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ASRock Z97X Fatal1ty Killer (Intel Z97) Motherboard Review

ASRock Z97X Fatal1ty Killer (Intel Z97) Motherboard Review

We move on to another Z97 motherboard, this time from ASRock under the Fatal1ty series. Let's see how this "killer" gaming focused motherboard performs.

@ShawnBakerTW
Published Mon, Jun 23 2014 9:00 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: ASRock

Introduction and Package

Introduction of the ASRock Z97X Killer

The other day, we got a chance to check out the brand new Devils Canyon processor from Intel, the i7-4790K. Being the new top 1150 LGA processor from the company, it has, of course, made its way into our testbed to replace our much loved i7-4770K that has served us extremely well since its introduction. The first board that will be making use of the new processor will be the ASRock Z97X Killer, which was the motherboard we used in our initial review of the processor.

While the Z97 chipset and the i7-4790K hasn't blown us away due to the fact that it hasn't brought a ton of new features or performance to the table, the fact that the motherboards and the processor hit at a similar price point as what they're replacing means there's simply no reason to not be looking at these items over the previous generation.

What the Z97 chipset has brought with it, though, is a ton of new motherboards and some cool new features from companies expanding on already popular motherboard line-ups. The particular ASRock Z97X Killer motherboard we're looking at today falls under the Fatal1ty series from the company. This series has always been a bit of a mixed bag for me as I'm not 100 percent sure what Fatal1ty is bringing to the table. I really do find myself quite surprised that ASRock continues to pay the money associated with this branding.

We must admit, though, the Fatal1ty series hasn't brought with it a huge premium in price over recent releases unless it was one of the top versions. So, with that all said and done, let's see just what the new ASRock Z97X Killer is bringing to the table and if it's something that you should be looking at.

Package - What comes inside the box

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VIEW GALLERY - 39 IMAGES

Taking a look at the front of the box, you can see the model and brand clearly along with a ton of the main features that are being offered. At the top right corner, you can see mention of the Super Alloy feature, while across the bottom, you've got some ASRock features like APP Shop, Purity Sound2, HDD Saver, and ASRock Cloud. You can also see other features like Killer E2200 networking along with a copy of XSplit being included.

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Turning the box over, you can see we have an absolute ton of information being shown. Starting from the top, you can see the improvements that the Killer networking chip brings to the table. Working down the list, you can see the Super Allow features, which include XXL Aluminum Heatsink Design, Sapphire Black PCB, Premium Alloy Choke, and 12k Platinum caps, to name some of the main features. In the bottom corner, you've got a mention about the Gaming Armor features, which bring Purity Sound 2, Killer networking, and a few other features. As for the other side, you can see mention about ASRock Cloud, SATA Express, and the M.2 Socket along with HDD Saver, APP Store, XSplit, and the Fatal1ty mouse port.

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Diving inside the box, we don't have a ton going on with the normal manual and driver CD being present. We've got a small SLI bridge along with four SATA cables, a SATA power connector, and our standard I/O back plate. ASRock doesn't do a lot with the bundle here and really does choose to simply let the motherboard do all the talking with its long list of features. Of course, it's worth remembering that we do get that ASRock Cloud storage along with a copy of XSplit on the CD.

PRICING: You can find the ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for $185.85 at Amazon.

Canada: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for CDN$198.00 at Amazon Canada.

Australia: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for $274.99 AUD at Mighty Ape Australia.

New Zealand: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for $289.99 NZD at Mighty Ape NZ.

Motherboard Details

Close up with the ASRock Z97X Killer

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Taking a look at the motherboard, you can see the typical black and red color scheme that is associated with the Fatal1ty series of motherboards. Like most people, we are fans of the black and red color scheme because it really does match extremely well. This really is a great looking motherboard; let's move in closer and see just what exactly we're dealing with here today.

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Moving in closer, you can see just exactly what we're dealing with from the expansion side of things. We have three PCIe x1 slots along with three PCIe x16 slots. The later run in the typical setup, which means x16 with one used, x8/x8 with two used, and x8/x4/x4 if all three are used. Between the top two x16 slots, you can see that ASRock has also included the popular M.2 slot that has made an appearance on the new Z97 chipset. While it still might be a little while before we see people make use of this, we can't deny the fact that almost every Z97 motherboard we have looked at offers it.

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Heading to the bottom of the board, you can see a standard design. You can see our normal line up of headers, including USB, COM1, audio, and front panel. On the left side, you can see that ASRock offers a Molex power connector that should be used for people wanting to make use of a multi-GPU setup. On the right side, you can see our two BIOS chips.

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Turning the corner, you can see our SATA setup that includes six SATA III ports and a single SATA Express port. All these ports, including the M.2 port we just mentioned above, run off the Intel Z97 controller.

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Starting to head north, you can see a typical setup that sees our 24-pin ATX power connector along with a USB 3.0 header to the left of it. We've got our four standard DDR3 DIMM slots offering support for 32GB of DDR3, ranging in speed from 1066MHz all the way up to 3200MHz+ via overclocking.

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Moving around the corner, you can see our standard 8-pin CPU power connector, and moving out a bit, we get a look at the CPU socket area, which like most these days is very clean looking. The heat sink quality is great, and you can see the red looks fantastic when looking closer, especially up against the black PCB. There's really not too much to say here, as the setup is pretty standard with plenty of room for just about any type of heat sink setup.

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Finishing up our look at the motherboard, we head over to the I/O side of things where we start with two USB 2.0 connectors along with a combo PS2 port. Moving along, we have display out options via VGA, DVI-D, and HDMI. Continuing along, you can see we have six USB 3.0 ports, four that run off the Intel Z97 chipset and two that run off of the ASMedia ASM1042AE controller. Gigabit networking is provided via the Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 series chip, while the Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec provides five auxiliary ports and an optical port.

BIOS Images and Information

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Heading into the BIOS, we actually had trouble taking screenshots for some reason. It just didn't want to save the files to our USB drive even though it was recognized with no issue. Still, with our camera, we get a good idea of just what's going on. Looking above, you can see the standard UEFI BIOS from ASRock. Being part of the Fatal1ty series means that it carries with it that black and red color scheme, the same as the motherboard.

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If you find yourself in here, you're more than likely going to be heading to the OC Tweaker section of the BIOS, which gives us all of our standard overclocking features. At the top, you can see we've got the option to use the auto overclocking up to 4.7GHz. Below that, you can see we've got all of the normal array of settings, including voltages, memory, and CPU, to name just a few.

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Once you're out of the OC Tweaker section, everything else continues to be very standard with no real surprises. We have the option to use HDD Saver in the Tool section along with the ability to update the BIOS easily via a USB drive. There's nothing too unusual here, and if you've been into an ASRock UEFI BIOS recently, you shouldn't have a problem moving around.

Test System Setup and Overclocking

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, MemoRight, and Corsair.

We have a bunch of motherboards in our graphs here today, but the ASRock Z97X Killer is the only one that will be making use of our new i7-4790K. Instead, our other boards will be using our tried and tested i7-4770K. Over the next few weeks, though, as we test more and more Z97 motherboards, we will begin to phase out most of the motherboards that use the i7-4770K and instead replace them with boards that are using our new i7-4790K.

So, with all that said, let's quickly cover the boards that you will be seeing in our graphs here today. Apart from the ASRock Z97X Killer with the i7-4790K, which will be running at both stock and overclocked speeds, we have the ASUS SABERTOOTH Z97 MARK 1, ASRock Z97 Extreme4, MSI Z97X-UD5H, and ASRock Z87 Killer all running the i7-4770K.

If you had a chance to read our i7-4790K review, you would already know how we went with overclocking. At the moment, the particular i7-4790K we have isn't the strongest overclocker. While our previous i7-4770K managed to achieve in the higher realms of 4.9GHz climbing towards 5GHz, our i7-4790K isn't blessed with the same overclocking ability.

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Spending as much time in the BIOS as we could and messing around with the settings, we ended up with our i7-4790K running at 4.7GHz via a 47x multiplier. This is a good overclock and lines up with what a lot of other people are seeing from their i7-4790K. It's still not as high as what we could get on our previous chip, though, and we're hoping in the coming weeks we're able to get ahold of an i7-4790K that can clock higher.

CPU & System Benchmarks

CPU Test - HyperPi 0.99

Version and / or Patch Used: 0.99

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CPU Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

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Hyper Pi and AIDA64 performance is strong out of the gate. We can see that our new i7-4790K manages to give a nice little boost in both benchmarks when compared to the previous-generation i7-4770K, which is sitting on our other boards. Overclocking, as you would expect, gives a nice boost in performance.

System Test - PCMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.04

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System Test - MediaEspresso

Version and / or Patch Used: 6.5

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While the new i7-4790K doesn't see too much of a performance increase under PCMark 8, you can see that it manages to shave a decent chunk of time off of our encode under MediaEspresso. Overclocking again gives us a nice little performance boost in both benchmarks.

USB 2.0, USB 3.0 & SSD Benchmarks

USB Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.70.1400

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While USB 2.0 performance seems to sit a little down, you can see that USB 3.0 performance is between our other two setups here that use the recently added Corsair Voyager GS 128GB pen drive.

SSD Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: v4.30.2900

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SSD Test - PCMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.191

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SSD Test - HD Tune Pro

Version and / or Patch Used: 5.50

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Taking a look at SSD performance under AIDA64 and PCMark 8, you can see it's pretty typical and lines up as you'd expect. Moving into HD Tune Pro, you can see that we sit in line with our MSI and GIGABYTE motherboards, which is a little behind our other ASRock offerings.

Memory & Gaming Benchmarks

Memory Test - AIDA64

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.00.1035BETA

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Memory performance on the ASRock Z97X Killer is very standard, and you can see our new i7-4790K doesn't really change memory performance at all. When it comes to overclocking, you can see that there's no change in overall performance.

Gaming Test - 3DMark 8

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0

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Gaming Test – Sleeping Dogs

Version and / or Patch Used: Latest Steam Update

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3DMark 8 sees the ASRock Z97X Killer perform in line with our other boards, with the overclock really doing little here when it comes to extra performance. Looking at Sleeping Dogs performance, though, you can see that, out of the box, the ASRock Z97X Killer sits up with our new processor. Overclocking also adds a little bit more performance at the lower resolutions.

Temperature & Power Testing

Power Consumption Test

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Looking at power draw, you can see the idle number are really strong at idle when our system is both running at stock and overclocked. At load, though, we can see the numbers are quite high. While they don't really change between stock and overclocked, they are ahead of all of our other setups here. This, of course, could be due to the i7-4790K. We'll know more about the processor as we test more and more motherboards in the coming weeks.

Core Temperature Test

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Looking at the core temperature, we can again see that the numbers are impressive at idle on the ASRock Z97X Killer. At load, though, you can see we're running a bit warmer than our other boards using the older i7-4770K. Just like we mentioned above, though, the added temperature could be due to the CPU; we'll know more about this in the coming weeks as we have more results using our new processor.

Pricing, Availability and Final Thoughts

ASRock has truly put together an awesome motherboard here. When you look it over, you feel like it has a lot going for it. The bundle is cool with the addition of software like XSplit. You then look at the features; Killer networking is nice, and we have some other ASRock specific features that round the list off. Along with that, we have the Super Allow and Gaming Armor that just tops everything off.

You go through it all and find yourself thinking that this is all around just a nice board. The fact that you can then pick it up for under $150 is what really slaps you in the face and opens your eyes wide open. The price is the icing on the cake. When you consider the value of XSplit and the $50 value behind the ASRock Cloud feature, it feels like you are getting the board for next to nothing.

It is tough to fault this board. At this price point, it is really a fantastic option. The color scheme is fantastic, and with the added software bonus in the bundle, it clearly stands out against the competition boards priced at a similar level. It is tough to talk about the overclocking side of things when compared to other offerings.

While our overclock is not as strong as our other boards with our previous-generation i7-4770K, it is in line with what most other people are achieving on the latest Intel processor. If you are looking for something at that mid-$100 price point, this is one of the best options we have looked at so far on the new Z97 chipset.

As you can probably tell, we cannot really say anything bad about this board. If this is your budget, then this is probably something you should be looking at. Of course, there are options with a lot more features and the like, but they are also a lot more expensive. ASRock seems to have really hit the nail on the head with this board when it comes to price, performance, and features. Just a "Killer" option for gamers!

PRICING: You can find the ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for $185.85 at Amazon.

Canada: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for CDN$198.00 at Amazon Canada.

Australia: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for $274.99 AUD at Mighty Ape Australia.

New Zealand: The ASRock Z97X Killer Motherboard retails for $289.99 NZD at Mighty Ape NZ.

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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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