There might be plenty of AMD motherboards available with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, but it's only now that one has been officially certified by Intel: the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB3.
The small form factor mini-ITX motherboard is based on AMD's X570 chipset, as the name suggests, and is generally quite well regarded. It supports AMD Ryzen 2000 and 3000 series processors with AM4 socket and provides 1 PCIe 4.0 x16 as well as 4 SATA3, 1 Hyper M.2, and mostly everything else you could want from a decent spec mini-ITX motherboard. It's Thunderbolt 3 connectivity that stands out most here though. You're able to use Daisy Chain technology, connecting up to 6 Thunderbolt 3 devices simultaneously to the motherboard. Of course, most importantly, it's the first to be truly Intel-certified in this respect too.
While you might be wondering why all the fuss about official certification, it's worth noting the background to this. Previously, Intel didn't allow vendors to produce Thunderbolt compatible silicon. That practice was only abolished in 2019 with Intel passing its specifications to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) and allowing others to adopt its standard. Before that, the silicon needed to be purchased from the firm.
So, this is a big move for any firm and ASRock no doubt feels rather pleased about being first to be officially certified amongst so many competitors who can't boast of such accomplishments.
Thunderbolt 3 currently offers a maximum throughput of 40GB/s which is double that of USB 3.2 and 4 times as much as USB 3.1, so it's pretty handy if you have the right devices. It can be used to handle power delivery as well as DisplayPort capabilities and PCIe. As mentioned, its Daisy Chaining technology is a big boon here, with one-cable docking providing useful in many instances for laptops. It's also part of the upcoming USB4 specification which we should all be rather keen to see in future.
For now though, if you simply want a great mini-ITX motherboard that also has official Intel certification, there's only one place to go - the ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming ITX/TB3. We assume more will arrive further down the line at some point.
May 21 2021 | 09:55