Specialists from ASRock do not sit idly by and experiment with the model range of their motherboards without being tied to the release of new CPUs. Following the appearance of the Steel Legend series (several of these models have already become participants in our reviews), they began to improve the main gaming line of devices, which are now referred to as Phantom Gaming. Previously, only even numbers were used in the numbering, but now there are also odd ones, following the logic, a larger value indicates a more serious status of the product. Thus, the current test subject claims to be a middle-end motherboard for the Intel Coffee Lake-S CPU. I would like the voltage regulator to cope with the overclocking of the older Core i9-9900K, but not only it is interesting. We see the appearance of two additional SATA sockets, as well as the equipment with an additional high-speed wired network adapter (there are two Ethernet ports in total). For the wireless infrastructure, a place has been prepared in a separate M.2 slot of the Key-E type. The status of a gaming device will be secured by a software bonus for the sound subsystem — the Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 5 complex.
More details about this and not only will be discussed further, but for now I propose to study the list of key features of the product, concentrated in the table below.
|Model||ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming 7|
|Official product page on the Web||asrock.com|
|Processor socket||Socket 1151|
|Processors||Core i9, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3, Pentium Gold, Celeron (Coffee Lake-S)|
|Memory||4 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400/2666/2800*/2933*/3200*/3600*/3733*/3800*/3866*/4000*/4133*/4266*/4300+*(OC), 128 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||2 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0, x8+x8)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x4)
3 x PCI Express 3.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2230/2242/2260/2280)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4, SATA 6Gb/s (Key M, 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x Wi-Fi, CNVi (Key E, 2230)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||Intel UHD 610/630|
|Video connectors||DisplayPort 1.2
|Number of connected fans||5x 4pin|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||3 x 3.2 Gen2 (2 connectors on the rear panel (1x C), Z390)
4 x 3.2 Gen1 (no connectors on the rear panel, ASM1074)
4 x 3.2 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, Z390)
4 x 2.0 (no connectors on the rear panel, Z390)
|Serial ATA||6 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z390)
2 x SATA 6Gb/s (ASM1061)
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z390)|
|Built-in sound||Codec — Realtek ALC1220 (7.1, HDA)
Op Amp — Texas Instruments NE5532
|Networking||Intel I219V (Gigabit Ethernet)
Realtek Dragon RTL8125AG (2.5 Gigabit Ethernet)
|LED Addressable Header||1|
|LED RGB Header||2|
|UEFI||UEFI AMI BIOS, 2x 128 Mb Flash ROM (Main + Backup)|
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||POST indicator, buttons: Power, Reset, Easy OC header, Thunderbolt header, support: AMD 3-Way CrossFireX, NVIDIA 2-Way SLI, NVIDIA NVLink, Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 5|
|Retail price, $||226|
Packaging and equipment
Once again, we have a huge, status box with a colorful design, but without a handle to simplify the transportation procedure.
Details about the device are on the reverse side: a photo, a plate with characteristics, a collage of the most characteristic features.
Behind the “cover” we will be met by a black cardboard box, and inside it is the board itself, also fixed in a foamed polyethylene stand. Below it, in the lower section of the box, are the auxiliary elements that form the delivery set. There is:
- multilingual quick installation guide;
- UEFI and Phantom Gaming Tuning manual in English;
- postcard with the emblem of the series (there is a place for the stamp);
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- company logo sticker;
- three mounting screws and two racks for M.2 devices;
- double hard bridge for organizing SLI;
- four SATA 6Gb / s cables, two of which have an L-shaped connector on one end.
The color design is unusual and therefore, perhaps, will become branded for the series in the future and thus recognizable. The dimensions of the device correspond to the ATX format, there are a dozen holes for fixing it in the case. You can highlight the presence of power and reset buttons, a two-digit indicator of POST codes. The backlight is integrated into the hub cooler and the overlay that rises above the I / O ports. There are no soldered (separate) LEDs on the board itself.
All structural elements are fixed with screws. A massive Realtek network adapter chip stands out on the back side, as you can see, it does without a heatsink. The pre-installed case plug (for the rear panel) is very unusual — by loosening the screws, you can vary the location, this achieves maximum compatibility with various types of cases, a certain degree of freedom is also laid in the other (two) planes.
The power and reset buttons may be highlighted in red, but initially this option is disabled in UEFI and they remain unlit. The POST code indicator can serve to display the CPU temperature in real time, but this will also require the activation of the necessary UEFI menu item. To ensure the operation of third-party illumination, three sites have been prepared, one of them is of the address type.
Not the last role is given to coolers on the device, this has noticeably affected the overall weight. The top one here is of a combined type — for PCH and an M.2 form factor drive, and the bottom one is dismantled independently of the others.
Actually, the heatsink for the hub is a simple «blank», its upper part is equipped with a thermal pad, there are holes on the sides for guides from the other part. Due to the large area of contact between the two elements, it is quite difficult to separate them, it may even be more convenient to unscrew the entire kit from the board at once (but this will require access to its reverse side).
From above, the length of the M.2 module is limited to eight centimeters. The radiator has a large area gasket.
No cooler or screen is provided for the Key-E slot.
The bottom seat will fit any size device, including an 11cm one. There is also a thermal pad of a huge area.
Eight longitudinal SATA sockets are prepared. Two of them rely on the capabilities of the add-on controller. A very useful extension, given the unity of resources between some of the outputs here and the lines connected to the M.2 (only one thing can work, this nuance has a place in the user manual).
There are five sites prepared for USB outputs in the case: one for a symmetrical socket (3.2 Gen 2), two classic versions of the interface — 2.0, and two more work thanks to the hub soldered right next to them, this will ensure the operation of four more ports of the 3.2 Gen 1 generation.
Sixteen PCI-E lanes will be distributed (if desired by the system owner) between the top two x16 slots. The third is the same, shielded, it already works with a hub, only four lines are provided for this. More compact traditionally cooperate with Intel Z390.
The sound subsystem is based on the ALC1220 codec from Realtek. There is a group of special capacitors, and an operational amplifier is also attached to help. There are no shielding structures or additional illumination.
The control buttons have a small but distinct move. They will help with accelerated checks of the system or in the mode of its operation without a case.
Immediately below the pair of ROM chips are two curious sites. The first pair of contacts was not honored with a mention in the manual, I had to navigate only by marking. As a result of the short circuit, the function of backing up the contents from the «spare» microcircuit to the main one worked. To keep the UEFI version up to date, the «backup» provides an appropriate mechanism, located in the UEFI «Tools» section. The next pair of contact groups is needed to connect a button and an indicator, so it will be possible to activate proprietary overclocking on the fly. The developers described everything in detail about this mechanism in the documentation. A similar tool was on the list of features of the older ASRock Z390 Taichi Ultimate.
A massive overhead illuminated visor is combined with a pair of radiators connected by a heat pipe. The height of such a cooler is small, there were no compatibility problems with our two-section cooler.
Separately, all the elements included in the stabilizer, in one form or another, we met in the composition of the previously considered motherboards, but in such a combination — for the first time. Six smaller elements are needed here to form the SA and IO voltages. Thus, ten DrMOS type assemblies are needed for CPU and iGPU Voltage. Their work is managed by a seven-channel PWM controller ISL69138. But not all of its possibilities are realized here. Four ISL6617A doublers increase the number of channels involved in CPU voltage regulation to eight, here SiC634 elements from Vishay Intertechnology are selected. The remaining two are SiC632A, apparently, they did without a doubler of «phases», thus, the general scheme of work became 4 + 2 «phases».
The heat pipe passes near the bases of both radiators, so its presence is clearly not fake, the thermal pads of sufficient area ensured full contact with all the power elements, there were no questions for the hub either.
The saturation of the rear panel is quite consistent with the class of the device, it can be compared with a competitor in the face of the MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Pro Carbon. The current participant is favorably distinguished by the second adapter of wired networks. There are also two holes for the possible mounting of antenna outputs from the wireless network adapter (in the case of its separate purchase and installation, for example, in the M.2 Key-E slot corresponding to the spirit of the time). Unlike all previously seen motherboards from ASRock, there is no separate stand for this now, the mounting procedure is thus provided directly to the plug.