System Performance

Not all motherboards are created equal. On the face of it, they should all perform the same and differ only in the functionality they provide - however, this is not the case. The obvious pointers are power consumption, but also the ability for the manufacturer to optimize USB speed, audio quality (based on audio codec), POST time and latency. This can come down to manufacturing process and prowess, so these are tested.

For Z390 we are running an updated version of our test suite, including OS and CPU cooler. This has some effect on our results.

Power Consumption

Power consumption was tested on the system while in a single ASUS GTX 980 GPU configuration with a wall meter connected to the Thermaltake 1200W power supply. This power supply has ~75% efficiency > 50W, and 90%+ efficiency at 250W, suitable for both idle and multi-GPU loading. This method of power reading allows us to compare the power management of the UEFI and the board to supply components with power under load, and includes typical PSU losses due to efficiency. These are the real world values that consumers may expect from a typical system (minus the monitor) using this motherboard.

While this method for power measurement may not be ideal, and you feel these numbers are not representative due to the high wattage power supply being used (we use the same PSU to remain consistent over a series of reviews, and the fact that some boards on our test bed get tested with three or four high powered GPUs), the important point to take away is the relationship between the numbers. These boards are all under the same conditions, and thus the differences between them should be easy to spot.

Power: Long Idle (w/ GTX 980)Power: OS Idle (w/ GTX 980)Power: Prime95 Blend (w/ GTX 980)

Due to a slight variation in testing setups between the Z390 new test bench and the previous one, power was expected to run a little higher due to the use of a beefier 360mm AIO cooler. Thanks to this, the power draw does look a little less desirable but it's nothing to be concerned about.


Different motherboards have different POST sequences before an operating system is initialized. A lot of this is dependent on the board itself, and POST boot time is determined by the controllers on board (and the sequence of how those extras are organized). As part of our testing, we look at the POST Boot Time using a stopwatch. This is the time from pressing the ON button on the computer to when Windows starts loading. (We discount Windows loading as it is highly variable given Windows specific features.)


In regards to POST times, the ASRock Z390 Taichi came in as one of the quickest to boot into Windows with a POST time of just over 16 seconds at default settings. What's even more impressive is that the Taichi managed to beat its Z370 counterpart by more than a second when stripped of LAN and audio controllers.

DPC Latency

Deferred Procedure Call latency is a way in which Windows handles interrupt servicing. In order to wait for a processor to acknowledge the request, the system will queue all interrupt requests by priority. Critical interrupts will be handled as soon as possible, whereas lesser priority requests such as audio will be further down the line. If the audio device requires data, it will have to wait until the request is processed before the buffer is filled.

If the device drivers of higher priority components in a system are poorly implemented, this can cause delays in request scheduling and process time. This can lead to an empty audio buffer and characteristic audible pauses, pops and clicks. The DPC latency checker measures how much time is taken processing DPCs from driver invocation. The lower the value will result in better audio transfer at smaller buffer sizes. Results are measured in microseconds.

Deferred Procedure Call Latency

Even though none of the boards tested has been optimized for DPC latency, the ASRock Z390 Taichi puts in a good middle of the road showing with a maximum latency of 114 µs. This is just below that in terms of performance to the MSI B60 Gaming Arctic and the not too far behind the predecessor, the Z370 Taichi.

Board Features, Test Bed and Setup CPU Performance, Short Form
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  • imaheadcase - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    I'm not a big fan of dark color connectors on motherboards. Its a pain when trying to connect them if in tight spot.
  • gavbon - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    I can see your point! The trade off is having lighter ports which would stick out like a sore thumb; if in doubt, the torch on a phone is super handy! Again, I do see where you're coming from and you make a valid point
  • Beltonius - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    So, wait. Do all three M.2 ports (if populated with NVMe drives) disable SATA ports or does M2_2 only disable SATA ports if its populated with a SATA drive?

    The article is contradictory: "one M.2 shares bandwidth only when a SATA based drive is installed with one SATA port, so even if a user is using a PCIe 3.0 x4 capable drive in the slot, two associated SATA ports will be disabled regardless. The configuration is as follows:"
  • gavbon - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    If slot M.2_2 is using a PCIe drive, it doesn't disable the associated SATA port, only when a SATA drive is installed. The other M.2 ports will disable the shared SATA ports regardless of what's installed in them.
  • DanNeely - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    Assuming the same HSIO layout as Z370:

    The first m2 can block between 0 and 2 SATA ports depending on how other IO lanes are configured.

    The second M2 will block 2 SATA ports.

    The third M2 slot can't do SATA, and won't block any sata drives.
  • gavbon - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    The official specifications state:

    "*M2_1, SATA3_0 and SATA3_1 share lanes. If either one of them is in use, the others will be disabled.
    If M2_2 is occupied by a SATA-type M.2 device, SATA3_3 will be disabled.
    M2_3, SATA3_4 and SATA3_5 share lanes. If either one of them is in use, the others will be disabled."

    M.2_2 allows use of a PCIe SSD without disabling any SATA ports. I don't have the Z390 HSIO layout to hand (in pub currently), but all three of the M.2 slots on this board can use SATA drives at the cost of give SATA ports.
  • Beltonius - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    Okay, cool. That was my reading from other research, but the article wasn't clear.
  • Dug - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    I really wish we could get some in site to the sub components of motherboards. Things like, what's the performance of the m.2 slots when all 3 are configured? How about usb transfer speed tests. Some sound testing? Wi-fi tests. Any issues with dual nic's and teaming?

    So much more to a motherboard than overclocking.
  • Alexandrus - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    Vice-versa, not visa-versa, learn your Latin or stop using it all together.
  • gavbon - Thursday, November 1, 2018 - link

    Apologies, an obvious brain drop there. Will edit when I get home.

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