ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 6

The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 6 sits below the Phantom Gaming 9 and Taichi boards in the product stack and offers similar features and design aspects, but at a lower price point. The Phantom Gaming 6 remains ATX and has the same RGB capabilities as the Phantom Gaming 9 and users would be hard pressed to tell which is which if they didn't already know; the chipset heatsinks are a slightly different shape, the power and reset buttons are this time located at the top and the Gaming 6 has an extra PCIe 3.0 x1 slot. Speaking more of PCIe, the Gaming 6 has three full-length PCIe 3.0 slots all coated in ASRock Steel Slot reinforcement and the slots operate at x16, x8 and x4 respectively.

In regards to storage, the Z390 Phantom Gaming 6 has a total of eight SATA ports and has two M.2 slots which both allow for PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA based drives to be installed. The board also has four RAM slots with support for up to DDR4-4266 and the capacity for up to a maximum capacity of up to 64 GB Unlike the Phantom Gaming 9 which has eight fan headers, the Phantom Gaming 6 has a reduced number with a total of five 4-pin headers available. Along the bottom of the board is an LED debug and ASRock advertises the board as having a 12-phase power delivery with an 8-pin and 4-pin 12 V ATX CPU set of power inputs which is mirrored from the Gaming 9; the board looks to be the same PCB, but with different componentry.

For the Z390 Phantom Gaming 6, ASRock has dropped one of the three LAN ports (Phantom Gaming 9) and equipped this board with two which consist of an Intel I211AT Gigabit and better grade Realtek RTL8125AG 2.5G LAN. The Phantom Gaming 6 also drops Wi-Fi support and some of the rear panel USB 3.1 Gen2 ports with a total of two composed of a Type-A and Type-C port; rounding off the USB is three USB 3.0 Type-A ports. A Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec is included which offers five 3.5mm audio jacks and a single S/PDIF optical output and a trio of video outputs comprised of an HDMI, D-sub and DisplayPort.

The ASRock Z390 Phantom 6 has a recommended retail price of $200 which sets this as one of the most feature-rich in its price point, especially with dual LAN including a 2.5G port. The board does lack Wi-Fi connectivity but for users looking to drop some features and ultimately the price, but keeping much of the same componentry and quality features as the $270 Z390 Phantom Gaming 9, the $70 price reduction seems fair.

ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 4
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  • gavbon - Tuesday, October 09, 2018 - link

    Thank you Hickory, will update now; this information wasn't available to us at the time Reply
  • bill44 - Tuesday, October 09, 2018 - link

    All this boards, but only 1 with Thunderbolt 3. Looks like Thunderbolt 3 is dead (free or not).
    Type C ports and HDMI 2.0 is in short supply too.

    Hopefully next year, we can have two or more USB C (maybe even 3.2), HDMI 2.1, PCIe 4/5 and Thunderbolt 3/4 (Titan Ridge?). Or maybe not, just the same old things hoping for 2020/21.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, October 09, 2018 - link

    There's no licensing fee for TB, the controller chip itself still costs money (IIRC $20 or $30) and still eats 4 PCIe lanes. Worse, IIRC to make the video out feature work they need to be CPU lanes; meaning that adding it means your main GPU slot is an x8, and the secondary one only x4. Reply
  • gavbon - Tuesday, October 09, 2018 - link

    Yeah it's a case of certain vendors opting to dismiss including TB3 ports, which only seems sensible on mini-ITX boards where PCIe lanes aren't too much of an issue. Consumer choice is important though and I'm still glad ASRock has included it; it could be a key buying decision for some! Reply
  • gamingkingx - Friday, October 12, 2018 - link

    Just too bad it is only wired as a x2.. And it is wired into the chipset as far as I am aware, so you are gonna max out your I/Os pretty fast. Reply
  • bill44 - Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - link

    Sure, anything you add will cost something. The are plenty of non-gamers who prefer TB3 vs x16.
    This also highlights how old current PC architecture is. Either we need more PCIe lanes, or faster lanes. Otherwise, all advances will be hindered.

    Up to 6 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports? You’ be lucky to get 4. Why can’t we have 6 Gen2 ports and the rest Gen1 an no antiquated USB 2.0? PCIe resources.
    All new peripherals use Type C, but this boards generally give you only 1 (saving money on redrivers). USB 3.2 (20 Gbps)? When it comes around, ithis too will need more PCIe lanes. M.2. PCIe 3.0 x4? All lanes are maxed out; the only way forward is faster lanes.

    In the past, Gigabyte was a TB3 champion including the functionality on many of their boards. Now, not a single one.

    Cost saving by motherboard makers? Prioritising gamers? Or simply no demand for TB3.
    The outcome is the same.
    Reply
  • repoman27 - Thursday, October 18, 2018 - link

    Intel merely said that they planned "to make the Thunderbolt protocol specification available to the industry under a nonexclusive, royalty-free license" sometime this year. This hasn't happened yet, and is referring to the protocol spec, not the silicon that Intel produces. If and when they decide to do this, ASMedia or whoever could then begin development of their own Thunderbolt controllers. This means that third-party controllers probably won't appear in shipping products until sometime in 2023.

    As for the currently available Thunderbolt 3 controllers, tray prices range from $6.45 to $9.10. But you also need a USB Type-C and PD controller, power switch, and high-speed mux which runs around $4.59, plus the connector and a few other bits. I don't believe Intel charges a royalty on finished Thunderbolt products, but they do require licensing and certification which are paid for by the OEM and may add significant cost to relatively low-volume products.

    AFAIK, Windows PCs are still required to connect Thunderbolt controllers via the PCH. Apple is the only one using PEG lanes for Thunderbolt, and they don't do that on the 27-inch iMacs where it might adversely impact the GPU.
    Reply
  • Dug - Tuesday, October 09, 2018 - link

    I hope it's not dead. Far more useful than USB C. I would be fine with USB C except there doesn't seem to be a good USB C to USB C hub, which really restricts how many devices you can use. I'm really glad to see it on ASRock itx board so I can attach a portable SSD array. Reply
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - link

    Tons of monitors of USB-C, anker sells USB-C hubs, I don't think i've seen thunderbolt in a desktop PC to date though. That best part of USB-C is being able to just plug phone into it and copy paste to desktop files (no Microsoft didn't invent that, it was always that way by default in windows) Reply
  • Valantar - Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - link

    TB3 is far from dead, it just has little use in desktop PCs. Have you looked at laptop lineups recently? TB3 is _everywhere_. My workplace (a major university here in Norway) has moved entirely to TB3 docking solutions as they're the only full-featured and universal(-ish) solution.

    eGPUs are useless on desktops. Desktops don't need docks. USB 3.1 is plenty fast for external storage, and if you need faster storage, desktops can fit that internally. The only real use cases for TB3 on a desktop are TB3 networking (for fast direct transfers between PCs) and adding things like extra NVMe or >GbE networking on ITX boards that don't have room for that and a GPU.
    Reply

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