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ASRock FaTal1ty Z97 Killer Series Motherboard Review

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Posted June 27, 2014 by Kenny in CPU & Motherboards

Overview

Hardware:
 
Manufacturer:
 
Price at time of Review: $137.99 on Newegg.com After $15.00 MIR
 

WHAT WE LIKED:

Great Aesthetic Appeal, Stable Overclocks, SATA Express & M.2 SATA Drive availability.
 

WHAT WE DISLIKED:

SATA Port Layout, Lack of PCIe Lanes on 2nd PCIe slot, No SLI compatibility.
 
BOTTOM LINE:
If you are looking for a rock solid performing motherboard that has been priced very competitively, ASRock has a "Killer" performance to value ratio with the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series Motherboard.
by Kenny
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Summary

Here’s the wrap-up on the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series Motherboard. Aesthetically speaking the red and black theme looks great, despite being a little dated. Of course, with the ASRock’s Fatal1ty series style, we can’t really blame ASRock to sticking to tradition just as ASUS has done with its ROG series motherboards.

As far as layout is concerned, if we have to nit pick about the design flaw on the ASRock Z97 Killer, its the SATA port layout. Due to the slimmed down ATX board and its large SB heatsink, ASRock had to move the SATA ports to the lower side and use straight SATA ports over the traditional 90 degree ports for cleaner cable management. If you can look past this minor set back, we feel ASRock did a great job overall.

Like we mentioned, the ASRock Fatal1ty was developed on an ATX format that is slightly slimmed down like the Gigabyte Z97X-SLI motherboard we just reviewed. Despite this, the overall layout hasn’t changed much. The only exception here is the addition to the M.2 PCIe Gen 2 x2 slot and the SATA Express features added to the motherboard. Setup was simple, and with the 4770K, we found that our 2133MHz memory was able to run at the advertised speeds with little to no work. After a simple XMP profile enabling, we were all set.

When it comes to the software package, ASRock has improved in this sector. They have included an abundance of ASRock Exclusive software that aims to please. During our testing, we found the software to be rather useful. While some of it could really be called bloatware by some, most of it really comes in handy for those looking for an easy to use interface. Overall, the software package that was available with the motherboard gives users something to appreciate, and ASRock really impressed us in this sector.

In the OC sector, using the ASRock F-Stream auto tune feature was easy, with a click of a button we managed to get an auto tune overclock to 4.3GHz with a very manageable vcore. So we can definitely say that ASRock did a great job in this sector. With its 8+2 VRM phase and its alloy chokes, the ASRock Z97 Killer board was rock stable. With our manual overclocking we managed to hit 4.6GHz with temps below 70c on its peak load with a vcore of under 1.35volts; this was great to see for a motherboard in this price range.

While the board did great on its CPU side, we did feel that the motherboard lacked in the PCIe x16 layout. The 2nd PCIe 2.0 x16 slot was only designed to run at x4 speeds, and this really puts a set back for those that were looking to maybe use SLI configurations. This really left users with the option to use only Crossfire instead. However, even with Crossfire, the 2nd slot will run at x4, but the traditional layout we are use to seeing can run at x8/x8. We feel that this can hamper some performance gains. Of course, if you plan on using a single graphics card solution, then this won’t be an issue as the first PCIe 3.0 x16 slot will operate with all lanes available.

If you take an overall look at its performance benchmarks in comparisons with the Z87 and other Z97 series boards, we didn’t find a whole lot of benefit changing from your current Z87 chipset motherboard. That is, unless you plan on taking advantage of the M.2 SATA port or SATA Express Features, or plan to upgrade to the newer Intel processors that are due to release very soon. M.2 SATA and SATA Express still haven’t matured, and finding a drive that can use the M.2 SATA port is limited. We can foresee the future use of M.2 SATA and SATA Express becoming popular with its greater bandwidth and speeds so that’s a bonus for this board.

Closer Look 8

 

Finally… if you take into consideration some of the minor quibbles we have with the motherboard’s SATA layout and PCIe lanes available for multiple graphics cards, despite these issues, we feel that ASRock did a great job in releasing a solid performing motherboard that is aggressively priced. At only $137.99 on newegg.com after rebate, this is an excellent bargain. Because of this, we would like to honor the ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 Killer Series motherboard the PureOverclock Great Hardware Award for its rock solid performance.

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