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HARDWARE

Full-ATX ASRock FM2A88X+ Killer

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ASRock used to be all about bargainous, but frankly pretty batty motherboards, but more recently it’s delivered a nice line of more conventional high-end mobos. The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer falls into the latter category.

An excellent choice for building an FM2+ system.

Like the G1-SNIPER A88X, it’s pitched at gamers courtesy of ye olde Fatal1ty branding. The gaming goodness starts with the Qualcomm Killer E2200 Ethernet chip. ASRock claims it prioritises online gaming traffic to reduce latency. You can also fire up a Windows-based app and fine-tune the traffic by hand.

Next up is Purity sound, which includes shielding to reduce noise and interference, and support for 600ohm high-end headphones, plus the Fatal1ty mouse Port, which is basically a USB port that supports the preferred 500 Hz polling of the master himself.

There’s also what ASRock calls especially high quality digital VRM, with advanced pulse-width modulation that should translate into excellent overclocking. Dual-GPU support comes from the two 16-lane PCI express slots, though the second slot only operates in four-lane mode electrically, and like ASUS, ASRock has seen fit to add an extra pair of USB2.0 ports to the A88X chipset’s native four-port capability.

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Especially high quality digital VRM

The Fatal1ty even comes with the Keymaster feature that amounts to auto-fire and anti-wobble mouse aiming for sniper shots. Really only the ASUS A88X-Pro out-features the ASRock with its three-way graphics, displayPort connectivity and eSATA ports.

Tell me where it Hz

But what of performance? Unfortunately, CPU core overclocking is a big disappointment and tops out at 4.2 GHZ. Again, hand-tuning will very likely release more MHz, but easy access to really high clockspeeds isn’t part of the Fatal1ty package.

Nor is excellent sequential storage performance. Like its ASRock FM2A88X-ITX+ brethren, there’s something rotten in the state of the SATA solution. Sequential write speeds below 300 Mb/s with our Samsung 840 EVO test drive simply aren’t right.

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ASRock FM2A88X Killer – No lag, just frag

That said, the Fatal1ty counters with excellent 4k random access storage performance, and you could argue that it’s 4k rather than sequential that makes the biggest difference to the day-to-day responsiveness of your PC. Go figure.

The Fatal1ty also puts out some pretty nice numbers when it comes to overclocked integrated graphics, losing out only to the freakishly fast ASUS A88X-Pro by that metric. As for the rest, well, as we’ve said before, there’s really little to choose between any of these boards when it comes to broader performance in cinebench, video encoding, memory bandwidth and the rest at stock clockspeeds. That’s symptomatic of the fact that so much functionality is now integrated onto the APU die itself that platform characteristics are becoming less critical. In plain English? Motherboards matter less and less to basic performance.

The ASRock Fatal1ty is a nice package, but you have to get the basics right before we’ll award credit for the fancier features, and thanks to patchy SATA performance and poor overclocking, the Fatal1ty is a teensy bit of a failure.

 

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