ASRock Z790 PG Riptide Review Summary
If you can live without the wireless connectivity and looking for a pocket-friendly Z790 motherboard that still provides Gen5 base connectivity for storage and PCIe, then look no further, as ASRock Z790 PG Riptide has got you covered.
Design - 9.4/10
Performance - 8.9/10
Overclocking - 9/10
Budget - 9.1/10
- 14+1+1 Power Phases
- Adequate VRM/MOSFET Cooling
- 1x PCIe Gen5 x16 slot
- 1x PCIe Gen5 M.2 Port
- 1x PCIe Gen4x4 slot
- 4x Hyper M.2 Gen4x4 NVMe ports
- 1x WiFi M.2 2230 port
- 1x USB Type-C Gen 2×2 port
- Subtle RGB Lighting under Chipset Cover
- 5 GbE LAN Connectivity
- 2x Lightning Gaming USB Ports
- Overall good performance
- Only 1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2
- No USB 3.2 Gen2 Port
- No Wireless Connectivity
- No Debug LED
- Just Ok Audio Solution
- Tilted Clear CMOS Connector
When it comes to motherboard manufacturers, we have limited options. ASRock is among the leading motherboard manufacturers that need no introduction. They have successfully established themselves as a manufacturer of quality hardware with optimized software. What people may not know about them is that ASRock also carries graphics cards, monitors, mini PCs, and industrial /server-grade solutions. Like other brands, they also carry multiple lines for motherboards, including their ever-popular Taichi and enthusiast-level AQUA. They cover the mid-range market segment with Phantom Gaming and Steel Legend. ASRock has sent us the Z790 PG Riptide motherboard for review. Here, PG stands for Phantom Gaming. Phantom Gaming series has multiple themed motherboards like Riptide, Sonic, etc. Let’s start with taking a look at the salient features of Z790 PG Riptide:
Helpful Read: Best Z790 Motherboards
- Supports 13th Gen & 12th Gen Intel® Core™ Processors
- 14+1+1 Phase Power Design, Dr.MOS for VCore+GT
- 4 x DDR5 DIMMs, supports up to 7200+(OC)
- 1 PCIe 5.0 x16, 1 PCIe 4.0 x16, 1 PCIe 3.0 x1, 1 M.2 Key-E for WiFi
- Graphics Output Options: 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort
- 1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC897 Audio Codec), Nahimic Audio
- 1 Blazing M.2 (PCIe Gen5x4), 4 Hyper M.2 (PCIe Gen4x4), 8 SATA3
- 1 USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C (Front)
- 2 USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A (Rear)
- 1 USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (Rear)
- 6 USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A (4 Rear, 2 Front)
- 6 USB 2.0 (2 Rear, 4 Front)
- Killer 2.5G LAN
The Riptide is named after a specific kind of water current with strong waves that occur in the ocean, representing the philosophy of the sea’s double-side, calm and unlimited strength. Built around powerful gaming-related features, the Riptide has given a powerful smash and immersion in the sense of stability.
As usual, we will take a look at the block diagram first and then move on to the design and layout of the motherboard.
The above picture shows a block diagram of the Z790 PG Riptide motherboard. We can see that the CPU is providing native support for a 1x PCIe x16 slot on Gen 5 as well as a Gen5-based M.2 NVMe port. But there is a catch. There is a Gen5 redriver and switch. What does it mean? It means that if a user populates a Gen5-based graphics card and a Gen5-based NVMe SSD, then the graphics card will take X8 lanes instead of X16. Wait, before you start saying bad words for ASRock, this is a design limitation of this platform by Intel. Motherboard manufacturers have no role play in it.
We can also spot native support for DisplayPort and HDMI ports from the CPU socket, as well as Gen4-based NVMe SSD support. You can safely use a Gen5-based graphics card with a Gen4-based NVMe SSD without compromising the speed of the graphics card. There is no USB support from the CPU Socket.
There are two channels for DDR5, with each channel having two DIMM slots. The DDR5 support of up to 7200MHz is mentioned. However, this motherboard has native support of 4800MHz. Keep in mind that this also implies that a BIOS update would be required to achieve higher frequency support.
The bridge between the CPU Socket and Chipset is based on DMI Gen4 and is using X8 lanes. There are three more M.2 ports that are on Gen 4 bus and rated for X4 speeds, but one M.2 port labeled as M.2_WIFI1 is based on PCIe Gen3 and is reserved for the WiFi module. Additionally, the motherboard does not have a WiFi module out of the box, and the second PCIe slot is based on PCIe Gen4x4, whereas the third slot is rated for Gen3x1.
Going over the network connectivity, it is provided on a dedicated Gen 3×1 PCIe bus which is a good design. The motherboard has 8x 6Gbps SATA ports wired to the chipset. Similarly, the TPM and Audio are also wired to the chipset. Thunderbolt support is on GPIO, and only an ASRock Thunderbolt Add-In card is possible. There is a plethora of USB ports though we have some reservations, which we will mention in the design section. A Nuvoton controller is employed to control the fans and Hardware monitoring.
|Product||ASRock Z790 PG Riptide|
|Power Phase||14+1+1 Power Phase, 50A Dr.MOS for VCore+GT|
|Memory||Dual Channel, Supports DDR5 non-ECC, un-buffered memory up to 7200+(OC)|
|DIMM Slots||4x DDR5 DIMM Slots|
|Slots||1x PCIe 5.0, 1x PCIe 4.0, 1x PCIe 2.0, 1x M.2 Socket|
|Storage||4x Hyper M.2 Socket, 1x Blazing M.2 Socket, 8x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors|
|USB||1x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C (Front), 2x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A (Rear), 1x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (Rear), 6x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A (4 Rear, 2 Front), 6x USB 2.0 (2 Rear, 4 Front)|
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor|
Packaging and Unboxing
The motherboard is shipped inside a colorful box. You can find the salient features are mentioned on the base, including PCIe 5.0, DDR5, POLYCHROME SYNC, and LGA1700. There is a colorful and stylish Phantom Gaming logo as well.
The backside of the box has salient features highlighted in a colorful:
- Fully covered MOSFET Covers
- Lightning Gaming Ports
- 5GbE Killer Network LAN
- 14+1+1 Power Phases
- PCIe 5.0 X16 Slot
- Front USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Port
There is a cardboard-made brown color box inside the outer box. It has ASRock branding in the center.
ASRock has paid closer attention to the safe and secure shipping of motherboards. The motherboard is placed inside an anti-static cover. There is Styrofoam padding all around to prevent the motherboard from any damage.
Removing the top box, we are left with accessories placed under the two-fold covers.
ASRock has provided:
- A user manual
- A post Card
- 5x M.2 Port Screws
- 2x SATA Cables
- 1x Key Cap
There is a stylish Phantom Gaming-themed key cap provided in accessories. Users can use this keycap on the keyboard.
The motherboard is placed inside a black color Styrofoam for added safety.
ASRock has got no chill! They used zip ties to secure the motherboard to a Styrofoam container. Kudos for this thinking.
ASRock Z790 PG Riptide motherboard is a mid-range gaming motherboard with a few hits and misses here and there to bring the overall proposition at a user-friendly price. It has a full ATX size and blue color accent with gray and black colors giving a pleasant look. Let’s start exploring the motherboard.
ASRock has done a good job in the overall layout and placement of the components. The PCB is black in color. All 4 heatsinks are quite stylish and are finished in gray and black colors combination. You will find the Phantom Gaming logo on the chipset cover, which is RGB backlit, meaning POLYCHROME SYNC is in action for that. Nothing else on this motherboard has an RGB element. ASRock has paid attention to the cooling requirement of key components.
We have an LGA1700 socket, 4x DIMM slots for DDR5 RAM, 3x PCIe slots at X16/X4/X1, 5 M.2 ports, 8x SATA ports, a plethora of USB ports, an on-board audio solution driven by Realtek ALC897, Intel Killer 2.5 GbE NIC, and nice I/O connectivity options. The 6-layered and 2x Copper PCB has a standard ATX form factor measuring 30.5cmX24.4cm and has support for Microsoft Windows 10 and 11.
The above picture shows the motherboard’s overview.
ASRock has provided 2x 8-pin EPS connectors. There is an HDMI and DP ports on the rear IO panel. The Rear IO Panel also has a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C port. There are 2x Lightning Gaming USB ports which we will cover later in the content. There is a 2.5GbE NIC. The PCIe Gen5 x16 slot is steel reinforced. In the motherboard, there are 4x M.2 Hyper sockets and 8x SATA ports. The power phases are 14+1+1 design.
CPU Socket, Heatsink, VRM, and Power Delivery
The ASROCK Z790 PG RIPTIDE features an LGA1700 socket. This is the same socket that is on Intel’s 12th-generation platform. This gives cross-generation compatibility between the 12th and 13th generations from Intel. This would also mean that the ILM design issues spotted in the previous generation will be in this generation. Taking a look at the socket, there is a protective cover on it. The arrow indicator on the cover is facing the arrow marking on the socket.
We opened the lid to show the socket itself and contact pins. It should be mentioned that the coolers compatible with Intel LGA1700 will work with the 13th generation as well.
Following graphics solution is native to the socket:
- Intel® Xe Graphics Architecture (Gen 12)
- 1 x HDMI 2.1 TMDS Compatible, supports HDCP 2.3 and max. resolution up to 4K 60Hz
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4 with DSC (compressed), supports HDCP 2.3 and max. resolution up to 8K 60Hz / 5K 120Hz
We installed the Intel Core i7-13700K during the picture shoot. This CPU was used to test this motherboard.
ASRock has employed a powerful cooling solution for VRM/MOSFETs. This is of important consideration to achieve sustained performance under heavy load. There are two aluminum-made heatsink covers on the VRM/MOSFETS. These are not connected using a heat pipe. Well, this is acceptable at this price point. These heatsinks have a stepped and cut-out layout for effective heat transfer. The right cover has stylish stenciling with Phantom Gaming Series printed in black color, whereas the top cover has no branding at all.
The above picture shows both covers removed from the motherboard. ASRock did not specify the thermal conductivity rating of applied thermal pads. These pads seem to have a thickness of 2mm and are gray in color. The layered design is more visible in this picture, showing a large surface area for effective heat dissipation.
The rear IO panel cover has a Phantom Gaming blue color sticker. It is not RGB backlit.
We can see under the side of the top cover. It is made of plastic material.
While we are at it, let’s take a look at the power delivery of the motherboard.
ASROCK Z790 PG RIPTIDE motherboard has adequate digital power phases. There are 14 phases for VCore, with 1 phase for VCCGT and 1 phase for VCC AUX.
ASRock has used Vishay Siliconix SiC 654 MOSFETs. These are high-frequency integrated power stages optimized for synchronous buck applications to offer high current, high efficiency, and high power density performance with very low shutdown current. They are based on TrenchFET technology that delivers industry benchmark performance to reduce switching and conduction losses. These MOSFETs are rated for 50A current. They can deliver in excess of 50 A continuous current, 70 A peak (10 ms), and 100 A peak (10 μs). These are VRPower (Dr. MOS) type products.
Since these are 50A-rated MOSFETs, we have a total of 700A for the power delivery to VCore. We have 50A for GT and 50A for AUX.
ASRock is using an RT3628AE PWM controller for integrated control of all three types of MOSFETs. The RT3628AE is a synchronous buck controller from Richtek. It supports 2 output rails and can fully meet Intel IMVP9.1 requirements. The RT3628AE adopts G-NAVPTM (Green Native AVP), which is Richtek′s proprietary topology derived from finite DC gain of EA amplifier with current mode control, making it easy to set the droop to meet all Intel CPU requirements of AVP (Adaptive Voltage Positioning). Based on the G-NAVPTM topology, the RT3628AE features a new generation of quick response mechanisms (Adaptive Quick Response, AQR) to optimize AVP performance during load transient and reduce output capacitors. The RT3628AE integrates a high accuracy ADC for platform and function settings, such as ICCMAX, switching frequency, over-current threshold, and AQR trigger level.”
After checking the specifications of the controller, we can guess that ASRock is using a doubler design on MOSFETs since this controller is rated for 8/7/6/5/4 Phase (CORE VR) + 1 Phase (AXG VR). This means we have 14 phases in doubler based on 7 phase design.
ASRock has provided two 8-pin EPS connectors for smooth power delivery to the circuit. Two would be needed for extreme overclocking on high-end CPUs; otherwise, a single connector is enough for daily requirements.
ASRock has mentioned that PCB is a 6 Layer design to provide stable signal traces and power shapes delivering lower temperature and higher energy efficiency for memory overclocking! Thus, it’s able to support the latest memory modules with the most extreme memory performance! 2-ounce copper inner layers that provide stable signal traces and power shapes! It helps in delivering lower temperatures and higher energy efficiency for overclocking.
The ASRock Z790 PG RIPTIDE motherboard has 4x DDR5-based DIMM slots. These slots are not steel reinforced. ASRock has mentioned that DDR5 up to 7200MHz is supported (With BIOS Update). By default, the board supports 4800MHz. A total of up to 128GB RAM capacity is supported with a single stick density of 32GB. This is a Dual Channel design and supports un-buffered DIMM 1Rx8/2Rx8/1Rx16 memory modules. Motherboard supports XMP 3.0 and AMD EXPO as well.
There are limitations in terms of populated sticks and possible speed:
- 1DPC 1R Up to 7200+ MHz (OC), 4800 MHz Natively.
- 1DPC 2R Up to 6000+ MHz (OC), 4400 MHz Natively.
- 2DPC 1R Up to 5600+ MHz (OC), 4000 MHz Natively.
- 2DPC 2R Up to 4800+ MHz (OC), 3600 MHz Natively.
This motherboard has latches or lockers on both ends of the slots.
The motherboard supports the Memory Dynamic Boost feature, which enables high-frequency switching from the native frequency. This feature seems to work without XMP loaded per our testing. ASRock has also provided ASRock Timing and Memory Frequency Boost features.
ASRock did not provide any information if the motherboard supports bypassing the locked PMIC on DDR5 kits to unlock PMIC for extreme overclocking. From the looks of it, this motherboard has support for that which is not enabled by default. By now, we know that some DDR5 modules come with locked PMIC (1.1V), whereas some high-end and high-performance kits come with unlocked PMIC. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The locked PMIC would hurt the overclocking of the kit only.
Due to the unique electrical architecture of DDR5 DIMM, there’s a high risk of damaging the memory module if AC power isn’t disconnected properly during removal or installation. ASRock has mentioned that they have implemented a trouble-free protection circuit on every DDR5 motherboard to lower the risk of damaging the memory module(s) to circumvent the above-stated issue.
There are two SM4337 N-Channel rated at 30V, and 55A MOSFETs, probably for the power delivery of DIMM slots. There are further two similar MOSFETs below the circuitry.
ASRock has provided a plethora of M.2 ports or sockets on this motherboard. However, there are three catches on that, which we will mention shortly. Much like Zen4, Intel also releases PCIe Gen5-based M.2 support for the upcoming high-speed PCIe Gen5-based M.2 NVMe SSDs. ASRock has provided one such port on this motherboard.
We can see a gray and black color combination on the top M.2 cover. The top section has what ASRock is using, the Blazing M.2. This top cover is made of aluminum and acts as a heatsink. It is quite stylish and has somewhat depth to provide more surface area for effective heat dissipation.
Look at that. We have not one but two ports here. That is our first catch. The left port is based on PCIe Gen 4, whereas the right side port is based on PCIe Gen5. Regardless of actually showing 6 M.2 ports, we have a useful count of 4x M.2 ports that can be used at a time. This is because we can use either of these two topmost ports.
A second catch that we already mentioned above is that populating M.2 Gen5 port will make the Gen5-based Graphics Card operate at X8 lanes.
The above picture shows the second M.2 cover with the same style, but it is a single piece of aluminum without any depth. Since it has almost double the length of the top cover so it would still serve its purpose in an effective manner. It is labeled as M.2 ARMOR.
We have two M.2 ports at the base. These are PCIe Gen4-based ports and are wired to the chipset.
There are two more ports in the middle section. The top M.2 port is NGF form factor and is reserved for the WIFI/BT module, which the user is required to purchase separately from the market. It is a Key-E type port that supports only the 2230 form factor for WiFi/BT PCIe WiFi module and Intel® CNVio/CNVio2 (Integrated WiFi/BT). The bottom port is Hyper M.2 and is based on Gen4, wired to the chipset.
There comes another catch. Though we have a total count of 6 M.2 ports on this motherboard, one is reserved for WIFI only, and one can use either of the top two ports. Effectively, a user can install a total of 4x M.2 SSDs on this motherboard which is still a good number.
All these ports are M-type, and except for the top two ports, the remaining three M.2 SSD ports support the 2260 and the 2280 form factor. The top PCIe Gen4 and Gen5 M.2 SSD ports can support only the 2280 form factor.
This motherboard has 3x PCIe slots. ASRock has put a good implementation of the two slots.
The topmost PCIe slot is wired to the CPU socket and is a fully functional PCIe Gen 5 x16 slot with a theoretical bandwidth of 128GB/s. This slot is stainless-steel reinforced.
The reinforced steel slot is capable of supporting PCI Express 5.0 standard. Some of the key benefits are:
- Extra anchor points
- Stronger latch
- Ensure signal stability
- Make sure heavy graphics cards are well-installed.
Compared to conventional DIP-style PCIe slots, the SMT-type PCIe slot improves signal flow and maximizes stability under high speed, a key breakthrough to fully support the lighting speed of the latest PCIe 5.0 standard. The latest PCI Express 5.0 is capable to perform a breathtaking bandwidth of 128GBps.
The second PCIe slot is wired to the chipset, as we saw in the block diagram. It is a PCIe Gen4 x4 slot which is mentioned as x16. The provision of an x4 PCIe slot is a wise design.
However, the last PCIe slot is a PCIe Gen3x1 slot. Likely because its X1 mode is that the Gen3 lane is being shared with Intel Killer 2.5 GbE NIC.
Now, it is time to take a look at the Z790 chipset area.
The chipset has a low-profile cover. It is made of aluminum material. There is a blue area on the right side with a Phantom Gaming logo that is RGB backlit. This is the only area that has RGB lighting on this motherboard. ASROCK is printed in white color at the base. Three words are highlighted:
These seem more like a marketing gimmick than anything useful.
We removed the chipset cover. We did not remove the thermal pad as it could tear. This pad is gray in color. The chipset has a clean power delivery with VRMs on the right side of the chipset. They are driven by SM4337 N-Channel MOSFETs.
The ASRock Z790 PG Riptide has SM Bus-connected microcontroller to a Nuvoton NUC 121ZC2 ARM microcontroller connected to USB. This device is responsible for controlling the RGB illumination of the motherboard. This chip also monitors the state of the board.
The audio solution on this motherboard is adequate though nothing extraordinary. It uses RealTek ALC897 codec to drive the audio solution. This is just an ok solution which could have been better in my opinion.
The above picture shows well-shielded audio circuitry. This motherboard uses 4x high-end WIMA capacitors along with Fine-Gold capacitors to drive the power of the circuit. This is not a Hi-Res Audio solution. ASRock has provided Nahimic Audio support on this motherboard which is a software-level augmentation.
We have two main areas here:
- Wireless connectivity
- Wired connectivity
ASRock has employed Intel Killer NUC on this motherboard. This is Killer E3100G controller. There is a single RJ-45 port on the back panel for the wired network connectivity. The 2.5GbE provide roughly double the speed of that 1GbE connectivity for a better online gaming experience. Talking about the ethernet, its port supports 10/100/1000/2500Mbps.
ASRock has provided a specialized engine via drivers for enhanced detection and prioritization to provide the ultimate networking experience for gaming and multimedia applications. Some key benefits are:
- Faster Gameplay
- Easy to Use
- Fully Customizable
The Killer GameFast Technology can free up to 10% of CPU cycles and 20% of memory, allowing the user to enjoy a smooth gaming experience. It is extremely easy to use. Just simply turning on the Killer GameFast will do the work. All the settings are customizable according to the user’s preference. The one thing that we can change as per the user is ‘adding or removing processes to be stopped’.
The Intel® Killer™ Prioritization Engine ensures you get your lowest in-game latencies by prioritizing your gaming traffic above everything else. Automatically detect, classify, and prioritize network traffic for streaming videos and entertainment to give you the best possible online experience. The Intel® Killer™ Prioritization Engine works automatically, and the Intel® KillerTM Intelligence Center allows you to customize and prioritize your network traffic to your liking.
There is no wireless connectivity on this motherboard, as we mentioned above. There is an E-Type, 2230 M.2 port which can be populated with WiFi/BT PCIe WiFi module and Intel® CNVio/CNVio2 (Integrated WiFi/BT).
The USB connectivity is provided by the chipset:
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C (Front)
- 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A (Rear)
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C (Rear)
- 6 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A (4 Rear, 2 Front)
- 6 x USB 2.0 (2 Rear, 4 Front)
We can see the plethora of USB connectivity options on this motherboard.
This board has USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 over Type-C interface, providing a theoretical bandwidth of 20Gbps on the front I/O panel. There are two USB ports on the rear panel, which is mentioned as Lightning Gaming Ports. We will discuss them in the testing section.
The ASM1074 is a 4-port USB hub in downstream configuration from the chipset. This controller is from ASMedia. It is a USB3.2 Gen 1 Hub controller for Super-Speed USB3.0 and USB2.0 interface.
ASRock has employed another ASMedia controller that is ASM3042. It is the next generation USB xHCI host controller to bridge PCIe to the USB 3.2 interface. It is compliant with USB 3.2 Specification Revision 1.0 and Intel eXtensible Host Controller Interface specification revision 1.1.
ASM3042 supports two ports of USB3.2 Gen1 x1 and performs exceptional high-speed bandwidth with the support of PCI Express Gen3. It uses an advanced process with a low voltage supply, following standard PCI Express/USB bus power management and advanced chip power management to reduce total power consumption efficiently under an idle/standby state.
The PI3EQX1004E is a low-power, high-performance 10.0 Gbps 2-Port USB 3.1 linear ReDriver™ designed specifically for the USB 3.1 protocol. It supports four 10Gbps differential signal pairs and is fully compliant with USB 3.1 standards.
Now that we have covered the main features, functions, and design of the motherboard, let’s take a look at the internal connectors.
- 4-Pin PWM CPU FAN Header
- 4-Pin PWM CPU Fan/Pump Header
- 4-Pin PWM Fan/Pump Header
- 1x Standard 5V 3-pin A-RGB Connector
- 1x Standard 12V 4-pin RGB Connector
4-pin RGB port supports 12V/3A providing up to 36W power for the LED Strip.
3-pin A-RGB port provides up to 15W for the LED Strip using 5V/3A.
CPU Fan1 is rated at 1A, whereas CPU_Fan2/WP is rated at 2A. CHA_FAN1 to CHA_FAN4 are rated at 2A each. Out of these fan headers, only CPU_FAN2/WP and CHA_FAN1 to CHA_FAN4 can detect the connected fan type i.e., PWM or DC. Surprising to see that CPU_FAN1 does not have this function.
ASRock is using nuvoton 3947S controller for the PWM fan/pump headers.
Next, we have:
- A 24-Pin ATX Connector
- 2 Gen2x2 Front Panel Connector
- 2 Gen1 Header
The PI3EQX2004ZHE handles the USB Type-C 3.2 Gen2x2 port. ASRock has implemented this connector for the front panel connectivity. I wish they had done it on the rear IO panel.
Next, down the line, we have 6x SATA 6Gbps ports wired directly to the Chipset.
There is a 4-pin Fan/Pump header under the CPU socket. It is rated at 2A, providing up to 24W power.
ASRock has provided 4x LEDs to troubleshoot the issues should one encounter. These are for the VGA, CPU, BOOT, and DRAM. They provide additional troubleshooting aid to the. In case of an issue, the corresponding LED will remain lit until the issue is resolved. There is no Debug LED on this board. ASRock has named these as Post Status Checkers.
There is a 13-pin TPM header. It is implemented on the SPI bus.
ASRock has used Nuvoton NCT6796D-E controller. The NCT6796D-E is a member of Nuvoton’s Super I/O series and is capable of monitoring critical parameters in PC hardware, including power supply voltages, fan speeds, and temperatures. It provides both high-accuracy current mode sensing and low-cost thermistor mode sensing. It also supports Nuvoton’s SMART FANTM I and SMART FANTM IV algorithms for fan speed control. The NCT6796D-E supports both LPC & eSPI interface to communicate with chipsets. It implements Intel® PECI, AMD® SB-TSI interface, Intel® S0iX glue logic, and Port 80 diagnostic messages on both LPC & eSPI interface. This is the main IO controller chip on this motherboard.
Now, let’s take a look at the bottom connectivity options on this motherboard.
Starting from the right side, we have a Front Panel header. Please refer to the manual for proper cable connectivity. Next, there is a Speaker header.
Next, we have two more SATA 6Gbps connectors. There is a Clear CMOS jumper right next to the SATA connector. It is tilted, which seems to have run passed the QC. Next, we have a CHA_FAN5 Fan/Pump header rated for 2A.
Next, we have two 9-pin USB 2.0 headers followed by a 3-pin A-RGB header and a 4-pin RGB header. These have the same power rating of 15W and 36W, respectively.
Next, there is a 5-pin proprietary Thunderbolt header. Only ASRock’s Thunderbolt Add-In card can be used with this port using a GPIO cable.
Next, there is a 4-pin PWM CHA_FAN4 Fan and Pump header rated at 2A, followed by a UART port. At last, there is a Front Panel HD Audio connector.
The following options are provided:
- 2 x Antenna Mounting Points
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 1 x DisplayPort 1.4
- 2 x USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-A Ports (10 Gb/s)
- 1 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C Port
- 4 x USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A Ports (USB32_56 are Lightning Gaming Ports.)
- 2 x USB 2.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port
- HD Audio Jacks: Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
The above picture shows the backside view of the motherboard.
The above picture shows the PCB with all the heatsink covers removed.
This is my first time with ASRock, so UEFI/BIOS run would be a first-time experience. In my opinion, after using this motherboard for some time, ASRock has provided the most user-friendly BIOS in terms of simplicity of the layout, combining the related settings under one head. I have been praising MSI before this, followed by ASUS and then GIGABYTE. I will walk the reader through key settings and variables as this is the first time on ASRock.
The BIOS is loaded in EZ mode. You can verify the installed processor and RAM along with their frequencies. Storage drives are also shown in the listing. Fan settings (default) are shown as well. This is a summarized view of the main settings.
Pressing F6 will load Advanced Mode. This is where you will find all relevant settings under various pages. The default loaded page is Main which shows a summary of components along with the BIOS version. We updated BIOS to the latest version at the time of testing, and it is 4.13. You can add settings in My Favorite as well.
OC Tweaker is like a paradise for hardcore enthusiasts and overclockers. Though this motherboard lacks the depth of overclocking-related settings and parameters, it still provides enough settings to server platter for the experienced user. CPU Cooler Type makes it easy for the user to let BIOS knows about which power settings to work around. The Base Frequency Boost (BFB) is ASRock’s way of setting the power target.
All CPU-related settings are under CPU Configuration. Memory-related settings are under DRAM Configuration. Voltage-related settings are under Voltage Settings, and FIVR Configuration contains settings related to Voltage control. On other manufacturers’ BIOS, user profile options are mostly listed in Save/Exit menu. ASRock has provided these settings on the main page, which makes it convenient for the user, particularly during an overclocking session.
CPU Configuration starts with P-Core, E-Core, and AVX-related settings. BCLK frequency setting is also listed here. Boot Performance Mode is set to Max Non-Turbo Performance. We did not change that during stock testing.
Next, we can see Ring Ratio settings followed by Intel Turbo Boost, Speed Shift, and Turbo Boost Max 3.0 Technology settings.
Intel Base Power Limit is basically Intel defaults or stock settings related to power. Next, there are PL1 and PL2 power settings. Please note that 253W is listed on the stock BIOS. With BIOS 4.13, these are changed to 265W.
ASRock has provided a simple setting to remove power limitations. If overclocking, you may also enable CPU Core Unlimited Current Limit.
Now in Memory configuration, we start with XMP Profile options. We have used a DRAM kit with XMP 3.0 profile which we loaded. DRAM Frequency is shown as 6000 compared to 4800MHz. DRAM Gear Mode is also listed there specifically.
Next, BIOS will present a plethora of DRAM timings to the user. You can leave most of the settings on Auto and only change what is needed.
Voltage Configuration has CPU and Voltage-related settings under one roof. When overclocking, change the Voltage Mode from OC to either of the listed parameters depending on the requirement.
We have Memory related voltage parameters for VDD, VDDQ, and PMIC.
Now we are in FIVR Configuration. You can change the behavior of various control modes from here.
After OC Tweaker, we are on the advanced page. Here we have settings related to the motherboard, onboard components, and related behavior. Take a look at the bottom options. You can select in which mode the UEFI shell will launch when you enter BIOS next time. You can also decide which page you will be shown, like Main, OC Tweaker, etc. We will show salient options on this page.
CPU-related advanced settings are listed here. You can set the count of active P-Cores and E-Cores, for example. Hyperthreading is listed here. Various C-states are also listed here.
Chipset settings are shown in the picture. You can set various channels’ link speeds. The behavior of which display adapter will be used is also listed.
On-board devices are listed here, along with their status.
Storage-related settings are shown here. AHCI control mode is activated by default. VMD configuration is for RAID creation. We can see that SAMSUNG SSD is connected to SATA3_4, and Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is connected to the M2_1 port.
TPM or Trusted Platform Module settings are listed here. TPM 2.0 is found on this motherboard. It is a basic requirement for Microsoft Windows 11.
The tools page has some handy tools collections like POLYCHROME SYNC and SSD Secure Erase. This is also an important page because we can use Instant Flash or Intel MEI Flash here to update the motherboard’s BIOS. We used Instant Flash. It searches the connected drives for ROM files and shows the most updated file found on any drive. After user’s
Users can change the RGB settings of the chipset from here.
H/W Monitor is another important page. Here you will get to see various sensor data and voltage readouts.
ASRock has provided two ways to configure connected fans. One is Fan Tuning which determines the speed range of the connected fans. FAN_TASTIC Tuning is an advanced option allowing the user to define a custom fan curve.
Each fan header is listed below the FAN-TASTIC option. Users can also change the settings from here.
Next, we have the Boot page. All related settings are listed here.
ASRock has provided 3x software with this motherboard which you can download from their website.
- ASRock Motherboard Utility (Phantom Gaming Tuning)
- Killer Control Center
- ASRock Polychrome SYNC
It is good to see that brands are moving towards a time when their software can be downloaded automatically. All that you need to do is to enable the Automatic Software Download option in the BIOS. As soon as you are booted into Windows, the program will prompt for searching and downloading software.
Auto Driver install is the name of the utility that ASRock uses to download the drives from the website.
The available drivers will be listed in the window. Select the required ones and click on Update. It will start downloading. All downloads are completed first and then installed one by one.
When there is no driver update available, you will be prompted accordingly.
The App Shop is another software provided by ASRock. You can use it to download Killer Control and other listed utilities.
You can also use App Shop to download the updates.
The Settings menu allows users to change the behavior of this software.
We downloaded Key Master Utility from App Shop.
POLYCHROME SYNC is ASRock’s approach toward RGB/A-RGB light control. Unfortunately, I did not find this app user-friendly. Maybe ASRock needs to check the MYSTIC SYNC app and create something more user-friendly with a rich experience. The onboard LED will list the present RGB/A-RGB elements on the motherboard. You can then decide if to sync these elements and apply a single control or otherwise.
The component section will list the hardware components connected to the motherboard and have RGB/A-RGB elements. You can change the RGB style of these components one component at a time.
ASRock Phantom Gaming Tuning is a major application software that allows users to control the performance of the system. Operation Mode is loaded by default. It has three modes listing:
- Performance Mode
- Standard Mode
- Power Saving
Selecting a mode will load its default settings.
OC Tweaker says it all. You can practically do anything here that you can do on the OC Tweaker page in BIOS.
The System Info page shows various voltage read-outs, frequencies, temperatures, and fan speeds.
The FAN-Tastic Tuning gives users advanced control over fans. You can define a custom fan curve here.
There is only one option here. If the user selects Auto Run at the Windows Startup, then this utility will load at windows startup and over-rides BIOS settings.
The powerful algorithms ensure the best noise-free conversation, giving a constant vocal level no matter the distance from your mic. Not only that, but the Nahimic audio engine dynamically clears the sound and removes interference noise, and lowers the voice variation. As a result, there is better comprehension and less fatigue.
- Static Noise Suppression
- Echo Cancellation
- Lateral Sound Cancellation
- Voice Stabilizer
The Sound Tracker is a visual indicator that points out the directions from which predominant sounds are coming. Each sound is properly positioned at 360° on the radar for full immersion during the game.
Now that we have covered the UEFI/BIOS and Software, It is time for actual testing of the ASRock Z790 PG Riptide motherboard and results.
We have used this configuration to measure the performance of the motherboard:
- Intel Core i7-13700K [Auto, Stock]
- ARCTIC Liquid Freezer – II 420 [Fans and Pump at full speed]
- Alphacool Sub-Zero Thermal Paste
- XPG Lancer RGB 32GB @ 6000MHz, CL40 DDR5
- Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB PCIe 4 NVMe SSD
- Samsung 840 EVO 1 TB SSD for the Games
- Sabrent Rocket NANO 2TB USB 3.2 Gen2 External Drive
- Sabrent Rocket NANO V2 2TB USB 3.2 Gen2x2 External Drive
- MSI GeForce RTX 3090 Gaming X Trio 24G
- be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum
- Thermaltake Core P6 TG Snow Edition in an open frame layout
Microsoft Windows 11 x64 Pro 22H2 is used for all the testing. Nvidia 528.02 drivers are used for graphics card testing. HWInfo64 is used to monitor sensors during testing.
The above is a run from CPU-Z software.
We have categorized testing into 4 groups:
- Overall Performance
- Performance Test
- User Benchmark
- CPU and Memory Tests
- Rendering Tests
- Compression Tests
- Encoding Tests
- Storage Tests
- Synthetic Tests
- Real-World Test
- PCIe Tests
- Synthetic Performance
- Gaming Performance
Details of test software are as under:
- Storage Tests
- Crystal Disk Mark
- 3DMARK Storage Test
- CPU Tests
- Cinebench R23
- GeekBench 5
- Blender Benchmark 1.02b and 3.4.0
- X264 HD Benchmark 5.0
- AIDA64 Engineer – Memory
- AIDA64 Engineer – CPU AES
- AIDA64 Engineer – CPU Queen
- Overall Performance
- Performance Test
- User Benchmark
- Gaming Tests
- 3DMark – Fire Strike Ultra
- 3DMark – Time Spy Extreme
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Forza Horizon 5
- Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
- Far Cry 6
- Test Results
- This section will show the results of the various test suites and gaming benchmarks that we have run on this motherboard.
Overall System Performance
PCMARK10 is the next iteration of PCMARK8 and includes a wide variety of tests to measure the performance of a complete PC or any component like a storage drive in particular. Its basic version is free. However, one would need a license for complete or advanced tests. With express, extended, and custom run options to suit your needs, PCMark 10 is the complete PC benchmark for the modern office.
This is easily a superb performance from this system. This is, in fact, our highest score in the PCMARK10 benchmark so far.
PassMark PerformanceTest allows you to objectively benchmark a PC using a variety of different speed tests and compare the results to other computers. We have used only CPU and Memory benchmarks.
99% percentile is self-explanatory here. The memory score of 3926 is nice. It is a good score.
UserBenchmark.com can quickly establish whether your PC is underperforming and suggest likely hardware and software issues. Test how fast your processor, graphics card, storage drives, and memory are by running the free UserBenchmark Speed Test.
82% percentile means this system ranked 82 in the same or similar spec systems.
CPU and Memory Performance
Cinebench is a real-world benchmark that evaluates one’s PC hardware capability, aka CPU and Memory. It is a great way to evaluate the performance of your CPU and Memory and compare it across the board to see how the PC is performing. It does not use the graphics card in this measurement. Besides, the user has control over how many threads to use in rendering a single image on the screen using the latest ray tracing capabilities.
This is an excellent score from CINEBENCH R23.2 on Intel i7 13700k. We have a strong performance in multi-core loads as well as single-core loads.
Geekbench 5 is another handy tool to measure the performance of your CPU and Graphics card and put it in a numeric outcome which allows easy comparison with the other systems to evaluate how well the given PC is performing. Geekbench 5 has a unique feature that allows a cross-platform comparison. It uses OpenCL, CUDA, and Metal APIs to measure the performance of graphics cards. It now supports Vulkan API as well.
The Geekbench 5 score is also good.
7-Zip is free software with open source. Most of the code is under the GNU LGPL license. It has a built-in compression benchmark which is used fairly across the tech industry to evaluate a PC’s relative performance in this particular segment of compression/decompression. 7-Zip has a high compression ratio in 7z format with LZMA and LZMA2 compression with supported formats of Packing / unpacking: 7z, XZ, BZIP2, GZIP, TAR, ZIP, and WIM and unpacking only: AR, ARJ, CAB, CHM, CPIO, CramFS, DMG, EXT, FAT, GPT, HFS, IHEX, ISO, LZH, LZMA, MBR, MSI, NSIS, NTFS, QCOW2, RAR, RPM, SquashFS, UDF, UEFI, VDI, VHD, VMDK, WIM, XAR, and Z. It outputs results in MIPS, and the higher count would mean better performance.
We have a higher MIPS score or rating in Compressing and Decompressing, showing the good performance of the CPU.
Super PI is a single-threaded benchmark that calculates pi to a specific number of digits. It uses the Gauss-Legendre algorithm and is a Windows port of a program used by Yasumasa Kanada in 1995 to compute pi to 232 digits.
5 minutes and 7 seconds is a tight score from the Intel Core i7-13700K and 6000MT DDR5 kit.
AIDA64 Engineer is a feature-rich solution when it comes to hardware detection, as it provides detailed information about the hardware and software installed in the PC. It also reports the main controllers on the hardware, which is an added benefit for the user. It can report sensor readouts in real time and offers diagnostic functions as well. It also offers a couple of benchmarks for measuring the performance of individual hardware components or the whole system.
The following built-in benchmarks were run in this software:
- CPU AES
- CPU Queen
AES is an integer-based benchmark that uses AES data encryption. It utilizes Vincent Rijmen, Antoon Bosselaers, and Paulo Barreto’s public domain C code in ECB mode. CPU AES test uses only the basic x86 instructions. The test consumes 48 MB of memory, and it is Hyper Threading, multi-processor (SMP), and multi-core (CMP) aware.
Standing second in the list shows the good performance of this CPU.
This simple integer benchmark focuses on the branch prediction capabilities and the misprediction penalties of the CPU. It finds the solutions for the classic “Queens problem” on a 10 by 10-sized chessboard.
We have somewhat of a nice score in the Queen benchmark.
3DMark CPU Profile
The 3DMark CPU Profile is what has been the missing element in the overall 3DMARK suite for some time. This tool will not measure and report a certain number which we can use to compare with other systems. It rather measures how well your system will scale when using a certain number of CPU threads and cores. The test run comprises six tests, each using a different number of threads. These six tests help you benchmark and compare CPU performance for a range of threading levels. They also provide a better way to compare different CPU models by looking at the results from thread levels they have in common.
This score will make sense when compared to other CPUs on the same system. Still, we can see that Core i7 13700k packs a solid performance punch using different thread counts.
Blender Benchmark is another popular rendering tool in use by enthusiasts and professionals to evaluate the performance of CPU and graphics cards. It does so based on Blender Open Data. It is a platform that collects, stores, and displays the results of hardware in particular. This is obviously possible only if the Blender community regularly uploads the result from their run on PCs.
We have used Blender Benchmark 1.0.2b version, which gives the rendering time in the result, and Blender Benchmark 3.4.0, which provides samples per minute and give a score at the end. A higher score means a better-performing PC.
The BMW27 scene took 1 minute and 7 seconds, and the Classroom scene took 6 minutes and 31 seconds.
We have got a 420.88 score in blender benchmark 3.4.0.
X264 HD Benchmark
x264 HD Benchmark is an Encoding benchmark that is very popular. Despite the fact that x265 HD Benchmark is now available, x264 HD is still going strong. It measures how quickly the POC can encode a 1080P video clip into a high-quality x264 video file. It uses CPU power for this purpose. Since it has the same file for encoding, it is a popular tool for even comparison when it comes to evaluating CPU performance.
The reported result is in FPS. Hence, the average FPS score of Pass 1 comes to 366.975. On the other hand, the average FPS score of Pass 2 is 98.58. It is calculated by summing up the FPS count on each run of each pass and dividing it by 4, as there are 4 runs per pass. A higher FPS count means better performance. Clearly, the Intel Core i7-13700K is winning the game.
We have tested storage performance using PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD, USB 3.2 Gen2 (10Gbps), and USB 3.2 Gen2x2 (20 Gbps) drives. Yes, we have measured the USB performance as well. We also tested Thunderbolt performance, but we don’t have an ASRock TB Add-In card, so this testing was not done. Also, take note that this motherboard does not have a USB 3.2 Gen2 port. Hence USB3.2 Gen2 drive was operating at USB3.2 Gen1 (5 Gbps).
CrystalDiskMark is a simple disk benchmark software that is highly popular among PC enthusiasts and is mainly used to evaluate the relative performance of the storage disk at hand. It measures sequential and random Performance (Read/Write/Mix) using various measure modes (Peak/Real World/Demo). Additionally, it supports multiple languages and themes.
All drives pass their sequential read and write speeds. The 4k performance is also good across the board.
ATTO is not just a software name; rather, ATTO is a manufacturing concern who are provider of high-performance storage & network connectivity products. ATTO Disk Benchmark for Windows is the tool that top drive manufacturers use to build and test drives. ATTO Disk Benchmark measures performance in hard drives, solid-state drives, RAID arrays, as well as the host connection to attached storage. It can be used to test any OEM RAID controller, storage controller, host adapter, hard drive, or SSD drive.
Again, all drives maintained their highest sequential read and write speeds.
TxBench is another disk benchmark to measure storage performances for SSD, HDD, and other drives. It not only measures the performance of storage easily but also performs detailed speed measurements based on specified access patterns and long-period speed measurements. It also allows you to see each drive’s supported features, enabled features, and S.M.A.R.T. information.
All drives reached near their rated sequential read and write speeds.
The 3DMark Storage Benchmark DLC is a key tool with a dedicated component test for measuring the gaming performance of your SSD and other storage hardware. It supports all the latest storage technologies and tests practical, real-world gaming performance for activities such as loading games, saving progress, installing game files, and recording gameplay video streams.
All drives score nicely. We were expecting a better score from USB3.2 Gen2x2 drive, but it attained 880 marks. It is not a platform limitation as we have tested this drive on two other systems, and it has resulted in a similar score.
Real-World Storage Performance
Now it is time to take a look at how these drives actually perform with real-world data. A folder of size 210GB with mixed files and folders, including a massive 100GB compressed file, was read and written on the drives one by one. How they performed? Let’s see
First, we used DiskBench to read the 100GB compressed file from the drives one by one. Here is the result:
The average read speed on the NVMe drive is 2971 MB/s, whereas it is 983 MB/s on the USB3.2 Gen2x2 drive and 385 MB/s on USB3.2 Gen1 drive.
How much time do these drives take?
The NVMe SSD has the fastest speed of all, which is obvious.
Next, we used DiskBench to copy or transfer a 210GB folder on the drives one by one. Here is the result:
The NVMe SSD has an average copy speed of 2036MB/s, whereas the USB3.2 Gen2x2 drive has a speed of 279 MB/s and the USB3.2 Gen1 drive has a speed of 174MB/s. Again, we are seeing a slow performance on USB3.2 Gen2x2 drive. This was tested on other systems as well, and the drive performed slowly there as well, confirming that this particular system did not bottleneck it.
What about the time these drives take to complete this operation?
Again, NVMe SSD comes out the fastest.
3DMark Fire Strike Ultra
3DMark created Fire Strike Ultra around the 4K gaming. It is the world’s first 4K Ultra HD benchmark, available now in 3DMark Advanced Edition and 3DMark Professional Edition. Fire Strike Ultra renders the test content at 3840 x 2160 (4K Ultra HD) before scaling the output to your PC’s display resolution. This means you don’t need a 4K monitor to run Fire Strike Ultra, though you will need a GPU with at least 3 GB of dedicated memory.
45105 is the CPU score, and 12885 is the graphics score. Overall, this is a Good rating.
3DMark Time Spy Extreme
Time Spy Extreme is a new 4K DirectX 12 benchmark test, available in 3DMark Advanced and Professional Editions. You don’t need a 4K monitor to run it, but you will need a GPU with at least 4 GB of dedicated memory. With its 4K Ultra HD rendering resolution, Time Spy Extreme is an ideal benchmark test for the latest high-end graphics cards. The CPU test has been redesigned to let processors with 8 or more cores perform to their full potential.
10294 is the CPU score, and 10382 is the graphics score making this a Good rating.
All games were tested on three resolutions (1080P, 1440P, and 2160P) using their maxed-out graphics settings.
We have a good gaming performance from the CPU and graphics card from this system.
Lightning Gaming USB Ports
We have mentioned in the design section that this motherboard has 2x USB ports on the rear IO panel, which are specifically designed to reduce input lag and latency of the connected peripherals. The idea behind these ports is that connecting high-speed or full-speed peripherals (mouse and keyboard) on USB ports driven by the same controller may stress out that controller resulting in more jitter and input lag. ASRock has implemented two separate controllers for these two USB ports. This would reduce stress on the controller and would help fight jitter and latency or input lag.
The peripherals were connected to USB 2.0 ports on the rear IO panel. We can that dots are more scattered from the center line except for a middle portion of that line.
These peripherals were connected to Lightning Ports on the rear IO panel, and the test was repeated. We have a more linear flow this time.
P-Cores on Intel Core i7 13700k have a base clock of 3.40GHz and a boost clock of 5.30GHz. E-Cores have a base clock of 2.50GHz with a maximum boost clock of 4.2GHz. The Maximum Turbo Frequency is 5.40GHz (on any core or two cores), depending on the load type. We needed to see if this CPU maintains these clocks on ASRock Z790 PG Riptide.
But first, we checked for clocks when the system idled for 10 minutes or more.
The lowest clock on any core (regardless of P-Core or E-Core) is 798MHz.
We can see from the above picture that the CPU has 5.287GHz (approximately 5.3GHz) on P-Cores and 4.189GHz (approximately 4.2GHz) on E-Cores. These clocks are due to 99.8MHz on Bus Clock. The boost clocks on P-Cores and E-Cores are verified using a CINEBENCH R23 Multi-Core load run of 30 minutes.
Next, we checked for 5.4GHz on any two cores in maximum turbo frequency under a single core or 1T load. For that, we have used CINEBENCH R23 Single Thread run for 30 minutes. We can see 5.386GHz (approximately 5.4GHz) on a few cores. This clock would vary on cores depending on which cores are in use. You will get this clock only on P-Cores.
Power Consumption and Thermals
We have left all the settings in the UEFI/BIOS on auto and stock. We only set the Fans and pump speed to run at 100% all the time. The XMP 3.0 profile is loaded on XPG Lancer RGB 32GB Kit running at 6000MHz with CL40. We still set Memory Frequency and Primary timings manually. I can’t help since I am a creature of habit. Power mode was set to Balanced in the Windows setting. The system was left idle for 15 minutes with HWInfo64 running in the background, recording values.
The ambient temperature was 12.7°C to 14°C.
|CPU Core Temperature||RAM||NVMe SSD||Graphics Card|
|Idle Power Draw||2.651W||0.500W||N/A||10.828|
Next, we run the Cinebench R23.2 System Stability test for 30 minutes. We also ran a 220GB consecutive read and write operation on the NVMe drive 5 times and monitored the thermal sensor. Time Spy Extreme stress test was run to monitor the maximum temperature and power draw of a graphics card.
|CPU Core Temperature||RAM||NVMe SSD||Graphics Card|
|Load Power Draw||224.348W||1.750W||N/A||380W|
Next, we overclocked the CPU to 5.6GHz on P-Cores and 4.4GHz on E-Cores. Ran CINEBENCH R23 System Stability test for 30 minutes.
The maximum temperature was 85°C on Core Temperatures. The package power draw was 258.003W.
We have used Hti HT18 Thermal camera to record the thermals of the VRM area of the motherboard under load using a blender benchmark with overclocked CPU.
The MOSFETs were operating at around 55.4°C at an ambient of 12°C.
At the launch of Intel’s 13th generation platform, we tested GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE AX. That motherboard is a mid-range motherboard with a balanced feature set and powerful power delivery circuitry. This time around, we got an opportunity to test another Z790 motherboard. This time ASRock sent us Z790 PG Riptide. This motherboard is aimed at the budget and the mid-range as well, with a few cuts here and there to make it a fit for this segment.
We are seeing a high price tag in general at the launch of AMD’s AM5 and Intel’s 13th-generation platforms. This high price tag and somewhat lacking performance hit AMD really badly. They ended up reducing the prices of CPU SKUs to make them more comparable with blue camp’s SKUs. Even the budget and mid-range segments of the market are affected by these price hikes.
ASRock Z790 PG Riptide is using the Intel LGA1700 socket, which is also on the 12th generation platform. This inter-compatibility or backward compatibility has given Intel a competitive advantage which is further augmented by the continued support of DDR4. This motherboard uses 4x DIMM DDR5 slots with a maximum supported memory capacity of 128GB and a maximum per slot capacity of 32 GB. This motherboard has native support of 4800MHz and overclocked frequency of 7200MHz, for which a BIOS update would be needed. The PCB of this motherboard has a 6-layered design with 2oz copper.
ASRock Z790 PG Riptide packs 3x PCIe slots. The topmost slot is wired to the CPU socket on the Gen5 bus, and it is steel reinforced. Additionally, the second PCIe slot is rated at x4 and is wired to the chipset on the Gen4 bus, and the last PCIe slot is x1 rated and is wired to the chipset on the Gen3 bus. The reason for this slot on Gen3 is that the same bus is used for Intel Killer E3100G NIC. This motherboard has a fully functional Gen5 x16 PCIe slot. However, there is a catch to this design. Top most M.2 SSD port is also based on Gen5 and wired to the CPU socket using a switch and redriver. This would mean if the Gen5-based graphics card and M.2 NVMe SSD are populated at the same time, the graphics card will operate under x8 mode. This limitation is from Intel’s design, and motherboard manufacturers have no role to play in it.
We have already mentioned that this motherboard has a fully functional Gen5-based M.2 SSD port. Speaking of M.2 ports, this motherboard has a total of 6x M.2 ports. However, a user can use a maximum of 4 ports at any given time. Why so? There are two ports on the top. One is Gen5-based, and the other is Gen4-based. They are designed so that either of them can be used at a time as they take up the same space over PCB. Next, there is a dedicated 2230 form factor M.2 port for WiFi and BT module. It is a Key-E type port that supports WiFi/BT PCIe WiFi module and Intel® CNVio/CNVio2 (Integrated WiFi/BT). No, this motherboard does not have a WiFi/BT module. In fact, there is no wireless network connectivity on this board. Rest, there are 3x Hyper M.2 ports that are wired to the chipset and based on Gen4. The top two ports and bottom two ports have M.2 covers made of aluminum for effective heat dissipation. Since we are discussing storage options, this board has a total of 8x SATA ports which are fully functional and independent of M.2 ports and PCIe slots.
There are tons of USB ports and hubs on this motherboard, including the 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C port on the front panel. There is one USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-C port on the rear IO panel. I wish ASRock has provided Gen2x2 connectivity on the rear and Gen1 or Gen2 connectivity on the front panel. ASRock is using ASMedia controllers for the majority of USB connectivity except that of USB 3.2 Gen2x2 on the front. There are two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports on the rear IO panel, which are labeled as Lightning Gaming ports for peripherals. Each of these two ports has a dedicated controller to fight jitter and input lag.
This motherboard uses Intel 2.5GbE Killer E3100G NIC for wired connectivity. There are 4x LEDs for troubleshooting purposes. There is no Debug LED on this motherboard. There is a clear CMOS jumper that is tilted. Their QC department needs to up the game.
ASRock has paid close attention to VRM/MOSFETs cooling. There are two aluminum-made covers on the top area. They are layered in design and have cutouts to act as heat transfer material. It seems like ASRock is using 2.0mm thick gray color thermal pads on these covers. We don’t know the thermal conductivity rating of these pads. But they are doing the job perfectly, as we saw a maximum of 54.2°C temperature on VRM with overclocked CPU under a heavy workload. Similarly, the top M.2 ports have a thicker aluminum-made cover with a layered design. The bottom M.2 ports have a single height cover, but it has double the length of the top cover to provide enough surface area for heat dissipation.
The RealTek ALC897 drives the Audio solution, and the SuperIO chip is from Nuvoton NCT6796D-E. There are 6 fan headers. 5x of them have 2A current rating to provide 24W. They are mentioned to be used for water pumps as well. Surprisingly, the CPU_Fan header is rated for 1A and is not rated to handle water pump load. These headers are spread at various points on PCB, which makes sense. These are powered and controlled by nuvoton 3947S. There is no external sensor.
The CPU power delivery uses using 14+1+1 design governed by a digital PWM controller RT3628AE from RICHTEK, and the MOSFETs are SM4337 rated at 50A each. 14 phases (doubler) are for VCore, 1x phase is for VCCGT, and 1x phase is for VCC AUX. This is not a beefy power delivery, but it is adequate enough to handle the load.
We updated BIOS to 4.13, which is the latest from ASRock at the time of review. The overall performance of the motherboard is good. We have seen some benchmarks where this board is below the performance level of GIGABYTE Z790 AORUS ELITE AX. This motherboard can easily be a main-stream selling proposition for budget and mid-range market segments. The MOSFET cooling is quite good. Similarly, the storage and gaming performance is good as well. However, the network connectivity is somewhat limited as there is no wireless connectivity, and the audio solution is ok as well.
The pricing of this motherboard is $229. ASRock is offering a 3-year warranty on this motherboard.
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