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ASRock Z590 Taichi Review: Cogs Aplenty

Fully-featured and updated with unique moving cogs

ASRock Z590 Taichi
(Image: © ASRock)

Our Verdict

ASRock’s Z590 Taichi is a well-rounded premium mid-range motherboard, with more-than-capable power delivery, Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports, three M.2 sockets, Intel- and Killer-based networking, including Wi-Fi 6E.

For

  • + Unique style
  • + Killer 2.5 GbE and Wi-Fi 6E Networking
  • + Robust 90A power delivery
  • + 2x Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports (40 Gbps)

Against

  • - Last gen audio codec
  • - Only eight rear USB ports
  • - PCIe 4.0 M.2 compatibility issues

The latest in a long line of Taichi boards, ASRock’s Z590 Taichi for Intel’s latest Rocket Lake CPUs includes improved power delivery, fast Killer-based networking, eight SATA ports, native PCIe 4.0 for the GPU and M.2 socket, and improved aesthetics. Landing at $459.99, this upper-midrange board may be out of range for some users. But if you want to spend this much, this is a feature-rich and capable Z590 board.

ASRock’s Z590 lineup is similar to the previous-generation Z490 product stack. At the time we wrote this, ASRock had 12 Z590 motherboards listed. At the top is Z590 Taichi, followed by the PG Velocita we’re looking at here, and three Phantom Gaming boards, including a Micro-ATX option. Additionally, there are two professional boards in the Z590 Pro4 and Z590M Pro4, two Steel Legend boards, two Extreme boards (also more on the budget end), and a Mini-ITX board rounds out the product stack. Between price, size, looks, and features, ASRock should have a board that works for everyone looking to dive headlong into Rocket Lake.

Performance testing on the Taichi went without a hitch, producing results aligned with the other tested boards. Game performance was on the slower side of things, but the meager difference will be tough to notice unless you’re benchmarking. The memory, which uses Gear 1 on the latest BIOS, is where the Taichi shined. That said, outside of the benchmarks, again you won’t notice the difference. Overall, the Taichi performed well compared to other tested Z590 boards.

The Z590 Taichi is a nice improvement over the previous Taichi, between the improved appearance and cool moving gear feature, it is one of the better-looking Z590 boards. But looks aren’t everything. The Taichi comes with two Thunderbolt 4 Type-C ports (40 Gbps), eight SATA ports, Killer-based Wi-Fi 6E and 2.5 GbE, and a graphics card support bar. We’ll check out these details and other features below. But first, here are the full specs from ASRock.

Specifications - ASRock Z590 Taichi 

SocketLGA 1200
ChipsetZ590
Form FactorATX
Voltage Regulator14 Phase (12+2, 90A MOSFETs)
Video Ports(1) HDMI (2.0)
 (2) Thunderbolt 4
USB Ports(2) USB 4.0 Thunderbolt 4 Type-C (40 GB/s)
 (2) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A (10 Gbps)
 (3) USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A (5 Gbps)
Network Jacks(2) 2.5 GbE and 1 GbE
Audio Jacks(5) Analog + SPDIF
Legacy Ports/Jacks
Other Ports/Jack
PCIe x16(3) v4.0 x16, (x16/x0/x0, x8/x8/x0, or x8/x8/x4 (PCIe 3.0)
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1(1) v3.0 x1
CrossFire/SLIAMD Quad CrossFireX, 3-Way, and CrossFireX
DIMM slots(4) DDR4 5000+(OC), 128GB Capacity (11th gen)
M.2 slots(1) PCIe 4.0 x4 / PCIe (up to 80mm)
 (1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe (up to 80mm)
 (1) PCIe 3.0 x4 / PCIe (up to 110mm)
 *Supports RAID0 and 1
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports(8) SATA3 6 Gbps
 *Supports RAID  0, 1, 5 and 10
USB Headers(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2x2 (Front Panel Type-C)
 (2) USB v3.2 Gen 1
 (2) USB v2.0
Fan/Pump Headers(8) 4-Pin
RGB Headers(2) ARGB (3-pin)
 (2) RGB (4-pin)
Legacy Interfaces
Other InterfacesFP-Audio, TPM
Diagnostics PanelDr. Debug 2-character LED
Internal Button/SwitchPower and Reset buttons, reset CMOS button
SATA ControllersAsmedia ASM1061
Ethernet Controller(s)(1) Killer E3100G (2.5 GbE)
 (1) Intel I219-V (GbE)
Wi-Fi / Bluetooth(1) Killer AX1675x (WiFi-6E, 2x2 160 Hz/6 GHz, MU-MIMO, OFDMA, BT 5.2)
USB ControllersAsmedia ASM1042A (plus re-drivers)
HD Audio CodecRealtek ALC1220
DDL/DTS Connect✗ / ✗
Warranty3 Years

Inside the box, along with the motherboard, you’ll find cables, the graphics support bar and even a second VRM fan and an additional bracket to add your own 40mm fan. The included accessories should get you up and running without having to scramble and head to the store. Below is a complete list of all included extras. 

  • Support DVD / Quick installation Guide
  • Graphics card holder
  • Wi-Fi Antenna
  • (4) SATA cables
  • (3) Screw package for M.2 sockets
  • (3) Standoffs for M.2 sockets
  • Wireless dongle USB bracket
  • 3010 Cooling Fan with bracket
  • 4010 Cooling Fan bracket
  • Wireless dongle USB bracket
  • ASRock Screwdriver (Torx)
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ASRock Z590 Taichi

(Image credit: ASRock)
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ASRock Z590 Taichi

(Image credit: ASRock)
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ASRock Z590 Taichi

(Image credit: ASRock)

After removing the Z590 Taichi from the box and setting it up, one of the first things I noticed was the addition of the moving gears above the IO area. During POST, the watch-like gears rotate, which gives this board a unique design aesthetic--although your system will need to be sitting at eye level with a clear side panel to notice this. The VRM heatsinks are connected via heatpipe and use active cooling (in the form of a small integrated fan) to keep temperatures in check. The bottom half of the matte-black, 8-layer PCB is covered in heatsinks and shrouds for the M.2 sockets. 

You’ll find RGB lighting elements under the IO cover, chipset heatsink, and on the right edge of the board. The RGBs are bright and saturated, adding a significant glow from under the board. Control over the RGB is provided by ASRock’s Polychrome Sync software. In the end, the Z590 Taichi’s appearance has improved over the last generation and shouldn’t have issues fitting in with most build themes.

(Image credit: ASRock)

Focusing on the top half of the board and starting on the left side, we get a closer look at the unique gear design. The black half gear/counterweight slowly ticks when powering the board up and stops once POST completes. The cogwheel spins either clockwise or counterclockwise via a small motor. In the BIOS, you’re able to adjust the time between rotations (5/10/30/60 minute intervals and off). Although this is clearly a gimmick, it’s truly a unique design aesthetic. Just below this is the Taichi name lit up by RGB lighting. 

The VRM heatsinks are large and actively cooled with a small fan hidden inside the left bank. Just above this are the two 8-pin EPS connectors (one required) for powering the CPU. Just to the right of the socket area are the unreinforced DRAM slots. The board supports up to 128GB of RAM at speeds listed to DDR4 5000 when using an 11th generation CPU (lower with a 10th gen). Just above the DRAM slots is the first RGB header. In this case, it’s 3-pin ARGB.

Just to the right is the first 4-pin fan header. This particular header happens to be the Chassis/Water Pump connector and supports 2A/24W. The CPU fan headers are located mid-board above the first M.2 socket. The CPU connector supports up to 1A/12W, while the CPU_Fan2/WP3A supports 3A/36W. The rest of the connectors support up to 2A/24W. These headers have plenty of available power to connect your fans and water pump, without overloading the board.

Making our way down the right edge, we find the 24-pin ATX connector for board power, two front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 1 headers (one vertical, the other horizontal) and the front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C header. Last, in white, is the first 3-pin RGB header.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

The Z590 Taichi sports a 12-phase VRM setup for the CPU. The 8-pin EPS connector(s) send power to the Renesas ISL69269 12-channel (X+Y+Z=12) controller, then on to six ISL6617A phase doublers. Last but not least is the 12 90A Renesas ISL99390B Smart power stages. This configuration supports up to 1080A for the CPU, which is plenty for stock and overclocked operation, including extreme (read: sub-ambient) overclocking. The power delivery on this board will not get in your way. Again, this board also includes an additional fan for the VRM. After testing without it, we chose not to use it as there wasn’t a need and it would only increase the noise profile, which was quiet without it. Temperatures were well within operating range throughout all testing.

(Image credit: ASRock)

Moving down to the bottom half of the board, we’ll again start on the left side with audio. Hidden below a plastic shroud is the Realtek ALX1220 codec - a last-generation flagship solution. I would like to have seen the latest generation codec (not that most will notice the difference) for this price. We can also see the audio separation line from the other parts of the board and the red WIMA audio caps. The Taichi also includes an ESS ES9218 Sabre DAC supporting up to 600 Ohm headphones and 130dB SNR.

In the middle of the board are three full-length, reinforced PCIe slots along with a single x1 size slot. Between them are heatsinks for the three M.2 sockets and shrouds covering the board. When using an 11th gen CPU, the top two PCIe slots support PCIe 4.0 speeds. The top PCIe slot runs at x16 while the second slot runs at a maximum of x8 -- both are CPU connected. The bottom full-length slot is connected to the chipset and runs at PCIe 3.0 x4. The board supports AMD Quad CrossfireX, 3-Way CrossFireX and CrossfireX. No mention of NVIDIA SLI, even though the board is wired to support it.

On the M.2 storage front, the Taichi includes three sockets. The top  M2_1 is the Hyper socket (PCIe 4.0 x4, 64 Gbps) and supports 80mm PCIe-based modules. M2_2 supports both SATA and PCIe modules up to PCIe 3.0 x4 (32 Gbps), up to 80mm long. The bottom socket, M2_3, supports 110mm SATA or PCIe modules up to PCIe 3.0 x4. M2_2 shares lanes with SATA port 0/1. If either one is in use, the others are disabled. M2_3 shares lanes with SATA ports 4/5 and the bottom PCIe slot. If either is in use, the others will be disabled. You can have three M.2 devices and up to 4 SATA ports running concurrently.

Note, though, that I had trouble with the PCIe 4.0-based Phison drive we use for testing. Using the latest BIOS, version 1.63 for me, the top M.2 socket that runs PCIe 4.0 doesn’t recognize the drive. The Phison storage drive works just fine on all of the other PCIe 3.0 sockets and other boards’ PCIe 4.0 M.2 sockets. We’re not sure if this is limited to the Phison drives, as they are the only PCIe 4.0 M.2 drives I have in-house. We’ve let ASRock know and they are working on the issue. It’s likely that a BIOS update will resolve this problem.

Finally, to the right of the PCIe slots and M.2 sockets is the chipset heatsink. Here we get a close look at the unique pattern found on the heatsinks. It’s almost like a rough wood grain type of finish, quite unique. To the right of it are the eight SATA ports, two of them managed by an ASMedia ASM1061 controller, with the rest connected to the southbridge. Just below are two more fan headers. The included GPU support bracket mounts in this area to the ATX screw holes in the middle and bottom of the board. This is a nice value-add in these days of huge and heavy cards. Now if only ASRock could do something about how much modern high-end cards weigh on our wallets. 

Across the board’s bottom are several headers, including more USB ports, fan headers and more. Below is the complete list, from left to right:

  • Front-panel audio
  • RGB and ARGB headers 
  • (2) Chassis fan headers
  • Clear CMOS jumper
  • TPM
  • (2) USB 2.0 headers
  • Dr. Debug LED
  • Reset/Power buttons
  • Clear CMOS button
  • Temperature sensor, water flow headers
  • Front panel header

(Image credit: ASRock)

Looking at the rear IO, we see the pre-attached IO plate matches the colors and design theme of the rest of the board. One thing that jumps out is the 5-plug plus SPDIF audio stack’s location: It sits in the middle. Typically this is on the right edge/bottom, but in most cases the odd placement shouldn’t be a cause for concern. From left to right, we have the BIOS Flashback button to flash the bios without a CPU, the Wi-Fi antenna connections and an HDMI (v2.0) port for the integrated video. Next are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports and the audio stack mentioned above.

On the networking front, the Intel-based Ethernet port is black, while the Killer 2.5 GbE port is blue. Below those are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports. At the bottom are two Thunderbolt 4 USB Type-C ports that support up to 40 Gbps throughput. They also double as additional video outputs. Curiously, these aren’t labeled as Thunderbolt here. On the far right are the last two USB ports that run at USB 3.2 Gen 1 speeds.

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