ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER Motherboard Review
Following on from our recent and highly rated ASRock Fatal1ty Z97 and H97 motherboard reviews, we found ourselves a little short on the ASRock Gaming range left to review. 🙁 Luckily for us and with the advent of X99, ASRock have sent as one of their Asrock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER motherboards. 🙂 So what makes the X99 series so special? Well the most obvious benefit is high speed DDR4, up to 40 PCI Express lanes, up to quad GPU support, 10 SATA ports, 14 USB ports, M.2 support and a 20MB smart cache and up to 8 CPU cores. As we know, the most important bits of info for us Gamers there is the potential for dedicated graphics cards. I mean who wouldn’t want there multi-card set-up actually unlocking the potential of the GPUs they’ve just invested in?
What else does ASRock bring to the table with the Fatal1ty X99M Killer? Well for one it’s an MATX motherboard giving you the opportunity to have a hell of a lot of power with an incredibly small footprint (ideal for that LAN rig you’ve been planning!), Atheros Killer E2200 and Intel I218V (yep, that’s two LAN ports), 12 power phase design, Purity Sound 2 (featuring the Realtek ALC1150 codec), EMI shielding and following in the footsteps of the other Fatal1ty motherboards it has the same good looking matte black and metallic red colour scheme with those big heatsinks.
So there seems to be a lot of good things going on with ASRock latest little beauty. We best take a closer look.
|‘ASRock Killer Series features the Killer™ E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform is built for maximum networking performance for online games and high-quality streaming media. Featuring Advanced Stream Detect™, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance and the competitive edge. With this exclusive, automatic traffic prioritization, games and real-time chat get priority over low-level system chatter, giving you the lowest latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available.’|
Much like the previous Fatal1ty motherboards, the X99M KILLER is packaged in a black and toned red box featuring the Fatal1ty logo in the center. It is a rather busy, but cool looking box. The front then shows the brand name and logo, model name, tells us that the X99M is a Gaming motherboard, features an Intel X99 xhipset, crossfire and SLI compatible, Killer E2200, Purity Sound 2, Ultra M.2 and HDD saver as well as some other features.
Over on the back is even busier! It does offer up all of the other motherboard features and it does so in detail, so all is forgiven. 😉
Opening up the box reveals an assortment of items. Within an anti-static bag we find the X99M Killer, which is well protected within a foam tray. We also find the paperwork, utilities and driver disk and various accessories.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of extras hidden inside the box. In addition to the motherboard itself we find the following:
At the time of writing the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER is retailing for £196.05 on Amazon and and comes with a 3 year warranty.
courtesy of ASRock
Supports DDR4 ECC / RDIMM Memory Modules
This motherboard is capable of supporting DDR4 ECC and RDIMM (Registered DIMM) memory modules which deliver server-grade performance and durability for high-powered computing systems.
* ECC is supported with Intel® Xeon® processors.
|The onboard M.2 socket is a new interface for connecting Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) SSDs or other devices. ASRock is the first in the world to implement PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 socket on motherboards. The ultimate Ultra M.2 interface pushes the speed up to 32Gb/s which is 6X faster compared to other M.2 Gen2 x1 solutions that are limited to 5Gb/s. In addition to support PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 modules, the Ultra M.2 also supports SATA3 6Gb/s M.2 modules.|
The first impression of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER is very good. It all looks very busy as there are a lot of features within the X99 chipset, but the sapphire black PCB and the Fatal1ty red highlights, combined with the metallic red heatsinks with their chromed lettering look fantastic. The X99M KILLER is easily one of the best looking motherboards I’ve come across here at pcG. Where the X99 differs from the Z97 most obviously, are the two sets of DIMM slots either side the CPU socket and the LGA 2011-3 socket itself. The socket is huge by comparison to LGA 1150, so much bigger in fact, that by Intel design, the socket features two retention mounts instead of the one.
Flipping the board over does little more than show off the sapphire black PCB even more. On a closer inspection though, we can see the break in the PCB for the EMI shielding, then we have a huge CPU socket retention plate. If you look at all four corners of the retainer, you’ll notice no mounting holes. This is because the LGA 2011-3 socket has a large enough surface area for any CPU cooler not to need the fix-through retention points.
Starting on the right side of the X99M. We can clearly see ten SATA ports. Any of the left six ports can be used in configuration of a RAID array, whilst seven and eight (S_SATA3_2 and 3_3) will not function function if the I/O eSATA port or M.2 socket is in use. Just above the last two SATA3 ports lives the ASRock HDD Saver, chassis fan 2 header and USB 3.0 socket.
Moving along the board we also see the 24pin power socket, TPM header and debug LED. Rather nicely and unlike many other debug LED, these light up red when on, but only for the boot up duration.
In the lower left corner we have the HD Audio header, PCIe power connector (which is recommended for more than three Graphics Cards), Thunderbolt and two USB 2.0 sockets.
The lower right features chassis fan 1 and case speaker headers, CMOS jumpers, reset and power buttons (these look ever so slightly out of place from the rest of the board as they are of a dark metallic gunmetal colour and light up red during boot), front panel header and additional LED header.
Taking a closer look at the lower left corner of the X99M KILLER shows off the Purity Sound 2 SPU with its EMI shielding and the ever popular Killer E2200 network controller. Both of which have that slightly out of place gunmetal colouring
Finishing of the other motherboard headers in the top right shows us very little. Just CPU fan headers 1 and 2, as well as the 8pin power socket.
Looking more to the center of the X99M KILLER, shows another fan header (well placed for your typical case exhaust fan), CMOS battery, dual BIOS chips and selector switch (these chips are easily replaceable in event of disaster), between the PCIE slots is the M.2 slot with five mounts depending on M.2 size. The PCIE slots are as follow:
PCI_E1 (PCIe 3.0 x16 slots) is used for PCI Express x16 lane width graphics cards.
PCI_E2 (PCIe 3.0 x16 slots) is used for PCI Express x16 lane width cards.
PCI_E3 (PCIe 2.0 x16 slots) is used for PCI Express x4 lane width graphics cards.
This arrangement to me is a slight oddity. As a Fatal1ty motherboard featuring the X99 chipset that is aimed at Gamers, there’s a very good chance it will be used with multiple graphics cards. We also know that with recent price drops the AMD R9 290/X cards offer good value for money, especially where performance is concerned. Two GPU in SLI or Crossfire will get pretty warm anyway, but the Hawaii graphics cores get very hot. This leads me to wonder why ASRock chose to use the top two PCIe slots for the x16 lanes? Surely you’d want more space between the cards to help control the temperatures? Of course if you choose to cool your GPUs with water, this won’t be an issue. Another oddity is the inclusion of the PCIe power connector, this is as advised in the guide for more than three graphics cards? I may not be a mathematician, but I still can count to three, the exact amount of PCIe expansion slots available of which only the top two x16 you’ll likely use anyway???
In comparison to many other motherboards out there, the X99M KILLER pretty slim on I/O features. In fact this is the first motherboard I’ve seen in a very long time that hasn’t any video outputs of any kind.
A new build was put together to house the Asrock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER motherboard and the Haswell-e i7-5820K CPU. The following components were used:
|Case||BitFenix Prodigy M||Power Supply||BitFenix Fury 550|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty Z99M KILLER||CPU||Intel Core i7-5820K|
|CPU Cooler||Cryorig R1 Ultimate||RAM||AData U-DIMM Consumer Edition DDR4 2133MHz 16GB Kit|
|Graphics Card||MSI R9 290 GAMING 4G||SSD||HyperX Fury 120GB|
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. Although the X99M has a drivers and utilities disk in box, we at pcG try to keep up with the latest drivers and software where possible.
* The latest AMI BIOS version (1.60) was downloaded and installed via the ASRock Internet Flash facility within the UEFI and was used throughout testing…
- Intel Chipset Driver (INF driver ver: 10.0.20_PV)
- Realtek High Definition Audio Driver (ver.7195)
- Killer LAN Driver (126.96.36.1991)
- Intel LAN Driver (vers 19.1)
- Intel USB3.0 Driver (188.8.131.520)
- AMD Graphics (Catalyst 14.9)
During testing the following tools/benchmarks & games were used/played:
Installation of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER was simple enough. The motherboard has a very good layout with everything where you’d want it to be. The board booted first time without a hitch, so it was straight into the UEFI for some basic checks and to update to the latest BIOS. After confirming the CPU speed 3.3GHz (for our Core i7-5820K) and seeing that our AData 16GB DDR4 U-DIMM Consumer Edition were running at the default setting of 2133MHz. It was time to install Windows 7 on to the HyperX Fury 120GB SSD.
With stability then proven at stock/default settings (see below) it was time for some overclocking…
The UEFI BIOS featured within the X99M KILLER is a little daunting at first. It gives the user a plethora of settings to change, however once you find your bearings it is rather nicely laid out and looks great with the Fatal1ty colour scheme. The main screen gives us the UEFI verison, CPU and RAM details. The next screen allows us to load optimized CPU OC defaults with four presets, or we can go into finite detail within the CPU, DRAM, FIVR or Voltage configurations. Within CPU configuration or Advanced, the UEFI allows us to play around with the Intel Core i7-5820K features
In OC Tweaker we can adjust the CPU frequency and voltages as well as the DRAM clocks and latencies (nice as it bunches all of the basic OC settings that the majority of us will use together). Something a little different and something I certainly liked about the UEFI is the Tool header. In here we not only get to check out the System Browser, OMG (Online Management Guard), Dehumidifier Function, HDD Saver and UEFI Tech Service (allows fast support if your UEFI goes wrong), but Easy RAID Installer(for well er… Easy RAID) and Easy Driver Installer. The last of which allows us to download the latest drivers for whichever OS you are using, straight to a USB device without even booting up your rig or installing Windows. This combined with the Internet Flash utility (which allows you to do exactly the same with the BIOS), make the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER possibly the easiest motherboard I’ve ever come across to keep up to date.
For testing purposes the motherboard was used with the i7-5820K at its stock 3.3GHz (1.007v) settings, then with a 4.0GHz (1.215v) and 4.4GHz (1.3009v) overclock through the Load Optimized CPU OC Settings (I did try manually dropping the core voltage for all overclocks, but this resulted in the system becoming unstable). its Load Optimized Default speeds of 3.4GHz (RAM: 1333MHz) and at 4.5GHz (RAM: 2400MHz), which is more than fine for everyday use with a voltage of 1.204 volts. The DRAM throughout all testing were set at at their native speed of 2133MHz (1.200v).
- Benchmark Results (CPU @ STOCK: 3.3GHz (1.007v) : RAM @ 2133MHz) with MSI R9 290 GAMING 4G
|Metro Last Light||1920×1080||73.67|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||1920×1080||1427|
As we can see from the results above, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER puts in a pretty strong showing. When compared to either the Fatal1ty H97 or Z97 KILLER, we see between a 3 and 8% increase in performance across the synthetic benchmarks. This has very little impact in ‘real’ Gaming benchmarks.
- Benchmark Results (CPU 4.0GHz (1.215v) : RAM @ 2133MHz) with MSI R9 290 GAMING 4G
|Metro Last Light||1920×1080||74.33|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||1920×1080||1427|
As shown in the tables above, there is a small performance gain, let’s see what happens when we push the OC up a bit higher?
- Benchmark Results (CPU @ 4.4GHz (1.3009v) : RAM @ 2133MHz) with MSI R9 290 GAMING 4G
|Metro Last Light||1920×1080||74.58|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||1920×1080||1447|
Once again we see a performance gain, but despite the bigger numbers, we are talking a very small gain of 1 to 2.4% over stock speeds. Now you have to question yourself as to if this gain is really worth it? For many of us this is simply a matter of habit for any build, so even a tiny gain is a plus. The bigger factor is the temperatures. The Cryorig R1 Ultimate is one of the very best air CPU coolers we’ve tested here at pcG and whilst stress testing with Prime95 and at the stock speed of 3.3GHz (1.007v) it keeps the i7-5820K at a reasonably cool 58.83C, with a 4.0GHz (1.215v) this jumps to 88.33C, but at 4.4GHz (1.3009V) the temperature skyrockets to 102.83C! (hence I also didn’t push a higher OC). Obviously for general use your CPU won’t be getting this hot as you won’t be stress testing all day, but it would still be worth thinking about using an AIO or Custom Loop whilst cooling your CPU (or even leave it at stock!).
KILLER™ E2200 Game Networking
‘ASRock Killer Series features the Killer™ E2200 Intelligent Networking Platform is built for maximum networking performance for online games and high-quality streaming media. Featuring Advanced Stream Detect™, Killer E2200 automatically detects and accelerates game traffic ahead of other network traffic for smoother, stutter-free in-game performance and the competitive edge. With this exclusive, automatic traffic prioritization, games and real-time chat get priority over low-level system chatter, giving you the lowest latency for game data on the most controllable network hardware available.’
The Killer E2200 networking technology is proving very common amongst many manufacturers over the last few years and with good reason. Not only does it just work well, but provides the ability to prioritise your network traffic, more importantly your Gaming traffic (we are all Gamers after all!).
Audio Boost 2
‘Purity Sound™ 2 includes 7.1 CH HD audio with Realtek ALC1150 audio codec, 115dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier, TI® NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier, cap less Direct Drive technology, EMI shielding cover, PCB isolate shielding and DTS Connect. As Nichicon audio capacitors are what every audiophile has been longing for on a PC, ASRock applied these high quality capacitors for Purity Sound™ 2.’
Gaming Audio is something that is often wrongly overlooked (how can you fully immerse yourself without it?!?). Luckily the the Realtek ALC1150 chipset used by ASRock’s Purity Sound 2 is good, with no background noise and good clarity, despite on-board audio coming on in strides in recent years, it really isn’t a replacement for a dedicated SPU such as the Creative Sound Blaster or Asus Xonar range.
|‘The onboard M.2 socket is a new interface for connecting Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF) SSDs or other devices. ASRock is the first in the world to implement PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 socket on motherboards. The ultimate Ultra M.2 interface pushes the speed up to 32Gb/s which is 6X faster compared to other M.2 Gen2 x1 solutions that are limited to 5Gb/s. In addition to support PCIe Gen3 x4 M.2 modules, the Ultra M.2 also supports SATA3 6Gb/s M.2 modules.’|
Software (Command Center)
The ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER Motherboard also provides the same KILLER utilities suite in the shape of the F-Stream Utility. This not only allows you to monitor and overclock your system whilst in windows, but also allows to to play around with XFast RAM, XFast LAN, Fast Boot, OMG (Online Management Guard), Good Night LED (this allows you to turn of your case front panel LED), FAN-Tastic Tuning, Dehumidifier, Key Master (Macros and Sniper button for any keyboard), Fatal1ty Mouse Port (change your mouse polling rate), USB Key (this allows you to use a USB device instead of having to type in your password to gain entry to windows), OC DNA (to save or send OC profiles), DISK Health Report and a Live Update service. I admit the more often I use F-Secure, the more I like it. There really is so much within it, you could do a review on the software alone!
The Asrock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER arrived in the now instantly recognisable Fatal1ty branded box and very well protected by an anti-static bag and foam tray. The box also contained the necessary accessories to get your rig started.
The X99M itself is exceptionally well made and with its sapphire black PCB and metallic red heatsinks, one of the best looking motherboards on the market. Every header is exactly where you would want it to be, the motherboard has been very well planned out. Until you hit two bizarre areas of oversight… Firstly beside the HD Audio socket, ASRock have decided to include an additional PCIe power connector. What’s so odd about this you ask? Well according to the installation guide, this is recommended for three or more Graphics Cards (still with me?), the X99M KILLER features three PCIe expansion slots (starting to see where I’m going??), of these three slots only the top two are PCI Express 3.0 x16 with all 16 lanes available, the bottom slot is PCI Express 2.0 x16 with only 4 lanes available (has the penny dropped yet?). Of the three PCIe slots, you’ll only be using the top two, so the additional power connector is redundant. The expansion slots themselves are the second oddity. Why put both x16 lanes at the top? For any air cooled cards this is going to cause a heat issue, even more so if using any of the AMD R9 290/X variants. Of course you can always run a Custom Water cooled loop in which case you’ll not have these issues.
The UEFI is well laid out and looks good in Fatal1ty colours. Two of the stand-out features for me were the Easy Driver Installer and Internet Flash Utility. Both making keeping the BIOS and Drivers up to date incredibly fast and easy, without having to need to even boot into windows. Brilliant ideas that should be featured on every motherboard!
Using either the UEFI or F-Stream utility, overclocking our Intel i7-5820K was a very simple task using the Optimized CPU OC settings (4.0GHz, 4.2GHz, 4.4GHz, or 4.6GHz). Yet it also shows that to gain these Overclocks you’ll be using a lot more volts to get them stable (4.4GHz took a minimum 1.3009v on our test rig), which also means more heat. It ran stably for the fifteen minute duration of our Prime95 test, but even despite how good the Cryorig R1 Ultimate is, 102.83C is far too hot. So for high overclocks you’ll definitely be wanting to use a decent AIO or Custom Loop.
Even despite the slight setbacks, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99M KILLER is a lovely board. It looks great and is very well made. Whilst it currently retails for under £200.00 which in comparison to many other X99 motherboards available is good value. It is also only one of two LGA 2011-3 MATX motherboards available at the moment and a good choice for any small form factor powerhouse.
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Where possible we always use Amazon’s price for Value…
Many thanks to ASRock for providing this sample for review