ASRock Z690 Taichi Review: More M.2, Please

ASRock’s Z690 Taichi offers familiar cog styling, three M.2 ports, robust power delivery and Thunderbolt 4 capability for $589.99.

ASRock Z690 Taichi
(Image: © ASRock)

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ASRock’s BIOS, as the other Z690 boards before it, keeps the same format as the last generation. An EZ Mode displays high-level information, including CPU clock speeds and temperatures, fan speeds, storage information, and more. Advanced Mode has several headers across the top that drop down additional options. The BIOS is easy to maneuver in and laid out logically. There is a bit of digging for some options for overclocking, but overall, it’s a user-friendly BIOS with more options than most will ever use.


Unlike some other board partners, ASRock doesn’t combine most of their included utilities under a larger application. Instead, they are all standalone programs but do cover a wide gamut of functionality. From overclocking and monitoring (A-Tune) to audio (Nahimic), networking (Killer Dashboard) and RGB lighting (Polychrome), all of the applications worked without issue.

Test System / Comparison Products

As of October 2021, we’ve updated our test system to Windows 11 64-bit OS with all updates applied. We kept the same Asus TUF RTX 3070 video card from our previous testing platforms but updated the driver to version 496.13. Additionally, our game selection was updated, as noted in the table below. We use the latest non-beta motherboard BIOS available to the public unless otherwise noted. The hardware used is as follows:

Test System Components

Swipe to scroll horizontally
CPUIntel Core i9-12900K
MemoryKingston Fury DDR5 5200 CL40 (9KF552C40BBK2-32)
Row 2 - Cell 0 Kingston Fury DDR5 5200 CL40 (9KF552C40BBK2-32) GSkill Trident Z DDR5 5600 CL36 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK)
GPUAsus TUF RTX 3070
CoolingMSI MEG Coreliquid S360
PSUEVGA Supernova 850W P6
SoftwareWindows 11 64-bit (21H2, Build 22000.282)
Graphics DriverNVIDIA Driver 496.13
SoundIntegrated HD audio
NetworkIntegrated Networking (GbE or 2.5 GbE)

EVGA supplied our Supernova 850W P6 power supply (appropriately sized and more efficient than the outgoing 1.2KW monster we used) for our test systems, and GSkill sent us a fast and good-looking DDR5-5600 (F5-5600U3636C16GX2-TZ5RK) memory kit for launch day testing. MSI and Asus also sent launch day kits.

Benchmark Settings

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Synthetic Benchmarks and SettingsRow 0 - Cell 1
ProcyonVersion 2.0.249 64
Row 2 - Cell 0 Office Suite, Video Editing (Premiere Pro), Photo Editing (Photoshop, Lightroom Classic)
3DMarkVersion 2.20.7290 64
Row 4 - Cell 0 Firestrike Extreme and Time Spy Default Presets
Cinebench R23Version RBBENCHMARK330542
Row 6 - Cell 0 Open GL Benchmark - Single and Multi-threaded
BlenderVersion 2.93.1
Row 8 - Cell 0 Full benchmark (all six sub-tests)
Application Tests and SettingsRow 9 - Cell 1
LAME MP3Version SSE2_2019
Row 11 - Cell 0 Mixed 271MB WAV to mp3: Command: -b 160 --nores (160Kb/s)
HandBrake CLIVersion: 1.2.2
Row 13 - Cell 0 Sintel Open Movie Project: 4.19GB 4K mkv to x264 (light AVX) and x265 (heavy AVX)
Corona 1.4Version 1.4
Row 15 - Cell 0 Custom benchmark
7-ZipVersion 21.03-beta
Row 17 - Cell 0 Integrated benchmark (Command Line)
Game Tests and SettingsRow 18 - Cell 1
Far Cry 6Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HD Textures ON
F1 2021Ultra Preset - 1920 x 1080, HBAO+, RT Med, TAA + 16xAF, Bahrain, FPS Counter ON

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Joe Shields
Motherboard Reviewer

Joe Shields is a Freelance writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He reviews motherboards.

  • truerock
    I hate it when a reviewer downgrades a product for not having enough obsolete technology.
    Thank god Joe Shields has finally decided he can live without floppy disk drives,
    How many decades before he can give up his type-A/B USB devices?
    In my opinion, if you need obsolete technology, use an obsolete PC.
  • larkspur
    AGP cards are obsolete, floppies are obsolete. USB-A continues to be ubiquitous in the world of peripherals. I think only three m.2 slots is definitely a head-scratcher on a board of this class. I mean even a "cheapie" $220 MSI Pro Z690-A has four m.2 slots. This is a $589 board, for goodness sake!
  • JarredWaltonGPU
    truerock said:
    I hate it when a reviewer downgrades a product for not having enough obsolete technology.
    Thank god Joe Shields has finally decided he can live without floppy disk drives,
    How many decades before he can give up his type-A/B USB devices?
    In my opinion, if you need obsolete technology, use an obsolete PC.
    The cons are not the only negative points, they're things to consider. For some people, six USB Type-A is limiting, and three M.2 might be as well. The biggest issue for me would be the price. For $580 a motherboard should be near perfection, and this isn't. Hence, 7/10 score.
  • wifiburger
    and.... I would say not many will buy / have this board since DDR5 is nowhere to be found
  • Co BIY
    What is the advantage of the Lightning gaming ports ? Is this primarily for VR ?

    Seems like this is a major feature of a board that otherwise is overpriced.

    Does it work? is their actually lower latency in competitive gaming ? Will it help me go pro?

    Board/PSU only USB bios update seems like a nice feature but is that standard at this level ?

    I think the easy replaceability/upgradability of the board cooling fan is an important feature to cover. I was concerned that an included fan was a point of failure but the fan is easily replaceable.

    (Updated: After looking at this on the ARrock website I have two impressions:

    1 - Game controller independence seems like a neat concept that is worth testing. They claim that mouse and keyboard inputs run on the same USB controller interfere with each other interrupting your gameplay. They separate the mouse and keyboard inputs sending the mouse through a USB controller and Keyboard through a separate PCIe controller eliminating the interference.

    2 - The naming, marketing, and labeling of this feature is dishonest and probably intentionally misleading. It confuses "High-speed Thunderbolt USB" ports (40gbps) with this separated I/O controller technology "Lightning Gaming USB" ports in a way that confused me and I'm a fairly savvy consumer of motherboards. )
  • basisunus
    I do some photo-video editing, graphics programming, and gaming on my home computer. I had specific requirements for a motherboard when the Z590 platform came around and I was considering an upgrade.
    First, I want one x16 PCIE Gen4 slot for a graphics card.
    Second, I need a x1 and a x4 slots for a sound card and a video capture card.
    Third, I want two M.2 slots for Gen4 NVMe drives and configured to RAID0.
    Fourth, I want a Thunderbolt port for testing external PCIE devices. This could be done via onboard connectors or an add-in card.
    Furthermore, I want no PCIE lanes are shared among all above devices.
    Other expectations include:
    An Intel CPU with integrated GPU for UHD Bluray playback,
    8x8 PCIE support for dual graphics card,
    Wifi and Bluetooth,
    Integrated IO shield for better ESD protection on a testbench-style case.
    I skipped the Z590 platform because I didn't find a single motherboard that met the major requirements. For the Z690 platform, the Asrock Taichi is the only one that meets the requirements. I preordered it when the order was open. It's still on preorder. But I never looked at other boards. It seems it might take me a long time to finally finish the build because of the shortages.