The new Intel 12th Gen CPUs are very impressive, but to use them, you’ll need a good and efficient motherboard. This is where ASRock comes in, and we’ll discuss everything about their board in our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review.
The Z690 chipset is today’s high-end offering, and ASRock’s Z690 Taichi is here to make the most out of it. But is there really any difference between using this motherboard compared to its competitors? What makes it better than the rest?
Find out as you continue reading our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review.
Our package arrived in a sleek and premium-looking black box with hints of gold accents on it. Taichi’s logo is engraved in gold and silver accents which look great on the package.
We further inspected the package for this ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review. Here, we saw the primary features displayed on the upper-right corner of the package.
The rear portion of the box features more important details about the motherboard. These include the reinforced DIMM slot, DDR5 memory design, and a 20-phase SPS (or Smart Power Stage) design.
The package has a flip-open design, and upon opening the cover, you’ll find the motherboard itself. Then segregated underneath are the included accessories for the motherboard.
Other than the Z690 Taichi, we’re giving you a complete list of accessories you’ll find in the box. These are the quick installation guide, support CD, four SATA cables, and a graphics card holder.
There’s also a wireless dongle USB bracket, 3010 cooling fan with bracket & screw package, and an M.2 socket standoff.
You’ll also find a 4010 cooling fan bracket & screw package, and the ASRock WiFi 2.4/5/6 GHz antenna. Lastly, the company also included three screws for the M.2 sockets.
ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard Review – Design and Functionality
We’ll focus on the board’s functions and design in this section of our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review. Its appearance is unique, and it may not be the cup of tea for some. But for us, this motherboard’s theme combined with its copper colour looks excellent.
You get some good RGBs and cogs that actually move at the top of the I/O. It gives off a premium and expensive look, so you won’t go wrong with that. If you use Razer products, there’s a Razer-themed Z690 Taichi too for easier and quicker integration for the Chroma ecosystem.
An overview of the Z690 Taichi showcases a number of interesting design choices and features. You’ll find the dual PCIe 5.0 slots that function at either x8/x8 or x16/0. Then, there’s a PCIe 4.0 slot and PCIe 3.0 x1 slot too. The latter is useful for a lot of competing boards since they usually include only three x16 slots.
The board has seven SATA ports and one of these is independent from the others. ASRock claims these can work as a protective element against malware or ransomware. Plus, you’ll get a VGA holder bracket to keep the GPU from sagging.
It’s good to note the location of its two CPU fan headers. These are situated above the main M.2 slot. If you’re wondering if it hinders or helps cable management options, it all depends on how you configure your setup. Nevertheless, it’s good to consider this when putting your build together.
Continuing our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review, the board has an extremely strong VRM solution that comes with it. With the 20-phase 105A stages, even overclocked 12900K’s won’t put stress on the board.
The VRM heatsinks link via heatpipe. Its left bank holds a little fan inside that’s neighbouring the I/O area. The company included two extra brackets and fans for additional cooling.
Rear I/O and Networking
The rear I/O’s highlighted features are its dual Thunderbolt 4 ports. These are linked via two 3.2 2nd Gen ports and four 3.2 1st Gen ports.
We actually think that six type-A ports aren’t enough for high-end motherboards. However, ASRock included a PCI bracket if you plan to add more USB 2.0 ports via the header.
The motherboard features a BIOS Flashback button, Intel GbE port, WiFi antenna connections, and the Killer 2.5 GbE port. Then, there’s also an HDMI v1.4 output for video on the rear I/O.
The five plug analogue ports on the board’s audio stack lights up. This adds a bit of charm and bling while also helping you find the correct plugs easily. Other than the USB ports, there isn’t anything out of the blue in this specific area.
The networking tasks of the board are handled by the Killer E3100G 2.5G. It’s also accompanied by the AX1675 WiFi 6E controllers. It’s basically all Intel since they now own Rivet Networks – the company behind Killer NICs.
Additionally, these are joined by Intel’s I219V Gigabit controller. At the end of the market, five or 10G LAN controllers would be greatly welcomed. But again, there are users who prefer using dual LANs.
When it comes to the rest of the I/O panel, everything seems fairly standard with the ALC 1220 audio and HDMI 2.1. We’re glad that ASRock included a quality ESS Sabre 9218 DAC – a good upgrade from the generic onboard audio.
If you’re someone who’s into RGB lights, the Z690 Taichi has three zones implemented in it. These include backlights on the rear I/O area, illuminating the cogwheels and Taichi logo. Then, there are also RGBs along the chipset, as well as a long strip underneath the right edge.
You’ll find saturated and bright lighting on this motherboard, and it can be a focal point of your build.
Next up in our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review, we’re looking at what makes the Z690 Taichi better than others.
Key Features of the ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard
Optimised VRM Design for Better Power Delivery
The Z690 Taichi features the Dr.MOS design which comes with the latest Smart Power Stage technology. It’s optimised for monitoring each phase’s temperature and current to deliver smoother power to the CPU.
Reinforced DIMM Slot
The reinforced DIMM slot is surface-mounted onto the Z690 Taichi for better physical strength and more stable memory signal. This revolutionary design allows for overclocking DRAM modules up to the highest frequencies.
DIY Friendly Motherboard
The DDR5 DIMM’s electrical architecture brings a high risk of memory module damage if the AC power isn’t disconnected properly. To prevent this, ASRock created a trouble-free protection circuit on its DDR5 motherboards.
PCIe 5.0 and Surface-Mount Technology of the ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard
Unlike the conventional DIP style PCIe slot, the SMT type PCIe slot enhances signal flow. It also maximises stability under high speed to completely support the speed of the latest PCIe 5.0 standard.
PCIe 5.0 can deliver an impressive bandwift of 128 GB/s. It’s ready to unleash the potential of future high-end graphics cards.
Killer E3100 + AX167
The Killer Ethernet controller is designed for performance-hungry users like competitive gamers. That’s because the Z690 Taichi comes with both Killer E3100 2.5G Ethernet and WiFi 6E solution. With enhanced detection and prioritisation engine offers the ideal networking experience for multimedia and gaming use.
Killer Doubleshot Pro
Killer DoubleShot Pro allows the simultaneous use of Killer Ethernet and Killer Wireless interfaces. This will give you maximum throughput that is as high as 4.9 Gbps and automatically uses the fastest connection. It ensures that the highest priority traffic will be on the fastest and most reliable link at all times.
Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4.0 Type-C Technology
Thunderbolt 4 or USB 4.0 offers versatility to USB Type-C with fast and simple connection for work or home. It allows ultra-fast data transfer reaching up to 40 Gbps. Plus, it connects external monitors, USB, and Thunderbolt devices with one Thunderbolt 4 cable.
Independent SATA and USB Port
The built-in independent SATA and USB port cuts off from other ports when activated from BIOS. As a result, it prevents malware and ransomware from accessing your valuable data.
WIMA Audio Cap for High-quality Sound
WIMA audio caps deliver crystal and balanced sound to satisfy even the most discerning audiophiles. It’s designed for high-end audio applications as well.
Nahimic Audio enhances your listening experience with rich and vibrant details. So whether you use headphones, a headset, internal or external speakers, every sound will be highly engaging.
Deluxe Accessories of the ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard
ASRock used superior accessories for the Z690 Taichi to enhance this motherboard’s quality. It comes with the company’s exclusive graphics card holder that can hold your heavy graphics card. You can slide this up and down for height adjustment, allowing you to install your graphics card properly.
The wireless dongle USB bracket is for anti-interference. It lets you place your wireless dongle from a distance while preventing noise impact between the connected devices.
Another accessory is the personalised MOS FAN that features an optimised design for better heat dissipation. You can choose to install the bundled 3cm fan or upgrade to a 4cm fan for better noise-free cooling.
Lightning Gaming Ports for Low Latency
The Lighting Gaming Ports of the Z690 Taichi are made for die-hard gamers and enthusiasts. These ports are sourced from two different controller interfaces that help you connect high-speed peripherals with low latency and jitter.
Polychrome RGB and Synchronisation
The Z690 Taichi doesn’t only have integrated RGB illumination. It also has onboard RGB headers and an addressable RGB header.
This allows you to connect compatible LED devices like coolers, CPU fans, chassis, strips, and more. With POLYCHROME RGB, you can also synchronise RGB LEDs across your compatible devices.
Screws tend to go missing inside the chassis even if all the components are securely installed. With the enhanced M.2 heatsink and anti-drop screw, building your PC with the Z690 Taichi has become easier.
PCIe Gen4 x4 for SSD
The Z690 Taichi can accommodate multiple M.2 storage devices. One of these supports PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD and can perform twice the speed of the 3rd generation. With this, you can enjoy lightning fast data transfer speeds.
The Latest USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C
This newest USB technology delivers up to 20 Gbps data transfer rates which is two times faster than previous versions. Plus, it features a reversible USB type-C design that adds to your convenience.
Now, our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review will focus and discuss everything about the motherboard’s specifications.
For its specifications, the motherboard comes with a unique set of elements. It features USB Thunderbolt 4 type-C ports, front panel USB 3.2 type-C Gen2x2 20Gb/s header. And, they even added their USB 3.2 Gen2 type-A 10Gb/s port to this board.
The motherboard is packed with ASRock’s Super Alloy element which includes a set of notable aspects. These are the XXL aluminium alloy heatsink, premium power chokes, 105A SPS, and the premium memory alloy choke. The latter lessens about 70% core loss compared to the iron power chokes.
This product has the Nichicon 12K black caps, I/O armour, a matte black PCB plus high-density glass material PCB. It even comes with an eight-layer PCB and a 2oz copper PCB.
For the rest of its unique features, the board has a server-grade low-loss PCB, and the Killer 2.5G LAN. It also uses 802.11ax WiFi 6E, Killer DoubleShot Pro, and a couple of elements from ASRock itself.
To enumerate, these are ASRock’s exclusive Steel Slots, Auto Driver Installer, Full Coverage M.2 heatsink, and Ultra USB Power. Also, there’s the Hyper M.2 PCIe Gen4x4 and Full Spike protection for USB, LAN, and audio ports.
General Specifications of the ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard
This motherboard uses a Z690 chipset. For the socket, it works with Intel LGA 1700 and is compatible with Intel’s 12th Gen CPU. This product sports an ATX form factor and comes with 3x M.2 6C SATA storage.
You’ll find an HDMI video out port for networking. This also includes the Killer WiFi 6E, Killer E3100G 2.5G, and Intel i219V 1G LAN. Then for its audio ports, you’ll find the Realtek ALC1220 7.1 Channel HD audio.
For its memory, it comes with the Dual Channel DDR5 technology. Then, there are 4x DDR5 DIMM slots and a maximum capacity of 128GB for its system memory. Additionally, it supports Intel’s Extreme Memory Profile or XMP 3.0.
Graphics-wise, the motherboard comes with the Intel X3 Graphics Architecture (12th Gen), and three graphics output options. Specifically, the latter includes one HDMI and two Intel Thunderbolt 4. It supports Triple Monitor and the Thunderbolt 4 with a maximum resolution of up to 8K @ 60Hz.
For RAID support, the motherboard supports RAID 0, RAID 1, as well as RAID 10 for SATA storage devices. Then, it also supports RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 5 for the M.2 NVMe storage devices.
Hands-on with the ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard
This is the part of our ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard review that looks into the performance of the product. Here, we’ll share our hands-on experience with the Z690 Taichi: was it good and efficient just like ASRock’s claims? Or is it better to look elsewhere?
Before we get into the more detailed stuff, let’s first check out the motherboard’s firmware.
ASRock’s BIOS retained the same format as the previous generation. We saw the EZ Mode present which showcased high-level information such as CPU temperatures and clock speeds. There were also details on fan speed, storage information, and lots more.
For its Advanced Mode, there were a number of headers across the top that displayed extra options. This mode is more suitable for experienced users who want to tweak more settings.
Technically, ASRock’s BIOS is easy to use and is displayed in a logical and organised manner. Though there were some moments of digging for overclocking options, it was overall user-friendly with tons of options too.
The OC Tweaker has submenus for overclocking, as well as memory latency optimisations. Then, there was also a collection of slots for storing custom arrangements as profiles. Another option available was for exporting profiles to a thumb drive, or to retrieve these.
Other than the advanced interface controls, the Advanced Menu provided us with something more. It gave us the ability to shift to Advanced Mode as the firmware entry GUI and select the menu we wanted to enter. Lastly, it also allowed us to choose higher or lower resolutions.
The Tools Menu and Hardware Monitor Menu
Tools under this menu included firmware-based RGB controls. We think it’s pretty useful for people who don’t plan to load the Polychrome RGB application.
Other Tools include an email client for outgoing technical support emails and tools for copying RAID drivers to thumb drives. There are also tools for setting 20 segment rotations for the cogwheel to five, 10, 30, or 60-minute intervals. To note, you can choose to disable this if you want.
Other tools include SSD erasure, firmware flashing from thumb drives, NVMe formatting, firmware download from network ports, and network configurations.
When it comes to the Hardware Monitor Menu, this includes settings for all the eight fan headers. It also includes settings for the auto-optimisation tool called the Fan Tuning tool. That also goes for the graphical fan adjustment interface known as the Fan-tastic Tuning.
Power Delivery of the ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard
When it comes to its power delivery, the ASRock Z690 Taichi displayed excellent results with 20-phase VRM with 105A MOSFETs. This gave us 1995As.
This is adequate for the 12900K, and also for the new and upcoming processors for the 1700 socket. The 30mm fan successfully kept the power delivery section cool while the VRMs stayed cool even without its help.
For our gaming tests, we played multiple games to see how well the Z690 Taichi would perform.
Quite notably, the motherboard faired very well in our gaming tests and it actually did better compared to others we’ve tried.
Again, its thermal performance was great. Its VRM heatsinks did an excellent job of keeping temperatures under control at stock.
There were moments of warmth during overclocked loads. However, we didn’t experience any instances of it going over the maximum threshold.
The primary difference was the active cooling solution that dropped temperatures by around 11 degrees Celsius under overclocking conditions. The small holes on the heatsink’s sides also offered some cooling to the processor which positively affected temperatures. But of course, that won’t always be the case.
VRM temperatures on the board topped just slightly above 56-degrees Celsius while we stock tested. Then, we got 59-degrees Celsius when we overclocked.
Overall, it gave us good temperatures since one of the VRM heatsinks was actively cooled. With that, the actively cooled VRM heatsinks were more than adequate in keeping MOSFETs and other power bits running perfectly. And while the fan worked how it should, it didn’t make a lot of noise either, which made it better.
For overclocking, the ASRock Z690 Taichi performed smoothly and without issues. We hit around 5.2GHz without experiencing any hiccups while it supported our memory kit perfectly.
ASRock Z690 Taichi Motherboard Review Summary
ASRock’s Z690 motherboards have proven to be an interesting lineup for Intel’s 12th-generation processors. For the Z690 Taichi, the entire motherboard looks like a premium product with unique aesthetics that a lot will appreciate. It also comes with exceptional features like dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, a superior audio solution, and great memory support.
Aside from its strong feature list, it comes with a user-friendly BIOS that’s suitable for both new and experienced users. Also, it delivered excellent results during our tests and we didn’t have any issues with this motherboard.
Of course, the Z690 Taichi is still expensive like most motherboards with the same chipset. But with the current market, its price is the new normal. Since it’s packed with aesthetics, features, specifications, and performance, it’s definitely worth the purchase.
Overall, we highly recommend the Z690 Taichi from ASRock if you’re planning to upgrade to Z690. This motherboard can handle heavy gaming and overclocking without issues, and it’s one of the best that we’ve used.
If you’ve decided to get your hands on this product, check out ASRock’s store locator to find dealers near you.