ALTHOUGH IT‘S NOT the first time a motherboard manufacturer – or computer accessory manufacturer for that matter – has teamed up with a professional PC gamer to flog its wares, we have to wonder what ASRock was thinking when they teamed up with Fatal1ty, aka Johnathan Wendel. As much as he was one of the best professional gamers out there in first person shooter games, he’s become more of a brand than a gamer these days and in all honesty, we can’t say that we think he’s a great brand.
Considering that there are already graphics cards, memory, power supplies, sounds cards and headsets carrying the Fatal1ty brand – made by Creative, OCZ and XFX – and even a custom gaming PC and notebook from Origin, the only thing missing since Abit went bust seems to have been a motherboard. Still, we’re not sold on the brand, but obviously there is still a high demand for products with the name of an ex-professional gamer stuck on to somehow justify the high price tag.
That said, ASRock’s new Fatal1ty P67 motherboard does at least have the looks of a high-end product and we would go as far as to say that it challenges the Asus R.O.G. series of boards in terms of both design and features. It’s hard to miss the branding on the board with no less than four different Fatal1ty related logos on the board, a little bit over the top, no? Besides the branding, the board uses black and red as its main colours, on a dark brown PCB. This really is a huge step up in terms of design for ASRock, but much of this seems to be related to parent company Pegatron’s spinoff from Asus.
Image courtesy of Xfastest
Feature wise the Fatal1ty P67 board has pretty much what you’d expect to see on a high-end P67 board that targets gamers. There are three x16 PCI Express slots, although there’s no nForce 200 chip on this board and looking at the pictures posted by Xfastest, it’s clear that the board has a full x16 slot, a x8 slot and finally a x4 slot. This means that you’re stuck with using two x8 slots for graphics with the third slot only being able to support something like a PhysX card if that’s something you care about. There are also two x1 PCI Express slots and two PCI slots of which the latter two can’t be used if you’re using two dual slot graphics cards.
Around the back you’ll find a pair of PS/2 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, a special USB 2.0 port that we’ll get to in a sec, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, a FireWire port, 7.1-channel audio jacks with optical and coaxial S/PDIF out and a CMOS reset button. The top red USB 2.0 port allows to you to increase the polling rate from 125Hz to 500Hz which allows older mice to perform better when playing FPS style games. We’re not sure how much of an issue this is, apart from for those that are unwilling to upgrade their mouse to something a bit more modern.
Image courtesy of Xfastest
The board also has pin headers for two additional USB 3.0 ports, eight USB 2.0 ports, a FireWire port and a serial port. There’s also no less than 10 SATA ports on this board of which six are SATA 6GBps, two via the Intel chipset and four via two Marvell controllers. For whatever reason, ASRock also decided to fit an IDE and floppy connector on the board. ASRock has also gone for memory slots with locking clasps on only one side, as seen on some Asus boards in the past.
ASRock chose USB 3.0 controllers from Etron which seems like an odd choice, as its controllers has yet to pass USB-IF certification, although considering that ECS seems to be using the same controllers on most of its next generation boards, we can only presume that Etron expects to pass the certification ahead of the Sandy Bridge platform launch. The board also has a POST80 debug LED display, Fatal1ty branded power and rest buttons and what apparently are some custom gold coloured capacitors.
A PLX PCI Express bridge can be found under the large heatsink behind the SATA ports which seems to be required due to the fact that there is no less than nine devices using the PCI Express bus on this board, not counting the x1 and x4 PCI Express slots. The PLX PCI Express bridge supports up to eight PCI Express lanes, although it’s not exactly the best solution around. Then again, it’s unlikely that you’ll use all the PCI Express devices at once, although it is possible to use at least half of them quite easily considering the features of the board.
Despite what in our opinion is just cheesy branding, the ASRock Fatal1ty P67 board is an impressive show of knowhow and product design from a company that has pretty much been a low to mid-range board maker so far. Unlike some of its past competitors, it looks like ASRock might very well start competing with the big boys in the motherboard market very soon and it does have to have Pegatron behind it. We’re still not sure if ASRock would be our first choice of motherboard, but things are definitely improving qickly.S|A
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