ASRock X79 Champion Visual Inspection

The best way to describe the Champion at first glance is ‘red’.  The red and black color scheme does stand out a fair bit, although on close inspection we can see how busy the motherboard looks with all the additional components.  The main reason for this is that each component is surrounded by a white box to help the automated machines that place components, so they can line everything up correctly.  This is process and manufacturer dependent, as some of the manufacturers do not need this – in return, there is extra space on board for additional components.

As a result of the Champion naming, we get an E-ATX sized motherboard, giving an extra inch of space from side to side (easiest way to check is look for the ATX case mounting holes).  The extra space allows ASRock to exploit a full array of memory slots for X79, totaling 8 for two per memory channel. The power delivery heatsink is an extended array around the CPU power delivery, the memory sockets and also down to the chipset, all connected via heatpipe in order to maximize the surface area of any additional power draw through overclocking.

The socket area itself is at the limits of the Intel specifications, but the heatsinks are sufficiently low such that all the major air coolers should fit without issue – only by filling up all the memory slots may there be trouble with extended heatpipe arrangements.  The CPU socket area has access to four fan headers within easy reach – one CPU 4-pin above the socket, a CPU 3-pin to the top right on the other side of the memory slots, a 3-pin to the bottom left of the socket between the heatsink and the rear IO, and a 3-pin on the bottom right between the USB 3.0 headers and the memory.  The board has two other fan headers, one 4-pin and another 3-pin, on the bottom of the board.

Along the right hand side we get a series of voltage check points, which is an odd inclusion on a gaming motherboard.  This feature is useful for extreme overclockers using sub-zero temperatures, but this board is not designed for that crowd; I cannot imagine gamers using them.  Below the voltage check points is the 24-pin ATX power connector and a pair of USB 3.0 headers (using a TI controller), one of which should be used with the included USB 3.0 front panel in the box.  In terms of SATA connectivity we get four SATA 3.0 Gbps and two SATA 6.0 Gbps from the chipset (all supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, 10) as well as four SATA 6.0 Gbps from a Marvell SE9230 controller (RAID 0, 1, 10).

Despite the voltage check points being in the remit of overclockers only, the two-digit debug, power and reset buttons found on the bottom right of the board are more amenable to a larger percentage of the target audience of the motherboard – they allow for quick debugging or checking that the board actually powers up and on.    Along the bottom of the board we get the front panel header, the front panel audio header, a ‘front 1394’ header (FireWire), two fan headers, three USB 2.0 headers, a COM port and a 4-pin molex connector for additional VGA power.

The PCIe layout is designed to accommodate up to four dual slot GPUs, but also three triple-slot GPUs, such that the following layouts are possible (using the full sized PCIe slots from top to bottom):

ASRock X79 Champion PCIe Layout
  PCIe 1 PCIe 3 PCIe 4 PCIe 5 PCIe 7
Single GPU x16 - - - -
Dual GPU x16 - - x16 -
Tri-GPU x16 x8 - x16 -
x16 - x8 - x8
Quad-GPU x16 x8 - x8 x8

We test both cases in our GPU benchmarks, but it should be noted that in our sample, the bottom slot did not go into PCIe 3.0 when tested, even with the additional power connector at the bottom of the board.  It remained in PCIe 2.0 mode despite the settings in the BIOS.

To the left of the PCIe slots is our audio codec, and ASRock have smartly selected a non-Realtek option in the form of the Creative Sound Core3D, a quad core sound and voice processor that supports EAX1.0 to EAX5.0.  The Core3D also has a Premium Headset Amplifier chip which (as stated in the marketing blurb) provides wider bandwidth, a higher slew rate with lower noise and distortion, and supports up to 250 Ohm headsets, albeit only through the front panel audio header.

ASRock are laying USB 3.0 on fairly thick with the rear IO, bringing the total number of ports on the board to twelve with eight on the rear panel (all powered by TI controllers).  Aside from these we get a pair of USB 2.0 ports (one of which is Fatal1ty Speed Port enabled), a PS/2 keyboard port, a ClearCMOS button, two Broadcom BCM57781 NICs, a FireWire/IEEE1394 port, two eSATA 6 Gbps ports (Marvell 9172 controller), an optical SPDIF output and audio jacks (Core3D).

Board Features

ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion
Price Link
Size E-ATX
CPU Interface LGA-2011
Chipset Intel X79
Memory Slots Eight DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 64GB ECC+non-ECC
Up to Quad Channel, 1066-2500 MHz
Onboard LAN Broadcom BCM57781
Onboard Audio Creative Sound Core3D
Expansion Slots 5 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots
 - 1/5: x16/16
 - 1/3/5: x16/8/16
 - 1/4/7: x16/8/8
 - 1/3/5/7: x16/8/8/8
2 x PCIe 2.0 x1
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 6 Gbps (Marvell SE9230), RAID 0, 1, 10
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
USB 12 x USB 3.0 (Controller) [4 onboard, 8 rear panel]
7 x USB 2.0 (Chipset) [6 onboard, 2 rear panel)
1 x USB 2.0 Fatal1ty Mouse Port (rear panel)
Onboard 6 x SATA 6 Gbps
4 x SATA 3 Gbps
2 x USB 3.0 Headers
3 x USB 2.0 Headers
1 x COM Port Header
1 x HDMI_SPDIF Header
1 x IEEE1394 Header
7 x V-Probe Connectors
6 x Fan Headers
Power/Reset Buttons
Two-Digit Debug LED
Post Status Checker LEDs
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX Power Connector
1 x 8-pin CPU Power Connector
1 x 4-pin Molex Power Connector
Fan Headers 2 x CPU (4-pin, 3-pin)
3 x CHA (4-pin, 2x3-pin)
1 x PWR (3-pin)
IO Panel 2 x USB 2.0 Ports
1 x Keyboard PS/2 Port
1 x ClearCMOS Button
2 x Broadcom BCM57781 GbE NICs
1 x IEEE1394 Port
8 x USB 3.0 Ports (TI Controllers)
2 x eSATA 6 Gbps (Marvell 9172)
Optical SPDIF Output
Audio Jacks
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link

As a gaming board, the use of a Creative audio codec on the Champion is a big plus, and the option for dual NICs will be welcomed by some users.  The inclusion of voltage check points is a little odd, as this is not a board aimed at overclockers.  Compared to the ASUS Rampage IV Formula, the ASRock offers more memory slots, SATA ports, more USB 3.0 ports, FireWire/IEEE1394, and dual the NICs, but fewer fan headers, a less obvious PCIe layout, a non-Intel network interface or nothing similar to ASUS Premium Service.  Note that the Formula is also aimed at extreme overclockers and gamers alike, hence it has things like a Slow Mode, LN2 Switch and ROG Connect that the Champion does not.

Fatal1ty: The Person and the Brand ASRock X79 Professional Visual Inspection and Board Features
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  • CeriseCogburn - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - link

    That ignorant "principle" called being a dumb*** cheapskate with an excuse will leave you in the dust half the time, but so what you probably LOVE amd like a fanboy fool like most here.
    LOL - Yes all the whining fools here are freaking fanboys anyway.
    So since you have no clue who the guy is, wether or not you respect him is of no consequence, it's not even an opinion.
    Problem is, you'd likely respect him if you had a clue.
    Go watch some of the hour long vids - he certainly can earn your respect, I suspect it would happen.
    Now back to your crybaby drone whining.
    BTW - you an amd fanboy ? I bet you are. There's some more branding...
    Reply
  • Concillian - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    "I don't get why they release these, he's done nothing in half a decade and no self respecting person who knows anything about hardware would buy because of a so called Celeb name being put on it. It just acts as a warning sign for me..."

    Well, it works in other markets... how about Michael Jordan endorsed products? He hasn't done anything of note recently... How many other retired competitors endorse products. Carl Lewis and Greg Louganis, long since retired, endorsed products well after retirement. Phelps surely will for years to come.

    If they want to pay the guy to be able to use his name...more power to them and good for him. I'm not paying the bill or buying the products, so why would I care enough to speak out against it?
    Reply
  • just4U - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - link

    Look at the specs, the visuals.. than decide. the name is pretty much like any other. Asus has their line, Gigabyte.. MSI.. They all brand in one form or another to mark their high end. This is just another one is all. Reply
  • Blibbax - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - link

    Asus aren't paying anyone to use the "RoG" brand. Reply
  • Blibbax - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - link

    Though actually, I'd rather see the end of all those ridiculous brand names - "RoG", "Big Bang", "Classified", "Sniper" - none of them make any sense, and they all significantly cheapen the products they are attached to. The boards people really want are Asus Pro, Gigabyte UD9, Asrock Extreme11, and I think the lack of these stupid gamer brands is a lot of why. Reply
  • lukarak - Monday, February 11, 2013 - link

    Sure they are. They are paying to market the RoG brand, thus increasing the price of the motherboards and other things. For example sponsoring tournaments. It's every bit the same as paying Wendel an amount for each product sold, if that's the licensing method they agreed upon. Reply
  • CharonPDX - Monday, February 11, 2013 - link

    There's a reason he has changed manufacturers every couple years - and I doubt it's because each new one is offering him MORE money....... Reply
  • CeriseCogburn - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 - link

    Yet the prior review Ian did with an Asrock motherboard had some overclocker bios with some guru branding and that board and bios was freaking awesome.
    So being a completely clueless idiot with a one size fits all mindset makes you a droning sheep like the rest of em here.
    Congratulations on being just as dumb (dumber really, as age an experience claimed leaves you permanently clueless) as an emotionally excited teenybopper who loves Fatal1ty.
    Reply
  • tynopik - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    "equipped with single screen a single GPU" Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    John "Fatality" is a joke and Asrock is just milking what little success John Boy had in the past.

    The ignorant plastering of "Fatality" all over the mobo, heatsinks, OMs, etc. and on the BIOS and boot screen is for the 13 year old, immature, PC illiterate fanbois. Unfortunately the 13 year old kids don't represent the majority of the PC enthusiasts market so this marketing ploy to dupe the dumb, has pretty much failed. In fact their has been considerable backlash about the in-you-face display of John Boy by many Asrock consumers - to the point that Asrock has removed his Fuhly Puss from the BIOS menus completely and thankfully allows people to disable Jon Boy's face on the boot screen.

    As far as the actual mobos are concerned, they are decent high end units, but nothing exceptional. They are IME as good as Asus or Gigabyte high end mobos, no more and no less. They appear to be more reliable than Asus as is Gigabyte, IME. I would recommend the Asrock Fatality models to enthusiasts for the mobo quality/performance over Asus, but not for the stupid marketing hype over John Boy.
    Reply

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