The ASrock Invasion – The Z87 Fatal1ty Professional Experience (Part 1 of 2)
Continuing on the second in the lineup of the Z87 trio Motherboard from Asrock is the Z87 Fatal1ty Gaming Board series.
The_Big_Viper – In collaboration with John “Fatal1ty” Wendell, one of the Best and Multi Titled Gamer we have today with an unprecedented twelve (12) world titles in Five (5) Different Games as well as a Lifetime Achievement Awardee for his outstanding contributions in the field of E-Sports. In cooperation with leading manufacturers like Asrock in co-producing a Gaming Board like no other, that is clearly the concept of gaming the Fatal1ty way.
lg_whafu – Wendell sure is one heck of a walking advertisement this side of the industry, with ASRock and other several manufacturers backing up his gaming endeavors.
The_Big_Viper – The Z87 Fatal1ty Professional is the latest in this partnership that started with the P67 and 990FX Line and spawned to Z68 and Z77 and now the Z87 Line up.
lg_whafu – Yes it is. With a line-up generations old, and architectures apart, this motherboard should be FATAL1TY, and ASRock’s greatest gaming motherboard offering so far for the Intel Z87 chipset.
Let’s take an in-depth look on what the Z87 Fatal1ty has to offer to us. As we TPC’s TPC’s LG_Whafu and yours truly take turns in yet again dissecting this motherboard for you
The_Big_Viper – As with its previous releases the Z87 Fatal1ty still sports the John “ Fatal1ty” Wendellface that’s superimposed in black against the red background its very familiar with.
lg_whafu – While I’m a fan of Wendell, I’m not really a huge fan of his face. I mean it’s good for the branding, but it’s scattered all over the place, even on the UEFI of the older FATAL1TY motherboards. I’m liking the other stuffs here, tho.
The_Big_Viper – The box packaging went small compared with the previous design where you can open the front cover and it will let you view the motherboard and be awed at its looks. This can be attributed towards the cost cutting schemes not only by ASRock but other motherboard manufacturers as well. (Or so I hope) Features such as XSplit, Windows 8 Ready, HDMI, Sound Core 3D, SLI and Crossfire Ready Features are advertised. The XSplit is bundled free for a limited time. (3 Months Subscription worth $ 24.95)
lg_whafu – While the packaging maybe smaller than the usual, the Z87 FATAL1TY motherboard packed a punch in the features department, and that’s what really is important.
The_Big_Viper – At the backside, we can see that ASrock highlights the motherboards new as well as improved features such as A-Style, Key Master, XSplit, Sound Core 3D, Intel Dual Lan, “Gaming Armor” dedicated Fatal1ty Mouse Port, F-Stream Utility and much more…
lg_whafu – I like what I’m seeing on this side of the box, since gamers will be delighted right away with what the motherboard has to offer, enabling them to check out the motherboard’s vast features without checking the manufacturer’s link. A QR Code is conveniently placed here, for further details though, which is quite nice.
The_Big_Viper – Out of the box, we can see that it comes with your usual Manuals and Driver CD as well as the Front panel USB 3.0/or PCI Converter, SLI Bridge, Four (4) Pieces Black L-Type SATA Cables, 2 x 4pin to Sata Power cable, Asrock Decal Sticker, XSplit 3 Month premium Subscription Card and Fatal1ty Backplate
lg_whafu – Looks like ASRock didn’t skimped on the bundled accessories, as seen on the picture. Compared to the Z77 version, this one came with 2x more SATA cables, the XSplit sub card, a new documentation, and a case badge. I was also delighted by the fact that they took Wendell’s face off from the manuals and replaced it with the branding alone instead. #NotHatinJustSayin’
The_Big_Viper – priding itself with Japanese Premium Gold Capacitors as well as a new design in its VRM. The Z87 Fatal1ty is a premium grade Gaming Board to boot. With a 12+4 Power Phase Design, Better Thermal Chokes for their patented dual stacked Mosfets.
lg_whafu – Aye. Power delivery is almost the same with what we saw from the Z87 OC FORMULA, so we should see some great overclocking results even with this branded as a gaming oriented motherboard.
The_Big_Viper – This might be a little lower than what the Z77 Based offered before at a whopping 16+8 Power Phase Design, even the Z68 Professional sports a 12+6 Power phase while the P67 boasts of a 16+2 Power phase design. All in all This might be a goof offering for consumers who can overclock and game at the same time.
The_Big_Viper – with 10 SATA 3.0 Ports, The Dr. Debug Led as well as Power and Reset Button are neatly placed. Quite a nice lay out for the board while the Fatal1ty Logo is squarely exuding its air of respect and importance.
lg_whafu – The Z87 chipset indeed brought us a galore of SATA ports, and the FATAL1TY motherboard in scrutiny didn’t skimped on implementing the pros of the said chipset. Aside from the buttons, and ports on this side of the board, ASRock also implemented a CPU fan here, and dual BIOS chips which sums up as great addition to the board’s real estate.
The_Big_Viper – The Fatal1ty’s lay out is still a gem for cable management. The 24pin is in the usual slot at the right along with the motherboard connector for USB 3.0 Front panel ports. Behind the memory we can see two (2) 4pin fan connectors.
lg_whafu – Gem it is, with the fan headers carefully laid out at the most common places. Kinda wished there’s another one at the bottom.
The_Big_Viper – As we marvel at the motherboards enchanting presence, I can’t help but notice how striking the lay out is. Besides the gaming board aura it exudes, its attention to detail is appealing to the eye as well as to your heart… (I hope)
lg_whafu – Yeah it’s all good and marvelous, but the fact still stands that this motherboard sports a brown PCB, similar to a varnished wood. If this board sports a full Black PCB as seen on ASRock’s website, it would be great.
The_Big_Viper – This board sure has more than enough PCI-E slots for either Tri-Fire or Tri-SLI options, the surprise here comes in the form of an additional 4pin power in case the motherboard needs more juice for those monster cards in Tri-Fire and Tri-SLI. Support for the latest PCI Express 3.0 as well for all 3 PCI-E Slots. Another treat would be the boards incorporation of the Sound Cored 3D, based on the Creative X-Fi Recon chip this might prove another winner in feature and performance.
lg_whafu – Lotsa stuffs going around there bro, but my curiosity asked me why did ASRock put the CMOS battery in such a tight space. Not only that you’re going to have a hard time replacing it with a GPU in place, it also hinders you from using a full length mPCI-E chip. The SoundCore3D is a nice addition though, but I’m skeptical with those not so audio oriented gold capacitors.
The_Big_Viper – Wonders of wonders but that seems undaunted in their design though. This has been in effect since the P67 days as well as its AMD Counterpart whene spaces in the PCI-E houses the CMOS Battery. Well let’s take this into consideration as we take a closer look later at the testings’ we are about to employ.
The_Big_Viper – The maximum memory capacity at 32GB should hold no problems with upgrades as with the attention to color scheme detail. Able to support the latest memory speeds at 2933Mhz and beyond (overclocked) as well as its patented Distortion Free Slot as the shorter design pin design reduces signal distortion.
lg_whafu – Again, ASRock used a single latch slot DIMM locking mechanism to accompany their distortion free design DIMM slots, as seen with the Z87 OC FORMULA. Not a fan of these locking mechanisms since they’ll give you a hard time inserting and removing high profile DIMMs if you’re using a huge arse HSF.
The_Big_Viper – Now now should we talk about arse here? I’m loving the single latch design as Asrock prides its Patented Distortion Free Slots plus the Red and Black combo should be quite the addition especially since the older ones used white as their color latches, this is a welcome addition to color schemes.
The_Big_Viper – Well now look at this, there’squite enough connectivity options at the rear I/O panel. We have 4 x USB 3.0 ports, 4 x USB 2.0 Ports, 1 x ESATA, 2 x Gigabit LAN Ports, 1 optical and 3.5mm audio options for 5.1/7.1 connectivity, PS2 Connector, 3 x HDM and a handy dandy clear CMOS Button.
lg_whafu – In addition to what The_Big_Viper said, this side of the board features the Fatal1ty Mouse Port, which is used in conjunction with the F-Stream app to enable your USB mouse to use Wendell’s preferred polling rate. There are limitations and compatibility issues though. The Dual Intel Gigabit LAN had me drooling, by the way. Awesome!
The_Big_Viper –This board is equipped with a 12+4 Power phasing design, the Fatal1ty isn’t a pushover in terms of overclocking. With an 8pin CPU power slot that’s quite descent for High Overclocks.
lg_whafu – I think it’s enough for mild overlocking, pops. Figures that almost any unlocked Haswell CPUs could run at 4.4Ghz with little effort.
The_Big_Viper – The positioning of I/O ports for front panel as well as USB connectors and fans are lined up and waiting. The additional 4 pin power input for your GPU needs is a welcome respite in case your SLI and Cross-fired cards need more juice.
lg_whafu – Nice layout of I/O port the FATAL1TY motherboard got there, especially with the arrangements of USB headers, and the placement of the angled 4-pin power port. I for once saw the benefits of the 4-pin MOLEX power adapter when I’m testing my HD 6870X2. Thought it has compatibility issues with my board but it’s just actually a power juice limitation.
The_Big_Viper – Over-all this motherboard with its red themed design, nice positioning of ports and other super charged features should give it the edge as a gaming motherboard for enthusiasts.
lg_whafu – Can’t really argue with that, but a little more effort in the board’s lower department could make its layout a bit better. Really, I wished that the CMOS Battery is placed somewhere else. Also the PCB’s color is arguably not the best I’ve seen.
The_Big_Viper – They could have made the board PCB all black to continue the design theme. As for the CMOS battery lay out, this is the usual trend with all Fatal1ty Theme Motherboards using those spaces in between the PCI-E Slots. Well talk about design schemes…
THE UEFI BIOS AND ITS FEATURES
The_Big_Viper – Like all Asrock Fatal1ty Motherboards that have been using UEFI BIOS, they sport the same color scheme and format. However, new features as well as some of the usual options were made different leaving you in awe. The usual saving of OC profiles is not at the OC Tweaker Section but is now found at the Tools Section. But many rich features are much lauded for Asrock pioneering these in their UEFI BIOS.
lg_whafu – Awe yiss, now this looks like business. And when I mean business, Wendell’s face wont greet you this time upon entering the BIOS. Lotsa familiar and new things can be seen here and there, but good thing that it’s not too obtrusive for any new comer.
The_Big_Viper – The Main Screen which features the usual red Fatal1ty scheme shows us the UEFI Version/BIOS Version as well as processor speed/Total Memory and frequency per dim slots.
lg_whafu – The main screen also features an active page on entry feature, which basically will show the screen you chose when you enter the UEFI. Kinda cool, and will let you enter the OC Tweaker right away if you intended to spend the rest of your time at that menu.
The_Big_Viper – Despite being marketed as a Gaming Board, the Fatal1ty is no pushover when it comes to Overclocking as it’s also an all-around performer in this department. The OC Tweaker Menu lets you enjoy these overclocking tools at your convenience.
lg_whafu – This menu is pretty similar to what the OC FORMULA has to offer, but missed some of its OC brother’s in house settings, particularly Nick Shih’s CPU frequency, and DIMM profiles.
The_Big_Viper – We found the OC Tweaker menu quite confusing at first with its different than average terminologies. Some were the same and some new terms were introduced. Tweaking it was a maze at first until the first overclock was done and stable. Wish they could re-label terms much better. But coming from the OC Formula review, Id’ say this is much dandier so myself.
lg_whafu – It really pays to read the user’s manual, no? Seriously, ASRock’s terminologies could be better, especially if they want gamers to understand overclocking on their own. A little tip here and there would be great.
The_Big_Viper – What Manual? I still feel they could have been generous enough to enter a vast wide Tech Dictionary for this. Then again if it works why pay attention…
The_Big_Viper – The Advanced configuration menu houses most of the motherboard functions such as CPU, Chipset, Storage I/O, ACPI and USB.
The_Big_Viper –The CPU configuration is where you can set CPU related functions such as your Hyper Threading, CPU C States and Active processor Sates as well as Thermal Throttling. Well this could have been integrated in the OC Tweaker Menu if not for some who have no interest in overclocking. But hey you have a BIOS to tweak and experiment here right?
lg_whafu – I’m all up with the experiment and tweak stuffs, but this is really better off with the OC Tweaker menu. There are far too many settings to play with inside the FATAL1TY’s UEFI so they’ll provide the exploration part.
The_Big_Viper – The Advanced Chipset Configuration houses settings for you PCI and PCIE settinsg as well as On Board LAN and Audio, Good Night LED, Options for Deep Sleep and AC/Power Loss
The_Big_Viper –The Storage Configuration sets up your hard disk drives, for IDE, AHCI or RAID Mode. It includes options for SMART and DSA or Dynamic Storage Accelerator.
The_Big_Viper – Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect features for the man on the go should be quite useful. The Rapid Start when enabled lets you do hibernate mode and when awakened it takes around 5-6 seconds on boot while the Smart Connect updates you email and social networking sites while your PC is in sleep mode. I guess those FB and Twitter maniacs would love this option that is if they can actually power off their PC when they can shift to their smartphones and tablets.
lg_whafu – The Intel SCT actually just re-establish your network connectivity, enabling your running apps to sync with their respective servers or for the social media nuts, enables your account to sync with the rest of the world.
The_Big_Viper – The Tools Tab has the System Browser, OMG (Online Management Guard), UEFI Tech Service. EASY RAID Installer, Easy Driver. However the usual User Profile Menu where you can save your OC Profiles is now found at the tools menu. Wish it section would go back to OC Tweaker menu. I don’t get the sense why its here.
The_Big_Viper – The Hardware Monitor Tab lets you see the CPU/MB Temperature as well as CPU/Chassis and Power Fan Speeds. It also displays your CPU Input Voltages, VCORE, and your Voltages in both 12V, 5V and 3.3V. Here you can change your FAN Settings as well.
lg_whafu – I’m kinda missing the thermal probes of the Z87 OC Formula here, but the CPU and board temperature will probably do for most gamers. Chassis fan speed could be monitored, and change here too with different levels to choose from.
The_Big_Viper – The Boot Option menu lets you select what drives to boot. The Fast Boot option is enabled if your OS is Windows 8. Added up is the usual Boot From LAN, prompt timeout, NumLock on, Beep on Boot as well as Boot Failure Guard.
lg_whafu – The Boot Failure Guide is probably my favorite around this area of the FATAL1TY’s UEFI, since it works like a wonder, providing us numbers of options whenever booting into Windows is impossible due to instability.
The_Big_Viper – Security Option still features the usual Supervisor and User Password Options where security is a must so as to preserve your settings against unwanted intruders or accidental changing by your friend or brother/sister. The System Mode State options and Secure Boot State are still from the Z77 BIOS edition as well. The Save and Exit schemes as well as loading UEFI Defaults are still at the Exit Section same goes with the Launch EFI Shell for accessing Web Functions without Booting to your OS.
SOFTWARE PACKAGES AND ADD-ON FEATURES
A-Style - Home Cloud - Remote Desktop Anytime, Anywhere
This is beneficial if you forgot an important file in your hard drive or you forgot to back up your data, or access files you need from your hard drive collection.
lg_whafu – If I remember it correctly, ASRock’s PM, Han Kuo demonstrated this with their motherboards a couple of days ago at the local ASRock Z87 Launch Event. Pretty cool feature with lotsa promise. Shame it’s for Windows 8 only though.
HDMI-IN - THE SMART WAY TO CONNECT YOUR DEVICES
The_Big_Viper - The Z87 Fatal1ty is equipped with 3 HDMI Ports that lets you connect a secondary device to your motherboard such as consoles. With this feature you don’t have to disconnect your device back and forth from pc to console, all you have to do is toggle from one to the other. And this works even when your pc is powered down.
lg_whafu – It’s actually 2x HDMI with one IN and one OUT. ASRock basically outputs the display of any capable device that you put in the IN port. Promising, but I’m not totally expecting it to output thru the HDMI port of any discrete GPUs.
The_Big_Viper - For gamers especially FPS this would benefit your games as Key Master features Sniper key and Macro key for MMO Gamers. These features enhance your game play as Sniper Key sharpens your mouse’s accuracy while Macro Key saves multiple keystrokes and hotkeys.
However if some games are in violation kindly disable as fronted on the disclaimer but still this is a welcome addition to your gaming arsenal.
lg_whafu – Now this is a nice addition for gamers.
Fatal1ty’s Design base for Optimum Gaming Efficiency by integrating modules and premium features to give the best of the best in gaming making you ahead of the pack.
The_Big_Viper - ASRock is very intent on pushing to consumers the Fatal1ty line as the Top Gaming Motherboard with its new armaments of features.
With Rich features such as Hi-Density Power Connectors, Dual-Stack Mosfet and Multi-Filter Caps for its processor feature. The choice to use the Intel Gigabit LAN (Two ports by the way) which provides better performance while maintaining stability and lower CPU utilization is a must as it corrects problems with its predecessors disconnection problems.
The Sound Core 3D offering is a treat itself as it uses a real Creative Quad Core sound and voice processor for multimedia and optimum gaming audio.
The VGA PCI-E Slots are now equipped with 15μ Gold components within the slots as this provides better performance than the ordinary.
Adding up better heat pipe design as well 2oz Copper PCB should provide better cooling for long hours of gaming and multimedia.
lg_whafu – Great array of gaming oriented features there, bro. ASROck really is gunning with a balance of great hardware and software solutions for gamers.
X-SPLIT– BROADCASTS, LIVE STREAMINGS AND MORE
The_Big_Viper - The X-Split is a a welcome addition as it makes Web Content Broadcasting, Recording and streaming a breeze however this feature is only available for a 3 months premium subscription.
lg_whafu – Still, it’s a great addition for any gamers who wishes to jump start at the big bad world of game-casting. That $25 worth of subscription is really handy even for a period of time.
Fatal1ty's All-In-One Software suite with a new interface as well as new features and improved utilities.
The_Big_Viper – I’ve been very familiar with the F-Stream application as I use it on my 990FX Fatal1ty Professional but the new F-Stream blows me away with these handy dandy features. The Operation mode lets F-Stream configure if your PC Operation should be in Performance, Sandred or Power Saving.
lg_whafu – There is also the Auto Tuning mode found in this side of the F-Stream, which basically tests your system configuration several times with different CPU frequency settings and then it automatically picks the best for you after the tests.
The_Big_Viper –The Tools tab shows us two sub options the Acceleration and Life Style.
The_Big_Viper – X-Fast RAM is like creating a RAMDisk for either cache purposes to speed up your pc or use parts of your RAM as your Virtual Page File instead of your disk bringing you tons of speed boosts.
lg_whafu – If you have an ample amount of extra RAM, this is worth a shot. It also eliminates the use of other 3rd party RAMDisk softwares as the F-Stream already had one.
The_Big_Viper – Goodnight LED lets you power on or off those System LEDS on your motherboard. Software control and all since there no button or feature on your motherboard to do this. Not that this annoys you seeing LEDS lighted up on your motherboard though.
lg_whafu – We saw this feature at the UEFI, but it’s cool to see this one here too for functionality.
The_Big_Viper –The FAN-Tastic Tuning feature enables us to configure the speed of our system’s fans, it’s like your very own on demand PWM/Fan Controller software in the works. These functions are applicable so as long as your fans are connected to the motherboard’s fan headers which are conveniently placed on your motherboard layout
lg_whafu – We have already explained this feature from the last review, but nonetheless this works wonders every time we use it. Just make sure that you’ve checked the Auto Apply check box for it to automatically work upon opening the app.
The_Big_Viper – Having your own Humidifier sure makes dampness in your PC a thing of the past. When enabled it lets your fans run at certain speeds allowing you to push air inside the case while turned off or before it turns itself on. This is pretty much a feature worth it especially when you are in cold damp work places.
lg_whafu – Aye. It’s a simple feature that works really great. Kinda had me thinking why most motherboard vendors do not have this function in the first place especially if they are trying to sell their products at humid subtropical countries.
The_Big_Viper – The HDMI In feature is a blessing for those who own multiple devices that require HDMI inputs to your single monitor. Imagine this no more switching cables from your pc to your console, media player or any other HDMI based device as the feature itself will automatically switch with a keyboard hot key when powered and automatically switch even when powered down. Talk about convenience…
lg_whafu – This feature probably works with the help of a multiplexer, as it can be used even when the PC is turned off.
The_Big_Viper – For all you gamers out there especially FPS this would benefit your games as Key Master Features Sniper key and the Macro key Feature for MMO Gamers.
These features enhance your game play as Sniper Key sharpens your mouse’s accuracy while Macro Key saves multiple keystrokes and hotkeys. Perfect for that key combination in RPG and RTS based games.
lg_whafu – The Key Master is probably one of the best software additions to the FATAL1TY line of motherboard so far. Not only that it provides Macro commands, it also features the Sniper Key feature that should help you earn that desired winning shot.
The_Big_Viper – I’m not a fan of this feature in my 990FX board as for some reasons it doesn’t adjust the polling rate to its desired state even if my mouse software is disabled. But this feature was corrected as the Fatal1ty mouse port is more responsive. Hope it gets a software update on my board.
lg_whafu – The FATAL1TY mouse port doesn’t support USB2.0 mouse, and some mice could not support 1000Hz polling rate either, so that’s probably what’s happening to yah bro.
If you guys already have a full-fledged gaming mouse, then this feature has little to no use for you. Same could be applied with the Macro Key feature if you have your own gaming keyboard. Unless of course, you prefer this one over your manufacturer’s supplied software.
The_Big_Viper – System Browser, well it lets you look at a photo of your motherboard and it detects as well as examines the devices and configurations that you currently use.
lg_whafu – This is a cool feature seen on most of ASRock’s Z87 motherboards - Kinda useful if you want to check out your device’s configuration, particularly in the the PCI slot department.
The_Big_Viper – As with your UEFI BIOS Hardware Monitor, this option is the software counterpart but its readings are as accurate as your BIOS Readings making this the tool you need to monitor your temperatures and voltages.
lg_whafu – Cool feature here, but it’s missing the CPU vCore readings. We wish ASRock would update the software for it to be displayed.