ASRock has established itself as a manufacturer of quality solutions with excellent potential over the fifteen-year history of its existence. Coming out from under the wing of ASUSTek back in 2002, its products were supposed to occupy the niche of entry-level motherboards, which was not particularly popular with enthusiasts. Being unprepossessing devices, ASRock solutions were initially suitable only for assembling budget PCs, but with the release of the Intel LGA1366 platform, everything changed dramatically. And now its products are on a par with the solutions of first-tier brands in terms of capabilities.
In this review, we’ll take a look at the Fatal1ty X99 Professional Gaming i7 motherboard, part of ASRock’s gaming series and produced in collaboration with renowned esports player Jonathan «Fatal1ty» Wendel.
What opportunities it can offer users will become known below, but for now I propose to look at the main characteristics of the model in question.
|Model||ASRock Fatal1ty X99 Professional Gaming i7|
|Official product page on the Web||asrock.com|
|Processor socket||Socket LGA2011-3|
|Processors||Core i7 (Broadwell-E, Haswell-E), Xeon E5*|
|Memory||8 DIMM DDR4 SDRAM 2133/2400**/2800**/2933**/3300**, 128 GB maximum|
|PCI slots||3 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 (x16+x0+x0, x16+x16+x0, x16+x8+x8, x16+x0+x8, x8+x8+x8)
2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1
|M.2||1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110)
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x4 (Key M, 2230/2242/2260/2280)
|Integrated video core (in the processor)||–|
|Number of connected fans||5x 4pin (1x for water pump)|
|PS/2 ports||1 (keyboard/mouse)|
|The port is USB||2 x 3.1 Gen2 (rear panel connectors (A and C), ASM1142)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 connectors on the rear panel, ASM1074)
4 x 3.1 Gen1 (4 headers on the board, X99)
6 x 2.0 (2 connectors on the rear panel, X99)
|Serial ATA||10 x SATA 6Gb/s (Z270), 1 x SATA Express|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10 (SATA, Z270)|
|Built-in sound||Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 (7.1, HDA), Realtek ALC1150, 2х ОУ TI N5532|
|Networking||Intel I218-V (Gigabit Ethernet)
Intel I211-AT (Gigabit Ethernet)
Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, 2,4/5 ГГц
|Dimensions, mm||305 x 244|
|Additional features||POST indicator, buttons: power on, reset and reset CMOS settings; two independent UEFI ROM chips, support for AMD 3-Way CrossFireX and NVIDIA 3-Way SLI, Fatal1ty Mouse Port|
|Retail price, $||~300|
Packaging and equipment
The board comes in a large box with a bright design, the main role in which is given to the name of the chipset on which it is made. The main distinguishing features of the model are indicated on the back of the package, and there is a plastic handle for easy carrying.
The package does not shine with something special, only everything you need to assemble the system and nothing more:
- a user manual that illustrates and describes the UEFI sub-items in detail (in English; not in the picture);
- quick user guide;
- disk with drivers and proprietary software;
- four SATA 6Gb / s cables, two of which have an L-shaped connector on one of the ends;
- two antennas;
- three NVIDIA SLI bridges (2-Way, 3-Way and 4-Way);
- mount for M.2 format devices;
- cap for the body.
The board’s design strongly resembles other solutions of the Fatal1ty series based on the latest generation Intel chipsets — there is a common style in the cooling system and the same plastic overlay is used over the audio path and the rear panel. In the color design of the connectors, black elements were preferred, and red drawings on a dark textolite added a sporty touch to the product in question.
Despite the standard dimensions of the board, some of the electronic components were moved to the reverse side of the PCB — apparently, so as not to disturb the aesthetic harmony on the front.
And although Fatal1ty X99 Professional Gaming i7 is positioned by the manufacturer as a solution for gamers, it also supports overclocking capabilities. To facilitate the process of experimenting with setting up the system, the board provided power and reset buttons.
In addition, there is also a POST indicator and two microcircuits with firmware, the choice between which is carried out using a switch, and signaling LEDs for each of them will avoid confusion between them. In addition to the Clear CMOS jumper, there is a redundant button on the rear panel, which will facilitate the overclocking process if something goes wrong.
The cooling system of power elements is small, which will allow you to easily install overall CPU coolers. Heat is transferred to the aluminum heatsink by a thick «thermal pad».
The processor’s power subsystem is far from «gaming», but more than serious — the six-channel controller Intersil ISL6369 controls 12 virtual phases through doublers. Thanks to this number of power channels, it was just possible to reduce the load on the cooler.
The chipset is satisfied with a already low, but with sufficient area heatsink, which is more than enough for this microcircuit.
The number of connected fans on the board is five, one of them can be used for a liquid cooling pump with a power of up to 18 watts. This is more than enough to organize active ventilation inside the system unit.
Now, as for the possibilities in terms of functionality and its expansion. On the «motherboard» there are three PCI Express x16 slots for combining video cards in AMD CrossFireX or NVidia SLI mode. All of them are in today’s fashionable reinforcement. A couple more PCI-E x1 slots will allow you to add several expansion cards to the system, and they are located in such a way that they will not interfere with graphics adapters.
The disk subsystem is represented by 10 SATA 6Gb / s ports and one SATA Express, there is a couple more M.2 ports with support for booting from NVMe drives. If you plan to use younger Core i7 processors with 28 PCI Express lanes, then one M.2 interface will work in SATA mode. But even this number of ports is more than enough to organize large file storage.
To enjoy surround sound and connect various musical equipment, the manufacturer equipped the Fatal1ty X99 Professional Gaming i7 with a built-in Realtek ALC1150 7.1 HDA codec with support for Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software. The sound path circuits are separated from the rest of the motherboard by an insulating gap, plus two operational amplifiers are added TI N5532.
Six audio subsystem connectors, including optical S/PDIF, are brought to the rear panel. There, the user will also find four USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, one each USB 3.1 Gen2 Type A and Type C, and two USB ports, one of which supports Fatal1ty Mouse Port technology. There is a universal PS / 2, two network connectors and a Clear CMOS button, as well as two antenna outputs for the built-in Wi-Fi module.
In the end, we were faced with a product that is above average, but at the same time not without the main opportunities for expanding functionality or control during overclocking experiments. Let’s see what it has to offer in terms of firmware.