated 802.11ac wireless capabilities, which put Z370 in an odd spot. Z390 rectifies this awkward situation somewhat. It will come with both of these features, even improving on them somewhat with support for up to six USB 3.1 (Gen 2) ports, compared to just four in the lower-end chipsets.
In addition, Z390 motherboards will include integrated SDXC (SDA 3.0) support.
However, I should note that things like integrated Wi-Fi are optional, so not all motherboards will choose to implement it.
ASRock has a huge selection of Z390 boards, including everything from mini-ITX to ATX boards. Here's a look at what's been announced so far:
- ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate (S$499)
- ASRock Z390 Taichi (S$399)
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 6
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 4
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI/ac
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
- ASRock Z390 Extreme4
- ASRock Z390 Pro4
- ASRock Z390M Pro 4
- ASRock Z390M-ITX/ac
Right now, it looks as if only the Z390 Taichi Ultimate and Taichi will be available to buy here, so I'll be focusing mainly on these two boards.
The Z390 Taichi Ultimate is ASRock's Z390 flagship, and it is bristling with a wide range of networking and connectivity options. For starters, it features eight SATA 6Gbps ports and three M.2 sockets (both SATA and PCIe drives are supported), so there are truly plenty of storage expansion options.
On top of that, there are a total of five USB 3.1 (Gen 2) ports, comprising one front Type-C header and one Type-C and three Type-A ports at the back. In addition, there are a further eight USB 3.1 (Gen 1) ports, four for the front and four for the back.
The integrated 2x2 Intel wireless solution supports a maximum throughput of up to 1.73Gbps, which means you'll need an 802.11ac Wave 2 router to take full advantage of it. In addition, the board boasts an Aquantia AQtion client controller for 10Gbps Ethernet, on top of dual Intel LAN, should you actually have the plan to support it.
To help with overclocking, ASRock has gone with a 12-phase power design and 8+4-pin CPU headers to supply additional power to your processor. ASRock has also added the upgraded Hyper BCLK Engine II, its external base clock generator that provides a wider range of frequencies for manual overclockers.
The Z390 Taichi is very similar, and the main difference is its lack of the Aquantia controller for 10Gbps Ethernet. It also comes with a 1x1 Intel Wi-Fi module that supports a maximum throughput of just 433Mbps. There's no support for Bluetooth 5.0 either, and it is compatible with just Bluetooth 4.2.
But that aside, it shares the same PCIe slot layout and USB configuration as the Z390 Taichi Ultimate.
ASRock has also introduced a new Phantom Gaming series for its Z390 motherboards, ditching the gaming-oriented Fatal1ty branding. The Phantom Gaming range is ASRock's new gaming series, and the overall design language is more subtle than the stark red and black of the Fatal1ty boards.
The Phantom Gaming 9 actually shares a lot in common with the Taichi Ultimate, and it comes with three LAN ports as well, although the third port is supplied by a Realtek 2.5G LAN controller. It also has an 802.11ac Wave 2-capable Wi-Fi adapter.
Finally, there a total of eight SATA 6Gbps ports and three M.2 sockets, so storage connectivity is as rich as ever.