Marketing is a very powerful tool.  A successful marketing campaign or product segmentation can increase sales more than ten-fold.  It is not something we hear or talk about much in the motherboard arena – while a manufacturer will try and promote all the features they have on a product, advertising is usually limited to web advertisements, gaming shows, or an attempt to get as many positive reviews in the media as possible.  But certain manufacturers do enjoy branding their products – Republic of Gamers, Sniper, Big Bang, and Fatal1ty.  Today we are looking at just that – a Fatal1ty branded product, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional.

The Fatal1ty Branding

I will cut straight to the heart of the branding.  Jonathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel is a professional gamer, considered the first true professional gamer notching up near US$500,000 in prize money and twelve world titles in First Person Shooter games.  He has been featured in several mainstream magazines and media outlets for these achievements.

Since 2007, he has toned down his active competing, focusing more on selling himself as a brand, on anything gaming related from (and I quote) “motherboards, energy snacks, sound cards, gaming desks, computer mice, headphones, and power supplies bearing his moniker”.  One could hardly criticize him on this as he is capitalizing on a dream that many gamers have – to turn professional and make it a true money earner.

The issue comes from the direction of the marketing.  I should note that this paragraph is a personal ditty rather than views of AnandTech.  As an ex-clan gamer several years ago, I wanted to be better than others on my own steam – people like Fatal1ty seemed very smug to get to where they were and the mindset was to be the best by beating everyone, not by helping them in their career by investing in their products.  This attitude, in my opinion, is copied over most of my local circle of fellow gamers, especially those in the western hemisphere.  As a gamer, being reminded every time I start my computer of ‘the ultimate challenge’ is not a road I wanted to walk down, so you would buy a product which did not remind you of any gamer who had ‘made’ it.

Nevertheless, I did discuss this mentality with some regular and senior members at ASRock last year at Computex.  In their view, the Fatal1ty branding had increased sales significantly of their higher end offerings, especially in eastern hemisphere.  This essentially describes a very different mentality from what I perceive – the idolization (or willingness to accept) of professional gamers against the ‘us vs. them’ mentality I have encountered amongst my peers (of whom only one person owns a Fatal1ty product).  In my view, perhaps it might benefit ASRock sales in certain areas of the world to market under a new, non-person specific moniker, such as the ‘ASRock Gaming Series’, and have boards named the ‘Z77 Extreme G6’ or similar.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional Overview, Visual Inspection, Board Features
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  • borden5 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    idk about you guy but i won't buy something that just because of a person image on it, it doesn't feel special about the board since whenever i think of my motherboard that guy pop up instead of something else, i'd rather prefer asrock sticker on it than this crap. Reply
  • kam24 - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    I was looking through the Z77's on Newegg and this caught my attention because of IDE. I'll probably retire my old IDE hard drives along with my dusty old floppy (my current OS drive is SATA and I'll keep that for extra storage)...but I have two IDE optical drives with custom painted face plates. Nothing fancy but I'd like to reuse them. I was disappointed though with how the board fared in this review. When paying this much for a board I'd expect better power management and more polish. I don't care either way about the branding aspect.

    I'd just like to, as someone else mentioned, be able to take a bare bones board and add what I'd like. I wonder how much it would cost a company like MSI or Asus to offer that. I'd pay a little extra for a board perfect for me.
    Reply
  • frankanderson - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    You guys know that they do sell IDE enclosures for old school drives and external DVDRW/BR devices right? I have a external usb floppy which I only use to boot up old motherboards that don't like to boot off USB thumb drive for some reason, or insert SCSI driver into floppy.. I just don't like having a floppy in my system anymore, I don't even have a DVD installed, the DVD is installed in my Home Server, I'll network whatever data over that I need, most of my games and apps are digital copies now, they are downloaded in a simple install package and left on my server, can't remember the last time I actually bought a software in a box (I think it was Windows 7 Ulitimate which was years ago)..

    Another thing is "Wendal" is a great gamer, a pro gamer and probably one of the greatest out there, sure it's a dream that someone can do what they love and still make a living from it.. I just don't believe that because it's "endorsed" by him, means that it's the best product..

    And where I am from, most "endorsed" products are just for publicity, us as consumers don't really believe they really use that product at home, even if it's free.. just my $0.02
    Reply
  • smithrd3512 - Wednesday, May 23, 2012 - link

    Looks like I can put a 5.25" floppy on my new build with this board.

    Would give the kids something to ask me what the heck is a floppy.
    Reply
  • redwolfe98 - Monday, June 04, 2012 - link

    i disagree that a floppy connector is not needed.. it is needed if you are running "windows xp", as i am..

    read how to flash the bios on a MSI motherboard, which doesn't have a floppy connector, when running win xp:

    "get yourself an external floppy drive with a USB connector; add files to floppy disk so that the external floppy drive is recognized (if it works as intended); if all goes well ie if the external floppy drive is recognized, proceed to flash bios..

    i remember when Dell quit shipping floppy drives.. lots of people weren't able to install the drivers that were needed for "sata", because they didn't have a floppy drive, and, consequently, had to switch things in the bios to "IDE compatibility"..

    i don't see any reason for not including a floppy connector, at least not until windows xp is dead and buried and long forgotten..

    i also like using PS/2 connections for mice and keyboards..
    Reply
  • spencerp - Monday, June 04, 2012 - link

    I bought a gamer computer back in the day (the HP Blackbird 002 with Voodoo DNA). It has an optical drive with a proprietary LED/button AND it's IDE. It still plenty fast for the occasional optical drive use.

    Due to the ASRock motherboards supporting both the IDE and legacy CPU coolers, it has allowed me to continue to breath new life into my hardware and use my Blackbird (I have the older, but nearly identical z68 version).

    It's got pretty heavy branding which is extremely obvious out of the box. However, when the video cards and CPU cooler is installed, it's not as bad.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/spthealien/6387705167...

    It has been rock solid.
    Reply

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