ASRock X99M Series Motherboard Overview
Side-by-side is the fairest way to compare two products that have as much in common as the X99M Extreme4 and Fatal1ty X99M Killer. You’ll notice, for example, that they have the same port and slot arrangements.
They also have the same Ultra M.2 interface taking up the second slot's space. And both boards use all four of Haswell-E's leftover PCIe 3.0 lanes to feed it. That means that both boards lack PCIe 3.0 signaling for the third slot, which is probably alright since it’s often covered up by the second card's heat sink. I'm also fine with the lack of a second slot, since every configuration requires at least one graphics card.
This layout gives ASRock’s matching boards a duality in marketing. Both products support CrossFire or SLI, while single graphics card users are left with a PCIe 3.0 x8 and a PCIe 2.0 x4 slot to fill. Given the platform's ability to support up to eight cores, the latter option rings “mini workstation” and “mini server” bells in my head.
Maybe it’s because I just got my bells rung, but the presence of all ten internal SATA ports also looks a little server-oriented to me. ASRock gaming boards might not appeal as enterprise solutions, but some serving needs are less mission-critical. I even have the case picked out.
Both of ASRock’s X99M motherboards share the same 12-phase voltage regulator, and I can even see mounting holes on the X99M Extreme4 for the Fatal1ty X99M Killer's extended power regulator heat sink. Using the same circuit board gives both products the same pros and cons, including a well-placed USB 3.0 header that won’t interfere with card installation and the same eight-pin (EPS/ATX) CPU12V connector that will probably get blocked in by any oversized CPU cooler. At least the latter issue isn’t a clearance/fitment issue.
Both boards shove the front-panel audio header as far as possible into the bottom-rear corner, and I’ve experienced cases (even from Lian-Li) with cables that either wouldn’t reach or barely reached. In those marginal situations, the problem was that the cable was stretched too tightly to allow installation of a card into the second or third expansion slot.
Remember on the previous page when I mentioned the Killer added goodies? For exactly $19 (not $20) more than the X99M Extreme4, the Fatal1ty X99M Killer provides a three-month premium membership certificate for XSplit Gamecaster, a $26.85 value. That’s in addition to its upgraded Killer Ethernet controller.