This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6.
Strong Focus on Graphics: For starters, the PCI-E layout on this motherboard allows for two triple slotted GPUs in either SLI or CrossFireX and a dedicated add-in PCI-E 1x card. Not only that, but the CMOS battery is located above all the PCI-E slots, allowing for its removal without having to remove any GPUs (which can be a pain if you installed hard tube water cooling). During benchmarking, it was also kind of obvious that ASRock has somehow tuned the board for 3D performance over 2D, and while the difference is pretty small, it's still something to consider. ASRock also provides their Fatal1ty Mouse port, Killer's brand new Killer NIC, and pretty good audio with headphone amplifiers.
Improved Fan Control: For many generations now, ASRock has maintained only 1 or 2 PWM headers while the rest were either voltage controlled (works with both type of fans) or had no control. With Z170, ASRock has provided PWM control for all the headers as well as voltage control, and has increased header count and optimized header placement above the PCI-E area so that GPUs won't block header insertion.
OC Features: I am a strong believer that when you pass the $200 mark for a motherboard, you should get some type of POST code display. Diagnostics can be such a pain without one, and ASRock not only provides the POST code display, but also provides dual BIOS ROMs, back-panel clear CMOS button, as well on-board power and reset buttons.
Modern Styling: With the Z170 chipset adding so many features to the motherboard, there is little that manufacturers can do to stand out with boards that cost under $200 in terms of features. Many have taken to aesthetics as a selling point, and honestly I don't think it is bad to focus on the looks of the product, considering many people have open air systems or cases with windows. One of the cool parts of building a computer is that you can look at it and show it off, and the ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 is a good looking board. ASRock used mostly black heat sinks with sharp angled edges and hints of red that looks more appealing in person than in pictures. Even though the shield over the IO and audio is plastic, it is very appealing in person and the cutout for the audio capacitors adds to its appeal.
OC Recovery: Honestly, it was hard for me to find negative things to say about the layout or design of the motherboard, but there is something worth mentioning that will probably be fixed soon enough through BIOS updates. If you set a bad overclock and the board doesn't automatically recover from the bad OC (keeps failing to boot and gets stuck on a POST code), then you need to either clear the CMOS or flick the power switch on the PSU to get the board to reset. The issue is that an AC power loss can be a bit scary. The first time you power the board back up, it will immediately shut off and then after a second or two it will start up again and then the POST code will look like it will boot, but then it will reboot again and then finally give you the OC failed or system reset warning. This is a minor BIOS issue, and I am sure ASRock will fix this with the next BIOS release or two, and for most users this is a non-issue because it takes a pretty bad OC setting to cause this.
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 is a solid motherboard that performs as advertised. For starters, the board offers a very good selection of Intel Z170 chipset features; ASRock chose to make all the IO panel ports USB 3.0 directly from the PCH and still provided an internal USB 3.0 headers. ASRock also provided six Intel SATA 6G ports and four of them can be SATA Express. If you want a USB 3.1 front panel down the road, you can still use one because the USB 3.1 front panels all use SATA Express as their interface. ASRock also provided only one M.2 slot, which makes a lot of sense for a value gaming motherboard because high density M.2 drives are expensive and gamers are more likely to have one fast M.2 slot for OS and HDDs for game storage.
Like I mentioned earlier, it was hard for me to find any design or layout issue with the board, ASRock used a lot of common sense in designing this affordable board for gamers. The Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 has a launch price of $185, which puts it in a pretty competitive arena. While there are many other Z170 motherboards in this price range, the K6 offers great value in terms of common sense design as well as features garnered towards gamers.
|Performance (including Overclocking)||92%|
|Quality including Design and Build||90%|
|Bundle and Packaging||85%|
|Value for Money||96%|
The Bottom Line: ASRock's Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 offers great value as a gaming motherboard with solid gaming features, sharp aesthetics, and optimized GPU layout considerations.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and the Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6]
- Page 3 [Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6 Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]