While there are a variety of motherboards from different manufacturers, only some are SFF-compliant for each generation. Intel’s 12th Gen Core processors come with a new socket. With that, the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 has features for people who want a powerful yet small computer.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 is a good option for an efficient and compact computer. So if you’re interested, continue reading our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review.
Before getting more in-depth with the product, our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review will discuss its packaging.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 arrived in a thick cardboard box sporting the typical ASRock style. The company gave its packaging the usual black colour treatment while PG is at the centre.
You can see the company’s name on the top-left corner while the board’s name is under ”PG”. Underneath its name is the list of the board’s key features.
You’ll find more of its features when you flip the box. There, you’ll find a list of its specifications too.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 has other inclusions like a quick installation guide and a software setup guide.
There’s even a WiFi antenna, DVD driver disk, PG keycap, case badge, two SATA data cables and M.2 screws.
ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard Review – Design and Functionality
With its small form and lack of LED lights, the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 isn’t eye-catching. But despite that, ASRock’s designers distributed enough space to the more essential components like ports. The company did this instead of providing space for onboard lighting modules or LED stripes.
Despite having no lights on the board, you can still add some. That’s because ASRock added RGB LED headers to let you attach light strips to your setup. There are a lot of components available that you can utilise to design and beautify your system.
Without fancy lights or highly-decorated heatsinks, the motherboard has solid black heatsinks over the M.2 slot and VRMs. There’s a small red and silver for highlighting the PG logo together with the board’s name. However, it’s still one of the simpler-looking boards we’ve seen lately.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 has 11 Dr MOS power phases for controlling power transfers to the CPU. The power circuitry is divided into two categories and concealed by separate black heatsinks joined by a metal heat pipe.
Network and Audio
The motherboard has an integrated Killer WiFi 6E AX1675x controller that supports up to 2.4Gbps of bandwidth. It even has a Killer Ethernet E3100 wired LAN with up to 2.5Gbps of bandwidth.
The two chips aid the Killer DoubleShot Pro feature, allowing you to utilise the connections simultaneously. It happens while controlling traffic for an optimised experience.
The hardware is a competitive piece, but we can’t ignore other boards since they offer 5Gbps and 10Gbps wired networking adapters. The faster NICs aren’t universal, but you can see them on a few high-end motherboards. These products are priced closely to ASRock. We don’t consider the lack of 10Gbps or 5Gbps NIC a fatal flaw, but it’s ideal for networking enthusiasts.
For its audio subsystem, ASRock chose the tried-and-tested Realtek ALC1220 codec often found on the more high-end boards. Lately, the chip is losing ground to newer and more updated solutions. But even if this is the case, it’s still an upscale solution.
There are also some audio capacitors on the board. But they’re not as many as the capacitors found on full-ATX or larger microATX boards.
Storage Options and Rear I/O Ports
Below the CPU socket is one M.2 key-M SSD slot concealed by a heat spreader. The slot comes with a PCIe Gen 4×4 connection that allows up to 64Gbps of bandwidth.
You’ll see another M.2 slot on the rear portion of the board that can accommodate an M.2 SSD. The latter can work with a PCIe Gen 4×5 or SATA 3.0 bus support. Additionally, ASRock also fits three SATA 3.0 ports on the board.
Thanks to the chipset, the motherboard’s rear I/O panel supports fast connections that are currently available. These include the USB 4 and Thunderbolt 4. You’ll only find one of those ports on the rear panel, but it can accommodate up to 40Gbps of bandwidth which can be convenient if you have fast external SSDs.
Aside from the USB 4 port, there are four USB 3.2 2nd Gen ports with up to 10Gbps of bandwidth per piece. Then there’s one USB 3.2 port topping at 5Gbps.
The rear I/O panel also has five 3.5mm audio jacks, a 2.5Gbps RJ-45 Ethernet port, and WiFi antenna jacks. Then, there’s also a S/PDIF optical-out port.
You can link up to two displays to the board using an HDMI output and 1.4 DisplayPort. These are essential when you don’t have a video card but have a 12th Generation chip with on-chip graphics.
Two buttons on the rear panel can work for clearing the BIOS settings if you make a mistake while overclocking. It can also help if you need updates for BIOS.
Key Features of the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard
This part in our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review is where we focus on its primary features. We’ll see if these aspects make it a great addition to your system.
SPS (Smart Power Stage)
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 uses the Dr MOS design with the latest SPS technology. It can monitor each phase’s temperature and current. As a result, it delivers smoother power to the CPU.
This feature also enhances performance and overclocking capabilities.
11 Power Phase Design
This motherboard has 11 power phases and sturdy components for smooth power delivery to the CPU. While it offers unparalleled overclocking capabilities, it operates with low temperatures, making it ideal for advanced gamers.
7W/mK MOSFET Thermal Pads
These thermal pads work more efficiently than conventional ones. The 7W/mK thermal conductivity effectively dissipates heat from the MOSFET, resulting in maximum overclocking potential.
10-Layer PCB of the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard
This 10-layer PCB delivers stable signal traces and power shapes for higher energy efficiency and lower temperature. This feature allows the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 to support the newest memory modules with extreme performance.
PCIe 5.0 + Surface-Mount Tech
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 uses the SMT type PCIe slot that works better than the conventional DIP type slot. It enhances signal flow and maximises stability at high speed, allowing the motherboard to support PCIe 5.0.
The latest PCIe 5.0 technology can perform with bandwidth as fast as 128GBps. It’s capable of unleashing the full potential of high-end graphics cards.
Reinforced DIMM Slot
The reinforced DIMM slot is surface-mounted onto the motherboard for enhanced strength and memory signal. This top-quality design can overclock the DRAM module to insane frequencies.
High Speed M.2 Solution
This motherboard can accommodate multiple M.2 storage devices. One slot supports PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD, allowing it to perform twice the speed of the third generation. This capability offers lightning-fast data transfers.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 uses KiLLER Networking. It features the Killer E3100 + AX1675 for competitive gamers and performance-hungry users.
Combined with the WiFi 6E, it enhances prioritisation and detection for an optimal networking experience with multimedia applications and gaming.
Another networking feature of the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 is the Killer Doubleshot Pro. It enables simultaneous use of the KiLLER Ethernet and Wireless interface, delivering a maximum throughput of up to 4.9Gbps.
It uses the fastest network connection for high-priority traffic and ensures placing the highest priority on the quickest link.
DIY-friendly Architecture of the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4’s DDR5 DIMM has a unique electrical architecture. There’s a high risk of damaging the memory module if you fail to disconnect the AC power.
It often occurs when removing or installing the memory module. So ASRock used a trouble-free protection circuit on their DDR5 motherboards.
Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4 Type-C Port
The new Thunderbolt 4 technology provides versatility and speed to the most advanced USB Type-C. It offers a simple yet fast connection for work and home for lightning-fast data transfer reaching up to 40Gbps.
This technology also connects external monitors, Thunderbolt, and USB devices with one Thunderbolt 4 cable.
Fast Charging Technology
While writing and testing it for our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review, we experienced super-fast charging rates. We saw up to 9V @3A 27W using the next generation PD 3.0.
It doesn’t matter if you’re using headphones, external/internal speakers, a headset, WiFi, analogue output, or even HDMI. Nahimic audio provides the best and most engaging listening experience you can have.
It’s vibrant, rich, and filled with details that you’ll surely enjoy.
The motherboard has onboard RGB headers plus an addressable RGB header. It helps connect to compatible LED devices like CPU fans, strips, coolers, and chassis. You can also synchronise RGB LED devices across Polychrome RGB accessories that are sync-certified to create your personalised lighting.
Latest 2nd Gen USB 3.2 Type-C Connection
The latest USB 3.2 Type-C connection transfers data as fast as 20Gbps. It’s twice the speed of the previous generation for blazing-fast data transfers. You can also easily connect cables since the Type-C design is reversible.
2nd Gen USB 3.2 Type-A Ports
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 has four of the 2nd gen USB 3.2 Type-A ports on the rear I/O. Each port offers up to 10Gbps data transfer rates.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 has the most convenient BIOS flashing. All you need is a single click, and you can acquire the latest BIOS flashing. No need for other components.
Flexible Integrated IO Shield of the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard
Most pre-mounted I/O shields only have fancy colour schemes. But the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 reserves more tolerance space to allow adjustment of the I/O shield during installation. As a result, it fits various chassis perfectly without mechanical issues.
Let’s focus on the specifications in this part of our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review.
The board supports Intel Socket LGA1700 12th Gen core processors and sports a 10-phase CPU power design. It has a 1-phase iGPU power and an Intel Z690 chipset.
It has two DIMM memory slots that support dual-channel DDR5-6400+ (OC) MHz and a PCIe 5.0 x16 expansion slot. There are also three SATA 6Gb/s ports, a 256Mb AMI UEFI BIOS, and two M.2 ports (SATA3/PCIe x4).
For networking, the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 has one Killer E3100G 2.5Gb Ethernet and one WiFi 6E.
Rear ports on the motherboard include two antenna ports, an HDMI port, and one DisplayPort 1.4. There’s also an optical SPDIF out port and four USB 3.2 2nd Gen Type-A ports (10Gb/s).
Other ports you’ll find are the following:
A USB 3.2 1st Gen Type-A port (5Gb/s)
One USB 4.0 Thunderbolt 4 Type-C port (40Gb/s)
An RJ-45 LAN Port + LED
A clear CMOS button
Plus 5x HD audio jacks
Speaking of its audio, it has a Realtek ALC1220 codec too. Additionally, it has three 4-pin fan headers and sports a 17.0 x 17.0cm ATX form factor.
Hands-on with the ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard
This part is the most important of our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review. It’s where we’ll share and discuss our hands-on experience with the motherboard.
But before discussing how it performed, let’s look into its BIOS.
Its BIOS will look familiar to anyone who has previously used an ASRock product in the last generations. Though this version features a PG theme added.
Starting with its EZ Mode, you’ll find the memory and CPU information in the top-left corner. You’ll find the temperatures on the right.
Below, the dashboard has a division that categorises the fans, DRAM, and storage. Each of these has its distinct options.
To the far right of the interface, there is quick access to the boot priority.
The OC Tweaker has the current CPU and memory clocks on top. Then, Advanced Menu features PCH and SATA storage options along with NVMe and Thunderbolt. CPU configuration allows you to enable/disable cores containing the P and E cores.
The monitor is included with fan controls, while the Tool Menu lets you manage the Secure Erase and RGB storage devices.
We also performed various tests to see if this motherboard can perform as excellently as ASRock claims.
As expected from a Z690 motherboard, its read and write speeds were fast when we transferred large files. We also did various tasks simultaneously, launched multiple programs, and didn’t notice any issues.
To see its capacity, we played several games and used the highest possible settings. To our surprise, our system performed seamlessly with minimal lags.
We also tried overclocking the CPU and checking its power consumption and temperature. It’s to find out if this can continuously deliver excellent performance without thermal throttling.
The Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 may not be a flashy motherboard with rare and exciting technologies. But it has notable features that we discussed earlier in our ASRock Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard review.
This motherboard delivered an excellently solid performance during our tests. It was as great as ASRock advertised with its fast data transfer rates, outstanding network speeds, temperatures, and energy efficiency. It worked well with any Z690 platform and even matched the performance of ASRock’s flagship Taichi motherboard.
Navigating the motherboard’s BIOS was easy and allowed us to tweak various settings.
Overall, the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 is an excellent mini-ITX motherboard with a well-executed design and impressive features. It may lack flair and aesthetics, but it’s not something to complain about since its smooth operation makes it efficient.
Also, everything is ideal for this motherboard’s price, making it a good option for Z690 mini-ITX motherboards.
To learn more about the Z690 Phantom Gaming-ITX/TB4 Motherboard, visit ASRock’s official product page to get more details.