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ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X Motherboard Review

Rating: 8.0.

Intel's desktop CPUs have lingered at 14nm since the arrival of desktop Broadwell in 2015 (i7 5775C) followed by desktop variants of Skylake (i7 6700K, 2015), Kaby Lake (i7 7700K, 2017), Coffee Lake (i7 8700K, 2017) and the Coffee Lake refresh (i9 9900K, 2019).

To compensate for persistent delays in shrinking to 10nm Intel has changed its approach, choosing higher CPU core counts and faster frequencies through product refreshes to provide the necessary “generational” performance gains consumers have come to expect.

By direct consequence motherboard vendors have faced renewed challenges to ensure that motherboards can keep up with an increasing power demand from Intel's CPUs on its mainstream platform, like the 127W TDP 5GHz 8-Core i9 9900KS. This has led to motherboard vendors refreshing designs to include higher capability power delivery systems, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X is one such example.

KitGuru already examined the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 motherboard during its initial launch in Q4 of 2018, and the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X is more of an incremental revision, rather than a complete redesign.

There are many similarities between the two motherboards in terms of shared specifications and the physical likeness, prospective buyers will notice a like-for-like rear I/O panel and seemingly identical connectivity across the board.

The main area of difference is the CPU VRM which is improved for Intel's Core i9 9900KS with its standard 127W TDP, up from 95W on the Core i9 9900K. While Intel's i9 9900KS wasn't released until October 2019, ASRock had already released the Phantom Gaming X revision by July 2019 in anticipation of the release that Intel had communicated to its board partners.

There are, however, other subtle amendments such as the addition of new WiFi-6 into the on-board WiFi module, inclusion of new thermal armor & backplate and an integrated rear I/O shield.

ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming X
Form Factor ATX, 24.4 x 30.5cm
CPU Socket Intel LGA 1151 v2
Renesas Intersil ISL69138 PWM controller in 6+1 phase mode for 12+2 virtual phases

7 Renesas Intersil ISL6617A doublers

14 x Vishay SiC634 50A Integrated Power Stages
Chipset  Intel Z390
Memory DDR4, 4 DIMMs, up to 64GB, up to 4266MHz+ with OC
On-board Graphics Intel UHD Graphics (on supported CPUs)
Discrete Graphics Up to 3-way AMD CrossFireX/Quad CrossFireX, Up to 2-way Nvidia SLI, Quad SLI
Expansion Slots  3 x PCIe 3.0 16X slots (x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/x0, x8/x4/x4)
2 x PCIe 3.0 1X slots (closed-ended)
Storage 6 x SATA III (Intel Z390)*
2 x SATA III (ASMedia ASM1061)
3 x M.2 PCIe 3.0 X4 or SATA III 6Gbps (Slot 1 and 2, 80mm max, Slot 3, 110mm max)*SATA ports 0&1, 3, and 4&5 share bandwidth with M.2 slots 1,2 and 3, respectively, when used in SATA mode (either/or arrangement)
USB  5 x USB 3.1 10Gbps (4 Rear [1 Type-C, Redriver], 1 Front [1 Type-C, ASM1562])

8 x USB 3.0 5Gbps (4 Rear [Intel Z390], 4 Front [ASM1074])

3 x USB 2.0 (3 Front [Intel Z390])

Networking 1 x Realtek Dragon RTL8125AG 2.5 Gigabit LAN
1 x Intel I219V Gigabit LAN
1 x Intel I211AT Gigabit LAN
Intel 802.11ax WiFi-6 2T2R up to 2.4Gbps with MU-MIMO and Bluetooth 5.0 (Intel AX200NGW)
Audio  Realtek ALC1220 7.1 channel HD audio with NE5532 amplifier
RGB 2 onboard RGB lighting zones (chipset heatsink and rear I/O cover)
2 x 12V G R B headers
1 x 5v digital addressable header
Fan Headers 8, all support 3/4 pin fans, (1 x CPU, 1 x CPU/WP, 6 x CHA/WP)
Rear I/O 2 x WiFi Antenna Ports
1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
1 x HDMI Port
1 x DisplayPort 1.2
1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
3 x USB 3.2 Type-A Ports (10 Gb/s) (ReDriver) (Supports ESD Protection)
1 x USB 3.2 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s) (ReDriver) (Supports ESD Protection)
4 x USB 3.1 [5 Gb/s] Ports (Intel Z390) (Supports ESD Protection)
3 x RJ-45 LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
1 x Clear CMOS Button
5 x HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)
UEFI  2 x 128Mb UEFI AMI BIOS (1 Main, 1 Backup)

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