The Bottom Line
Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
Many of the X370 motherboards we have reviewed have been mainstream mid-ranged products without too much fanfare compared to the high-end motherboards we see on the Intel side of things. However, that is changing as vendors become more comfortable with the X370 chipset. ASRock's top of the line Z270 motherboards have featured the new 5Gbit NBase-T technology, and now their top X370 models do too.
ASRock's Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming uses an Aquantia 5Gbit NIC and provides other high-end features and hardware to match the quality people come to expect with high-end motherboards. It's one of the top five most expensive X370 motherboards and for a good reason.
Let's take a look at this premium X370 motherboard.
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming features dual M.2 slots, 5Gbit LAN, a hefty VRM, SATA6Gb/s, USB 3.0, and even OC features.
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming costs $249.99.
Packaging and Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming Overview
Packaging and Overview
The motherboard's box is very similar to ASRock's other Fatal1ty series motherboards, and packaging is very well done, and the motherboard is very well protected.
The accessory package includes four SATA6Gb/s, SLI HB Bridge, two WIFI antenna, IO shield, postcard, case badge, manuals, M.2 screws, and driver DVD.
ASRock put five fan headers on the motherboard; they are circled in red. All the headers can work in either DC or PWM mode; you need to enter the UEFI to change the fan's mode of operation. The motherboard's aesthetics look very high-end and very similar to that of ASRock's Z270 Professional Gaming. The shield over the audio and IO along with the red VRM heat sink and PCH heat sink produce a nice looking motherboard. The back of the motherboard does have some backside components including the type-C switch chip, drivers, and other SMD components.
The rear IO panel features PS/2 Keyboard/Mouse, six USB 3.0 ports, a clear CMOS button, WIFI antenna, USB 3.1 type-C, USB 3.1 type-A, 1Gbit LAN, 5Gbit LAN, and 7.1 gold plated audio with S/PDIF optical.
The PCI-E layout is very similar to other X370 motherboards. The first and second x16 slots operate at x16/x0 or x8/x8 PCI-E 3.0. The last x16 slot is electrically x4 PCI-E 2.0 and shares bandwidth with the second M.2 slot. Two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots are connected to the chipset. Two USB 3.0 headers are located below the 24-pin connector.
The top M.2 slot is a 32Gb/s slot connected to the CPU. The bottom M.2 slot is a 20Gb/s slot, and it's connected to the chipset. If you use the last M.2 slot, the bottom PCI-E slot will be disabled.
The motherboard offers OC features such as a POST code display, power and reset buttons, and two USB 2.0 ports. A clear CMOS jumper is located above the POST code display. There are ten SATA6Gb/s ports onboard.
The motherboard has two RGB LED headers at the bottom of the motherboard. A third RGB LED header and a single USB 2.0 header are located near the CPU socket for AMD's new generation of CPU coolers.
The motherboard's heat sinks and shields are all screwed to the motherboard.
ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming Circuit Analysis
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming looks nice without the heat sinks.
The VRM is in a 12+4 phase configuration. The IR35201 has 6+2 phases, and they are doubled to 12+4 through the use of eight IR3598 doubler/dual-driver chips. Each of the power phases uses a single Texas Instruments CSD87350Q5D high-performance NexFETs which are rated for 40A each. They integrated the high and low-side MOSFETs into a single package. Each inductor is 60A, and the capacitors are 12K.
The IR3598 doubler/dual-drivers are located on the back of the motherboard. The memory VRM is controlled by a UPI uP1674P outputs two PWM channels to drive two memory phases which use the same Texas Instruments CSD87350Q5D high-performance NexFETs as the CPU VRM.
ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming Circuit Analysis Continued
ASRock made sure to use Realtek's ALC1220 with integrated headphone amplifier and added a secondary Texas Instruments NE5532 amplifier to drive the front panel connector's headphone output. Nichicon Gold Series audio capacitors and a physical PCB divide help to improve audio quality.
An Aquantia AQC108 is a 5Gbit/2.5G/1G/100M NBase-T NIC, and it is the first of its kind. The Intel i211AT is used as a secondary NIC.
An Intel 3168NGW Wireless AC chip provides 433Mbps wireless-AC. An ICS 9VRS4883BKLF clock generator to provide BCLK adjustment ability.
Two Pericom PI3EQX re-drive the USB 3.1 signals from the chipset for the rear IO ports, and an ASMedia ASM1543 type-C switch and controller chip help improve USB 3.1 capabilities of the motherboard.
An ASMedia ASM1184e PCI-E hub expands upon the basic PCI-E 2.0 (1 to 3) from the chipset so that all the extra controllers (SATA and WIFI) have enough bandwidth. Multiple NXP quick switches move around PCI-E bandwidth. Two ASMedia ASM1061 provide four extra SATA6Gb/s ports.
The motherboard's main SuperIO is the nuvoton NCT6779D which provides the PS/2 port on the rear IO, helps control the fans, and ultimately monitors the system. A nuvoton N76E885AT20 provides RGB LED support.
BIOS and Software
ASRock's UEFI for the Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming is similar to that of the rest of ASRock's X370 lineup, but it does offer a few extra features such as GUI based fan control. The motherboard provides standard overclocking settings, and they are all you need to overclock your system to its maximum. While there is no Easy Mode, menu navigation, and setting labels are easy enough to understand so you can change what you have to change without too much confusion.
ASRock's software suite includes ASRock F-Stream, ASRock RGB LED, APP Shop with live update, Sound Blaster Cinema 4, and Restart to UEFI.
Test System Setup
Steven's Motherboard Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1800X
- Cooler: Corsair H110i - Buy from Amazon
- Memory: Corsair Vengeance (2x8GB) 3000MHz
- Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Storage - Boot Drive: Kingston Predator 240GB
- Storage - SATA6G Drive: Micron Generic 240GB
- 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 HX1000 - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 - Buy from Amazon
- Monitor: ASUS PA328 ProArt 32" 4K - Buy from Amazon
- Keyboard: Corsair K70 LUX - Buy from Amazon
- Mouse: Corsair M65 PRO RGB - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Headset: Corsair VOID RGB Wireless - Buy from Amazon / Read our review
- Network: ASUS XG-U2008 10Gbit Switch
- BIOS: 1.96A
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming's aesthetics are anything but low-end.
While you are stuck with the red and black color theme, it is not a bad one to play around with. The RGB LEDs in the IO shield, under the audio shield, and under the chipset are well diffused and step things up a notch. However, I don't see the point in changing the color of the LEDs since you can't change the red in the heat sinks to another color.
AMD's Ryzen platform is quite new; AMD and its partners are working very hard on fixing issues and getting things to work across the board. The CPU also doesn't validate that much higher than its maximum stable frequency. Memory overclocking is topped at 3200MHz on most motherboards, and bus adjustment is also very tricky. Don't get me wrong, the CPU can overclock, mine does 4.0GHz, and the best I can get a kit is to 3000MHz. I will go through and tell you exactly what I did to achieve my maximum stable overclock, and as AMD's ecosystem of compatible memory kits becomes larger, I will add in a memory compatibility section.
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming is easy to overclock; you only need to set the CPU frequency and then enter a VCore if you want. The motherboard chose 1.35v for me, and that is the right voltage for 4GHz. With the new BIOS updates (or many my CPU's IMC is degrading) I am no longer to get my kit to 2933Mhz on the new motherboards I am reviewing, but I was able to boot with 2933Mhz with this motherboard. However, that speed was unstable, and I ended up doing 2666Mhz just like on the other three new AMD motherboards I have reviewed.
CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks
3DMark: Fire Strike
3DMark: Cloud Gate
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming's performance is top notch and in line with the other motherboards in our charts. It is interesting to note the performance increases of the top four motherboards compared to those lower down on the list. The newer motherboards use a newer microcode with performance increases.
System IO Benchmarks
ixChariot Network Throughput:
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming's storage performance is top notch compared to some of the other motherboards. Network performance is supreme, and that is because of the 5Gbit NIC, which offers 5x the throughput of the 1Gbit NICs on the other motherboards.
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: Excellent. The audio solution on this motherboard is top notch, and it's one of the best I have seen on an X370 motherboard. There are five ratings for audio: 1. Problems, 2. Okay, 3. Acceptable, 4. Very good, 5. Excellent
Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption
System power is measured at the wall with an AC power meter.
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) radiator are turned on to high (12v).
Up-close of the front of the VRM.
Up-close of the back of the VRM.
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming has one of the best VRMs I have seen on any X370 motherboard. It is truly high-end, and the temperature analysis shows that it's being cooled down well. It is a high-performance VRM and right next to the 5Gbit NIC, which produces enough heat on its own to warrant a small heat sink.
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 X370 Professional Gaming.
5Gbit NIC: Having recently done a piece on the new 5Gbit/2.5Gbit/1Gbit/100Mbit NBASE-T NIC from Aquantia, I can attest to the new chip's performance. In the future, we will see more supporting hardware, but for now, you can link two of these NICs together or to an NBase-T switch or router to take advantage of the increased speed over existing cabling (Cat5e).
VRM Quality: The X370 Professional Gaming is a truly high-end X370 motherboard, and as such has a very high-quality VRM. ASRock is using one of the finest digital PWM controllers in the industry along with some of the best power stage and filter components.
Lots of USB: Six USB 3.0 on the rear and two USB 3.0 internal headers are just the start. The motherboard is also loaded with AMD's USB 3.1 on the rear IO; you get a type-A port and a type-C port.
Extra Clock Generator: ASRock has added in a secondary clock generator so that you can tune the base frequency, something that is only possible with an extra clock buffer IC.
WIFI Card is 1x1: While everyone loves Intel's wired NICs, their 1x1 wireless AC card isn't that fast, and I was hoping that ASRock would upgrade it to 2x2.
The ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming is one of very few high-end enthusiast X370 motherboards. It offers overclocking features, an extra clock generator, and one of the best VRMs to facilitate easy and fulfilling overclocking of your Ryzen CPU. The motherboard is also loaded with other features such as dual M.2 slots, four extra SATA6Gb/s ports, and a 5Gbit NIC.
The Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming is also a stunner regarding aesthetics. If the built-in RGB LEDs in the shields and under the chipset heat sink wasn't enough, ASRock added three RGB LED headers onto the motherboard to facilitate all your lighting projects. The X370 Professional Gaming is one of few truly high-end X370 motherboards and is worth a look if you want to build a premium Ryzen system.
The Bottom Line: ASRock raises the bar with the Fatal1ty X370 Professional Gaming by putting a 5Gbit NIC on a premium AMD X370 AM4 motherboard.
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