Starting off our large Z490 motherboard overview alphabetically, we take a look at the models from ASRock. As we've seen previously, ASRock is marketing its gaming-focused models with a handful of PG branded models at launch, with the Taichi, and Steel Legend boards making a reappearance. One of the most interesting features of the ATX sized ASRock Z490 models is the inclusion of a PCIe 4.0 clock generator, which is designed to offer longevity to its boards with support for Intel Rocket Lake. This allows the top full-length PCIe slot to run PCIe 4.0 from the CPU, which stretches to the PCIe M.2 slots which are driven from the CPU, and not the chipset.

ASRock Z490 Taichi

The ASRock Taichi series is one of its most prominent brands since it was introduced on the Intel Z270, and AMD X370 chipsets. The ASRock brand has evolved since then with more unique aesthetics and is usually associated with its premium range of models offered. The ASRock Z490 Taichi includes a PCIe 4.0 clock generator which allows support for Intel's Rocket Lake processors when it is released. Also present is three PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slots, eight SATA ports, a Realtek 2.5 G Ethernet controller, and 12-phase power delivery for the CPU. 

For the design, the ASRock Z490 Taichi has a primarily black aesthetic with Taichi clockwork inspired branding over the rear panel cover, heatsinks, and the PCIe area cover. It has multiple areas of integrated RGB LEDs including the rear panel cover, the chipset heatsink, and at the right-hand underside of the board. On the rear of the board is a large black metal backplate, which also has a Taichi clockwork inspired design. The power delivery is controlled by an Intersil ISL69269 PWM controller, with a 12+2+1 power delivery design using ISL 50 A DrMOS power stages. It uses a large pair of heat pipe connected heat sinks, with the rear panel cover area including a single cooling fan integrated into the design, with two small cooling fans on the other power delivery heatsink. 

The core feature set consists of three full-length PCIe 3.0 slots which run at x16, x16/x8, and x16/x8+4, with an additional two PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. For storage, there's three PCIe 3.0 x4 slots, with six SATA ports from the chipset, and two additional ports from an ASMedia ASM1061 controller. Each M.2 slot has its own Taichi inspired heatsink, while the bottom of the board includes a basic overclockers toolkit with a power and reset button. As mentioned, it includes a PCIe 4.0 clock generator for support for Intel's unreleased Rocket Lake processors which will also be released on socket LGA1200. This adds PCIe 4.0 support for the M.2 slots, as well as the top full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slot. 

Included on the rear panel of the ASRock Z490 Taichi is one USB 3.2 G2 20 Gbps Type-C, two USB 3.2 G2 10 Gbps Type-A, and five USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. For networking, ASRock includes an Intel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 and BT 5.1 wireless interface, with two Ethernet ports, one controlled by a Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 G, and the other by an Intel I219-V Gigabit controller. For users planning to use integrated graphics, there's a pair of video outputs consisting of an HDMI, and DisplayPort 1.4 output. Finishing off the rear panel is a PS/2 combo port, five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output controlled by a Realtek ALC1220 HD codec, and a BIOS Flashback button.

The ASRock Z490 Taichi is a premium model with a good range of USB 3.2 G2 support on the rear panel, benefits from a 12+2+1 power delivery for enthusiasts, and a solid section of networking options including Wi-Fi 6 and a 2.5 G Ethernet controller. Its Taichi design is well versed and stylish, with some support for PCIe 4.0 when Intel releases its Rocket Lake processors, which is another big plus point. ASRock hasn't yet unveiled a price for the Z490 Taichi, but we will update this as more information starts to filter in.

ASRock Z490 Aqua ASRock Z490 PG Velocita
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  • Tomatotech - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Get better hubs then. At least mains powered hubs.

    I understand not everyone has wifi/ ethernet printers, bluetooth / radio mouse / keyboard / headset, or usb hubs in their monitors, but there does seem to be slightly less need for lots of USB ports compared to a few years ago.
    Reply
  • Beaver M. - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    Not an option due to several reliability issues and issues recognizing claimed "better hubs" in the first place. Even well known big companies produce crappy USB hubs.

    As a normal user I have
    a printer
    a mouse
    a keyboard
    a gamepad with USB dongle
    a USB headset
    an external HDD
    several external USB ports for USB sticks, temporary Bluetooth dongles, charging devices, etc., which can be up to 4 at a time

    Specialized
    things:
    a joystick
    a USB microphone interface

    Not really unusual.
    Add webcams, card readers, Wifi adapters and many other not really unusual stuff and you still wont have anything rare.

    Lots of USB ports are important. Period. And it doesnt even matter if its an ATX board or a NUC. They are always very important.
    Reply
  • duploxxx - Friday, May 8, 2020 - link

    wow so many USB that you need in the back, how long have you been searching on the internet to find all of these? You can buy cases that also serve USB, or backend brackets….

    a printer : wireless
    a mouse - keyb sure
    a gamepad, connected from the back? often to short cable
    a USB headset ---- audio connection which you can link with USB mic….
    a USB External HDD.... zzz one that you can put away for backup or just horrible initial design from storage perspective
    several external USB.... all front unless you Always use your usb dongles and put them in the back "loooooool"
    joystick.... yeah use gmaepad and joystick at the same time. same as the gamepad regarding cable length

    webcam... easy connection in monitor hub
    card readers... again in the back used all day right....
    USB wifi adapters? really are you joking?

    in other words lots of pathetic feedback... learn to design a desktop computer
    Reply
  • Beaver M. - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    Low USB port count has been a problem far longer than 5 years.
    Only Asus seem to have gotten the hint at some point, but Asus is crappy quality and CS.
    Seeing Gigabyte adding enough now is a good sign, because they usually were the ones having the least amount of them.

    I agree on the hubs. Not only do they die, some of them even nuke your mainboards USB ports through feedback loops. Not to mention they always either have connection problems or issues with sleep or hibernation.
    Reply
  • Chaitanya - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    Whats wierd is most of the boards from Asus and Asrock have multiple 40mm fans to cool VRMs while they seem to stick solid slabs of Aluminium and calling it a day unlike Gigabyte and Msi(on top end atleast) who have proper finned heatsinks. Reply
  • Deicidium369 - Friday, May 1, 2020 - link

    The only reason people think Asus are a high end manufacturer is their price and the truckloads of equipment they give to anyone with more than 10 subs on Youtube. Gigabyte or go home. Reply
  • Beaver M. - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    Agreed. Same with ASRock and their crappy customer support and massive USB issues.

    Gigabyte always tried to add important features. Remember when they added their "extra ounces" of copper? All other manufacturers whined that it doesnt do anything and Gigabyte should stop because its a "waste of resources". LOL!
    Now they all do it because it makes the mainboard much more reliable.
    Sure, they dont have the best OC boards, but in the last few years OC has become very niche, because you cant really OC CPUs well anymore, unless you want to use LN or custom liquid coolers.
    Reply
  • Andrew LB - Sunday, May 10, 2020 - link

    I've been building/repairing/upgrading computers for people for close to 30 years and I've had more problems with Gigabyte than any other current major brand. Abit was even worse but they're long gone. I'm willing to bet that those of you who say a company has bad customer service was due to you contacting them via e-mail. Pickup the phone next time and i bet it will go much easier.
    Best CS from my experience is EVGA.
    Reply
  • taz-nz - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    To many board still don't have attached back plates, should be standard now.

    Nice to see gigabyte bring proper finned heatsink to Mid range board, pity so many other boards still have cosmetic lumps of aluminum, instead of proper VRM heatsinks, and worse that so many still choose to cover the those so called heatsinks with cosmetic plastic covers that only reduce airflow and hurt thermal performance more, while also interfering with large air cooler fitment.
    Reply
  • Oxford Guy - Saturday, May 2, 2020 - link

    "What's interesting is how similar the Z490 and Z390 chipsets are in terms of specifications, which adds the question of why Intel has opted for a new socket, on what is effectively a refresh of its 14 nm process node."

    Baffling is a better word than interesting.

    If AMD weren't so competitive then it would make more sense to paint oneself into a corner even more.
    Reply

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