ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional Overview

The effect of Fatal1ty on a motherboard results in a few marketing tools and features.  If every brand had a coloring scheme (Republic of Gamers – red and black; Sniper/Assassin – green and black; Big Bang – black and black), Fatal1ty is an ROG copy in the red and black format.  The BIOS is updated to reflect this color scheme, as well as the software on the board.  Our mate Fatal1ty is not only selling his brand, but also a consultant for design on the products – as a result, we get features such as IDE ports, Floppy Ports, improved mouse sensitivity ports, and a push to be more gamer friendly.  While most people can list features they want, it is left to ASRock on the motherboards to provide the implementation, which as users we hope will be top notch, as well as premium brand/premium price product that will push the profit margins. 

Given the Z77 space, and the willingness of other manufacturers to introduce mild overclocking enhancements at default, the Z77 Professional as shipped does not perform perhaps as well as it should when it comes to computation or throughput – and is mildly disappointing when it also doesn’t reach the upper echelons in our gaming suite either due to this fact.

Features on the board include an IDE port, a floppy drive port, 10 SATA ports, Realtek ALC 898 audio, an enhanced USB ‘mouse’ port for increased gaming sensitivity, the option for either socket 775 or socket 1155 coolers, and dual Broadcom LAN with teaming. Software support comes through F-Stream, XFast LAN, XFast USB, as well as a novel ‘Dehumidifier’ setting designed to remove moisture from inside a case by powering fans up for a fixed time during sleep modes.

It has been my observation over the past year that more phases means more power usage under lightly loaded scenarios, due to multiple phase loading (depending on how they are multiplexed).  In that regard, the 16+8 phase solution on the Z77 Professional storms our power usage test during 1080p HD video in at 150W, 48W more than the Z77 Extreme4 (note almost 90%+ efficiency from power supply here).

Overall, the board has some features I would love to see elsewhere – SATA ports and Combined Cooler Option are preferred.  But the Z77 Professional lacks a lot of what differentiates a good board from a great gaming board – performance, intelligent layout and true gaming audio.  If ASRock want to promote a board with legacy components, it may be more beneficial to have a legacy SKU rather than pile on the features on a gaming class system.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional Overview

The Z77 Professional comes ablaze with a red and black livery, sporting Professional Series motifs, Fatal1ty branding, and even a signature.  As a result, the word ‘ASRock’ is relegated to just above the first full-length PCIe slot.  The heatsinks on board are used to cover the 16+8 phase power supply, and provide a lot of angular surface area for heat dissipation.  For an added bonus, unlike some boards in this price range, the power delivery heatsinks are all connected via heat-pipe.

The socket area itself is barely bigger than Intel specifications, and with the heatsinks it could be slightly tricky to fit large air coolers to the board.  Users do have the option of using both socket 775 and socket 1155 coolers through ASRock’s design choice of including both on board.  There are six fan headers on the board – the CPU socket has two fan headers above the top heatsink, one 4-pin and one three-pin, and two above the first PCIe x1 slot (both are three pin).  Other fan headers on board are at the bottom, where we find two three-pin chassis headers.

Along the right hand side, we have single ended DIMM slots for easy removal, the 24-pin ATX power connector, an IDE port and USB 3.0.  The IDE port is here on the basis that certain gamers want to carry over hard-drives.  While this may be good for legacy, I think I am safe in assuming almost everyone has made the switch to SATA by now for their gaming machines.  Despite this, the IDE does offer that extra functionality alongside 10 SATA ports, making a total of 12 drives possible.  The SATA ports are split into four SATA 3 Gbps (black, chipset) and six SATA 6 Gbps (red, two chipset, four from ASMedia ASM1061 controllers) – however only the Intel SATA ports are RAID capable.  In order to power these extra controllers, ASRock has included a PLX chip – this is a PLX chip to expand PCIe 2.0 lanes, not the PLX PEX 8747 which is used to expand PCIe 3.0 lanes for GPUs (such as on the Gigabyte G1 Sniper3 or ECS Z77H2-AX).

Moving further down the right hand side and along the bottom, we have a Fatal1ty branded chipset heatsink alongside a pair of branded power/reset buttons.  From right to left there is a two-digit debug, USB 2.0 headers, a chassis fan header, an IEEE 1394 header, a floppy drive header, a COM port, and an audio header.  The more amazing part of that list is the floppy header – while I can see some relevance for including an IDE port, the Floppy header is the confusing one, especially if it’s a ‘gaming feature’.  What this does is open the board up to the legacy market – but does the legacy market really want a Fatal1ty branded motherboard?  Or is it ‘just because we can’?

PCIe wise we are fairly well catered for, though the initial x1 is limited to small devices due to the heatsink.  From top to bottom, we have a PCIe x1, x16 (x8 in dual GPU), PCI, x1, x8, PCI, x4.  Audio onboard is from a Realtek ALC898 – given it is a gaming board I would have expected perhaps a Creative solution, similar to the Game Blaster add-in card we saw on the ASRock X79 products.  Perhaps the lack of it is to keep the price in check.

If you want USB ports, the I/O back panel has them.  From left to right, we have a PS/2 combo port, two Intel USB 3.0 (blue), DisplayPort, HDMI, four USB 2.0 (black), a ClearCMOS button, Broadcom NIC, two USB 3.0 ports (blue, Etron EJ188H), two USB 2.0 ports (red), an IEEE 1394 port, an eSATA port, another Broadcom NIC (which can be teamed), two more USB 3.0 ports (blue, Etron EJ188H), and standard audio headers.  The top red USB 2.0 port is the port designated as the Fatal1ty Mouse Port for increased polling and responsiveness in games (more later in the review).

Board Features

ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional
Price Link
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-1155
Chipset Intel Z77
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB
Up to Dual Channel, 1066-2800 MHz
Video Outputs HDMI 1.4a, DisplayPort
Onboard LAN 2x Broadcom BCM57781
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC898
Expansion Slots 2 x PCIe x16 Gen3 (x16/x0, x8/x8)
2 x PCIe x1 Gen2
2 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 6 Gbps (ASMedia ASM1061)
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (PCH), Support for RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
USB 3.0 Two USB 3.0 at rear (PCH)
Four USB 3.0 at rear (Etron EJ188H)
One USB 3.0 header (PCH)
Onboard 6 x SATA 6 Gbps
4 x SATA 3 Gbps
8 x USB 3.0 ports (6 rear, 2 on board)
1 x ATA133 IDE Header
1 x Floppy Header
1 x COM port
Power/Reset Buttons
Debug LED
6 x Fan headers
1 x IEEE 1394 header
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX connector
1 x 8-pin 12V connector
Fan Headers 2 x CPU Fan Header (one 4-pin, one 3-pin)
3 x CHA Fan Headers (3-pin)
1 x PWR Fan Headers (3-pin)
IO Panel 1 x Combo PS/2 Port
1 x HDMI 1.4a
1 x DisplayPort
1 x Optical SPDIF Output
6 x USB 2.0 ports (One is for Fatal1ty Mouse)
1 x eSATA 6 Gbps
6 x USB 3.0 ports
2 x Broadcom NIC
1 x IEEE1394
1 x ClearCMOS
Audio jacks
Warranty Period 3 years from date of purchase
Product Page Link

The big selling points here are the legacy connectors and all those SATA ports with dual NIC.  Against the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro, which is $20 cheaper, the selling points are a plus for the ASRock, but the ASUS Pro has WiFi, fully controllable fan headers, and better software support in terms of onboard features.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional – The Fatal1ty Branding ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional BIOS and Software
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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
  • DreadStorm - Friday, May 02, 2014 - link

    Instead of bitching about WHY people use floppies and EIDE, why not just accept the fact that some of us still do - and leave it at that? There are several useful reasons to still use a floppy - or other obsolete removable media - the main one being that no one else has such drives, and what better way to secure data than to place it on a medium that no one else has? USB, Firewire, rack-mounted hard drives, all suffer the same similarity: Everyone has them, and can connect to and try to crack into them. With a floppy, Orb, Zip, Jaz, hell even a 5.25", no one uses anymore, so it makes the data that much more secure against hack attempts. "Old school" hardware still has a number of useful applications nowadays. Personally, I have about 12 different obsolete removable media drives connected to my Fatal1ty Z77 Pro (most via SCSI card). And all work like a champ - except for the floppy drive controller on this board, which had never worked since day one. For the floppies, I have an older P4 machine networked together for those, because of the floppy connector issue on this board.

    If they ever got it fixed, I wouldn't need the older machine anymore. But other than that, I have no intention of relieving myself of older media. If for nothing else than nostalgia and uniqueness.
    Reply

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