ASRock Z490 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 Motherboard Review
Peter Donnell / 4 days ago
A Closer Look
There’s no shortage of amazing looking motherboards right now, but for ASRock, aesthetics always seem to be a strong point for them. This board is extremely clean looking despite having quite a lot of hardware built into it, and that’s a hard trick to pull. The matte black PCB contrasts cleanly with the mostly black hardware. The heatsinks and shrouds are finished in a dark grey with just a few hints of red and white, and it looks awesome!
Starting with what you can’t see, the board uses a 2 ounce copper inner layer design. That’s double what you would normally see and is designed to help improve the efficiency and power capabilities of the board when overclocking.
It is a smaller board, but it still manages to pack in an impressive 9 Power Phase design and Dr.MOS which uses ASRock’s premium 90A power chokes, which is impressive, and should pave the way for strong overclocking performance.
The board is equipped with a decent size set of VRM heatsinks. There’s a heatsink at the top with an active fan, one to the left with an active cooling fan, and another one at the bottom connected to the left one with a large heatpipe. It’s a complex setup for mini-ITX, but it’s making use of all the available spaces to keep things cool. The fans have a zero-RPM mode, don’t worry about noise.
The board features a small breakout board which offers up dual M.2 mounts as well as a pair of SATA ports. There are two M.2 ports directly on the motherboard too. Again, this is great use of the space and gives you quite a lot of storage configuration options for a small motherboard.
One of the M.2 mounts is located on the rear of the board.
Below the storage, you’ll find an armoured PCIe slot, so those bulky modern GPUs should be supported with ease.
The board features mighty audio hardware too thanks to the Realtek ALC1220 Codec. It features 120dB SNR DAC, and features an NE5532 Headset Amp for the front panel. It also uses Nahimic Audio software for surround sound and other effects.
Around the back of the board, you’ll find a really funky looking rear I/O shield. Of course, it comes pre-installed so no worry there. It is clearly laid out too, with DisplayPort and HDMI at the top. Below that WiFi 6, and you’ll find super fast 2.5 Gigabit LAN further down. There’sa good range of USB ports, but interestingly you get both USB 3.2 Type A and C in the middle, which is awesome. The audio jacks are gold plated, and you get SPDIF out. Oh and if you’re kicking it old-school, there’s a PS2 port also.