Yesterday's launch of the Z390 chipset and new ninth-generation Core CPUs was met with a flurry of motherboard announcements. We covered boards from Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI, and now it's time for ASRock. The company has a full twelve boards ready to go for the Z390 platform. Let's take a look at them, starting from the top with the Z390 Taichi Ultimate.
This most immodest of motherboards has one of the busiest back panels I've ever seen. It comes with dual Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet connections, as well as an Aquantia-driven 10-Gigabit Ethernet jack. If that's not enough networking for you, the board also includes 2x2 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support. As you would expect from a high-end motherboard of this generation, the Z390 Taichi Ultimate has an extra CPU power connector, and it carries ASRock's "Hyper BCLK Engine II" to potentially assist in achieving the maximum possible CPU overclock.
The regular Z390 Taichi board is almost identical to its fancier sibling. It loses the Aquantia 10-Gigabit Ethernet connection, but it keeps both of the Intel-powered ports. It also loses the onboard power and reset buttons, though again, it retains the rear-panel CMOS-reset button. Other features that are shared by both boards include triple M.2 sockets, five USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, a total of six USB 3.0 ports, and both HDMI and DisplayPort video connections. These boards even have a PS/2 port for mice or keyboards.
ASRock has fully moved over to "Phantom Gaming" as its premium gaming brand after debuting the label with its family of Radeon graphics cards. As the top-end board in the family, the Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 shares most of its design and features with the Z390 Taichi Ultimate. It has the triple LAN connections, although the Aquantia-powered jack in this model only goes to 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet. The Phantom Gaming 9 keeps the fancy MU-MIMO Wi-Fi, as well as the onboard diagnostic LEDs and buttons for power and reset.
The Z390 Phantom Gaming 6 drops down to dual Ethernet (like the Z390 Taichi), but it keeps the Aquantia 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet connection and instead drops one of the Intel NICs. In exchange, it picks up an old-school VGA port. It also drops the Wi-Fi connection, although the back panel has spots for antennae should you choose to add a radio later. This board has three M.2 sockets, one is an E-key connector for Wi-Fi cards. Since this mobo keeps the 8+4-pin CPU power accommodations and onboard diagnostic functions of its higher-end brothers, it could be a solid choice for a serious overclocker.
The Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI/ac and Z390 Phantom Gaming SLI are—as you probably expect—exactly the same motherboard with and without 802.11ac Wi-Fi. However, unlike the Z390 Phantom Gaming 6, there's no bracket for antennae on the standard "SLI" model's back panel. Aside from that difference, these boards are identical. They fall back to a single EPS CPU power connector and lose both the diagnostic LEDs and on-board buttons. They also drop down to a single Ethernet connection, but it remains a 2.5-Gigabit Ethernet jack powered by Aquantia.
ASRock is launching two Mini-ITX Z390 motherboards, and one of them is a Phantom Gaming model. The Z390 Phantom Gaming ITX/ac is probably exactly what you expect upon hearing the name. It has a single steel-reinforced PCIe 3.0 x16 slot, Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a pair of M.2 sockets. Unusually, it also gets a Thunderbolt 3 port built-in. While there's not room onboard for diagnostic hardware, it does have a rear-panel CMOS reset button. There's a PS/2 port, too.
Finally, the most affordable member in the new Phantom Gaming family is the Z390 Phantom Gaming 4. This is a pretty basic ATX motherboard as far as it goes. The single network connection is an Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet jack, and this board doesn't enjoy the luxurious ALC1220 audio codec that its cousins use. Instead, this board steps down to an ALC892 chip. It still has three M.2 sockets, though, one of which is an E-key for a Wi-Fi card.
We're not done yet. Outside of the Taichi and Phantom Gaming series, ASRock is launching four other motherboards. The Z390 Extreme4 focuses on functionality rather than flash and as a result it has eight SATA ports, three M.2 sockets, two USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, and four USB 3.0 ports. It only has a single Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet connection, but we reckon that'll suffice for most users. Video outputs include VGA and HDMI alongside a DisplayPort connection, and there's a bracket for Wi-Fi antennae in the rear.
The Z390 Pro4 is a small step down from the Extreme4. It swaps the DisplayPort output for a DVI connection and loses some of the USB ports of its sibling. There's an ALC892 audio codec, though there's no optical audio output. Storage connectivity is still plentiful, though, with three M.2 sockets and six SATA ports.
The single microATX motherboard that ASRock is releasing is the Z390M Pro4. There aren't many surprises to be found here. Despite its smaller size, it keeps the same "triple-M.2 with one E-keyed slot for Wi-Fi cards" configuration as most of the rest of these boards. It also has four USB 3.0 ports and a pair of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports.
Last but not least, ASRock is releasing the Z390M-ITX/ac. As you've already guessed, this is a Mini-ITX motherboard, but it's actually a bit more full-featured than the Phantom Gaming ITX model. The Z390M-ITX/ac has dual Gigabit Ethernet connections, six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and a DisplayPort connection. It also has a pair of HDMI 1.4 ports. However, this board only has one M.2 socket.
Almost all of these boards are already available at Newegg and Amazon. The Z390 Taichi Ultimate tops the range at $300, although there's a $15 rebate right now. The Z390 Phantom Gaming 9 goes for $269 with the same rebate. The Z390 Taichi will run you $240 before the $15 rebate.