ASRock Gaming motherboards are well-recognised by gamers and enthusiasts today. Here in our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review, we’ll discuss an extraordinary motherboard that compromises some features but offers excellent passive cooling & power delivery.
AMD’s B550 chipset is cheaper than an X570 chipset. It also supports PCIe 4.0 and comes with various overclocking options and support for future Ryzen 5000 processors. The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming ITX/ax is a small, but a very powerful motherboard.
The “ax” in the motherboard model name indicates that the motherboard supports Wi-Fi 6. It’s also got a Bluetooth 5.1 on board, which is a cool addition that enables you to connect, say, game controllers.
Most mini-ITX motherboards only come with a single M.2 slot. However, ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard has two fast M.2 slots for SSDs. There’s One Hyper M.2 PCIe 4.0, as well as One Ultra M.2 PCIe 3.0 located at the motherboard’s back.
These unique features that ASRock offers are rarely seen on typical ITX motherboards. This gives you more headroom for what you’re planning to do with your build.
Let’s move over to the packaging section of our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review.
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard came in a large, sturdy-looking box with black & red theme, similar to ASUS’ ROG series. At first glance, the box looks the same as what power supplies typically have.
At the top, the design is decent. You’ll find ASRock’s logo on top-left with the PG or Phantom Gaming logo underneath.
There’s also AMD Ryzen’s logo, CPU generation support, Polychrome Sync certification, HDMI certification, motherboard model, and motherboard’s chipset all located at the bottom.
Both the upper and left side give the same design as the top side. But on the bottom side, which is the flop, this is where you’ll find the serial number, part number, barcodes, weight, and the motherboard’s dimensions.
Lastly, you’ll also get all the branding, model, and contact information if you need to RMA it if it’s defective. As we open the box, you’ll see the motherboard and accessories are packed properly.
Inside, you’ll first see the motherboard wrapped in a cool anti-static plastic while firmly attached to cardboard. Any electronic device should be protected and not easily be touched unless you’re sure that you don’t have any static energy.
Underneath, you get the wires and antenna for Wi-Fi 6, a pair of SATA cables, and a small screw for M.2. You’ll also get a quick installation guide, postcard, driver disc, software setup guide, and a pair of ASRock velcro cable ties.
Overall, the packaging is excellent so you shouldn’t worry about it being shipped. Let’s now move to the design and functionality section of our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review.
ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard Review – Design and Functionality
As for the design, the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard uses mostly black and grey for the PCB and heatsink. It also has touches of red and white on the VRM heatsink.
At the back, we’ve got tantalum capacitors which makes the VRM very special. Even if you’re not getting as many phases as you’re supposed to have, you’re getting a better quality VRM. This makes up the difference.
It also improves your CPU’s boost clock to some extent, where you’re getting more stability.
The motherboard is extremely small & compact, especially when you compare it to the X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX having a bigger and clunkier heatsink.
The motherboard also comes with selective options for the front panel I/O, ports, and rear I/O. The rear I/O shroud cover is a solid premium touch made entirely of superalloy metal and connected directly to the VRM heatsink.
Overall, the design is excellent from minimising height and vertical interference, especially if you’re installing a large heatsink & fan for the CPU.
Rarely, the RAM height may interfere with your heatsink & fan, so be sure to also check the RAM’s exact height before getting one. Careful measurements should be done before buying the parts.
ASRock placed an excellent cooling plate on the rear side of the MOSFET area, in which it saps the heat away from the PCB and the flat capacitors. If you look closely at the thickness of the motherboard, it uses an 8-layer PCB.
The Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 card can be detached from the motherboard by removing screws on the motherboard’s other side. You can reseat this module if you’re having problems with either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
The rear M.2 slot runs at PCIe Gen3 x4 directly from the B550 chipset. There isn’t much space for a cooled M.2 SSD to fit, even with a thin heatsink like the WD Black SN750.
As such, you should reserve that M.2 slot for SSD drives that don’t depend on a long lifespan, such as your main drive for OS or any other SSD that doesn’t involve writing data too much. That way, the SSD shouldn’t produce much heat.
There’s a row of LEDs mounted directly underneath the PCB that provides an excellent view of RGB glow to the bottom of your case. There’s also RGB headers if you’re considering adding more flashy lights.
These are two 4-pin fan and two RGB headers located at the top edge with excellent positioning.
The motherboard’s overall upper area is very open and clear, which minimises any interference with thicker cables or chassis fans in any substantially small ITX case.
For the DIMM slots, there’s two that support up to 64GB of DDR4 memory.
ASRock has certified that RAM frequency speed should work more than 5000 MHz via overclocking, but this will greatly depend on the BIOS and CPU IMC capability.
The spacing between the DIMM slots and the CPU socket is reasonable for cooler support. AIO coolers with tubing should fit nicely without any inconvenience.
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard also comes with a standard AM4 CPU socket with regular AM4 mounting brackets.
It is an excellent choice for the B550 variant, whereas ASRock opted for a more inconvenient LGA 115X mounting holes for the X570 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB3 motherboard.
So far, the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax has excellent mounting brackets since they are the block style of manufacture rather than the smooth curved style used on other competing vendors.
All in all, the fittings should be a lot better in terms of setting up hardware for our Corsair AIO and Fractal coolers. It should also be simpler to properly mount the AIO pump.
Larger air coolers should properly fit too, as there’s also plenty of clearance around all sides of the CPU socket.
The 12v 8-pin power connector is nestled nicely on the top-left corner with excellent accessibility. Avoid unnecessary disturbance if you have fans installed on top, thanks to its location.
Finally, the Clear CMOS header is located at the bottom right, but a graphics card will cover it once fully built.
That can be a problem, but it only involves removing the graphics card to access the header.
Key Features of the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard
This section of our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review is where the motherboard’s key features are described. Make sure to read through it properly to ensure the best compatibility with other parts.
Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec with Nahimic Audio Enhancer
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with Nahimic Audio Enhancer that offers a more vibrant & rich sound experience, whether you’re using headphones or speakers.
Support for 3rd Gen and 4th Gen Ryzen™ Processors
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with an AM4 socket, supporting both 3rd gen and 4th gen Ryzen™ processors. Fully utilise all the features and the fast PCIe 4.0 with its B550 chipset.
8-Layer and 2 Oz Copper PCB with Passive Heat Dissipation
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with four sets of 2oz copper inner layers and 8-Layer PCB that provides stable signal traces and power shapes.
It also delivers lower temperature, making it very efficient for overclocking.
Combined with support for latest DDR4 RAM modules, push the speeds to its limits, as you have a lot of thermal headroom.
Convenient UEFI Settings for Overclocking
Like ASUS motherboards, the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard has a UEFI feature called “EZ Mode”. EZ Mode simplifies the overall user interface, providing the settings that every starter needs to utilise. You can also toggle between Advanced Mode and EZ Mode if you press F7.
Dual M.2 for SSD & Support for M.2 Type 22110
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard sports Dual Ultra M.2 Slots both ready for higher capacity and a fast Type 22100 M.2 NVMe SSD. The Hyper M.2 socket uses PCIe Gen4 x4, while the Ultra M.2 socket at the back is capable of PCIe Gen3 x4 and SATA3 mode.
8 Power Phase DR.MOS Design, Digi Power, 90A Dr.MOS
Efficiency isn’t something you can easily achieve with mid-range motherboards, but the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with 8 Phase DR.MOS Power Design.
This power design provides clean & efficient power delivery to the CPU during heavy workloads, but with excellent thermal performance to ensure stability at high CPU speeds.
DDR4 5100 MHz RAM OC Support
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard is guaranteed to reach up to DDR4 @5100 MHz RAM speed without problems. To ensure RAM stability, make sure to enable your XMP or DOCP profile.
Intel 2.5 Gigabit LAN
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard has Intel’s latest 2.5G Ethernet configuration that supports higher bandwidth when using both CAT6 and CAT5e cables both in enterprise and local networks.
The Intel 2.5 Gigabit LAN provides the best throughput performance that enhances your overall network’s stability and CPU utilisation. This can also deliver the ultimate network experience.
Reinforced PCIe 4.0 Steel Slot
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with a reinforced steel slot that includes extra anchor points, stronger latch, better signal stability, and durability for heavier graphics cards.
Flexible Pre-Installed I/O Shield
Pre-installed I/O shields are often stiff, which is harder to install in computer cases. But the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with an adjustable I/O shield that’s easier to install, thus perfectly fitting the chassis without issues.
Super Alloy-Plated Heatsinks
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard comes with super alloy-plated heatsinks that can operate at higher temperatures. Superalloys also provide better durability, thermal creep deformation resistance, corrosion resistance, and oxidation resistance.
ASRock Polychrome Sync
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard supports ASRock Polychrome Sync for full RGB lighting control. It also comes with RGB headers to integrate other components such as fans, LED strips, and other components. You can download the ASRock Polychrome Sync Software here.
This section of our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review focuses on the technical specifications. This topic is very important so that the parts you buy are compatible.
The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard supports RAM frequency speeds up to DDR4 5100+ via overclocking. Pair two sticks of 32GB RAM modules and enjoy 64GB RAM in your mini-ITX setup.
For the PCIe interface, you get one reinforced steel PCIe Gen4 x16 slot for your GPU, one Hyper M.2 slot that supports PCIe Gen4 x4 (front side) and an Ultra M.2 slot that runs at PCIe Gen3 x4 or SATA3 mode as mentioned above.
There’s also Realtek’s ALC1220 7.1 CH HD Audio Codec with support for Nahimic Audio Enhancer, Intel 2.5GB LAN, Wi-Fi 6 – 802.11ax, as well as of course, the ASRock Polychrome Sync and their super alloy-plated heatsinks.
For the power delivery, the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard has 8 power phase design, Dr.MOS, 2oz copper/matte black/glass fabric PCB, and premium 90A power chokes.
For the front panel connectivities, you get dual graphics output for HDMI 2.1 port with up to 4K@60 Hz support and DisplayPort 1.4 with up to 5K@120 Hz support, dual USB 3.2 Gen2 (Type-A and C), and an additional 4 USB 3.0 ports.
Let’s now move over to the hands-on section of our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review.
Hands-on with the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard
Finally, we’re here on the hands-on section of our ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard review.
This is where we’ll test the motherboard on a test bench and see if it performs as well as other B550 motherboards.
Overclocking was very straightforward, thanks to ASRock’s user-friendly UEFI and excellent power delivery solution. We were very pleased by the motherboard’s passively cooled VRM heatsink ability to keep everything adequately cooled.
The storage connectivity is strong for an ITX motherboard, but be sure that you don’t place a heat-dependent SSD on the rear side. A fast NVMe SSD will be more difficult to cool, so the rear M.2 slot makes sense for a slower or lesser-used drive.
Should I Buy The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard?
Definitely, in our opinion, it’s a better choice than the X570 variant, which costs more but performs just as good. The ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax is a very attractive motherboard both in terms of price, performance, and features that it offers.
Overall, we’re extremely happy with the ASRock B550 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ax Motherboard. We highly recommend this to everyone, especially to those who are just getting started with ITX builds.
If you’re interested, click here and you’ll be automatically redirected to ASRock’s official store locator.