ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review

Manufacturer: ASRock ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review

We have covered a couple of ASRock motherboards recently, with Josh’s video review of the X570 Phantom Gaming X, and my own look at the Z390 Phantom Gaming X. And while those PGX boards represent the top of the ASRock product stack for those platforms, their Taichi counterparts offer a tempting mix of features at lower list prices.

Today we have a Taichi board for you, and this time there is no PGX option above it (though the Z490 AQUA sits far above at the top of ASRock’s Z490 lineup). What this means is that we are looking at the highest-end conventional offering from ASRock here for Intel’s new LGA1200 processors. And what exactly do you get with this ~$370 motherboard? Let us explore.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 11

Features from ASRock:

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1200)
  • 15 Phase Dr.MOS Power Design
  • Supports DDR4 4666MHz+ (OC)
  • 3 PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 PCIe 3.0 x1
  • Supports NVIDIA SLI, AMD 3-Way CrossFireX
  • Graphics Output Options: HDMI, DisplayPort
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
  • 8 SATA3, 2 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3), 1 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4)
  • 1 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 20Gb/s Rear Type-C
  • 3 USB 3.2 Gen2 10Gb/s (2 Rear Type-A, 1 Front Type-C)
  • 9 USB 3.2 Gen1 (4 Front, 5 Rear)
  • Dragon 2.5 Gigabit LAN, Intel Gigabit LAN
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax (2.4Gbps) + BT 5.1
  • ASRock Polychrome SYNC
Product Specifications

Unique Feature

  • ASRock USB 3.2 Gen2
  • ASRock Front Panel Type-C USB 3.2 Gen2 Header (10 Gb/s)
  • ASRock USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C Port (20 Gb/s)
  • ASRock USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
  • ASRock Super Alloy
  • XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
  • Premium 60A Power Choke
  • 50A Dr.MOS
  • Premium Memory Alloy Choke (Reduces 70% core loss compared to iron powder choke)
  • Combo Caps (Nichicon 12K Black Caps)
  • Nichicon 12K Black Caps (100% Japan made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
  • I/O Armor
  • Matte Black PCB
  • High Density Glass Fabric PCB
  • 2oz Copper PCB 2.5G LAN
  • Intel 802.11ax WiFi
  • ASRock Steel Slots
  • ASRock Full Coverage M.2 Heatsink
  • ASRock Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • ASRock Ultra USB Power
  • ASRock Full Spike Protection (for all USB, Audio, LAN Ports)
  • ASRock Live Update & APP Shop

CPU

  • Supports 10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors (Socket 1200)
  • Digi Power design
  • 15 Power Phase design
  • Supports Intel Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Technology
  • Supports Intel K-Series unlocked CPUs
  • Supports ASRock BCLK Full-range Overclocking
  • Supports ASRock Hyper BCLK Engine III

Chipset

  • Intel Z490

Memory

  • Dual Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
  • 4 x DDR4 DIMM Slots
  • Supports DDR4 4666+(OC)* / 4600 / 4500 / 4400 / 4333/4266(OC) / 4133(OC) / 4000(OC) / 3866(OC) / 3800(OC) / 3733(OC) / 3600(OC) / 3200(OC) / 2933 / 2800 / 2666 / 2400 / 2133 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
  • Supports ECC UDIMM memory modules (operate in non-ECC mode)
  • Max. capacity of system memory: 128GB**
  • Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 2.0
  • 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
  • *Please refer to Memory Support List on ASRock’s website for more information.
  • Core (i9/i7) support DDR4 up to 2933; Core (i5/i3), Pentium and Celeron support DDR4 up to 2666.
  • **Due to the operating system limitation, the actual memory size may be less than 4GB for the reservation for system usage under Windows 32-bit OS. For Windows 64-bit OS with 64-bit CPU, there is no such limitation.

BIOS

  • 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with multilingual GUI support
  • ACPI 6.0 Compliant wake up events
  • SMBIOS 2.7 Support
  • CPU Core/Cache, CPU GT, DRAM, VPPM, VCCSFR, VCCPLL, VCCSTG, VCCSTG_OUT, PCH Voltage, VCCIO, VCCST, VCCSA, CPU Internal PLL, GT PLL, Ring PLL, System Agent PLL, Memory Controller PLL Voltage Multi-adjustment

Graphics

  • Hardware Accelerated Codecs: AVC/H.264, HEVC/H.265 8bit, HEVC/H.265 10bit, VP8, VP9 8bit, VP9 10bit, MPEG 2, MJPEG, VC-1**
  • Graphics, Media & Compute: Microsoft DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.5, Intel Built In Visuals, Intel Quick Sync Video, Hybrid / Switchable Graphics, OpenCL 2.1
  • Display & Content Security: Rec. 2020 (Wide Color Gamut), Microsoft PlayReady 3.0, Intel SGX Content Protection, UHD/HDR Blu-ray Disc
  • Dual graphics output: support HDMI and DisplayPort 1.4 ports by independent display controllers
  • Supports HDMI 1.4 with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2160) @ 30Hz
  • Supports DisplayPort 1.4 with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2304) @ 60Hz
  • Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI 1.4 Port (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
  • Supports HDCP 2.3 with HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.4 Ports
  • Supports 4K Ultra HD (UHD) playback with HDMI 1.4 and DisplayPort 1.4 Ports
  • *Intel UHD Graphics Built-in Visuals and the VGA outputs can be supported only with processors which are GPU integrated.
  • ** VP9 10bit and VC-1 are for decode only.
  • VP8 and VP9 encode are not supported by Windows OS.

Audio

  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec)
  • Premium Blu-ray Audio support
  • Supports Surge Protection
  • WIMA Audio Capacitors (For Front Outputs)
  • ESS SABRE9218 DAC for Front Panel Audio (130dB SNR)
  • Pure Power-In
  • Direct Drive Technology
  • PCB Isolate Shielding
  • Impedance Sensing on Rear Out port
  • Individual PCB Layers for R/L Audio Channel
  • Gold Audio Jacks
  • 15μ Gold Audio Connector
  • Nahimic Audio

LAN

  • 1 x 2.5 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000/2500 Mb/s (Dragon RTL8125BG)
  • Supports Dragon 2.5G LAN Software
  • Smart Auto Adjust Bandwidth Control
  • Visual User Friendly UI
  • Visual Network Usage Statistics
  • Optimized Default Setting for Game, Browser, and Streaming Modes
  • User Customized Priority Control
  • Supports Wake-On-LAN
  • Supports Lightning/ESD Protection
  • Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
  • Supports PXE 1 x Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s (Intel I219V)
  • Supports Wake-On-LAN
  • Supports Lightning/ESD Protection
  • Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
  • Supports PXE

Wireless LAN

  • Intel 802.11ax WiFi Module
  • Supports IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ax
  • Supports Dual-Band (2.4/5 GHz)
  • Supports WiFi6 802.11ax (2.4Gbps)
  • 2 antennas to support 2 (Transmit) x 2 (Receive) diversity technology
  • Supports Bluetooth 5.0 + High speed class II
  • Supports MU-MIMO

Slots

  • 3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slots (PCIE1/PCIE3/PCIE5: single at x16 (PCIE1); dual at x8 (PCIE1) / x8 (PCIE3); triple at x8 (PCIE1) / x8 (PCIE3) / x4 (PCIE5))*
  • 2 x PCI Express 3.0 x1 Slots
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX, 3-Way CrossFireX and CrossFireX
  • Supports NVIDIA and SLI
  • Support NVIDIA SLI with NVIDIA Quadro graphics cards
  • Supports NVIDIA NVLink with dual NVIDIA GeForce RTX series graphics cards**
  • 1 x Vertical M.2 Socket (Key E) with the bundled WiFi-802.11ax module (on the rear I/O)
  • 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE1)
  • *Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
  • **NVIDIA NVLink Bridge does not come with the package. Please purchase it from NVIDIA if necessary.

Storage

  • 6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel Rapid Storage Technology 17), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug*
  • 2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors by ASMedia ASM1061, support NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
  • 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_1), supports M Key type 2280 M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)**
  • 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_2), supports M Key type 2260/2280 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)**
  • 1 x Ultra M.2 Socket (M2_3), supports M Key type 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)**
  • *M2_2, SATA3_0 and SATA3_1 share lanes. If either one of them is in use, the others 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.
  • M2_3, SATA3_4, SATA3_5 and USB32_TC_1 share lanes. If either one of them is in use, USB32_TC_1 will downgrade to 16 Gb/s max.
  • **Supports Intel Optane Technology (M2_1 and M2_2 only)
  • Supports NVMe SSD as boot disks
  • Supports ASRock U.2 Kit

Connector

  • 1 x SPI TPM Header
  • 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
  • 2 x RGB LED Headers*
  • 2 x Addressable LED Headers**
  • 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)***
  • 1 x CPU/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
  • 6 x Chassis/Water Pump Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)****
  • 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
  • 2 x 8 pin 12V Power Connectors (Hi-Density Power Connector)
  • 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
  • 1 x Thunderbolt AIC Connector (5-pin) (Supports ASRock Thunderbolt 3 AIC R2.0 Card only)
  • 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Intel Z490) (Supports ESD Protection)
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.2 Gen1 ports) (ASMedia ASM1074 hub) (Supports ESD Protection)
  • 1 x Front Panel Type C USB 3.2 Gen2 Header (Intel Z490) (Supports ESD Protection)
  • 1 x Clear CMOS Button
  • 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
  • 1 x Power Button with LED
  • 1 x Reset Button with LED
  • *Support in total up to 12V/3A, 36W LED Strip
  • **Support in total up to 5V/3A, 15W LED Strip
  • ***The CPU Fan Connector supports the CPU fan of maximum 1A (12W) fan power.
  • ****The Chassis/Water Pump Fan supports the water cooler fan of maximum 2A (24W) fan power.
  • CPU_FAN2/WP_3A, CHA_FAN1/WP, CHA_FAN2/WP, CHA_FAN3/WP, CHA_FAN4/WP, CHA_FAN5/WP and CHA_FAN6/WP can auto detect if 3-pin or 4-pin fan is in use.
  • CPU_FAN2/WP_3A supports the water cooler fan of maximum 3A (36W) fan power.

Rear Panel I/O

  • 2 x Antenna Ports
  • 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
  • 1 x HDMI Port
  • 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
  • 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A Ports (10 Gb/s) (ReDriver) (Supports ESD Protection)
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C Port (20 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM3242) (Supports ESD Protection)*
  • 5 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Ports (Supports ESD Protection)**
  • 2 x RJ-45 LAN Ports with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
  • 1 x BIOS Flashback Button
  • HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone (Gold Audio Jacks)
  • *M2_3, SATA3_4, SATA3_5 and USB32_TC_1 share lanes. If either one of them is in use, USB32_TC_1 will downgrade to 16 Gb/s max.
  • **USB3_3 is from Intel Z490; USB3_12 and USB3_4_5 are from ASMedia ASM1074 hub.
  • Ultra USB Power is supported on USB3_4_5 ports.
  • ACPI wake-up function is not supported on USB3_4_5 ports.

Hardware Monitor

  • Temperature Sensing: CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
  • Fan Tachometer: CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
  • Quiet Fan (Auto adjust chassis fan speed by CPU temperature): CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
  • Fan Multi-Speed Control: CPU, CPU/Water Pump, Chassis/Water Pump Fans
  • Voltage monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore, DRAM, VPPM, PCH, VCCSA, VCCST, VCCIO, VCCFSR_OC, VCCSFR

Form Factor

  • ATX Form Factor: 12.0-in x 9.6-in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm
  • 2oz Copper PCB

OS

  • Microsoft Windows 10 64-bit
Pricing

$369.99

Manufacturer Description

“Taichi represents the philosophical state of undifferentiated absolute and infinite potential. A motherboard that fulfills every task – with style! Become like water. Shapeless, formless, versatile for any situation.”

Packaging and Contents

The Z490 Taichi arrives in a very large box for an ATX board, similar in size to their sizable TRX40 Taichi packaging. Could it be that this board has similarly oversized – and actively cooled – VRM heatsinks? (Yes. The answer is yes.)

Inside the front flap we have our first look at the motherboard within – and an impressive array of features listed on the left side. I will direct your attention to the lower half, and the significant amount of PCI Express 4.0 functionality mentioned therein.

An external PCIe 4.0 clock generator? Special high-speed switching? This board seems to be made for something that Intel does not support with their 10th Gen desktop parts. All the more reason for the future-proof emphasis of ASRock marketing with this model, as the very first feature listed is support for “…10th Gen and future generation Intel Core Processors…”

Inside the box there are two cartons, with the motherboard tray joined by a separate accessory box. Contents of the latter include the ASRock WiFi antenna, a special ASRock screwdriver (Torx T8), 4x SATA cables, an ASRock SLI bridge 2S card, screws and standoffs for M.2 sockets, and of course the Quick Installation Guide and Support CD.

Motherboard Overview

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 12

The Z490 Taichi is a standard ATX form-factor motherboard, measuring the conventional 12 x 9.6 inches. As we saw with the Z390 Phantom Gaming X the lower half of the board is partially covered with armor that doubles as both the chipset and NVMe heatsinks. The rear of the board is also partially covered with a metal plate.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 13

This model features ASRock’s ‘Super Alloy’ construction, with an impressive list of features:

ASRock Super Alloy

  • XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
  • Premium 60A Power Choke
  • 50A Dr.MOS
  • Premium Memory Alloy Choke (Reduces 70% core loss compared to iron powder choke)
  • Combo Caps (Nichicon 12K Black Caps)
  • Nichicon 12K Black Caps (100% Japan made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
  • I/O Armor
  • Matte Black PCB
  • High Density Glass Fabric PCB
  • 2oz Copper PCB 2.5G LAN

The Z490 Taichi offers good connectivity with a number of available ports and headers. Looking closely at the busy rear panel I/O we see (in no particular order) HDMI and DisplayPort video output, a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port, two USB 3.2 Gen2 ports, five USB 3.2 Gen1 ports, 7.1 Ch analog audio with S/PDIF output, dual LAN ports (one of which is 2.5 Gigabit), a PS/2 keyboard/mouse combo port, antenna connections for the onboard 802.11ax Wi-Fi, and a BIOS reset button.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 14
Motherboard Components

Our previous look at a high-end Intel board from ASRock was the Z390 Phantom Gaming X, which placed a focus on power delivery and overclocking potential compared to the lower-cost Z390 Taichi. But looking at the Z490 Taichi’s even more powerful CPU power stages provides a clear picture of the power-hungry nature of the new LGA1200 processors.

This Z490 Taichi implements 15 Vishay SiC654 power ICs, each able to deliver “in excess of 50A, continuous current, 70A, peak (10 ms) and 100A, peak (10 μs)” according to the product sheet (PDF). In comparison, the Z390 PGX implements 14 Vishay SiC634 power ICs, each delivering “in excess of 50 A continuous current, 55 A at 10 ms peak current” (product sheet, PDF).

The PWM controller is an Intersil ISL69269, with doublers implemented for the CPU power stages that appear to be the same as those used with the Z390 Phantom Gaming X (more on the rear-mounted components shortly).

In addition to Intel’s integrated USB support ASMedia’s new ASM3242 controller handles USB 3.2 2×2 connectivity (!), with a Pericom P13EQX ReDriver chip for USB 3.1. Additionally, there are 2x ASMedia ASM1074 USB 3.0 controllers, with one attached to USB3_4_5 on the rear panel and the other controlling the USB 3.0 front panel header.

As to PCI Express 4.0 compatibility with some future (possibly 11th Gen) Intel processor, the PCI Express switching system on the board integrates P13EQX16 and P13DBS redriver chips, which can support the faster switching speeds necessary for that PCIe Gen4 goodness. Someday…

Audio is provided via a combination of an ESS ES9218PQ SABRE DAC (and headphone amplifier), and a Realtek ALC1220.

Beginning with the upper half of the rear of the board, we see 6x Intersil ISL6617A (PDF) doublers for the CPU power phases, and over to the right we have a Realtek 8125BG 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet controller, and an Intel I219-V Low Power 1 Gigabit Ethernet PHY. 

On the lower half of the board we see another NXP L04083B PCIe Gen3 switch, a Flashback 2 (BIOS recovery) chip, a Nuvoton NCT5585 Super I/O chip (and a pair of 3947SA fan controller ICs), with a NUC121ZC2AE microcontroller handling onboard LED lighting.

Heatsink Design

The VRM cooling assembly features a thick heatpipe to connect the two heatsinks, with active cooling present in both segments. Two small fans are installed on the topmost heatsink, with a larger fam in the other, beneath a metal cover plate.

The metal cover plates on the lower half of the board are broken into three sections, with separate heatsinks for top and bottom heatsinks that can be removed easily – if you have the a T8 driver (included) handy.

There is a third M.2 slot in the center, but accessing it will require the removal of a larger plate that also acts as the chipset heatsink. This aspect of the design is not ideal, to put it mildly, as I found that I had to remove two screws from beneath the chipset on the rear of the board to free this section. Unfortunately this process would need to performed to access the CMOS battery as well, as it is positioned next to the middle M.2 slot.

Unless I am missing something, one would have to remove the motherboard to access a pair of screws, remove these to free the chipset heatsink, and then remove the panel, just to access the CMOS battery. It’s also possible that our sample just had a stubborn chipset heatsink, as this looks like the panel could be freed without resorting to this process. Oh well.

Performance

We evaluated the motherboard using the Intel Core i9-10900K, and while we aren’t going to attempt to re-run benchmarks from our initial review it is still worth looking at the default behavior of this CPU on this particular board. And the key word here is default, as this will be regulated only by CPU thermals unless manual settings are applied.

And now, down the power limit rabbit hole.

Exploring CPU Power Limits

While we did not make a major point of power limits in that 10th Gen Core review, our ASUS test board was configured with all power limits in place before running any benchmarks. But across the DIY industry, that is not the way these motherboards ship.

As has been discussed at length by AnandTech and Gamers Nexus in the recent past, the official Intel power and duration limits (PL1, PL2, Tau) are generally not followed by motherboard makers. And while it could be argued that this amounts to a sort of “free” overclocking, it is still worth noting.

It was only recently that these power limits were revealed, with the following chart taken from a report from ComputerBase:

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 15

Ignoring power and duration limits serves to increase both performance – as the CPU is allowed to boost to higher frequencies over longer periods of time – and power consumption. Thus, reviewers (such as myself) comment on how a 95W processor consumes twice that amount, only to find that the board was not enforcing any power limit by default.

Without going too far down this road, I will simply state that checking the default power settings is part of the evaluation process with Intel processors – and motherboards – now. So, how did this Taichi model fare?

Unsurprisingly, the ASRock Z490 Taichi did not enforce any power limits out of the box, and enabling limits simply left everything at “auto”, which  necessitates manually inputting the wattage and duration. In contrast, the ASUS ROG board we used to initially test this CPU populated wattage and duration correctly when “enforce all limits” was selected.

The Practical Impact of CPU Power Limits

Finally, here is a look at what the real-world impact of such power limiting actually is. The short version? If you use a system normally and are not pushing all cores to their highest frequencies for more than 56 seconds at a time, you may see little to no performance impact from enforcing power limits. But if you run longer workloads that use all available cores for an extended period, it absolutely will have an impact.

Blender is probably the easiest way to test this, with a fairly short workload such as the Classroom render still requiring several minutes to complete. We ran this with both the default “auto” settings with this Z490 Taichi, and then after manually inputting Intel’s CPU power limits. Here we hit a snag, however.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 16

Though 56 seconds was manually input, the processor was actually dropping out of max boost after just 28 seconds. That 28 second number is the official Tau for non-K parts, but as the tested CPU was the Core i9-10900K this was unexpected behavior, particularly as the duration period had been manually set. I verified this in the setup, ran Blender again, and had the same result.

The implications of the average all-core frequencies from the chart above on Blender render times are significant, and unless you are thermally constrained the performance benefits of running without power and duration limits are obvious.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 17

Left side: default settings. Right side: manual power limits applied

As you can see from the above image, the render time for the Classroom test went from 6 minutes and 40 seconds at default settings, to 7 minutes and 38 seconds with power limits in place.

Our settings for the “enforced power limits” test in the UEFI setup:

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 18

Some additional tests were performed (Cinebench, Geekbench) but the results were virtually identical to those already published from our original Core i9-10900K review, when configured the same way. And Cinebench R20 all-core is too short a test to produce any meaningful difference in performance, regardless of power limits.

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 19

The endless excitement of Cinebench. (Default power limits on the left, enforced limits on the right.)

Suffice it to say, the “stock” performance with this CPU is going to depend on how the CPU power limits are set up. Leave it in an “out of the box” state and you will have higher performance. Personally, I’ll take the higher performance if I have a decent cooling solution, though we don’t know the long-term implications of running without power limits – for both the CPU and motherboard.

But we have talked enough about Intel power limits.

One aspect of this Z490 Taichi’s design to consider is that, while actively cooled, it takes a significant load to actually get the VRM cooling to activate. Under most conditions these small fans will never spin up, and the VRM heatsink appears to be sufficiently large to work well in passive mode anyhow. I manually cranked them up in the setup and their semi-passive operation is implemented for good reason – they are not quiet when they are spinning at full speed. Thankfully, these fans are user-configurable with the same full fan curve adjustments available to any other header on the board.

Conclusion

The Z490 Taichi is an impressively constructed motherboard with some significantly above-average components. We must wait for Intel processors supporting the PCI Express 4.0 standard, so the design choices made by ASRock with the Z490 Taichi will require a future upgrade to be fully realized. Beyond the PCIe Gen4 readiness there is a nice compliment of features, excellent VRM cooling for the demanding loads of 10th Intel CPUs, and an interesting overall aesthetic that I like quite a bit.

In operation the board was reliable, and I ended up having zero issues once ASRock straightened me out about a CSM-related boot issue I was originally encountering when I tried to migrate the Z490 testbed SSD over to the board. (CSM was disabled and all was well again. Don’t ask me why.)

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard Review - Motherboards 20

ASRock Z490 Taichi Motherboard – $369.99, Amazon

If you’re in the market for a Z490 board and lucky enough to have found one of the high-end 10th Gen Core parts in stock to justify it, the Taichi builds on the improvements that we have seen over the past few years from ASRock, and feels every bit as premium as one should expect from a motherboard with a $369.99 price tag.

My only complaints with this board are the lack of a built-in stock power profile for PL1/PL2/Tau, and CMOS battery placement. Yes, Morry was right all along. If you ever need to fully clear out a board pulling that battery can be essential, and with this design it is trapped beneath a plate that doubles as the chipset heatsink, and I had to unbolt this from both sides of the board (again, that might not actually be necessary). At least the upper and lower M.2 slots feature separate heatsinks – unlike the Z390 PGX board that required the removal of the entire heatsink plate covering the lower half of the board.

Those complaints aside, pricing does look competitive relative to the market for these new motherboards, considering its specs and features. It performs well, and seems overbuilt – at least for 10th Gen CPUs. There is a definite 11th Gen vibe here. Future-proofing is a good thing, and I would have no problem recommending a Taichi if it has the features that you’re looking for in an ATX form-factor Z490 motherboard.

Review Disclosures

This disclosure statement covers the way the product being reviewed was obtained and the relationship between the product's manufacturer and PC Perspective.

How Product Was Obtained

The motherboard is on loan from ASRock for the purpose of this review.

What Happens To Product After Review

The motherboard remains the property of ASRock but will be on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and product comparisons.

Company Involvement

ASRock provided the product sample and technical brief to PC Perspective but had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.

PC Perspective Compensation

Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by ASRock for this review.

Advertising Disclosure

ASRock has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.

Affiliate Links

This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases made through those links.

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About The Author

Sebastian Peak

Editor-in-Chief at PC Perspective. Writer of computer stuff, vintage PC nerd, and full-time dad. Still in search of the perfect smartphone. In his nonexistent spare time Sebastian's hobbies include hi-fi audio, guitars, and road bikes. Currently investigating time travel.

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