ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 Motherboard Review
This then is our first look at a new platform; for some time now we have concentrating on Intel’s mainstream platform such as today’s Z97 and the outgoing Z87. Well that’s all about to change with the soon to be released Z170 platform and our new foray into the X99 platform. The main advantage of adopting the X99 platform is access to both Intel’s LGA 2011 Extreme CPUs (Haswell-E) and of course DDR4 quad channel memory.
This starts right here, right now with a look at the latest X99 based motherboard from ASRock, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1. The later 3.1 label means that this particular X99 board also has support for USB 3.1! In addition to supporting the latest Socket LGA 2011 CPUs the Fatal1ty X99X Killer is also Thunderbolt ready (via add-in card), has support for 3-way CrossFire and SLI, features Killer networking, has a PCIE/SATA M.2 socket as well as supporting up to 3200MHz OC RAM with a total capacity of 128GB!
The ASRock Fatal1ty X99x Killer 3.1 arrived at pcG in a large colourful box with a carry handle. The front of the box is plastered with supporting features. With the main ones that I would like to highlight being; USB 3.1, PCIE Gen3 x4/SATA3 M.2 support, x8 DDR4 support (up to 128GB) and of course the fact that the board has been awarded a Design and Innovation award at Computex 2015.
If you thought the front of the box looked busy, then wait until you see the back! The back of the box is so busy, it’s difficult to know where to start. But, near the centre of the box there’s a nice image of the Fatal1ty X99X Killer motherboard highlighting many of the boards most prominent features. The left side of the back of the box is dedicated to showing off the main benefits of the latest USB 3.1 standard. The most important of which (in my mind) is the reversible design of the plug. That’s right folks no more guessing as to which way round your USB plug is facing, it goes in either way, result! 😉
On opening the box of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 we can see that there’s plenty in the box at least, with the upper cardboard tray laden with accessories and paperwork etc (see below).
Below this we find the motherboard protected in a anti-static bag. Also what’s nice to see is that the motherboard itself is cable tied to a foam tray, to help keep the motherboard protected in transit. This is about as well protected as I’ve seen a motherboard come…
So, as I said there’s plenty in the box, also note the inclusion of the SLI Bridge dedicated to 3-way SLI. This is because out of the box a X99 board such as this even with a Intel Core i7-5820K can support up to three Nvidia Graphics Cards or three AMD Graphics Card. In addition to this let’s not forget the two port USB 3.1 bracket hidden in the top left anti-static bag.
At the time of writing this review, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 is currently not available in the UK, but the non 3.1 version is and that can be found at Ebuyer for approximately £204 and comes with a 3 year warranty.
courtesy of ASRock
- ASRock Super Alloy
– XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
– Premium 60A Power Choke
– Premium Memory Alloy Choke
– Ultra Dual-N MOSFET (UDM)
– Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps
– Sapphire Black PCB
- Gaming Armor
» CPU Power – Hi-Density Power Connector, Ultra Dual-N MOSFET, Multiple Filter Cap (MFC)
» Memory – 15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
» VGA Card – 15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slots, PCIe Power Connector
» Cooling – XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink, 2oz Copper PCB, Heat Pipe Design
» Internet – Intel® LAN + Qualcomm® Atheros® Killer LAN
» Audio – Purity Sound™ 2
- Supports Intel® Core™ i7 and Xeon® 18-Core Processors Family for the LGA 2011-3 Socket
- Digi Power, 12 Power Phase design
- Supports Quad Channel DDR4 3200+(OC)
- 3 PCIe 3.0 x16, 2 PCIe 2.0 x1, 1 mini-PCIe
- Supports AMD 3-Way CrossFireX™ and NVIDIA® 3-Way SLI™
- 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), Supports Purity Sound™ 2 & DTS Connect
- Intel® Gigabit LAN + Qualcomm® Atheros® Killer LAN
- 10 SATA3, 1 eSATA, 1 SATA Express, 1 Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
- 1 USB 3.1 Type-C 10Gb/s, 2 USB 3.1 Type-A 10Gb/s (Supported by the bundled ASRock USB 3.1 Card/A+A), 8 USB 3.0 (4 Front, 4 Rear), 7 USB 2.0 (4 Front, 1 Back, 1 Fatal1ty Mouse Port, 1 Vertical Type A)
- 1 COM Port Header, 1 TPM Header, 1 Thunderbolt™ AIC Connector
- Supports ASRock HDD Saver Technology, Full Spike Protection, APP Shop, F-Stream, Key Master
Well there’s no doubt in my mind, just like our test ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer board, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 is one good looking motherboard, in fact it’s probably better looking than its Z97 counterpart! The X99 setup with the 4 DIMM slots either side of that large LGA 2011 Socket has always looked like it means business though…
Let’s take a tour around the board, but before we see what’s what, let’s just talk about LGA 2011 V3…
Looking at what I would call the right side of the board and working left to right the first features of note are the two buttons, one Power button and one Reset button. These are always handy as during an install/build they can be used to power-up/reset the system without having to connect any case wires. Next to this in the corner we find the Front Panel header and a debug LED (Dr. Debug) another handy device that will give you some indication of what’s wrong if things go in that direction. Then we have a bank of SATA ports; first there’s an eSATA port followed by ten SATA3 6GB/s ports. Following on we find one of three chassis fan headers (CHA_FAN3), x2 USB 3.0 headers and then the main 24-pin power connector. Just above this we have four of the eight DIMMs for up to 128GB RAM. In the far corner we find something that’s very unusual a USB 2.0 socket!?
Looking at the opposite side of the board (the left) and again working left to right, we first find the main motherboard IO panel (more on this later). Behind this we have the other four memory DIMM sockets. To the right of the IO panel we find the Killer E2200 networking processor, closely followed by ASRock’s Purity Sound 2 processor providing 7.1 CH HD Audio (via a Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), supporting Purity Sound™ 2 & DTS Connect.
When looking at the top of the motherboard we can see that’s it is somewhat dominated by the huge LGA 2011 socket, note how the frame/bracket for mounting coolers is effectively already build into the motherboard, clever eh! Looking at the left edge we find two dedicated CPU fans headers (CPU_FAN1 & CPU_FAN2) and to the right of this, almost in the middle of the board, we find the main 8-pin CPU power plug. Also note how the two large heatsinks are coupled together by a single heatpipe. Nearer the centre of the board and slightly right we find a single 3-pin power fan header and a vertical molex power connector. This power connector is there to supply extra juice/stability to the Graphics Cards/PCIE cards, should you need it; I’ve seen this on other ASRock boards and I’ve not used it and I’m not a lover of using it or its position on the board, in this instance…
Looking at the bottom of the board and first of all looking at the edge and working left to right we find the following: In the far corner we have an HD Audio header, closely followed by a TPM header and then a Thunderbolt header. This Thunderbolt header is to be used with a Thunderbolt Add In Card (AIC). Then we have a COMM port followed by a Clear CMOS jumper and BIOS selection switch. The later of which is very useful as the X99X has two BIOS chips, so if one BIOS gets corrupted you can switch to the other BIOS. The chips are also removable (see two chips (P1.00) near the centre of the board), meaning that if you lose both BIOS the chips can simply be replaced, clever stuff, again! Following on from here we have x2 USB 2.0 headers and then the other two chassis fan headers (CHA_FAN1 & CHA_FAN3). Finally we arrive back at the two power buttons (Reset/Power) and the Front Panel header in the corner.
Looking at some aspects of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 board more closely we find that large Fatal1ty South Bridge heatsink dominating the bottom corner of the board. That LGA 2011-3 socket dominates the top of the board also, with its inbuilt bracket for mounting cooling hardware and its two levers for securing the oversize CPU to the socket. I also rather like ASRock’s thermal armour (ish) found in the upper left of the board and covering up some of the IO panel,this helps to clean up the aesthetics of what is already a good looking, well laid out motherboard.
Looking around at other aspects of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 motherboard, note the use of x2 CPU fan headers, useful if you’ve got an air cooler with dual fans. Also note the rather unusual position of the 8-pin CPU power connector. And note the plethora of SATA3 6GB/s ports all of which are controlled by the Intel chipset.
Other highlights include the two power related buttons Power/Reset with their smart looking Fatal1ty logos. But sadly they don’t illuminate until the board is fully powered on.
And, let’s not forget the Atheros Killer LAN adapter that helps to prioritise Gaming network traffic. And the Purity Sound™ 2 that 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. Sounds pretty good! 😉
Note the Mini-PCIE port sat between the lower two x16 wide (red) PCIE lanes, although I have to confess I’m not sure what one is likely to plug in there!?
Finally we have one of the most exciting features on the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 and that’s the M.2 socket. As this is no ordinary M.2 socket this is an Ultra M.2 socket supporting PCIe Gen3 x4 and SATA3, making it the worlds fastest M.2 socket! The 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!
Overall there’s very little to fault about the layout of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 motherboard, all header positions seem good and there’s plenty on the board including that impressive Ultra M.2 socket. Maybe we could have had another chassis fan header or two, but to be honest I’m now just nit picking! Overall a great looking X99 based motherboard packed full of features. Time to get it installed and on to some Gaming…
A new build was put together to house the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 motherboard with a new Intel Core i7-5820K CPU. The following components were used:
|Case||Cooler Master HAF XB||Power Supply||Corsair Professional Series AX 760i|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1||CPU||Intel 5820K 3.30GHz (Haswell-E) Socket LGA2011-V3 CPU|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair Hydro Series H110i GT||RAM||Patriot Viper DDR4 2400MHz 16GB Kit|
|Graphics Card||XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition||SSD||HyperX FURY 120GB|
Installation of the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 into the Cooler Master HAF XB was as straightforward as any other motherboard install. After first installing the motherboard’s I/O Shield I set about the motherboard assembly. First I installed our new Intel Core i7-5820K CPU and then installed our new DDR4 test RAM modules the Patriot Viper 2400MHz 16GB kit. With this done the motherboard assembly was installed into the base of the HAF XB case and secured using the (one more than usual) ten screws.
With that done it was time for our new X99 based CPU Cooler, as the i7-5820K is a big and rather toasty CPU we’ve opted to cool it with a liquid based AIO cooler. We’ve selected the Corsair H110i GT for its large 280mm radiator and its high cooling capacity. With the CPU cooled the final piece of the jigsaw was added, the XFX Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition.
All necessary SATA cables are connected to the motherboard, then in turn to both the Seagate 2TB SSHD and HyperX Fury SSD test drives. All of the relevant power cables from the Corsair Professional Series AX760i are then plugged in to the ASRock Fatal1ty X99x Killer along side all of the case fans. It’s really no different to any other ATX motherboard, apart from the fact that the CPU 8-pin power socket is in a more unusual space in the middle (of the top) of the board. Now while this gave me no issues at all, I wonder if it would become a bigger issue as some case deisgns assume that power cable to enter the MB are in the top left, the end result might mean that you’d need to trail the cable across the board a little way…
A fresh installation of Windows 7 Professional N 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 ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 has its Drivers and Utilities available on the supplied CD, we here at pcG try to keep up with the latest Drivers and software where possible.
* The latest BIOS version (1.0) was already installed and was used throughout testing *
- Intel Chipset Driver (INF driver ver:10.0.20_PV)
- Audio Driver (Realtek high definition audio driver ver:7195)
- Intel LAN (Lan driver ver:19.1)
- Killer LAN (Atheros Lan driver ver:18.104.22.1681)
- Intel USB 3.0 (Intel USB 3.0 driver ver:22.214.171.124)
- ASMedia USB 3.0 (Asmedia USB 3.0/3.1 XHCI Driver ver:126.96.36.199)
- AMD Catalyst Software Suite (15.6 Beta)
During testing the following tools/benchmarks & games were used/played:
I had no problems when booting up my Test Rig and after an initial boot I went into the ASRock UEFI to check the Load Optimized Default settings. The CPU had been detected correctly and was running at its default 3.3GHz. And, as you can see from the first screenshot (below) the four Patriot Viper RAM modules were in RAM slots A1, B1, C1 and D1 and were running at out of the box frequency of 2133MHz and not they’re rated maximum of 2400MHz.
What we need to do via ASRocks UEFI OC Tweaker is Enable the Load 4 GHz and XMP OC Setting as all of our testing is done at 4.0GHz and also this will enable the Patriot Viper RAM to run at its XMP (Profile 1) setting of 2400MHz with Timings of 15-15-15-35. The two settings that are changed by this are shown below.
The end result can be seen in the screenshot below with the CPU now running at 4.0GHz and the Patriot Viper DDR4 RAM now running at its XMP (Profile 1) setting of 2400MHz (below left). I also managed to use the ASRock Default 4.6GHz profile to get a fully stable 4.6GHz overclock with XMP enabled at 2400MHz (see below centre).
NOTE: I also found during early testing that the benchmark results I was getting (especially in 3DMark) were somewhat erratic, with the results differing by far more than I would expect. In the end I discovered the reason; and this was that the Power Saving modes were effectively getting in the way ramping up and down the CPU Core frequencies as and when. Therefore in the UEFI I Disabled CPU S States Support (below far right) and I got better and far more consistent results.
Happy days then, a six Core processor with Hyperthreading giving us at total of 12 Cores, all now running at 4.6GHz, with Memory running at 2400MHz. And it’s (more importantly) stable. Maximum Core temperature that I’ve seen during testing is 76 degrees. It’s all pretty impressive stuff, but will this bear fruit in the benchmarks. Well I guess it’s time to take a look…
Later during my time with the Fatal1ty X99X Killer I actually set about a little overclocking of my own with the help of ASRock’s F-Stream utility. This was quite successful and I ended up with a stable 4.75GHz overclock, by raising the Multiplier to 47 and tweaking the Base Clock a little (101MHz) too!
- Benchmark Results (CPU @ STOCK: 3.3GHz (1.017v) : RAM @ 2400MHz) with XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition
|Metro Last Light||1920×1080||79.33|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||1920×1080||1366|
- Benchmark Results (CPU @ OC: 4.0GHz (1.180v) : RAM @ 2400MHz) with XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition
|Metro Last Light||1920×1080||79.67|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||1920×1080||1385|
- Benchmark Results (CPU @ OC: 4.6GHz (1.358v) : RAM @ 2400MHz) with XFX AMD Radeon R9 290X DD Black Edition
|Metro Last Light||1920×1080||79.00|
|Unigine Heaven 4.0||1920×1080||1390|
As you can see from all of the benchmark scores above (in the Gaming tests: Metro/Unigine) there’s very little between the stock results and the results when running with a 1.3GHz overclock! Why is this? Well this is nothing to do with the ASRock MB that’s for sure and it’s also nothing to do with the X99 platform. It’s just a simple fact that modern day Gaming doesn’t rely much on the CPU and its sub-system. Although we feel this may change soon with the introduction of Windows 10 and DirectX 12. Therefore it’s nice to see some impressive results in both of the 3DMark test where (due to specific CPU testing) the ASRock board and its associated components can prove their worth a little more!
Hardware (USB 3.1)
There are so many features and so much software that comes with the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1, that to try and cover it would be a review in itself! I’m also not a big fan of software so for me the only software that I’m likely to install is ASRock’s own F-Stream utility and that in itself is a portal to a plethora of Apps and options.
Below I have also highlighted (with help from ASRock) various aspects of the board that are also relevant to Gamers.
Hardware (Killer E2200)
Hardware (Ultra M.2)
Hardware (Purity Sound™ 2)
The main software suite that is available for the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 is F-Stream. There’s a wealth of options and adjustments that can be made via the various tabs, but I would like to focus on just four of them.
The first of which is the OC Tweaker that’s nigh on identical to the OC Tweaker found within the UEFI. Here you can overclock the CPU and the CPU Cache Ratio as well as mess with various voltages among other things. What you can’t do from here is mess with Memory Frequencies and Memory Timings. Also what’s a little odd is that the in-built OC profiles are not available through this interface. To access them from within Windows and via F-Stream you need to go to the Operation Mode and enable Performance Mode. From there you can go to Advanced and apply an one of ASRock’s inbuilt OC profiles such as the 4.6GHz overclock we used in testing.
There’s also a useful and informative System Info, here you can check all of your Frequencies, Temperatures, Fan Speeds and Voltages etc. In addition to this there’s also Live update; a singular place where you can keep an eye on all of your ASRock software and all of the Drivers (even the BIOS) and ensure that they’re all up to date.
I was unsure what to expect from Intel’s X99 platform, initial thoughts of trepidation crossed my mind! But the experience provided by the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 left me with not only admiration for the platform, but also admiration for a complex motherboard that fulfilled its Gaming duties well and offered so much more besides…
The ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer 3.1 motherboard came to pcG in a large box with a carry handle while the box itself was adorned with logos, features and information. To be fair it was a little like information overload! With the box open I was impressed with the amount of accessories, even a three way SLI Bridge was provided, giving you some idea of how serious a Gaming board the Fatal1ty X99X Killer is. With the motherboard out of the box it was apparent that the X99X was quite the looker, with all of those bright red accents. It looks a little imposing and purposeful too, thanks in part to the large LGA 2011 Socket and the two banks of four DIMM slots either side.
Closer inspection also reveals a good general layout with well placed fan headers (although I still think one or two more wouldn’t hurt!). The only slight oddity in the layout was the unusual position of the CPU 8-pin power socket, that’s on the right edge of the board, but it’s not in the corner, instead it’s almost central. Now while this did not give me any issues during installation, in some cases (literally) this could be an issue as general case layout (cut-outs) assume that the 8-pin plug is in the top left corner. Welcome additions on the board other than the ability to do triple SLI, is the inclusion of an Ultra M.2 socket (supporting both PCIE Gen 3 & SATA) capable of speeds up to 32Gb/s, its 10 SATA3 6GB/s ports, Killer E2200 Networking, dedicated Power/Rest buttons and Debug LED.
Once installed (a simple enough task) it was into the UEFI to check that the default configuration was correct. The UEFI is easy to navigate and seems to have been kept relatively simple, which is good to see as this is a Gaming motherboard more than an overclocking motherboard. I was soon able to ascertain that our Intel Core i7-5820K was running at 3.3GHz and our 2400MHz Patriot Viper DDR4 RAM was running at a default 2133MHz. For general testing we used both the stock settings, a 4.0GHz OC with RAM at 2400MHz and an impressive 4.6GHz with RAM at 2400MHz. Both of these latter OC settings were dialled in via the UEFI using ASRock’s own pre-loaded profiles, it surely cant get much easier than this…
Well in fact it did as later on during my time with the board I set about a little overclocking of my own! The end result was a seemingly stable 4.75GHz OC (at 1.36v) with RAM at 2400MHz utilising a Base Clock of 101MHz. Very nice indeed… 😉
With our settings established and general stability proven it was time to start playing Games and running some benchmarks. I also encountered no stability problems while Gaming or benchmarking, the ASRock Fatal1ty X99X Killer put in a Rock solid performance! In the benchmarks you can also see that the additional horsepower offered by the Hexa Core CPU and the Quad Channel Memory didn’t seem to bring much (if anything) in the way of addition frames per second. But to be fair this is no fault of the board or the platform as is something that we’ve already come to expect. This is due to the fact that in modern Gaming the CPU and its subsystem just isn’t under a lot of stress! Of course this is likely to change with the imminent release of Windows 10 and DirectX 12, that promises to take some of the workload off of the GPU and move it back to the CPU and its subsystem. We will have to wait and see… Of course if you were planning on doing something else with your new X99 based system then there’s every chance you could/would benefit from its additional horsepower.
What ASRock have put together here is a damn fine looking X99 based motherboard, that not only looks good but is packed with features too! It’s easy to setup, easy to overclock and is as stable as any other motherboard I have tested. But to really get the best out of this board you really need to work it hard, and surprisingly it finds Gaming all a little too easy for its own good…
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Many thanks to ASRock for providing this sample for review