ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance Motherboard Review
   
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ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance Motherboard Review

June 30th, 2014 James Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

Today I get to look at another new motherboard from ASRock, and after the last Fatal1ty board (Z97X Killer), I have to say I’m looking forward to this… Here we have the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance another board from the Fatal1ty Supper Alloy range. What’s important this time though is this board is based on the H97 chipset and the last board was based on the Z97 chipset. What’s the difference, well we’re about to find out… 😉

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - box front ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - box back

 

The ASRock H97 Performance motherboard came well packaged in a rather flash looking box, with so much on the front it’s best you just take a look at the images above.

If you thought the front of the box looked busy, then you should take a look at the back. The back of the box is plastered in features of H97 Performance, some of the highlights are: Purity Sound 2, Key Master and Fatal1ty Mouse Port. For more details see Features/Specification below.

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - box open ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - packaging

 

Opening the box we can see the paperwork and accessories within (see below) and that the board has been shipped to pcG with a 15 page reviewers guide, which is always nice to see.

Also what’s really good to see here is the level of packaging that ASRock has gone to. With the motherboard actually cable tied in four corners to a soft-cell foam tray, impressive!

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - box contents

 

In the box in addition to the motherboard itself we also find the following:

ACCESSORIES

  • 2 x Serial ATA (SATA) Data Cables
  • I/O Panel Shield

PAPERWORK

  • Quick Installation Guide
  • Software Setup Guide
  • ASRock Cloud
  • Support DVD

 

At the time of writing the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance is retailing for approximately £85 and comes with a 3 year warranty.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of ASRock

  • ASRock Super Alloy
    – XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
    – Premium Alloy Choke (Reduces 70% core loss compared to iron powder choke)
    – NexFET™ MOSFET
    – Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps (100% Japan made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
    – Sapphire Black PCB
  • Gaming Armor
    » CPU Power – Hi-Density Power Connector
    » VGA Card – 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE2), PCIe Power Connector
    » Internet – Intel® Gigabit LAN
    » Audio – Purity Sound™ 2
  • Supports 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors (Socket 1150)
  • Supports New 4th and 4th Generation Intel® Xeon®/Core™ i7/i5/i3/Pentium®/Celeron® Processors (Socket 1150)
  • Digi Power, 8 Power Phase design
  • Supports Dual Channel DDR3 1600
  • 1 PCIe 3.0 x16, 1 PCIe 2.0 x16, 2 PCIe 2.0 x1, 3 PCI
  • Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™
  • Graphics Output Options: D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI
  • 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection (Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), Supports DTS Connect
  • 6 SATA3, 6 USB 3.0 (2 Front, 4 Rear), 8 USB 2.0 (4 Front, 3 Rear, 1 Fatal1ty Mouse Port)
  • 1 COM Port Header, 1 Thunderbolt™ AIC Connector
  • Supports ASRock Full Spike Protection, ASRock Cloud, APP Shop, F-Stream, Key Master, Full HD UEFI

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance

 

So here we have another great looking Fatal1ty motherboard from ASRock, not quite as good looking as the Z97X Killer maybe, but it’s a good looking board nonetheless. The main difference between this H97 based board and the Z97 based board is the lack of SLI support (CrossFire is still supported), the lack of OC memory support (there’s a 1600MHz cap I’m afraid) and the lack of M.2 support.

Of course, officially the H97 chipset doesn’t support CPU overclocking, well the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance has a very clever trick up its sleeve…

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - right ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - bottom

 

Looking at the right side of the board first, this area is dominated by the south bridge heat-sink and the four DIMM slots, with the DIMM slots supporting up to 32MB with support for memory up to 1600MHz (this is a limitation of the H97 chipset). Above and to the right we find three fan headers (PWR_FAN1 3-pin, CPU_FAN2 3-pin & CPU_FAN1 4-pin). Below the memory slots we see the main 24-pin ATX connector (in its normal place) and a single USB 3.0 connector (USB3_4_5). In the far left corner we find the main six SATA 6GBs ports all controled by the Intel Chipset. In this board version these are now vertically mounted (TBH I’m unsure which way is best!?). Sandwiched between the SATA ports we also find one of two chassis fan headers (CHA_FAN1 3-pin). Just above what is effectively the south bridge we find the two BIOS chips, with their clear CMOS and selection Jumpers. Note that the BIOS chips are removable, meaning that if both end up corrupt you can get a replacement (Genius idea!), ASRock are one of the only manufacturers in the world to offer this facility.

Looking at the bottom of the board again we see south bridge heat-sink and additionally the PCIE slots. Interestingly in the left corner of the board we find a Thunderbolt connector, something missing from the more expensive Z97 Killer board!? Then working from left to right, along the edge, we have the front panel HD Audio, COMM Port, front panel connector followed by two USB 2.0 ports. Taking a look at the PCI slots from top to bottom we have the following setup (again, take note no SLI support):

PCIE1 (PCIe 2.0 x1 slots) is used for PCI Express x1 lane width cards.
PCIE2 (PCIe 3.0 x16 slots) is used for PCI Express x16 lane width graphics cards.
PCIE3 (PCIe 2.0 x1 slots) is used for PCI Express x1 lane width cards.
PCI1 used to install expansion cards that have a 32-bit PCI interface.
PCIE4 (PCIe 2.0 x16 slots) is used for PCI Express x4 lane width graphics cards.
PCI2 used to install expansion cards that have a 32-bit PCI interface.
PCI3 used to install expansion cards that have a 32-bit PCI interface.

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - left ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - top

 

Looking at the left side of the board we see the Purity Sound 2 heat-sink on the right supported by way of a Realtek ALC1150 audio codec featuring 7.1 CH HD Audio. Beyond this we find the main IO Panel, that is covered in more detail below.

The top of the board is dominated by the Intel 1150 socket and the CPU power phase heat-sink, one less heat-sink here than on the Z97X Killer. To the left of the main CPU heat-sink and on the edge of the board we find the main 8-pin CPU power connector.

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - south bridge (heatsink) ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - power phase (heatsink)

 

Above are some shots showing off the aesthetics of the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance, the first image showing off what is effectively the south bridge heat-sink, and its associated six Intel controlled SATA 6GB/s ports.

In addition to that we have the main power phase all alloy heat-sink.

 

  • USB 2.0 Port (Fatal1ty Mouse Port)
  • USB 2.0 Port
  • PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse Combo Port
  • D-Sub Port
  • DVI-D Port
  • USB 3.0 Port (Intel)
  • USB 3.0 Port (Intel)
  • HDMI Port
  • USB 3.0 Port (ASMedia)
  • USB 3.0 Port (ASMedia)
  • RJ-45 LAN Port
  • USB 3.0 Port (Intel)
  • USB 3.0 Port (Intel)
  • HD Audio Jacks
  • Optical SPDIF Out Port
ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - IO panel

 

ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance - underside

 

Looking at the underside of the board there’s not much to see but we can appreciate the Sapphire black PCB.

 

Hardware Installation

 

4670K As the new Devil’s Canyon CPUs were not available at the time of review (and to be fair there’s very little (in fact almost nothing!) between a Haswell and a Haswell Devil’s Canyon anyway!), our testing was performed with an Intel Core i5-4670K.

 

A new build was put together to house the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance motherboard and the Haswell 4670K CPU. The following components were used:

  • Test Rig Setup

  • Case Cooler Master HAF XB Power Supply Corsair AX760i
    Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance CPU Intel Core i7-4670K
    CPU Cooler Corsair H105 RAM Kingston HyperX Beast 8GB 2400MHz
    Graphics Card MSI GTX 770 GAMING OC Edition SSD Kingston 3K 120GB

     

    Testing Methodology/Setup

     

    A new installation of Windows Home Premium 64bit (Service Pack 1) was performed and the following drivers were then installed. The latest ASRock Drivers were used and can been obtained here (I did not use the ones on the disc as I wanted to be using the latest).

    * The latest BIOS version (1.1) was already installed and was used throughout testing…

    Drivers installed:

    • Intel Chipset Driver (INF driver ver: 10.0.13)
    • Realtek High Definition Audio Driver (6.0.1.7004)
    • Intel LAN Driver (19.0.27.0)
    • Intel USB3.0 Driver (3.0.0.16)
    • NVIDIA Graphics (337.88 WHQL)

    During testing the following tools/benchmarks & games were used/played:

    • Prime 95
    • CPUz
    • 3DMark
    • Unigine Heaven 4.0
    • Metro Last Light
    • BattleField Hard Line (BETA)
    • Survarium (BETA)
    • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

     

    Hardware Performance

     

    The ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance fired up on the first press of the power button, with the first job being to update the BIOS (but no BIOS update was available at the time of review). So it was on into Widows to check basic stock stability and performance. At the stock settings (see below) the H97 Performance set our test Intel Core i5-4670K to 3.4GHZ and our Kingston Beast to 1333MHz, as one would expect.

     

    ASROCK Fatal1ty H97 Performance - UEFI (Stock)

     

    ASRock’s UEFI BIOS interface is easy to use and navigate and with stability proven at the Load Optimized Defaults setting (CPU: 3.4GHZ and RAM: 1333MHz), it was time to overclock the CPU and dial in some memory XMP settings. BUT there are no XMP settings, the H97 chipset has no support, the best we could manage was 1600MHz (see below right).

    Now for ASRock’s really clever trick, within the UEFI under the OC Tweaker section we find something that we shouldn’t! An overclocking menu for the CPU, rather cleverly named Non-Z OC. And this allows you to overclock your multiplier on a Non Z based board, clever eh!? This is actually exploiting a loophole in the architecture that was reveled by Intel sometime ago, and to be fair it could be closed via an update to the chipset code or via change to CPUs in the future. But for our Intel 4670K, it worked like a dream…

    I was actually able to run our 4670K at 4.8GHz and play around for sometime, before I saw any instability. But I didn’t want to venture much past the auto setting (via Non-Z OC) as the voltage was at 1.360 volts! This is too high for everyday use, but if your looking for maximum overclocks then you could push further (with the voltage) given adequate cooling and if you’re brave enough… 😉

     

    ASROCK Fatal1ty H97 Performance - UEFI (Non-Z OC) ASROCK Fatal1ty H97 Performance - UEFI (RAM 1600MHz)

     

    For testing purposes I ran the motherboard at both its stock speed of 3.4 (3.8GHz Turbo) and at 4.5GHz (RAM 1600MHz), which is fine for everyday use at a voltage of 1.25 volts.

     

    ASROCK Fatal1ty H97 Performance - UEFI (Overclocked)
     

    • Benchmark Results (CPU @ STOCK: 3.4GHz (1.040v) : RAM @ 1333MHz) with NVIDIA GTX 770
    Benchmark Resolution Result
    Metro Last Light 1920×1080 58.0
    Unigine Heaven 4.0 1920×1080 984
    3DMark Firestrike Default 6822
    3DMark Firestrike Extreme 3427

     

    As you can see from the two sets of data there’s not much of a performance difference in the scores when looking at both Stock (3.4GHz – 3.8GHz Turbo) and 4.5GHz, but the additional performance is there, even if it’s negligible. Unigine also posted a strange result as the performance went down a little when overclocked, although it’s still within the margin of error.

     

    • Benchmark Results (CPU @ 4.5GHz (1.250v) : RAM @ 1600MHz) with NVIDIA GTX 770
    Benchmark Resolution Result
    Metro Last Light 1920×1080 58.67
    Unigine Heaven 4.0 1920×1080 979
    3DMark Firestrike Default 6977
    3DMark Firestrike Extreme 3469

     

    What can be seen from the data above is that when it comes down to it a Gaming PC that’s running at 4.5GHz & 1600MHz isn’t much faster than one running at 3.4GHz and 1333MHz! Sorry guys but its true…

    What’s even more interesting is that at stock speeds the H97 Performance betters the Z97X Killer board in all bar one of the tests! Only when overclocked does the H97 fall behind, even then by next to nothing and this is actually caused by the fact the the memory is limited to 1600MHz, not down to the board itself.

     

    • Additional Software/Features
  • HARDWARE (Purity Sound 2)
  •  

    9-Purity Sound2-BG Gaming Audio is one of my favourite subjects, I guess I’m an aspiring Gaming Audiophile, if there is such a thing. And I have already seen (or is that heard!) what the Realtek ALC1150 chipset is capable of, and to be fair it’s very good. Again here in the ASRock implementation the sound is clear and concise with no discernible background noise.

    It’s still no replacement for a dedicated sound card like the Creative Sound Blaster Zx, that you’ll want to use if your going to be using a high end headset such as the QPAD QH-1339 or the beyerdynamic MMX 300.

     

  • SOFTWARE (F-Stream Utility)


  • The F-Stream Utility (download here) has come a long way since I last saw it, all of the options you would expect are still here such as the ability, to monitor and overclock the system. But what’s also rather cool are apps that support the Gamer!

    Such as the Key Master App found within the Tools menu. The application allows you to activate macros from both your keyboard and your mouse, implement Sniper Mode, change scroll speed, even key repeats and key delays. That’s pretty cool that all of these options for modifying your Gaming Peripherals is via software supplied by your motherboard. Nice! In addition to this there’s the old favourite, the Fatal1ty mouse port giving you full control over the Polling Rate.

     

    ASRock F-Stream (Tools) ASRock F-Stream (Key Master)

     

    Final Thoughts

     

    What we have here is another amazing motherboard from ASRock, the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance may not have all of the bells ‘n whistles that some of the other boards out there, but it’s got it where it counts. Factor in the cost and ASRock have another sure fire winner on their hands…

    Once again the ASRock packaging is far from subtle, but the motherboard within is well protected sat in and cable tied to a soft foam tray. There’s very little in the box other than a couple of SATA cables and a I/O shield (a rather plain silver one at that), but it’s enough and is all you’re likely to need to get started. The Fatal1ty H97 Performance is also a good looking board, with its large red south bridge heat-sink and smart CPU heat-sink, although it doesn’t look quite as good as the Z97X Killer.

    Due to this being an H97 based board, there’s no SLI support (and although CrossFire is supported, bandwidth is likely to be limited by the second x4 PCIE bandwidth), there’s also no support for memory above 1600MHz and no support for M.2. And of course there’s no CPU overclocking, because that’s only available on the Z boards, right? WRONG!

    This ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance board has a trick up its sleeve, aptly named Non-Z OC! On this board you can overclock, as ASRock have utilised a known workaround, that Intel are aware of! Now this may later get plugged in newer CPUs or via a software update, but for now it works beautifully allowing us to overclock all the way to 4.8GHz with our Intel Core i5-4670K!

    Performance at stock was excellent, beating the Z97 based AsRock board in three of four tests! It’s overclocked test results were a little less, but that’s down to the boards lack of high speed memory support.

    To be fair what you get with the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance is a great Gaming motherboard, yes there’s some bells ‘n whistles missing, but would you miss them? I suspect not, as long as your not thinking dual GPUs. Of course the real icing on the cake is that Non-Z OC, which really has just blown the whole motherboard buying market wide open…

     

    Verdict

    Please Share, Like & Comment below, we really value your thoughts and opinions…



    Where possible we always use Amazon’s price for Value…
      Design/Quality pcGameware awards the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance a Gold
    Performance
    Value
    Overall

    Many thanks to ASRock for providing this sample for review

     



    1. Dan
      January 7th, 2015 at 08:11 | #1

      I am really desperate to know if the Non K OC is still in operation on this board before buying the parts..Do you know if intel have closed the loophole or is this board still able to OC the intel i7 4790 chip ??

      Thanks

      • James
        January 7th, 2015 at 08:26 | #2

        As far we are concerned the loophole has not been closed in any way, so you are good to go! If you run into any issues come back to us here at pcG and we will help directly…

        😉

    2. Dan
      January 8th, 2015 at 02:37 | #3

      Thanks For the Swift Reply mate !!

      So just to make doubly sure before i pull the trigger on this board…youre saying my intel i7 4790 will be able to see a performance increase with this board ? 🙂

      • James
        January 8th, 2015 at 09:45 | #4

        Sorry, No! You need to have a K based CPU to overclock!

    3. Dan
      January 8th, 2015 at 02:39 | #5

      I have the Non K i7 4790 ..

      • James
        January 8th, 2015 at 09:45 | #6

        Sorry, No! You need to have a K based CPU to overclock!

    4. Dan
      January 8th, 2015 at 13:57 | #7

      @James
      Actually got lucky and picked up a 4790k today… I know the stock speed is 4.0ghz so I’m not sure what would be a stable OC with this board…Do you know if its reliable or should i just go with a z97 board ?

    5. Dan
      January 10th, 2015 at 08:31 | #9

      Cheers i’ll check it out ! 🙂

    6. Grant
      January 22nd, 2015 at 11:34 | #10

      Love the review, currently looking at this board for a low cost build. Thinking of pairing this with a G3258 & Avexir Core Red RAM. Already have a cm storm enforcer case + 650W PSU I managed to get for £20! Just thinking of completing the build. Think this board would be able to OC the Pentium? the Z97 board is just a bit over budget atm! Thanks in advance!

      • James
        January 22nd, 2015 at 12:26 | #11

        Sure, the G3258 is an unlocked processor so it should overclock on the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Performance Motherboard fine (although you need to to update your BIOS), if you like I can get it conformed by ASRock, but you may have to wait a day or so…

        😉

    7. Grant
      January 22nd, 2015 at 12:48 | #12

      @James
      If you could confirm that is will OC on this board that would be the BEST! You never know, maybe waiting a couple days someone could lower the price! Thanks man! You’re Awesome!

      • James
        January 25th, 2015 at 01:00 | #13

        Ok, on the case…

        😉

      • James
        January 28th, 2015 at 18:45 | #14

        Hi Grant

        ASRock have confirmed that you can OC on this board using a G3258 but you will need BIOS version P1.10. Hope that helps…

        Any issues get back to us and we’ll try and help out best we can! 😉

    8. Jape
      January 27th, 2015 at 17:22 | #15

      Hey James! I just installed my 960 gtx to a old computer and it beeps 3 times, I have tried my everything but nothing gives, I asked my computer manufacture about it and it told that my bios isn’t compatible thought I have the latest, I was thinking about a new computer and with the ASrock H97 performance motherboard, could you ask asrock will it support the asus strix 960 gtx graphics card, because it would be hilarious to upgrade again and get the same problem or something.

      • James
        January 27th, 2015 at 18:57 | #16

        YES – the ASRock Fatal1ty H97 Killer will work with the Asus Strix 960, if it doesn’t pcGameware will buy you a motherboard that does…

        😉

    9. Pencil777
      February 5th, 2015 at 08:49 | #17

      Sorry to ask this here. But im about to buy Asrock H97M Pro4 and pair it with G3258. Will this board overclock the pentium k or not? ANd can i do it manually without using Non-Z overlock because the voltage seems to be high. Thanks in advance!

      • James
        February 5th, 2015 at 09:43 | #18

        This is taken from the ASRock H97M Pro4 motherboard manual:

        Non-Z OC
        Non-Z OC allows users with a K-Series Haswell processor to overclock their non Z97 chipset motherboards. So it should work…

    10. Rock Bottom
      February 10th, 2015 at 09:15 | #19

      This is the worst board I’ve ever had to fight to detect the Optical Disk Drive. I am unable to load the OS to connect to the internet to update the system. Its impossible to connect without first loading the OS. The BIOS is a maze of loopholes and does not recognize the ODD and only has HDD available in the settings. Without being able to read and load the OS through the ODD this board id DEAD until somethings actually works. I think it has crippleware installed. I downloaded all the drivers from the internet on another PC and loaded them but they have not helped one bit. The ODD name is there but still no way to read anything on it. i’ve read the print carefully from the manuals and followed each step exactly for all settings and many other possible combinations but NO ODD to read or install the OS. I’m going to bin it and buy another brand.

      • James
        February 10th, 2015 at 11:01 | #20

        Now that is a strange issue, we have never heard of such an issue here and also cannot replicate with our ASRock boards! Are you sure it’s all setup correctly: SATA lead plugged in, Power Lead plugged in etc, have you tried different motherboard ports? Is the drive an old drive perhaps!?

        Just trying to help…

    11. Rock Bottom
      February 11th, 2015 at 12:07 | #21

      Thanks for your suggestions. I’ve changed MB ports twice. First from the recommended port to another and will try the others. The HDD is new and all tests so far find no faults. All settings have been checked with a magnifying glass. I’ll change SATA cables just in case it isolates this problem. All hardware is handled very carefully with anti-static mats and earthed wrist straps to eliminate any static discharge or difference of potential. I’m leaning towards a crook Optical Disk Drive because the supplier has sold me four faulty items over the last two months.

      I’ll let you know.

    12. Rock Bottom
      February 15th, 2015 at 11:23 | #22

      I handed my newly built PC over to my nephew who teaches at the University and they discovered two (2) of the brand new SATA cables were faulty. Everything is now OK.

      • James
        February 15th, 2015 at 18:32 | #23

        Great news and thanks for keeping us posted…

        😉

        ATB pcG James

    13. marius
      October 8th, 2015 at 19:29 | #24

      I realy like the review but since Fatal1ty Mb got great review, I need help witch one to choose.
      I will buy an 4460 I5 CPU, and will use one VGA for gaming only. So what to choose between H97 Performance, H97 Killer or Z97 Killer?

      • James
        October 8th, 2015 at 22:36 | #25

        I would suggest going for the H97 Performance as it will suit your needs perfectly well…

        😉

    14. marius
      October 9th, 2015 at 08:39 | #26

      Thanks a lot. 2 more guestion please.
      Is any significant difference between Intel® Gigabit LAN (Performance) and Killer E2200 LAN (Killer). I,m only user on my PC.
      Second, have sense to put the money save with H97 Performance to an Intel i5 4590(instead of 4460), or keep the 4460 and the money.

      @James

      • James
        October 9th, 2015 at 11:17 | #27

        No, there’s no discernible difference…

        The 4460 will be just fine; if the PC you are building is for Gaming, the bottom line is that you should save all of your money ans spend it on the Graphics Card! 😉

        ATB pcG James

    15. marius
      October 9th, 2015 at 11:34 | #28

      @James
      Thansks a lot,
      I started will VGA and I bought an Gigabyte amd 390 g1, so it remain the CPU+Mb. I will buy H97 Performance and 4460.