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ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review

ASRocks Fatal1ty series joins the latest Z68 platform and we see how the new Professional Gen3 goes. Let's get into it.
@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Sep 5 2011 9:36 PM CDT   |   Updated Fri, Sep 18 2020 10:50 PM CDT
Rating: 89%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

Introduction

ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 02 | TweakTown.com
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Just yesterday we had a look at the ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 and it did a good job of impressing us. Priced under the Z68 Extreme7 Gen3, we'll be today looking at the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 to see what it can offer us.

It's the first time we've seen the Fatal1ty board get the Z68 treatment with the last one we looked at carrying with it the P67 chipset. What was a little unusual about that one was the fact that the Z68 chipset was out at the time. No doubt the P67 version had been in the works for a bit and that was probably the reason that at the time ASRock had decided to skip the Z68 chipset.

The Fatal1ty lines of boards have done a good job in the past impressing us with some good performance at a good price point. The question is, can the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 do the same? Before we find out how the performance of the board goes, the first thing we need to do is get stuck into the package to see just what ASRock are offering.

Once we've checked out the package, we'll take a closer look at the board itself before looking at the BIOS side of things which I must say has had a really important change. We'll get into that more a little later, though. Once that's done we'll look at our testbed, the overclocking ability of the board and then we'll of course get into the most important part; the performance.

The Package

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The ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 carries with it, like the Extreme7, a really big box that opens up to give us a look at the board while also offering us a list of the features that are on offer and what exactly they're able to do for us.

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Inside the package consists of a Quick Install Guide, Software Setup Guide, Driver CD, six SATA II cables, SLI Bridge, HDMI to DVI convertor, Floppy and IDE cable, 3.5mm audio jack and two Molex to SATA power convertors. Along with all this, we've also got a front panel tray that houses two USB 3.0 ports.

The Motherboard

With the package out of the way, it's time to move onto the board itself and as you could see from the package and most likely expected, the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 comes in that Red / Black theme that we've been seeing them use on all Fatal1ty boards. You can see some form of Fatal1ty is sprinkled on the heatsinks.

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Diving in closer to the board, we can see the expansion slot setup we've got which consists of two Legacy PCI slots, two PCIe x1 slots and three PCIe x16 slots. In SLI or CrossFire Slot 1 and 2 will run at x8 each while the third slot is wired up to run only at x4.

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Moving across to the bottom of the board, we've got our HD Audio header, Floppy connector, COM port, two USB 2.0 headers, 1394 Firewire header and our front panel header. Just above this to the right, you can see we've got both a power and reset button and above that is our LED Debug reader.

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Turning the corner, we've got a total of ten SATA ports with the four black ones being SATA II and run off the Intel Z68 controller. The two red ports closest to the black ones also run off the Z68 chipset, but these are SATA III. The other four red ports are SATA III, but these run off the ASMedia ASM1061 controller. We can also see above another look at our power / reset button along with our LED Debug reader.

The Motherboard Continued

Heading north, we can see our four RAM slots which support up to 32GB of DDR3 memory ranging from speeds of 1066MHz DDR to 2133MHz DDR. Below these RAM slots you can see we've got three more headers with the first one on the left being a USB 3.0 one.

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Next to our USB 3.0 header we've got an IDE connector and next to that we've got our main 24-Pin power connector. The inclusion of IDE / Floppy is a weird one for me; I'm not sure of anyone who uses the technology these days, I really can't remember the last time I've actually seen a device that makes use of either connection. Even hard drives that I have floating around from yesteryear are all SATA.

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Moving away from the RAM slots and to the CPU area, we can see our main 8-Pin CPU connector and the socket itself which is pretty clean. We can also see those sexy looking gold caps we saw on the Extreme7. The heatsink setup is pretty good and typically high quality as we'd expect out of ASRock.

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Getting into the I/O side of things, you can see we've got a PS/2 port on the left and two USB 2.0 ports. Next to that we've got a VGA port and two HDMI out ports for video connectivity. Also here, we can see a clear CMOS button, just in case you do something a little wrong in the BIOS.

Next up, we've got two USB 3.0 ports controlled via the ASMedia ASM1042 controller and a Gigabit networking port running off the Realtek RTL8111E controller. Next to that we've got two more USB 3.0 ports, Firewire and a combo eSATA / USB 2.0 port with the same USB 3.0 / Gigabit networking setup seen again. Finally, we've got five analog audio connectors and an optical out running via the Realtek ALC892 Audio Codec.

BIOS

Oh thank god! I can go into the BIOS of a Fatal1ty board and not have to see his face. I've got absolutely nothing against the guy, but honestly, I don't need to be stared down by him every time I'm in the BIOS. While the first time you enter you're going to be greeted with the Fatal1ty BIOS image we've become accustomed to seeing, the Main page has the ability to change the UEFI Setup Style.

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Do yourself a favor and go for option two. Outside of just the stare down, the darker setup is a lot easier on the eyes verses the bright red that's present on the default version.

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As for the rest of the BIOS, you're not going to see anything too different to what you've seen in the past. The overclocking side of things is of course done in the OC Tweaker area and the only other section you might find yourself looking at is the Advanced area.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: Intel, ASUS, MSI, Western Digital and Corsair.

Nothing has changed in our testbed since we looked at the ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3. Of course, the big thing worth mentioning is that some of our boards use the new Corsair Force GT SATA III drive while others use our older Kingston SATA II drive. This is shown, though, in tests that are impacted by the use of the faster hard drive, predominately PCMark 7 and our Hard Drive testing itself.

On to the overclocking side of things, we got some good performance out of the board with the final clocking coming in at 5049MHz via a 101BCLK and a 50x multiplier.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 (Intel Z68) Motherboard Review 01 | TweakTown.com

In our graphs this speed will be represented as 5.05GHz and should yield some good performance over the default clock speeds. Really, there's not much more that has to be said; we've got a strong lineup of boards here as our lineup grows larger and larger while we test more and more motherboards.

Let's get started!

CPU Benchmarks

HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

Developer Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Product Homepage: www.virgilioborges.com.br

Download It Here

HyperPi is a front end for SuperPi that allows for multiple concurrent instances of SuperPi to be run on each core recognized by the system. It is very dependent on CPU to memory to HDD speed. The faster these components, the faster it is able to figure out the number Pi to the selected length.

For our testing we use the 32M run. This means that each of the four physical and four logical cores for the i7 and the four physical cores of the i5 is trying to calculate the number Pi out to 32 million decimal places. Each "run" is a comparative to ensure accuracy and any stability or performance issues in the loop mentioned above will cause errors in calculation.

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Straight away we see no surprise with out of the box performance being in line with what you'd expect to see. Of course, we can see that overclocked we see a nice boost in performance with a serious chunk of time taken off our Hyper PI score.

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Looking at AIDA64, we can see out of the box performance is again just as we'd expect, while the 5.05GHz overclock helps show us the extra performance that's on offer from the CPU.

System Benchmarks

PCMark 7

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

Developer Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.pcmark.com

Buy It Here

PCMark 7 includes a range of tests that give different views of your system's performance. In the Advanced Edition you can choose which tests to run. The common use and hardware component tests are unavailable in the Basic Edition.

Overall system performance is measured by the PCMark test. This is the only test that returns an official PCMark score. The Lightweight test measures the system capabilities of entry-level systems and mobility platforms unable to run the PCMark test, but it does not generate a PCMark score. Common use performance is measured by the scenario tests - Entertainment, Creativity and Production - each of which results in a scenario score. Hardware component performance is measured by the hardware tests - Computation and Storage - each of which results in a hardware score.

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Good performance under PCMark 7 which sees the ASRock board performs strong thanks to the use of the SATA III drive now. Overclocked, though, we can see a really strong boost in our score which equates to a 20% increase in performance.

MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/

Product Homepage: http://www.cyberlink.com/products/mediaespresso/overview_en_AU.html?fileName=overview&r=1

Buy It Here

MediaEspresso is a blazingly fast media universal converter that can transcode your videos, photos and music files and out put them to a huge range of portable devices including mobile phones, portable media players and even game consoles. With technologies like Smart Detect, Direct Sync and CyberLink's TrueTheater video enhancements, you can not only forget about complicated format, resolution and output settings, but your converted file will come out the other side looking better than when it went in!

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MediaEspresso is a really good test as we really see how the overclock helps us in a real world environment. Shaving 25% off your encode time is always appreciated and if you wanted to get some movies iPad ready before you went away, it's worth saying that 5 minutes across a large group of encodes.

USB 2.0 and 3.0 Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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While USB 3.0 performance lines up with our other boards, you can see that the XFast technology that ASRock implement help make USB 2.0 performance a bit stronger when compared to the competition.

SSD Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Comparing the SATA III performance between our two ASRock boards, we can see that there's not much between them. We can see the boost in performance we get over the SATA II drive, though.

HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 4.61

Developer Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com

Buy It Here

HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.

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HD Tune Pro helps paint the same picture as we saw just above with some excellent performance coming out of our new Corsair Force GT SATA III drive over our older Kingston SATA II drives.

Memory Benchmarks

AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

Developer Homepage: http://www.aida64.com

Product Homepage: http://www.AIDA64.com

Buy It Here

Replacing Everest in our labs is AIDA64. This new testing suite is from the core development team from Lavalys and continues that tradition. The guys have thrown in better support for multithreaded CPUs as well as full 64 bit support. We use this to test memory and HDDs for now, but may find ourselves opening this up to other areas of the motherboard.

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Memory performance at stock is again just as you'd expect with the main difference seen when we overclock the board.

Gaming Benchmarks

3DMark 11

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.3dmark.com/3dmark11/

Buy It Here

3DMark 11 is the latest version of the world's most popular benchmark. Designed to measure your PC's gaming performance 3DMark 11 makes extensive use of all the new features in DirectX 11 including tessellation, compute shaders and multi-threading. Trusted by gamers worldwide to give accurate and unbiased results, 3DMark 11 is the best way to consistently and reliably test DirectX 11 under game-like loads.

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Metro 2033

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

Timedemo or Level Used: Built in Benchmark

Developer Homepage: http://www.4a-games.com//

Product Homepage: http://www.thqnordic.com/

Metro 2033 is an action-oriented video game with a combination of survival horror and first-person shooter elements. The game is based on the novel Metro 2033 by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was developed by 4A Games in Ukraine and released in March 2010 for Microsoft Windows and Xbox 360.[3] In March 2006, 4A Games announced a partnership with Glukhovsky to collaborate on the game.[4] The game was announced at the 2009 Games Convention in Leipzig;[5] a first trailer came along with the announcement.[6] A sequel was announced, currently titled Metro: Last Light.

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Gaming performance doesn't hold any surprises; we can see no change under Metro 2033 when we overclock, while 3DMark 11 sees a bit of a boost in the Performance preset.

Temperature and Power

Power Draw Tests

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Power Draw on the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 is the lowest out of the bunch coming in below 100 watt. Load is also a little lower, but nothing too major. We of course see a jump when we overclock, but the Fatal1ty board again sits lower than the other boards even when overclocked.

Core Temperature

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We can see on the temperature side of things the Fatal1ty also sits a little lower at idle while load lines up with our other ASRock board. Again cranking up the clock speeds and the voltage going through the CPU means that we get a decent jump in load temperature; nothing we're worried about, though, and it's of course the cost of overclocking.

Final Thoughts

The $249.99 US price tag means that the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 comes in $40 US cheaper than the Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 we just looked at. The big push behind the new Gen3 boards is the fact they're of course PCIe 3.0 ready and while that doesn't mean so much at the moment, come the next generation of at least AMD video cards and it will mean more along with the release of Ivy Bridge when we finally see it.

The biggest cost associated with the Extreme7 over this board, though, is the NF200 chipset and while it's not the most important thing for single card setups or even two card ones, if you're interested in going down the path of three it's worth having.

There's a few other things that separate the boards, though, the Extreme7 I think looks a bit cleaner thanks to the fact it doesn't have the aging Floppy and IDE connector and I like the inclusion of the DisplayPort connector on the Extreme7. The price difference isn't heaps, though, and what will probably determine the board you buy will probably no doubt be the overall look.

The Fatal1ty board is a good looking one as you'd expect; it's so nice to see that we have the ability to easily change the BIOS background now, though, and to be honest the BIOS background has been something that people have brought up in the past. It's great to see that it's no longer an issue and we can just enjoy everything the board has to offer.

The Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3 is a really good all round board that looks the part, offers some great performance and supports the next generation of PCIe connectivity. Priced at just under that magical $250 US mark as well, even if it's only by 1c, coming in under $250 US is going to be a bonus for people.

If you wanted to jump on the Fatal1ty motherboard bandwagon earlier but found yourself a little disappointed that ASRock didn't offer a Z68 option, you don't have to worry now with the Fatal1ty Z68 Professional Gen3.

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Shawn takes care of all of our video card reviews. From 2009, Shawn is also taking care of our memory reviews, and from May 2011, Shawn also takes care of our CPU, chipset and motherboard reviews. As of December 2011, Shawn is based out of Taipei, Taiwan.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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