Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
For many generations, Intel's mainstream chipsets supported a wide range of processors, including Xeons. Intel has decided to segment their lineup so that Xeons will only run on their workstation class chipsets, in this case, the Intel C232 and C236 chipsets. The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC is a C232 chipset motherboard capable of supporting Xeon, all Core i, Pentium, and Celeron processors. The C232 and C236 chipsets should also be designed to last longer than their consumer counterparts.
Compared to the Z170 and C236 chipsets, the C232 chipset has less PCI-E ports, and we see fewer C232 chipset motherboards with M.2 slots or expansive feature sets. Instead, Intel offers the C232 chipset at a lower price than the Z170 and C236 chipsets. Since chipsets are one of the most expensive parts of a motherboard, these savings should be passed along to the end-user. Motherboard vendors are looking to offer higher quality at a lower price, to meet the needs of workstation users who require an affordable option with high reliability.
Today I take a look at ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC, whose name is an oxymoron since Intel doesn't officially support overclocking on any chipset other than Z170.
Compared to Z170 motherboards, ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC doesn't have as many ports and slots, but then again the Z170 chipset has more ports than most will ever use. ASRock has done their due diligence to offer all the chipset features, such as 6x USB 3.0, 6x SATA6Gb/s, and an Intel NIC. All features are rooted in the C232 chipset; there are no hubs or third party controllers.
The motherboard also has a modest amount of ASRock's gaming features such as the Fatal1ty Mouse Port and Purity Sound 3, which are the same as their Z170 counterparts and more advanced than other C232 chipset-based motherboards. The board also has a dedicated clock generator for the BCLK, which allows the end-user to manually regulate the BCLK, something ASRock and Intel do not officially support nor condone.
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC is available from many large retailers for $142.99.
Packaging and Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC Overview
Packaging and Overview
I received this motherboard directly from ASRock, but not in a retail package containing retail accessories. The retail package comes with manual, support CD, IO Shield, and 2x SATA6Gb/s cables.
The ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC has six fan headers circled in blue. These headers are 4-pin PWM headers which can be controlled through the UEFI or in Windows. The motherboard's crimson red heat sinks provide a strong base for a red themed build. The red PCI-E and DRAM slots match the heat sinks and the text written on the plastic IO/audio shield cover. The motherboard looks much more like a consumer product than a workstation or server product, offering the benefit of each within a single package. The back of the motherboard is bare of components, but you can see the audio PCB isolation divide in the lower right-hand corner.
The IO panel on the Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC carries four USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, 1Gbit NIC port, and S/PDIF with TOSLINK for audio output.
The PCI-E layout is a little different than we are used to on Z170 motherboards. The top-most red PCI-E 16x slot is routed directly to the CPU. The second red slot is a 4x slot routed to the PCH. The three black PCI-E 1x slots are routed to the PCH. A MOLEX connector for extra PCI-E power is located above the topmost PCI-E 16x slot and offers additional PCI-E power. The motherboard supports 2-way CrossFireX, but not SLI.
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC has six SATA 6Gb/s ports on the right edge of the motherboard and a single USB 3.0 internal header located below the 24-pin connector. Two USB 2.0 headers are present and located at the bottom of the board near the front panel headers.
ASRock's IO shield extends down to the audio section of the motherboard, adding to the aesthetic appeal by exposing the Nichicon Gold series audio capacitors.
All heat sinks make excellent contact with the motherboard.
ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC Circuit Analysis
I think all motherboards are more interesting when their heat sinks come off. As you might have already noticed, many solder pads on the motherboard are empty. Some of these pads would be occupied on a Z170 motherboard, but some features such as the iGPU outputs and the expanded PCI-E IO such as M.2 are not present on this C232 chipset-based board.
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC has a 6+4+1+1 phase voltage regulator. The 6+4 phases provide VCore and iGPU power (for CPUs with iGPUs) and are driven by 3+2 PWM phases doubled to 6+4 through doubling the number of MOSFETs and inductors. The board carries very high-quality 12K solid polymer capacitors, which should last extremely long periods of time. The 6+4 phases are controlled by an Intersil ISL95824, which can provide 4+2 phase output with 2+1 integrated drivers. ASRock adds two Intersil ISL6625A (labeled "5AZ"), one for the VCore VRM and one for the iGPU VRM. The MOSFETs are from Sinopower, SM4336 for the low-side and SM4337 for the high-side.
The VCCSA is powered by an Anpec APW8720 single phase PWM and uses the same MOSFETs as the CPU VR in a single-phase configuration. The VCCIO uses a similar setup using the same components.
The memory VR uses an Anpec APW8720 single phase PWM and outputs to two phases which use the same driver signals.
ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC Circuit Analysis Continued
Many of our readers have pointed out that many of these C232 motherboards don't carry nicer audio implementations. ASRock has provided the same Purity sound on this motherboard as they do on their normal Z170 motherboards, and it is quite nice. The ALC1150 is the audio codec which works with the integrate Azalia codec in the PCH, and two Texas Instruments NE5532 amplify rear and front headphone jacks. Nichicon Gold series electrolytic audio capacitors are also provided and the audio region is physically isolated from the rest of the motherboard.
The Intel C232 is very similar to the H170 chipset, but it has more SATA6Gb/s and more USB 2.0 as well as fully support for Intel's Trusted Platform Execution technology. It does have the same TDP at 6W, but it lacks the extra PCI-E 3.0 from the PCH making features such as M.2 harder to implement.
An IDT6V41530NLG is a common clock generator found on Z170 motherboards for higher BCLK overclocking margins.
ASRock is using the Intel i219v PHY for the Gbit NIC.
A nuvoTon NCT6791D provides SuperIO functionality, including the PS/2 on the backpanel and the temperature, voltage, and fan monitoring and control.
BIOS and Software
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC has the same UEFI layout and design as ASRock's other Z170 motherboards. The board has both EZ and Advanced UEFI modes for different types of users. The advanced mode has all the settings available in EZ mode, but the EZ mode has an easier to use but basic GUI. If you need to change the boot order or tune the fans, the EZ mode is enough.
ASRock's most recent BIOS versions remove Sky OC from the UEFI, which would lock in the BCLK. If you want the Prime95 bug fix for Skylake CPUs, then you need to upgrade to the most recent UEFI version.
ASRock provides the Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC with a basic software suite. It includes their APP SHOP application for updating and installing more ASRock applications. For audio control Realtek's full HD audio manager is available. XSplit gamer caster can be used to stream your gameplay.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASRock FATAL1TY E3V5 PERFORMANCE GAMING/OC
- CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1240 v3
- Cooler: Corsair H110i GT - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (2x8GB) 2666MHz - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Samsung 850 Pro 512GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Corsair Force LS 240GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - M.2 Drive: Kingston HyperX Predator 240GB PCIe x4 - Buy from Amazon
- Storage - USB Drive: Corsair Voyager GS 64GB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 900D - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200i - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Enterprise - Buy from Amazon
- BIOS: L0.04
- Drivers: Intel INF: 10.1.1.9, Intel ME: 126.96.36.1992, Intel USB 3.0 Adaptation Driver: 10.0.0.42, NVIDIA Graphics: 353.82, Audio: 188.8.131.5234, Intel LAN: 20.2.4001
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC's red heat sinks and accents come through even in the dark of a case.
The new test bench is designed to test every aspect of the motherboard and IO. I have designed it so that the motherboard sits in a case and is cooled by fans always-on at a constant rate to keep the conditions similar during all tests. I have cut out part of the case behind the motherboard so I can get thermal images of the back of the PCB where the VRM heat spreads. System and CPU power measurements are now digitally logged.
I am also using a Netgear Nighthawk X4 AC2350 for our network (including wireless AC) tests. The latest M.2, SSD, and USB technologies are also being utilized to test the maximum potential of the motherboards that are tested.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
AIDA64 AES and HASH
PCMark8 Home Test
3DMark: Cloud Gate
3DMark: Fire Strike
ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC performs well. Most of the performance differences are due to the use of different CPU models with each motherboard. The other two motherboards in the benchmarks each use different CPUs. The ASRock board is using an E3-1240 v5 which runs at 3.5GHz base and 3.9GHz Turbo. The Z170 motherboard uses the 6700k which runs at 4GHz base and 4.2GHz turbo.
The X150 (C232) motherboard is using an E3-1275 v5 which runs at 3.6GHz base and 4GHz Turbo. There is obviously going to be a performance disparity between the different benchmark systems, but the difference between the different C323 boards is quite small, hinting that there are performance issues with the Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC.
System IO Benchmarks
CrystalDiskMark USB 3.0:
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC has excellent IO performance; there are no performance pitfalls.
Audio RMAA 5.5:
I disable all audio features, set the correct bitrates, and then test the audio with a loopback test.
Sound Judgment by Ear: Very Good, quality is better than a standard ALC1150 implementation. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
System power usage is measured at the AC/DC PSU (the Corsair AX1200i) which I have connected to another system to measure the test system, and as a backup, I have a wall meter to verify. The CPU power is measured through the 8-pin connector, which is hooked up to a hall effect IC, which measures current and puts out a voltage in proportion to the current. That voltage is logged by a National Instruments ADC, which logs the DC voltage level that I then convert into current.
Note on Thermal Images: In the temperature section, we use our Seek thermal imaging camera to capture the surface temperatures of major components on the board. I look at the VRM and then all other things that light up the screen. If there is something to worry about, then I will state it. Otherwise, I will just show the hotter running parts of the board for fun. Unless some component is over 80-90C, then there isn't anything to worry about.
All systems will act differently, so I will look for commonalities, such as how far from the VRM the heat spreads through the PCB and the difference in temperature between the front side and backside of the PCB. Keep in mind, the majority of the heat from the VRM goes into the PCB as it is a giant soldered on copper heat sink. A larger difference in temperature between the back and front of the PCB points towards a more effective heat sink.
Thermal Testing at Stock Speeds:
The image on the left is always at idle, and the image on the right is at load. During ALL TESTS, fans above the VRM that cool the CPU cooler's (Corsair H110i GT) radiator are turned on to high (12v).
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The VRM on the Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC was built to support overclocking, although you will not be able to overclock the CPUs on the motherboard. The VRM will operate at temperatures lower than it was designed for, resulting in expanded lifespan of the VRM. I can confirm that phase shedding is active at idle. I can also confirm that the top four phases are for powering the iGPU since I wasn't able to get any heat to come out of them, so they will be inactive for most of the motherboard's life resulting in a longer lifespan.
Anything under 60C is great, 60-80C is acceptable, and anything above 80C is a bit worrisome (if at stock).
What's Hot, What's Not, & Final Thoughts
Here are key points about the ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC.
Enthusiast Features in Workstation Form: The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC is an undercover C232 motherboard. At first glance, you would not be able to tell that it is, in fact, a workstation motherboard, and that is part of the appeal of such a product. The motherboard supports the latest in Skylake Xeon technology while providing the user with some gaming features such as the Fatl1ty mouse port and ASRock's Purity Sound 3.
Solid Fan Control: The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC has six fan headers, all of which can be controlled through the UEFI or Windows. All the headers have the ability to ramp up the PWM slope based on the temperature sensor you choose. All the headers have independent control which is something many users will appreciate in a workstation build where thermals are important.
Intel Connectivity: Most people trust Intel to provide compatible high-performance connectivity options. All of the motherboard's IO is rooted in the Intel PCH. From the NIC to the USB 3.0, everything is native.
12K Capacitors and Overkill VRM: The standard for enthusiast motherboard capacitor lifespan is 5K hours at 105C, high-end enthusiast motherboards use 10K at 105C, but ASRock is providing users with 12K at 105C solid polymer capacitors for expanded runtime. Since Xeons and their chipsets are supposed to last longer, high life-span capacitors could make a difference. The motherboard was designed for modest overclocking, but with Intel's lock-down, the VRM is now overkill, but that's still a good thing.
ECC Memory Support: With a compatible processor, ASRock states the motherboard is capable of running ECC memory. I don't currently have any ECC memory, so I wasn't able to confirm this, but ECC memory is one of the main selling points of workstation over consumer parts. It's also one of the main features the C232 chipset offers over H170 or B170-based boards.
No M.2: The number of PCI-E lanes from the PCH are low on the C232 chipset, but I have seen C232 motherboards with M.2 slots. It's the one feature I have come to expect, but the second full sized PCI-E 16x slot is 4x routed to the PCH, so you can use a PCI-E to M.2 adapter card and add an M.2 slot.
The Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC was destined for greatness until the day Intel forced ASRock and other vendors to implement non-K OC locks into their BIOS. The motherboard is equipped with the proper VRM and external clock generator to overclock not only Core series processors, but also their Xeon counterparts.
The last thing Intel wanted was for end users to overclock Xeons, so enthusiast grade motherboards with C232 chipsets were hammered back down the food chain. ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC might as well be called the Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming, which in itself is still a strong contender.
The motherboard's UEFI is not buggy, and everything ran very smoothly during setup and OS installation. One reason many users want workstation class motherboards, Xeons, and ECC memory is to reduce incompatibilities and potential failure points. The C232 chipset along with E3-1200 v5 series Xeons should theoretically last longer than their consumer counterparts, and ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC offers high-quality components such as 12K capacitors, which should last just as long.
While there is a need for pure workstation motherboards, some people want a little extra (such as better audio or better aesthetics). ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC offers the C232 chipset in a package that is sure to entice those who want a little extra bling.
|Performance (including Overclocking w/a)||90%|
|Quality including Design and Build||93%|
|Bundle and Packaging||85%|
|Value for Money||94%|
The Bottom Line: ASRock's Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC motherboard is designed to fulfil the needs of workstation users who want to run Skylake Xeons on a motherboard with gaming features.
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