Reviews have been written, benchmarks run, and graphs plotted. The Ryzen 3000 series has lived up to the hype in almost every way. There is finally real competition in the mainstream CPU marketplace, and with competition comes greater consumer choice. One of the biggest debates that is still ongoing with this launch is which chipset to buy. Do you need X570?
Unlike Intel, AMD has made a commitment to supporting the AM4 socket over multiple CPU generations. So far, the team in red has held to that promise, and the new Zen 2 processors are widely supported on older-generation motherboards. While this is great for consumers, it also creates more complexity as more choice inevitably must. Do you need a new X570 motherboard? Due to the cost of the new chipset, the new generation of boards is more expensive feature for feature than the last two generations. This is largely due to PCIe 4.0, a costly and complex feature to implement.
In the graphics department, no card on the market has saturated even PCIe 3.0 yet, at least in the x16 configuration. The largest immediate benefit is with high-speed storage. NVMe drives in RAID configurations can and will take advantage of the extra bandwidth to push never before seen sequential read and write speeds. With your average game, even the switch from SATA to NVMe can be hard to notice, let alone to an even faster and more expensive RAID array. This is more relevant for content creation and media production, where high-speed storage can save significant time and therefore money, which is further bolstered by the near-HEDT core counts on the high-end Ryzen 3000 CPUs. Of course, graphics cards will eventually catch up as well, so for the discerning gamer who only upgrades every three to five years, the new standard could prove a good investment as well.
ASRock introduced the Phantom Gaming line last year as a more aggressively styled alternative to their existing Taichi product lines. The Phantom Gaming family covers a broad range of components, from motherboards all the way to cases. In the motherboard space, the first iteration of Phantom Gaming shared a lot of design and parts with the award-winning Taichi boards. In an update to their Z390 Phantom Gaming line up, ASRock introduced a new, more modern look to their product stack with the Z390 Phantom Gaming 7 and Z390 Phantom Gaming X.
The X570 Phantom Gaming X is the top dog in ASRock's X570 lineup, excluding the limited addition Aqua. Sitting at $50 over the X570 Taichi, the main draw of the Phantom Gaming X is the 2.5 Gb/s LAN it offers. In fact, among the four major board vendors, the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X is the most affordable in the high-end mainstream segment. It features a 14 phase VRM, integrated rear I/O shield, full coverage M.2 heatsink, excellent RGB LED lighting, and even a backplate.
So, it has the looks and features, but does it have the performance to be the top motherboard in a line of excellent boards?
|CPU Support:||AMD AM4 socket Ryzen 2000 and 3000 series processors|
|Power Design:|| CPU Power: 14 phase |
Memory Power: 2 phase
|Integrated Graphics:||Dependent on installed CPU|
|Memory:||4x DIMM, Support Dual Channel DDR4-4666+(OC) MHz|
|BIOS:||AMI UEFI BIOS|
|Expansion Slots:|| 3x PCIe 4.0 x16 slots (x16/x0/x0 or x8/x8/x0 or x8/x4/x4)|
3x PCIe 4.0 x1 slots
|Storage:|| 8x SATA 6 Gb/s port |
3x M.2 port (SATA3/PCIe 4.0 x4)
|Networking:||1x Intel I211AT|
1x Realtek RTL8125AG
1x Intel 802.11ax (WiFi 6)
|Rear Ports:|| 2x Antenna ports|
1x HDMI port
1x Clear CMOS Button
1x BIOS Flashback Button
1x Optical SPDIF out port
1x LAN (RJ45) port
1x USB 3.1 (Gen2) Type-C port
1x USB 3.1 (Gen2) Type-A port
6x USB 3.1 (Gen1) ports
5x 3.5 mm Audio jacks
1x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard combo port
|Audio:||1x Realtek ALC1220 Codec|
|Fan Headers:||6x 4-pin|
|Form Factor:||ATX Form Factor: 12.0 in x 9.6 in, 30.5 cm x 24.4 cm|
Packaging and Contents
The front of the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X box is dominated by a highly stylized "PG" in metallic silver and red over a sleek matte black background. ASRock has gone with a premium, but minimalist design for the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X. There are brand badges in the bottom right, and "ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X" is in the bottom left.
The back of the box hits all the standard points: a top-down shot of the board, several panels detailing prominent features, a diagram outlining the rear I/O, and the specifications list. ASRock is pushing the 2.5 Gb/s LAN feature as well as Polychrome Sync. The box design is elegant on front and informative on the back, truly the mullet of motherboard marketing. ASRock gets a thumbs up from me for the new direction.
Opening the inner box, the board sits encased in an antistatic bag inside a cardboard tray with the accessories hidden underneath. Another stylized "PG" and the Phantom Gaming slogan are displayed on the lid.
The accessories are pretty standard. Notably absent is any kind of rear I/O shield. That's because the shield is integrated into the board. ASRock gets big points from me for this feature, and frankly, I am disappointed that it hasn't become an industry standard by now. Additionally, ASRock has included a Torx driver for the M.2 heatsink.
The full list of accessories includes:
- Manual and support DVD
- Post card and software setup guide
- 4x SATA 6 Gb/s cables
- 1x SLI HB bridge L
- 3x M.2 mounting screws
- TR8 driver
The ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X follows the theme of it's Z390 counterpart: a matte black PCB that is almost entirely obscured by the massive heatsink that covers the chipset and all three M.2 slots, as well as a rear I/O cover and integrated I/O shield all in the Phantom Gaming colors.
The back of the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X is a similar black, but not empty as a large metal backplate takes up more than half the rear of the board. The backplate does add structural integrity as the heatsinks are mounted to it. ASRock has placed several controllers on the back of this board, most notably for the 2.5 Gb/s LAN. The ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X is very sharp and modern-looking, with a great level of detail.
The CPU socket is open enough to accommodate most coolers, and the VRM heatsink looks quite capable.
There are three M.2 slots on the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X; one above the first PCIe x16 slot and another between the second and third PCIe x16 slots. All three (and the chipset besides) share a single monolithic heatsink. While not a hugely complex part, the machining and finish on the heatsink are absolutely excellent. The Torx screws are an interesting twist, though I wish they had been used throughout the board instead of just for the three M.2 heatsink screws.
The top M.2 heatsink overlaps with the chipset heatsink, and the two are interfaced with a thermal pad. I did not have any problems with the thermal pad of the chipset heatsink sticking because ASRock has included a plastic tab over the pad. It should be removed for best thermal performance, though it is not catastrophic if it is not.
The ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X offers three PCI Express 4.0 x16 slots, all encased in steel armor, as well as two PCI Express 4.0 x1 slots. The board has a total of eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, and all are angled 90 degrees from the board.
The ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X has a superb rear I/O offering that includes two LAN ports and an optical S/PDIF out port. Combined with the WiFi 6, the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X has some serious horsepower when it comes to networking.
- 2x Antenna ports
- 1x HDMI port
- 1x DisplayPort 1.2
- 1x PS/2 keyboard and mouse combo connector
- 4x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A ports
- 1x USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-C port
- 2x RJ-45 LAN ports
- 1x Optical SPDIF out port
- 5x 3.5 mm audio jacks
Networking on the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X is handled by an Intel I211AT, while a Dragon RTL8125AG from Realtek provides the 2.5 G LAN (red port). WiFi 6 is provided by an Intel 802.11ax module.
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