ASRock X79 Professional Visual Inspection

Naming aside, the Professional instantly comes across as a version of the Champion that has been stripped down, aiming for its $265 price point.  The most obvious detail in this is the reduction down to four memory slots, giving one per channel of the CPU.  The motherboard is also normal ATX sized, rather than the E-ATX of the Champion, meaning that the memory slot reduction helps fit everything on the motherboard.  Similarly to the Champion, the PCB looks very busy indeed, and the black PCB is hidden under the components, unlike the MSI Z77 MPower we recently reviewed that was fairly clean by comparison.

Due to the fewer memory slots, the power delivery heatsink is larger than that of the Champion, both above the power delivery itself and the heat sink extra mass to the side of the memory slots (connected via heatpipe).  Rather than have an extended affair across the whole motherboard with heatsinks, the chipset heatsink on the Professional is a separate unit that attempts to maximize surface area.

The socket itself is given ample room beyond Intel specifications in both the x and y dimensions, suggesting that all manner of CPU coolers are applicable here.  However the distance between the inside memory slots is approximately 127 mm (5”), which means that the Noctua DH-14 would have issues if both fans were fitted and all the memory slots occupied.  For fan headers, the socket area has four within easy reach – two CPU fan headers to the top right (4-pin + 3-pin), a PWR fan header to the bottom left beside the memory slots (4-pin), and at a stretch a CHA fan header above the SATA ports (also 4-pin).  The final two fan headers are 3-pin at the bottom right of the board.

Along the right hand side of the board are two of the aforementioned fan headers, followed by the 24-pin ATX power connector and two USB 3.0 headers.  Similarly to the Champion, ASRock are laying on the USB 3.0 with the Fatal1ty series, using TI controllers unlike others (ASMedia and Etron are more common).  Below the USB 3.0 is another 4-pin fan header, then the SATA ports, and other fan header.  The SATA ports give the typical chipset output (four SATA 3 Gbps, two SATA 6 Gbps), but we also have four more SATA 6 Gbps ports from Marvell controllers.  The chipset ports are capable of RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, whereas the Marvell ports are only rated for RAID 0 and 1.

Much like the Champion, we get the power/reset buttons to play with, as well as a two digit debug display.  As mentioned many times before, even though these have limited uses when the motherboard is set up inside a case, for debugging or testing they are a great asset to have.

The bottom of the board is the usual array of headers, including front panel audio, the front panel header, three USB 2.0 headers, a COM port header, an IEEE1394/FireWire header, the power/reset buttons, the two-digit Debug LED display, and a 4-pin Molex connector for VGA power.  As mentioned with the Champion, even through the PCIe slots may need extra power when going 3-way or 4-way on the GPUs, I’d rather have a SATA power connector or 6-pin PCIe connector to use, ideally near the 24-pin ATX power connector if possible.  At least we have moved away having the 4-pin molex between the socket and PCIe slots.

The PCIe layout is thankfully very simple, with the red slots indicating PCIe 3.0 x16 lanes available in an x16/x8/x16/- or x16/x8/x8/x8 configuration.  In between these is a pair of PCI slots and a PCIe x1 such that the PCIe x1 is still available when two triple width GPUs are plugged in.

Personally I find the rear IO of the Professional a little more sensible than that of the Champion, as we have a more balanced number of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports.  I often use three USB 2.0 ports when installing an OS (mouse, keyboard, USB stick with OS image), and it can be frustrating when none of the USB 3.0 are initialized by the OS installer – it depends on the source of the USB 3.0 (Chipset or Controller) and the image whether it is initialized on install.  Hopefully if/when the test suite is moved from Windows 7 to Windows 8, this will be less of an issue, or I may have to use onboard headers for USB 2.0 ports in the future.

Ranting aside, from left to right we get a PS/2 Keyboard port, a total of six USB 2.0 ports, a ClearCMOS button, a coaxial and optical SPDIF output, four USB 3.0 ports (TI controllers), an IEEE1394/FireWire port, a Broadcom BCM57781 gigabit Ethernet port, two eSATA 6 Gbps ports (Marvell) and a set of audio jacks.

Board Features

ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Professional
Price Link
Size ATX
CPU Interface LGA-2011
Chipset Intel X79
Memory Slots Four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting up to 32 GB, ECC+non-ECC with Xeons
Up to Quad Channel, 1066-2600 MHz
Onboard LAN Broadcom BCM57781
Onboard Audio Realtek ALC898
Expansion Slots 4 x PCIe 3.0 x16 (x16/x8/x16/- or x16/x8/x8/x8)
1 x PCIe 2.0 x1
2 x PCI
Onboard SATA/RAID 2 x SATA 6 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
4 x SATA 6 Gbps (Marvell SE9172), RAID 0, 1
4 x SATA 3 Gbps (Chipset), RAID 0, 1, 5, 10
USB 8 x USB 3.0 (Controller) [4 onboard, 4 rear panel]
11 x USB 2.0 (Chipset) [6 onboard, 5 rear panel]
1 x Fatal1ty USB 2.0 Mouse Port (rear panel)
Onboard 6 x SATA 6 Gbps
4 x SATA 3 Gbps
2 x USB 3.0 Headers
2 x USB 2.0 Headers
6 x Fan Headers
1 x COM Port Header
1 x IEEE1394 Header
1 x Front Panel Audio Header
1 x Front Panel Header
Power/Reset Buttons
Two-Digit Debug LED
Power Connectors 1 x 24-pin ATX Power Connector
1 x 8-pin CPU Power Connector
1 x 4-pin Molex VGA Power Connector
Fan Headers 2 x CPU (4-pin, 3-pin)
3 x CHA (4-pin, 2 x 3-pin)
1 x PWR (4-pin)
IO Panel 4 x USB 3.0 (TI)
6 x USB 2.0
1 x Keyboard PS/2 Port
1 x ClearCMOS Button
1 x Optical SPDIF Output
1 x Coaxial SPDIF Output
1 x FireWire/IEEE1394 Port
1 x Broadcom BCM57781 GbE NIC
2 x eSATA 6 Gbps (Marvell)
Audio Jacks
Warranty Period 3 Years
Product Page Link

Comparing the Professional to the Champion highlights the ‘stripped down’ feel of the Professional – half the number of memory slots, half the number of Ethernet ports, a move away from the Creative Core3D to a Realtek ALC898, a different PCIe layout, fewer USB 3.0 ports and a reduced heatsink array.  A lot still stays the same, such as SATA port count, eSATA, fan headers, power/reset buttons, IEEE1394 functionality and a Fatal1ty mouse port.

As mentioned in the introduction, the Professional squares up against the Rampage IV Gene, a motherboard we awarded a Bronze award to back in our ROG review. The Professional comes in at $15 less, but it almost seems a mismatch given that the Gene is a micro-ATX sized board.  The Gene is geared to both gaming and overclocking, and uses the fact that most gamers are unlikely to use beyond two GPUs.  While the Professional has 4-way capability, more SATA ports, more USB 3.0 ports, more fan headers and Firewire/COM support, the Gene uses an Intel network interface, upgraded audio (SupremeFX III is a bulked up and optimized ALC898 under the hood), overclockers measurement points (due to board aims), full fan header control, ROG connect and the warranty is part of the ASUS Premium Service program.  Aside from BIOS/Software differences which we will get into, the Professional is aiming at ‘more of everything’, whereas the Gene is ‘quality over quantity’, and both offer different ways of investing in an X79 system.

ASRock X79 Champion Visual Inspection and Board Features ASRock X79 Fatal1ty BIOS
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  • scaramoosh - 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... Reply
  • Tech-Curious - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    I admit that I didn't really know who Fatal1ty was before I read this article, apart from a vague recognition that the silly leet-speak moniker belonged to someone in gaming.

    And I agree with your general point, that such branding on a motherboard is silly.

    But all of that said, if the guy really did win $500,000 in gaming competitions, that's a pretty big deal. Now that he's retired, if companies (or, perhaps, their customers) are dumb enough to give him a comfortable living through lame marketing campaigns like ASRock's, then more power to him.

    Wouldn't touch the motherboard with a ten foot pole, but I can't blame the endorser for accepting the check.

    Nice review.
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    The "Fatality" branded mobos are just Asrocks high end models. They are pretty good mobos.

    The issue is the marketing is dumb as are those who buy products based on this type of marketing. Clearly enough Asrock customers voiced their displeasure with the crap marketing of John Boy all over the place as Asrock removed his image from the BIOS and allows people to disable his face on the boot screen too. Owner reviews in any PC hardware forum show a lot of folks unhappy with the marketing - not the mobos.
    Reply
  • Samus - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    I've owned a few Fatal1ty products and all of them have been really good quality, especially the headsets and mice.

    I don't think the guy will put his name on crap. And I don't think companies making crap want his name on their product, since it isn't cheap to put his name on that product and if it backfires, it'll cost them.
    Reply
  • Omega215D - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - link

    The Creative gaming mice with his name on it weren't all that great performance-wise and were pretty much crap compared to stuff from Logitech in those days. The sound cards weren't anything special as well but cost much more than it should. Reply
  • hp79 - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - link

    I had a crap fatality branded geforce 8800gs or something, and it was uber crap. I got this as a repalcement when my 7900gs died. My 8800gs had no fan control, so it was running at 100% all the time. Very loud graphics card. I sold it after couple days.

    I really don't see a point branding it with a person maybe because I don't even know or care who this dude is.
    Reply
  • StevoLincolnite - Sunday, February 10, 2013 - link

    I had a Fatal1ty 990FX board in my old AMD rig, was incredibly solid and overclocked like a champ.

    Unfortunately, I needed more performance and decided to go with a Military themed build so went with the Asus Sabertooth X79 board, which other than slightly noisy motherboard fans is solid too.
    Reply
  • aguilpa1 - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    Yea, I still have a Fatal1ty Xfi audio card but I didn't buy because it had his handle on it but because at the time it was the only Xfi model that offered the break out box front panel. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, February 15, 2013 - link

    It tells us that it's a high-end board though. Just as it did for Creative and whoever else. It's like putting Ferrari on a monitor....LOL Reply
  • Flunk - Saturday, February 09, 2013 - link

    I agree. I refuse to buy anything branded with that name on principle. I'm not paying extra just for branding from someone I don't even respect or care about. Hell, I would rather have a Michael Jordan* branded motherboard than a one of these.

    *No, I do not like Basketball.
    Reply

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