ASRock targets the Fatal1ty Killer series of motherboards at the mainstream gaming market. The X99X edition is their latest effort, supporting Intel’s latest and greatest Haswell-E CPUs. The main power supply is through Nichikon 12K Platinum capacitors. Keeping the motherboard cool is a XXL aluminium alloy heatsink. ASRock also targets internet and audio performance with Qualcomm’s Killer LAN module, and Purity Sound 2 with high SNR. Higher up in the ASRock line-up is the Professional series with even more robust materials and control; however, the Killer LAN is unique to the Fatal1ty series.
The X99 generation is a known quantity by now, introducing support for Haswell-E and DDR4, along with other improvements like a M.2 interface. X99 is truly a major leap forward over the aging X79 platform, and brings us to the next generation of motherboards.
The Fatal1ty X99 Killer boasts of a similar design to the X99 Extreme 6, with some improvements such as Killer LAN and Gaming Armor, a set of material upgrades such as gold contacts for DIMM and PCI-e slots.
The Fatal1ty features a striking red and black design, from the motherboard itself to the box. The accessories provided are SATA cables, SLI bridge, a special ASRock SATA power cable with HDD Saver fuction. Also included is XSplit Broadcaster, with three months premium license for XSplit Gamecaster.
The motherboard takes on the usual ATX form factor. The aluminium alloy heatsink mainly cools down the CPU VRM. The memory VRM is covered by a different heatsink which actually has no connection to the main heatsink.
In terms of board I/O, we have support for Fatal1ty Mouse Port USB 2.0, dual-use PS/2, eSATA, Dual LAN, as well as functions such as Clear CMOS. ASMedia ASM1042AE provides 2 x USB 3.0 ports, expanded to a further 4 x USB 3.0 ports through ASM1074 expansion chip. Intel I218 provides Gigabit Ethernet, which makes it dual-LAN in a variety of configurations along side the Killer E2201 port. Fan control is powered by Nuvoton 3941S.
For power supply, CPU VRM is powered by ISL6379, located at the back of the motherboard with the ISL6611 Driver with a 12-phase power design. Fairchild FDM3660S asymmetric dual-N MOSFET package integrates to Power Stage on the inside. Filter capacitors are Nichicon FP12K solid platinum capacitors, combined with SWD Tantalum capacitors. Memory power supply similarly uses the same MOS materials and PWM as with CPU VRM.
The I/O ports on the lower half of the motherboard includes a concentration of all 10 enabled SATA ports. SSATA3_3 and SSATA3_2 is shared with eSATA and Ultra M.2 is through ASM1456 SATA switch. Also visible are debug lights and on-board power switch, dual-BIOS options, and expansion provision for a Thunderbolt daughter card. Above the power switch is HDD Saver.
Three PCI-e X16 slots are named PCI-e 1, 3 and 5. Two PCI-e X1 slots take up PCI-e 2 and 4. Because of different lanes available with Haswell-E CPUs, different configurations are possible. For example, at the lower 28-Lane CPU SKU, PCI-e 1, 3 and 5 operate at x16, x8 and x4 respectively, which means 3-Way SLI is not supported. 40 Lane CPU SKUs however avoid this issue. A mini PCI-e slot is also offered for wireless network or video capture cards. The Ultra M/2 slots are in the same area, and shares with PCI-e 5 as x4 (which restricts length of cards to 110m) as well as SATA. The ASM1480 PCI-e switch is for switching between channels.
The UEFI BIOS features a well-designed HD interface. As with other ASRock motherboards, X99X Killer provides system status, parental controls and other tools. For overclocking, fine tuning options are limited, but common overclocking adjustments and fan controls are present. In addition, it can connect to the internet within the BIOS for driver downloads, technical support and to download and update BIOS.
ASRock’s F-Stream suite includes a variety of tools, such as basic software overclocking, system information and updates. Also featured are more advanced tools such as RAMDISK, fan adjustment, keyboard and mouse macros, hard drive status monitoring, HDD Saver controls, etc. Overall, the interface of the applications are clean, and they work smoothly and stably.
For the performance tests, we used the default values with CPU overclocked to 4.3GGhz, and increased UNCORE frequency:
CPU：Intel Core i7-5960X
RAM：A-DATA DDR4-2133 4Gx4 Kit
VGA：AMD Radeon R9-290X
SSD：Plextor M6 PRO SSD 256GB
In accordance with general overclocking procedure, we tried to disable energy-saving technologies such as C-State, SPEEDSTEP to ensure a constant and stable frequency after overclocking. However, when we disabled C-State, or more specifically C1E state, the single core performance declined. This did not affect multi-core performance. When we re-enabled C-State, single core performance was back to normal, but of course then the frequency would vary. ASUS’s X99 motherboards exhibit no such issues, so we speculate there might be some bugs with the BIOS power management section.
ASRock quickly corrected the issue and sent us a modified BIOS for testing. They have promised to deliver the BIOS update that will fix this problem. But at this time, the latest P1.20 version on ASRock’s official website still has this issue.
[Update]: New Fatal1ty X99X Killer BIOS is now available
X99X Killer Modified BIOS
ASRock’s own X99 Extreme 6 shares a common design with Fatal1ty X99X Killer, with parity with the competition in terms of pricing and build quality. Although not a member of SATA Express, they provide a good compromise between having too many features taking physical space away and providing useful features like PCI-e x4 / SATA Ultra M.2 or Mini-PCI-e in a limited footprint. The Fatl1ty X99 Killer offers differentiation for gamers in terms of a bundled XSplit licenes, and Killer LAN which offers plenty of configuration options paired alongside Intel Gig-E for Dual-LAN.
Overall, Fatal1ty X99X Killer offers a thoroughly practical design. Through the Gaming Armor moniker, the X99X Killer boasts of a solid build quality, while materials see robust upgrades throughout. For the price, it is well worth it.
[This article is translated from VR-Zone Chinese]