A Closer Look & Layout Analysis
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z97X Killer is a very nice looking motherboard. ASRock have always been quite successful in their styling because of the way they use gold components to complement the various colour schemes they have across all their product series. The Z97X Killer is a great looking motherboard and the red is a lot more vibrant than what is used by other brands, enough so to make it look distinctively unique. It’s also worth mentioning ASRock use a glossy black PCB, not a matte black one, and this adds to the unique aesthetics. If anything glossy is more visually appealing because it is able to deal with lightning better, particularly if you use LED or CCFL lighting in your case. In terms of the layout their is a fairly sensible and standard layout with the motherboard and CPU power connectors in their ideal locations and most of the other front panel and USB connections being in smart locations. I think that the two CPU fan headers should have been placed closer together instead of them being placed either side of the second VRM heatsink, I also feel like the fan headers in the middle of the board would be better placed closer to the edges to improve cable management. However, broadly speaking the layout is good and sensible decisions have been made here.
Around the CPU socket we can the 8 phase power delivery system that makes use of Premium Alloy Chokes, dual-stack MOSFETs, NextFET MOSFETs and impressive 12K Platinum Caps. ASRock claim that their power implementation offers lower temperatures, lower ripple, higher current, higher efficiency and lower Direct Current Resistance (DCR) compared to Ferrite based solutions.
Moving down to the DRAM area and we find the usual motherboard, USB 3.0 and CPU fan headers. ASRock have not included any onboard buttons with this board which may disappoint some people but this is probably one of the reasons ASRock are able to bring the cost down.
By the storage area we get six SATA III 6Gbps ports and ASRock’s HDD Saver port. The HDD saver port uses the cable we showed on the first page and basically this is a port that allows you to power the hard drives off the motherboard which in turn means you can easily shut down your hard drives if you want to save power or if their noise/vibrations irritate you. As far as I can tell you can only hook up two hard drives to this port and you must use the provided cable. ASRock recommend that you do not connect your operating system drive to this port.
Down the bottom we get a clearer look at the ASRock PCH heatsink which is fairly large but overall I think it looks fairly nice.
In terms of connections we have, from left to right, the front panel audio, a supplementary power connector, a COM port, two USB 2.0 ports, a TPM header, the front panel connections, a BIOS selector jumper, a chassis fan header, a clear CMOS jumper and a motherboard speaker connector.
The audio implementation gets some EMI shielding and a separated PCB. The Killer E2200 NIC also comes with a stylised EMI shield.
ASRock offer a variety of mounting points for your M.2 devices so you can use a variety of different sized M.2 devices. The first PCIe 16X lane will support a triple slot card without blocking the next PCIe 16X lane which is great to see.
Behind the VRM heatsink we find the CPU 8 pin, the second CPU fan header, which is 3 not 4 pin, and one of the system fan headers next to it.
The rear I/O offers up the following ports:
- 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
- 1 x D-Sub Port
- 1 x DVI-D Port
- 1 x HDMI Port
- 1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
- 1 x USB 2.0 Port
- 1 x Fatal1ty Mouse Port
- 2 x USB 3.0 Ports
- 4 x USB 3.0 Ports
- 1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED
- 6 x HD Audio Jacks