The X399 chipset was launched more than a year ago and saw new life with the release of the second generation Threadripper CPUs. There have been a few additions to the motherboard lineups since then but they’ve been few and far between. Today we have ASRock’s latest addition to their Threadripper line, the X399 Phantom Gaming 6. This motherboard appears to offer most everything that the other boards do but comes in at the lowest price on the market. Let’s take a closer look at ASRock’s budget X399 motherboard and see how it handles itself in our testing.
Specifications and Features
The X399 chipset on the Phantom Gaming 6 will support Threadripper CPUs up to 180 W TDP which includes the 12 and 16 core CPUs from both generations. With only a 6+2 phase power delivery system, these Dr. MOS VRM are cooled by ASRock’s XXL Aluminum alloy heatsinks connected by a heat pipe. It just doesn’t have the backing for the demand that a 32 core CPU would put on it, but possibly with the shrink to 7 nm for the next generation the CPU support could be expanded to include more cores.
As with other X399 motherboards, the Phantom Gaming 6 also supports up to 128 GB of RAM in quad-channel including ECC modules with speeds up to 3400 MHz. Memory support has been greatly expanded since the launch of the original Threadripper CPUs but it’s still a good idea to buy RAM modules that mention AMD support.
This board has a total of three PCIe Gen 3.0 expansion slots, all of which are full length and full bandwidth at x16 thanks to the abundance of PCIe lanes from the Threadripper CPU. This allows up to 3-way SLI or Crossfire X with all cards receiving full x16 bandwidth.
For storage, the Phantom Gaming 6 has eight SATA3 ports which support RAID0, RAID1, RAID10, AHCI, Hot Plug, and Native Command Queuing. ASRock has also included three M.2 connectors which will accommodate both NVMe and SATA based M.2 modules.
There’s no shortage of USB connectivity on this board either with a total of 18 available. These are broken down into one Type-A and one Type-C USB 3.1 Gen2 on the rear I/O panel, eight USB 3.1 Gen 1 on the rear panel with two onboard headers supporting 4 more ports. There are only four USB 2.0 connections available on the Phantom Gaming 6 through two headers on the motherboard.
Moving on to LAN connectivity, the Phantom Gaming 6 has one Intel I211AT Gigabit port and one Realtek Dragon 2.5 Gigabit port offering more than double the conventional LAN bandwidth. ASRock has also included an M.2 Type-E connector for an add-in WiFi and Bluetooth card but this is not included with the board.
Audio is handled by the Realtek ALC 1220 audio codec supporting 7.1 channel HD surround sound. The audio is physically separated from the rest of the board with the left and right audio signals traveling through different layers on the PCB for cleaner sound. ASRock is using Nichicon fine gold audio caps and a separate Texas Instruments NE5532 premium headset amplifier for the front panel. They have included gold-plated rear panel connections and an additional “right-angle” front audio header to aid in wire management.
Also included is one legacy PS/2 port on the rear I/O shield for mouse and keyboard support without the need for USB drivers, quite convenient when trying to install Windows 7 for instance.
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6 Specifications|
|CPU||Supports AMD TR4 Socket Ryzen Threadripper Series CPUs up to 180 W|
|Memory||Supports up to 128 GB Quad Channel DDR4 @ 3400 MHz+ ECC & non-ECC UDIMM|
|Expansion Slots||3 x PCIe 3.0 x16|
|Multi-GPU Support||AMD CrossfireX and NVIDIA SLI|
8 x SATA3 (6 Gbps) ports (Support for RAID0, RAID1, and RAID10), NCQ, AHCI, and Hot Plug
3 x M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 slots and M.2 SATA3
1 x Intel I211AT Gigabit (10/100/1000) Ethernet Port
1 x 2.5 Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000/2500 Mb/s (Dragon RTL8125AG)
1 x M.2 Key “E” supporting type 2230 WiFi/BT modules (not included)
|Audio||Realtek ALC1220 HD Audio (7.1 channels) w/SPDIF|
2 x USB 3.1 Gen2 (1 Type-C, 1 Type-A)
12 x USB 3.1 Gen1 (8 Type A, 4 through header)
4 x USB 2.0 (header)
|Fan Headers||5 x 4-pin headers (PWM and voltage control)|
Supports Windows 10 64 bit
Legacy Windows Support
We have also included a list of features sourced from the ASRock website:
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6|
Dr. MOS design features the latest SPS (Smart Power Stage) technology. It’s optimized for monitoring current and temperature of each phase, thus delivering smoother and neater power to the CPU with enhanced performance and OC capability.
|Premium 60A Power Choke
Compared to traditional chokes, ASRock’s premium 60A power chokes effectively make the saturation current up to three times better, thus providing enhanced and improved Vcore voltage to the motherboard.
|XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
Extra large aluminum alloy heatsinks that effectively take away heat from the MOSFET and chipset so that your whole system may perform more stable.
|Nichicon 12K Black Caps
Supreme 12K black capacitors with lifespans of at least 12,000 hours. Compared to other counterparts on high-end motherboards that merely have lifespans of around 10,000 hours, ASRock applied Nichicon 12K Black Caps that offer 20% longer lifespans and provide more stability and reliability.
A combination of 820uF and 100uF capacitors. Together these capacitors provide clearer, efficient and more responsive CPU Vcore power, and overclockers may achieve higher scores.
|High-Density Glass Fabric PCB
High-Density Glass Fabric PCB design that reduces the gaps between the PCB layers to protect the motherboard against electrical shorts caused by humidity.
|Matte Black PCB
A new mysterious matte black and copper color scheme to match the prestigious components on ASRock’s high-end motherboards.
In addition to the built-in RGB illumination, it also features onboard RGB headers and an addressable RGB header that allow the motherboard to be connected to compatible LED devices such as strip, CPU fans, coolers, chassis and so on. Users may also synchronize RGB LED devices across the Polychrome RGB Sync-certified accessories to create their own unique lighting effects.
|Live Update and APP Shop
ASRock Live Update & APP Shop is designed for your convenience. We provide various apps and support software for users to download. You can also easily optimize your system and keep your motherboard up to date with ASRock Live Update & APP Shop.
Retail Packaging and Accessories
The packaging follows the Phantom Gaming theme of red, black, and silver sporting the large Phantom Gaming logo across the front. We also find a bit of information pertaining to the CPU socket and support, chipset, and multi-card support. The rear of the box reveals more detailed information on the features included as well as a picture of the rear I/O panel. The retail package also features a convenient carrying handle.
Once inside we see that ASRock has done a great job in protecting the motherboard from accidental shipping damage. Inside the anti-static bag, we find the Phantom Gaming 6 nestled into a foam shell which is secured at four corners by cable ties so you’ll need a pair of cutters to get it free.
Included with the motherboard are the usual quick start guide and driver CD, a software setup guide, and four M.2 securing screws. ASRock has also included an SLI HB bridge and a WiFi bracket for routing the antennae if installing an M.2 Wi-Fi card.
Meet the ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6
In the first full shot of the Phantom Gaming 6, we notice the PG color scheme of red, silver, and black. The choice of using a “matte” black PCB gives it a dark slate grey appearance contrasting nicely with the black heatsinks and RAM slots. The only area illuminated with RGB LEDs is the PCH heatsink which bears the Phantom Gaming logo. ASRock has included a couple of RGB headers on this motherboard one of which is addressable allowing builders to customize their look.
The absence of any plastic shrouding on the board is barely noticeable due to the XXL heatsink which does a pretty good job of fully covering the rear I/O section giving it a shroud like appearance. Moving down the board we have the three full-length PCIe slots covered with “ASRock Steel” and one of the three storage M.2 slots gets a heatsink. There is one additional M.2 slot to the left of the top PCIe slot for a Wi-Fi/BT module.
Flipping the Phantom Gaming 6 over we can see that the PCIe Gen3 slots are all fully wired for x16 functionality. Between the lower two PCIe slots is the Nuvoton Super I/O chip and a Nuvoton MCU for the LED control. Mid-board on the right side is the Realtek Dragon LAN IC, other than that it’s the back of a motherboard, not much else to note here.
A Closer Look
As we can see, the Phantom Gaming 6 doesn’t have a lot of extras. I assume to help keep the pricing low but it does have everything it needs to drive a 16-core Threadripper. That massive TR4 socket takes up a lot of prime real estate with its 4094 pins and doesn’t leave a lot of room, add in the eight memory slots for quad-channel and it is a full house.
ASRock has used their XXL Aluminum Alloy heatsinks joined by a heat pipe to cool the CPU and SOC power delivery sections. Between the two heatsinks, we find the dual 8-pin 12 V EPS connectors. To the left in the picture below we have two of the PWM fan headers labeled for the CPU and right beside these is one of the RGB LED headers for add-in LED strips.
Moving on to the lower half of the Phantom Gaming 6 on the left side we find the M.2 Key “E” for WiFi/BT and directly below is the audio section. The audio consists of the Nichion Fine Gold capacitors with the Texas Instruments NE5532 high-speed audio Op Amp IC near the lower left Nichion cap. Looking up just a bit to the left is the Realtek ALC 1220 audio codec IC. At the bottom of the board two separate front panel audio ports, one is in the more traditional orientation and the second is set at 90° to the board.
Moving our way across the bottom of the motherboard we have two more RGB LED connections one of which is addressable, a couple of PWM fan headers, TPM header, and the front panel header. There’s a nice addition to the Phantom Gaming 6 in this area which is the onboard power, reset, and CLR CMOS buttons. Very convenient when working from a bench table as we do. We also find two USB 2.0 headers and one of the USB 3.1 Gen1 headers, the other one is located on the side of the motherboard near the main power connection.
Through the center of the board, we have the three PCIe Gen3 X16 slots sporting their “ASRock Steel” to help with EMI and shearing from heavy graphics cards. Nestled in this area are the three M.2 slots for storage. All three can support PCIe based drives up to 8 cm (type 2280) with the very top one under the heatsink able to handle the longer 11 cm (type 22110). Only the lower M.2 to the right of the motherboard, directly above the power and reset buttons, will accept both PCIe and SATA based drives.
Having a look at the back panel connections the first thing that catches our eye is that good old PS/2 port for older mice and keyboards. We also find 10 USB ports, eight USB 3.1 Gen1, and of each Type-A and Type-C USB 3.1 Gen2. The black LAN port connects to the Intel I211 AT Gigabit ethernet and the red one is for the Realtek Dragon 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet. At the end of the I/O panel, we have the 7.1 channel gold plated HD audio connections and one SPDIF.
Running kitty-corner across the Gaming 6 we have more storage connections. There’s a total of eight SATA3 6 Gbps ports here with support for RAID10, RAID0, and RAID1.
The 6+2 phase power delivery section on the Phantom Gaming 6 seems a bit light which explains the CPU limitations but during my testing, I had zero issues with heat or throttling even while overclocked. ASRock has used high high-quality 60 A Dr.MOS power stages which integrate the high/low MOSFETs and driver into one cool running efficient package. These are direct phases as well no doubling or splitting with six phases dedicated to the CPU and two for the SOC portion of the CPU. These are controlled by two separate AMD SVI2 compliant PWM controllers from Intersil the 7-phase ISL69147 and 4-phase ISL69144. Asrock also incorporates 60 A premium chokes and Nichion 12K Black Caps offering up to 20% more longevity with higher stability and reliability. As shown in the images below, the XXL heatsink makes good contact with the power bits for maximum cooling.
Below is a slideshow of some of the ICs on the ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6
UEFI BIOS and Overclocking Software
The Phantom Gaming 6 BIOS has a fairly standard layout with all the sections across the top of the screen. This configuration makes navigation to the necessary area available at the click of a mouse. The UEFI BIOS opens to the Main page which displays information about the system’s specs such as the CPU model and speed, memory configuration, and BIOS version.
The OC Tweaker section is quite thorough with all the main options needed for setting up RAM and overclocking the CPU. RAM was as simple as setting the XMP, but ASRock includes a subsection here for manual manipulation of the RAM timings if one is feeling adventurous. By changing the CPU and Voltage setting to manual, it opens up all the necessary options needed to overclock the CPU such as the multiplier, CPU and SOC voltages, as well as LLC settings for both. The ASRock UEFI also has a small graph that will appear in the right column to help with LLC settings. Motherboards from different partners aren’t the same in this respect. The ASRock requires a lower setting to keep the voltage closer to what has been set in BIOS where others boards will require a higher setting. This makes the visual aid ASRock adds quite helpful.
Moving on we have the Advanced section which includes numerous option for the motherboard such as storage, ACPI, and switches for the onboard audio and PS/2 port. We also have the AMD CBS section which has all the options for the CPU itself. This is where users will find the power savings, core control, and memory options. There are a lot of options in this section but most users will never use them.
The hardware monitoring section reports current temperatures, voltages and fan speeds. It also includes an extensive fan control section for all five of the PWM headers.
Included in the slideshow below are pictures of the different BIOS sections as well as subsections.
Monitoring/Overclocking Software – Phantom Gaming Tuning Utility
The included Phantom Gaming tuning utility software has a variety of interfaces. Users are able to change the Windows Power Plan settings from the operation mode screen or get system vitals like voltages and temperatures from the System Information screen. The utility also has an “auto-tune” and “performance mode” neither of which appear to be supported on the X399 platform or this board. Maybe the auto functions don’t work, but the ability to manually manipulate CPU frequency and all relative voltages from the OC Tweaker section do. ASRock has also included a fan control page to adjust the cooling setup called Fantastic Tuning.
I have also included a few pictures from the Sound Blaster Cinema 5 software. It’s pretty straightforward for setting up speaker, headphone, and sound options.
Test Setup and Performance
Here we take a slightly different approach to CPU testing with ours based on a lot of Hwbot.org benchmarks since that is what we are known for, overclocking and benchmarking. We use real-world testing as well with Cinebench, x265, POV-Ray, and 7Zip in order to give readers a good idea of the general performance of the product tested.
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6|
|CPU||Ryzen Threadripper 1950X|
|CPU Cooler||Noctua NH-U14S TR4-SP3|
|Memory||4×8 GB G.Skill FlareX 3200 MHz CL14-14-14-34|
|SSD||Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS + Applications)|
|Power Supply||EVGA 750W G3|
|Video Card||ASUS ROG Radeon RX Vega 64 STRIX Adrenalin 2019 Drivers|
We’ll perform our usual set of benchmarks which test rendering, memory performance, and single/multi-threaded CPU performance. For 2D benchmarks, we’ll use SuperPi 1M and 32M, wPrime, and Y-Cruncher (HWBOT Version). For rendering it’s Cinebench R11.5 and R15. Memory performance is checked against the AIDA64 test suite. For encoding, we use x265 (HWBOT Version) and PoV Ray. A more real-world test is included in 7zip. Testing is performed with the CPU at stock and the memory speed is 3200 MHz.
AIDA64 – Memory Bandwidth and Throughput
|AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark – Raw Data|
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6||76622||92513||84450||86.8|
|ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme||75588||92687||83012||87.3|
AIDA64 – CPU Tests
|AIDA64 CPU Benchmark – Raw Data|
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6||129914||34795||1303||120992||44137|
|ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme||130040||39159||1315||121382||44294|
AIDA64 – FPU Tests
|AIDA64 FPU Benchmark – Raw Data|
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6||8353||72826||38383||24856|
|ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme||8481||73243||38702||25068|
Real World Tests
|Cinebench R11.5/R15, POVRay, x265 (HWBot), 7Zip – Raw Data|
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6||30.90||2962||5846||62.1||78667|
|ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme||30.80||2973||5828||62.81||77138|
Pi and Prime Based Tests
|SuperPi and wPrime Benchmarks – Raw Data|
|Motherboard||Spi 1M||SPi 32M||WPrime 32M||WPrime 1024M||Y-Cruncher|
|ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6||10.704||603.437||2.796||49.503||44.943|
|ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme||10.751||606.336||2.826||49.382||44.943|
The ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6 performed just as expected easily trading blows with the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme. There was only one outlier in the AIDA64 CPU tests where the ASUS board had a significant lead but other than that all the results were very close regardless of which board came out on top.
The gaming benchmarks were very similar to our real-world testing with both boards performing relatively equal. The ASRock did manage a slight lead in Shadow of the Tomb Raider, but the Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation benchmark results were nearly identical.
The ASRock Phantom gaming used slightly less power across the board from idle to Prime testing. I would lend this to the fact that the ROG Zenith Extreme has a beefier power delivery system and a lot more bling than the Phantom Gaming 6.
Overclocking on the Phantom Gaming 6 was quite straightforward. All the options needed were in the OC Tweaker section. Initially, the LLC for the CPU was left on auto and using a voltage setting in BIOS of 1.35 V was almost stable for a Prime 95 test at 4.0 GHz. Going back into the BIOS bumping the CPU LLC from three (auto) up to two kept the voltage a bit higher under load and Prime95 was able to run uninterrupted.
Setting the RAM was as easy as selecting the XMP profile for 3200 MHz and the board set all the timings and voltage for the FlareX kit. I did need to raise the RAM voltage just a bit to 1.365 V for stability which is not that uncommon when dealing with quad channel RAM.
When testing I used Prime 95 on a custom setting selecting 24,000 MB of RAM which is approximately 75% of the 32 GB installed in the motherboard. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what stability testing entails but I have found this method to be quite reliable. I would typically run the test for about four hours for my 24/7 system, but this test is only for 20 minutes which is enough for this demonstration.
Pushing the limits
Stability testing at 4.1 GHz was pushing the temperatures too high moving beyond the limits of the Noctua cooler’s capabilities. The Phantom Gaming was still able to handle some benchmarks at this speed and even run the RAM a bit faster at 3333 MHz with the same stock timings and a slight voltage bump. The shot below will give an idea of the performance boost expected over the stock operation.
The ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6 handled itself very well considering it’s a “budget” X399 motherboard. In my opinion, the only thing it can’t do is accommodate higher core count CPUs at this point. The aesthetics are nice and the colors should blend with most themed builds. There aren’t a lot of extras in this department with the absence of shrouding and a single LED under the PCH, the Phantom Gaming 6 does, however, have two RGB LED headers and one addressable LED header to expand lighting control to the case and peripherals using ASRock’s Polychrome software.
The board has plenty of storage capacity between the three M.2 slots with support for PCIe 3.0 X4 drives, one of which accommodates SATA3, and eight SATA3 ports. There’s also a total of 12 USB 3.1 Gen1 between the rear I/O and onboard headers, two USB 3.1 Gen2 on the rear panel, and four USB 2.0 available but only through onboard headers.
It also offers dual LAN with the Intel I211AT Gigabit Ethernet and 2.5 Gigabit Ethernet through the Realtek Dragon RTL8125AG. The Phantom Gaming 6 is also ready for a wireless add-in card with an additional M.2 slot which accepts Key “E” Wifi/BT modules.
Overclocking on the Phantom Gaming 6 was very easy and the UEFI BIOS was simple to navigate. Having only a 6+2 phase power section made me a bit skeptical at first but ASRock’s use of high-quality components like the 60 A Dr.MOS power stages allowed the board to handle a full 16 core, 32 thread overclock with ease. The overclock topped out at 4.0 GHz which is the same level of OC reached on the ASUS ROG Zenith Extreme. This is a pretty typical limit for the first generation of AMD Ryzen/Threadripper CPUs.
Overall the Phantom Gaming 6 performed very well throughout all of our testings and offers outstanding value at $249.99 compared to the ROG Zenith Extreme at more than double the price starting at $600 an going up from there, the only thing it’s missing is support for the bigger CPUs. If you’re looking to run a 16 or 12 core Threadripper and interested in saving money then the ASRock X399 Phantom Gaming 6 is certainly worth considering, it definitely has the bang for the buck!
-Shawn Jennings (Johan45)