So sic again, bought the phantom itx!
Sequel to my last writeup
This round, my writeup here will be aimed at comparisons against the Z370 counterpart on what's improved from an already great ITX board apart aside from just the board walk through.
While my writeup over here will be tailored towards testing the board's features & some synthetic bench numbers. Out of good measure, I've added pre/post meltdown/spectre security patch numbers for your persual at the relevant sections. This is not a Coffee Lake CPU benchmark so you'll find just a few of those (if any at all), and I do not have a 9th gen chip. You can expect short writeups relating to the features and abit of practical usage.
At certain points, I may make reference to the Z370 Fatal1ty Gaming-ITX/ac review I've made previously. So to keep it short you may want to have a quick read of that review as a point of reference.
- Intel Core i7-8700K (Delidded)
- Core/Cache: 5000MHz/4700MHz, RAM: XMP_3200 C14 (Except OC Section 5200MHz/4500MHz, RAM: Tuned 4000 C16 1T)
- ASRock Z390 Phantom Gaming-ITX/ac
- 2X G.SKILL TridentZ White/Grey 4400MHz-CL19
- GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition 11GB
- Storage (NVMe): Samsung SSD 970 PRO 1TB
- Storage (SATA): Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB
- EVGA G3 750W
- Windows 10 Redstone 5 Oct Update (1809 Build 17763.134)
Packaging, contents, unboxing
Board Front View
Board Layout - As per ASRock Manual
Visual Inspection.. some key components
- vCore + iGPU Power
Intersil ISL99227B 7*60A exposed top mosfets interleaved with ISL96138 PWM in 5+2 mode (vCore + iGPU)
These top end mosfets are similar to IR3575 with an "IHS" built in to improve heat dissipation.
- ISL99227B's are also used on top end boards including Gigabyte Z370 Gaming 7, EVGA X299/Z390 Dark, ASRock X299 OC Formula/Taichi, ASRock X299E-ITX/ac
- R22 Cooper Bussmann high current inductors?
- Nichicon FP12K Japanese capacitors
- Sinopower SM7341EH mosfet for memory power
(Dual sourced part, some boards ship with Fairchild/Onsemi FDPC5030SG)
- PCH/VccSA/VccIO Power
- Nuvoton NCT6791D SuperIO
- Z390 Chipset
- Realtek ALC1220 audio codec
- i219V PHY for 1Gbps Ethernet
- Texas Instruments TPS65983B USB-C PD Controller / PD-Charging IC
Read more about the Alpine Ridge solution: https://www.anandtech.com/show/12228...-thunderbolt-3
- JHL6340 Alpine Ridge Low-Profile Thunderbolt 3.0 controller
- Megachips MCDP2800BC HDMI converter for HDMI 2.0 support
- 2X DC fan header (CHA_Fan/Pump+OPT)
- 1X PWM Fan header (CPU_Fan)
Heat sink surface area is greatly improved along with minor standoff height reductions for improved thermal pad contact. But pads used this round have a marginally lower thermal conductivity over last year's. The VRM cooling solution is overall an upgrade from the Z370 version in cooling capacity with the far larger heat sink mass.
For max perf or i9-9900K individuals, changing of stock 1.0mm thermal pads to 1.5mm 11 - 17 W/mK Fujipoly pads may be desired for improved contact & thermal conductivity.
Intel AC9560 CNVi 1.73Gbps + BT 5.0 card
POST Times (No Windows 10 Fastboot)
Very quick, no extended memory training sequence even with manual memory tuning.
Unfortunately, I don't have a router that does 160MHz channel width on 5GHz, it's a 80MHz channel width router (ASUS Onhub)
It delivers noticeable performance uplift over the AC8265
Connecting to LG TV via Windows 10 Settings - Miracast
No change. Works just as well @ [email protected]
as with the Z370 Fatal1ty ITX. All display projection options available (extend, mirror etc)
Running an Xbox Wireless Controller
No change. Works Just as well. It works, no dropouts/disconnections. Inputs register consistently. It can pair with your BT speaker & other BT accessories as well.
As with Z370, the performance impact is measureable in benchmarks with full security patches.
But YMMV on the real world difference. Haven't felt the impact personally.
DPC Latency (30+min)
Board and the associated drivers are very well tuned. All Intel SpeedShift features and C1-10 states are fully enabled in this test. Ultimate performance vs. Balanced on GTAV 30+min runs.
In balanced mode, the DPC latency's well within very good levels with nvlddmkm (nvidia drivers) taking the highest latency spot and unrelated to the board.
Key Overclocking Voltage/Setting Maximum values in BIOS (as of P1.10 - L1.33 BIOS version)
While its predecessor was very well received and aced on hardware component choices (8 layer PCB, 12K Nichicon FPCap, 60A Intersil ISL99227B) it was critised by pro overclockers for BIOS imposed power & voltage thresholds at "overprotective" levels. The Phantom-ITX is no slouch in this regard, ASRock has responded by exposing it's full list of configurable settings as you'd get on their top guns or LN2 designated boards. Speaking about LN2, this is likely their go-to LN2 board for Z390 which speaks volumes on the confidence on the Phantom-ITX's raw hardware in memory and CPU power delivery.
Though downsides from the EXOC perspective's that are applicable to all Z390 are:
-BIOS contains no XP ACPI support (inability to run XP natively)
-The chipset's native USB controller has no W7 native drivers making it difficult to attain full functionality on legacy OSes.
-Therefore hardware modded union point Z270/Z370 and Z170's are preferred for competitive benchmarking over Z390.
Note: Absolute maximums allowable are not definitively your safety margins. Some are, some are not.
Overclocking - CPU Core/VRMs
Overclocking - Memory
- It's my 5.2GHz 1.312V OC profile, nothing much has changed.
- Runs as well on the Phantom-ITX except the 200W Long/Short Duration Power Limit cap has been removed.
- Key mention: As of BIOS L1.33 ASRock has a full implementation of Asus's adaptive vCore mode (hybrid between stock dynamic voltages + offset mode on turbo ratios). Offset mode OCs can yield as low as 0.000V vCore on idle just like Asus boards with Adaptive.
- HWInfo build 3610 onwards includes VRM temp readouts from internal VR readings, no exception working on boards with hidden VRM temps.
- For an ITX machine with no direct airflow the VRM temps are nothing short of amazing, 65C peak on a high current load. The "IHS" on these exposed top MOSFETs do improve surface side heat dissipation while regular MOSFETs with no exposed top has more reliance on sinking heat through PCB layers.
- The 5+2 true 60A phases layout (intersil exposed powerstages, 12K Nichicon capacitor) is still by far the best rated and costliest Z390 ITX VRM in market.
- Runner ups in the Z390 ITX VRM race are sporting around 6+2 true 40A TI NEXFets or 40A IR3553s which are still very good attempts. Some do go as low as 3+2 true phases. The phantom ITX would otherwise best handle the i9-9900K without a doubt. In Z390, ASRock's still the most commited vendor doing ITX boards and I'd hope for more competition in this area.
It's something worth talking about. The memory overclocking headroom is massive. It board takes cold booting on high speed memory (4000MHz+) like a piece of cake if your CPU specimen is up to scratch (sample's IMC capability)
. Unlike it's predecessor that allows you to scale with memory clocks and IMC voltages up to 1.2V IO 1.35V SA and 1.5V VDIMM, this board tops out at 1.8V/1.8V and 2.2V respectively, the fully unlocked memory overclock capability allows extreme overclockers to run their favourite Coffeelake+ 4000MHz+ C12-11-11-28-1T profile with tuned subtimings.
Example, what OCN's Benchmark Editor "mllrkllr88" did:
My daily Google Stressapptest stable 4000MHz C16-17-17-38-1T profile based on [email protected]
's 8Gx2 Single Side Maximus Apex/Gene profile still works.
- NO cold boot training drift shenanigans, proper RTL IOL alignment
- NO extended POST times from memory training sequences, failed POST or multiple retry.
- Google stressapptest ranks as one of the best memory stress testing tools.
- USB C (2 lane thunderbolt) Power Delivery Charging up to 36W, works with PD charging laptops, phones, tablets. I recall that this TI + Alpine Ridge combo provided me with a Pixel 2 charge time from near zero to full that's about 10 minutes faster than the Google 18W stock charger
- Consistent Wireless AC 9560 2x2 MIMO NIC, decent gain at 5GHz even at 10 meters from router with some obstruction.
- AC9560 paired perfectly with XBone wireless controller, the same Miracast connection to the living room TV at [email protected] works as well
- 3 Fan headers - based on user feedback, they've changed the 1 PWM+DC + 2 PWM header layout to 2PWM+DC + 1 PWM only header, good effort in improving the board's suitability for fan RPM control with a larger variety of fans
- Phenomenal POST times even with heavy memory overclocks and discrete GPU (5.9 sec warm, 7.3 sec cold boot). Abit under it's predecessor.
- No DPC latency issues
- As of beta BIOS L1.33, ASRock has adopted Asus's adaptive voltage mode which is a hybrid of offset mode (applied only on turbo ratios)
while on non-turbo state it reverts to default Intel SVID based adaptive vCore scaling. Previously only Asus offered "Adaptive", "Offset", "Manual".
- The Z390 ITX with the highest attainable power limit and current output with 5 true 60a phases on the core. Though it'll be nicer if ASRock did a 6+1 layout!
- While the thermal pads from last year's model appeared to be of better quality over the stock pads of this year, the improved VRM sink has overall delivered better cooling than the Fatal1ty ITX.
- Heat output under heavy load on back side of mobo/VRMs doesn't burn the rear cable management chamber and tightly routed cables of a case like the Fractal Design Nano S at all with no airflow at this region.
(attainable in real world without package limit or temp throttling).
- 4000MHz CL16-17 is not a wild target as long as your CPU lottery is decent with a pair of ss Samsung-B IC based RAM kit
- P/C state overclocking with SpeedShift enabled works without issues
I'm guessing it's cost pressure, minor compromises were made with VRM pad choices but they're probably just cents of savings. Despite this matter, the VRM heat sinking capability is an overall upgrade over Fatal1ty ITX. That aside, ASRock pretty much delivered overall upgrades with a US$10 topup. Since the component choices are quite expensive with upgrades including AC9560, increased chipset costs, dual m.2, better VRM heat sink, added LN2 features/fully unlocked but yet no real upcharge for potential EXOC induced RMAs.. I've seen zero spec downgrades aside from a SATA port count reduction from 6 to 4 accomodate dual M.2 2280 slots. The rear USB IO are still fully controlled by the Intel chipset's native USB controller.
The Phantom ITX BIOS is pretty much the fully 'unlocked' ASRock BIOS. It's a new venture on their ITX series so some new additions in the BIOS are slightly rugged with incoming bug fixes. I've been using the first BIOS till the current beta, the only outstanding issue left only applies to memory training extreme memory overclocks (near LN2 or only "benchmark-only stable" territory) and perhaps hopefully use of lowest possible default IA AC/DC load line values for lower SVID telemetry under offset modes to avoid "VID boosting" on heavy positive/negative VID offset OCs for better control over vCore voltages under load in newer BIOSes. So far, ASRock TSD's been very receptive to user feedback in area of calibration and bug fixing. I've had several personal experiences giving BIOS feedback through their TSD since the Fatal1ty ITX. Minor outstanding issues should be fixed in due course.
US$190 (US$180 last year) is an excellent ask price from ASRock for such a quality ITX. Tweaktown's motherboard editor Steven B. even thinks it's underpriced. The Phantom-ITX is hands down the best Z390 ITX money can buy. The best fit-for-purpose board to pair the i9-9900k with.