ASRock Z77 Fatal1ty Professional
Upon removing the motherboard from the box, we see the design again continues the black-and-red syting which is the signature hallmark of Fatal1ty-branded products. However, we wouldn’t be shocked if you mistook this board as an ASUS Republic of Gamer product which features the same colour scheme.
Just like past ASRock products, the PCB is black and so are the slots, giving the motherboard a midnight appearance and any color hardware blends nicely with black. The layout looks spacious so wire management seems to be a non-issue with the Fatal1ty Z77 Professional. The Z77 board is very similar to the Z68 Fatal1ty board, which is a good thing since we thought that was a striking design as well.
Starting out, we see the Socket 1155 revisited. Socket 1155 stays but will not be around much longer. Intel will focus on LGA 2011 with more PCI lanes with more bandwidth in the next release code named Haswell. The Z77 platform truly is a beast for bandwidth but Intel can only go so far. The socket area does not change from Z68 Fatal1ty Professional as mentioned, and ASRock uses solid gold Japanese caps for up to four times longer life. The Z77 Fatal1ty uses 16 + 8 digital power phase for overclocking and energy consumption. The power phase can be adjusted two ways: through the BIOS and with ASRock’s F-Stream tuning energy saving feature.
The Fatal1ty Z77 also features digital PWM (Pulse Width Modulation). For those not familiar with PWM, the system takes control of the power and regulates it to the systems needs including the fans. As the voltage increases, the fans will also increase to the systems needs. Compared to analog PWM, digital PWM can optimize the CPU power solution and provide a proper and stable Vcore for the processor.
Moving on to the DIMM slots, the Fatal1ty Professional supports up to 32GB of memory and 2800MHz overclocked. Yes, you read this correctly, 2800MHz. With bandwidth at an all time high, more memory bandwidth can mean more performance with today’s Solid State Drives, PCIe 3.0 and USB 3.0. The 24 pin power connector is positioned adjacent to the DIMM slots and we see a dual USB front panel connector for easy wire management.
There’s also an IDE connector and we have seen this feature disappear from motherboards in the past few years. We do not see the need for IDE connectors as it has gone by the wayside and in our opinion, there is no longer the need due to USB bootable drives but we suppose there still are some hard core floppy drive users still floating around.
There are a total of 10 SATA ports here: four SATA II 3G and six SATA III 6G. The six SATA III ports break down into two SATA 6G supported by the Intel controller and four supported by ASMedia. Most are confused by the ASMedia controller, but the quick explanation of it is that the speed of the Intel controller is not blocked by any PCI lanes, so the native speed is much faster. However, in RAID configurations and SSD caching on the brink, the ASMedia controller can have faster speeds in certain situations.
The power reset buttons and LED Debug indicator stay in this area. The LED Debug is a great tool for post problems as the LED indicator shows a code that can easily be cross reference with the owner’s manual to troubleshoot the problem. The position may pose a slight problem when running dual graphics cards so we will investigate this issue in our hardware installation section.
Ivy Bridge supports PCIe 3.0 for those of you who want Radeon 7000 or Nvidia 600 series cards, whereas Sandy Bridge does not. There are two 16X slots and one 4X slot. When running in dual mode, the slots operate in 8x/8x configuration and ASRock also gives two PCI Express slots. We also see a floppy connector, which utterly baffles us as to why it’s still included on new boards.
Finishing up, we see an impressive array of rear ports: one PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse port, one HDMI, one DisplayPort, one Optical SPDIF out, five Ready-to-Use USB 2.0, one Fatal1ty Mouse (USB 2.0), one eSATA3 connector, six USB 3.0, two RJ-45 LAN, one 1394, one Clear CMOS Switch with LED, and HD Audio jacks. With all the USB ports and connectivity, this is a gamer’s paradise.
Let’s install some hardware and see how things look.