ASRock, originally spun off from ASUSTeK almost a decade ago, has risen from its humble beginnings to become the 3rd largest motherboard vendor behind ASUS and GIGABYTE in terms of volume shipments. Their growth has been attributed to an aggressive pricing strategy coupled with feature-filled offerings to give them the competitive edge. With the recent acquisition of legendary overclocker Nick Shih to augment their R&D team, we can expect them to scale greater heights. Today we preview an impressive and well rounded board – their upcoming Fatal1ty Z77 Professional!
Front Box – The use of Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel's likeness and trademarks reveal ASRock's target buyers for the board – gamers with wads of cash.
Rear Box View: A cluttered feature listing full of marketing hyperboles
The Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is a stunning beauty. Decked out in a black and red colour theme (hmm… familar) together with gold capacitors, most neutral observers will buy this based on its looks already. This board also features an incredible amount of components and meticulous engineering, which we will detail in the next few sections.
Back of board – this is one of the few boards that we see with I/Cs sticking at the back, which shows how packed the PCB is. You can also see that out of the three "full-length" PCIe x16 slots in the previous picture, only the first slot is electrically capable of x16 operation while the second and third slot have only x8 and x4 soldering points respectively. This is not a surprise as Socket 1155 processors have 16 native PCIe signal lanes, and three/four-way multi-GPU enthusiasts will be better off going with X79/Socket 2011 platform instead to avoid being bottlenecked.
At the I/O panel, we get an orgy of USB ports (twelve in total of which six are USB 3.0). The veritable PS/2 port also makes an appearance, meant for the OCD benchmarker wanting to not waste precious cpu cycles on USB polling. There is also twin Gigabit LAN ports, IEEE1394, eSATA and 7.1 audio. For IGP display, we have a space saving HDMI and DisplayPort configuration.