Today on the test bench is the brand new ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard. The ITX small form factor is very popular with consumers and ASRock looks to take as many top features as they possibly can such as 2.5G LAN, 2T2R Wi-Fi and cram it onto a small, but desirable PCB.
Before we dive into the specifications and a closer look at the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard itself, here is what ASRock has to say about their pocket rocket powerhouse for Intel’s 8th and 9th generation processors:
“Using the cutting edge i9-9900K processors, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/AC natively supports speeds of up to 2666 MHz, and up to 3400 MHz with overclocking. There are also numerous technical innovations, enhancements and an array of storage solutions. For instance, as well as a PCIe x16 slot, it has dual M.2 slots capable of running ultra-fast NVMe-M.2 SSDs, resulting in a data transfer rate of nearly 4 GB/s. This makes M.2 PCIe SSDs up to eight times faster than SATA 6G SSDs. There is also an M.2 Key E for full WiFi/BT-Module (incl. 802.11ac) support
There are four SATA 6G connectors for 3.5″- or 2.5″ hard drives and SSDs (incl. RAID support) and up to 32GB of RAM can be added.
The board offers excellent options for connecting external peripherals. The motherboard comes with an I/O panel boasting an array of the very latest and greatest connectivity standards including four USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A and two USB 3.1 Gen1 ports and support for Thunderbolt. The video is displayed via an HDMI or DisplayPort 1.2 while a Realtek ALC1220 connection allows for excellent sound output”
Ok, so the Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is an ITX sized beast, but let’s take a look at the specifications and what the board looks like, shall we…
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Specifications & Features
- Form Factor:
1151(v2) (for 8th and 9th Intel-CPUs Core-Generation)
2x DDR4 (2666 MHz up to 4500 MHz)
Max. 32 GB
1x PCIe 3.0 x16
1x M.2 Key E (WiFi/BT-Module, incl. 802.11ac)
- Internal connection:
4× SATA 6G
1x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x2 & SATA; 2280)
1x M.2 (PCIe 3.0 x2 & SATA; 2260 / 2280)
2x USB 3.0 (Header)
2x USB 2.0 (Header)
1x CPU-Fan-Header (4-Pin)
1x Fan-Header (4-Pin)
1x Water Pump connection (4-Pin)
1x RGB-LED-Header (3-Pin)
1x RGB-LED-Header (4-Pin)
- External Connections:
4× USB 3.1 Gen2 Typ A
2x USB 3.1 Gen1
1x Thunderbolt 3
1x Gigabit-LAN (Intel I219V)
1x Clear CMOS-Button
5x Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Codec mit SupremeFX)
- Power supply:
1x 24-Pin EATX 12V
1x 8-Pin ATX 12V
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Closer Look
The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard has a mini-ITX PCB and has a lovely and basic looking design. The PCB is black in colour and the heatsinks are also black. This gives off a nice look which should fit well with other system components with similar colours. The PCB also has RGB with a strip located along the underside of the board.
The VRM on the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard has a 5+2 VRM design which is more than capable of handling anything you can throw at it. To power the board you will need an 8pin 12V power cable and a 24pin 12V motherboard cable from the power supply.
As its an ITX motherboard, there are 2 RAM slots which support 4266MHz DDR4 memory. These run in dual channel and with ITX boards having shorter traces to the CPU socket, they generally offer slightly better performance over 4 slot boards.
For an ITX motherboard, the Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac has plenty of storage options with 2 x M.2 slots and a total of 4 x SATA 6Gbs ports. One of the M.2 slots is on the front of the PCB underneath the chipset heatsink and the other is located on the rear of the board.
On the rear panel is plenty for you to sink your teeth into. Firstly ASRock has put 4 x USB 3.1 10Gbps Type-A ports on the back and a very sought after Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port is included. The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac also has a Gigabit LAN port, onboard audio connectors with an S/PDIF optical output and 2T2R Wi-Fi capability which is Intel powered. The audio is controlled by the Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec. Also present is a clear CMOS switch and a PS/2 combo port for older keyboards and mice. Finishing off the rear panel is a DisplayPort 1.4 and an HDMI 2.0 display output.
The biggest thing to note from the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is the sheer amount of premium quality displayed from multiple aspects of the board. The power phases are capable, the heatsink is more than good enough and the rear panel has Thunderbolt 3. For the price, it’s hard to beat on paper, but it’s time to see if this should be your go-to mini-ITX motherboard. Time to do some testing…
ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Performance: Test Setup and Results
Test Bench and Setup
In the interest of fairness and to show real-world performance, the processor was left at stock. All of the motherboards and processors seen in the graphs below are set with multi-core enhancement enabled (on supported models) and are at the mercy of the motherboard itself. To keep things on an even playing field along with previously tested processors, we have used the same DDR4 memory running at 3000MHz with the same graphics card and the same testing methodology.
Motherboard: ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K (Stock settings)
CPU Cooling: be quiet! Silent Loop 240mm
GPU: ZOTAC GTX 1060 6GB
RAM: Ballistix Elite 3000MHz 16GB (2x8GB)
PSU: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 11 1000w
OS: Windows 10 Professional x64
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Time Spy
Ashes of the Singularity
The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac Review: The Verdict
The ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac motherboard has a lot of features and solutions up its sleeve that makes it impressive. For such a small motherboard, it has 2 x M.2 slots with one located on the front and the other on the rear. Not many ITX boards could do this, but the Phantom Gaming series has plenty to offer. Some of the biggest inclusions are the Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port, 4 x USB 3.1 10Gbps Type-A and an HDMI 2.0 port.
Style and performance wise, this board is high-grade in every sense of the word and with elegant looks and consistent performance, this is a solid mini-ITX offering. This is probably the best ITX motherboard for gamers money can buy currently. The performance for this motherboard is comparable to other boards tested but the Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX/ac motherboard did perform slightly better in Cinebench R15. This is most likely due to shorter traces between the memory slots and CPU socket which can give a small boost in performance when done correctly. This is why overclockers look to go with boards that have 2 ram slots instead of 4.
- Top quality performance
- Looks great
- 2 x M.2 slots on ITX is impressive
- The only Z390 motherboard to have a rear panel Thunderbolt 3 Type-C port
- Price is highly competitive
- More features than a lot of ATX boards!
Even though making a claim like this is the best mini-ITX motherboard money can currently buy is a large claim to live up to, this really is one of the most impressive Z390 motherboards there is. The Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac has 2T2R Wi-fi, lots of USB 3.1 10Gbps ports and even a Thunderbolt 3 port. Everything about this Z390 motherboard screams top quality. We even managed to overclock our Intel Core i9-9900K processor to 5.1GHz on all-cores without any issues whatsoever which provided a nice performance increase over stock settings. This was around 300 points higher than the score with default settings.
If you’re looking for a new motherboard and you’re not too bothered about bigger sized cases, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is simply amazing. It has style, it has performance, it has quality and the only thing it doesn’t have is a caravan park… Ok, that’s a bit far, but you get the drift!
Depending on where you buy your hardware, the ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac is retailing for under £200 at Amazon UK and that’s more than acceptable. Some places might have it cheaper, some might not. What is clear though is that this motherboard plays right from the top drawer and is the Neymar of small form factor motherboards.
Thanks to ASRock for sending a sample of the Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac in for review.