ASRock X99M Extreme4 And Fatal1ty X99M Killer Review

ASRock is ready to take on EVGA in the battle for enthusiast-oriented microATX motherboards. Can the company best known for value conquer its gaming-centric competitor in overclocking and features, or will this be a pure pricing play?

The old idiom “good things come in small packages” is particularly applicable to babies and jewelry. But small is a relative term. For instance, mini-ITX gets lots of attention. But it doesn't have the flexibility to suit the needs of typical high-end gamers. Worse, mini-ITX steals the spotlight from what I consider to be a truly useful form factor, microATX.

Lop the last three slots off of a full ATX motherboard and you've just defined the microATX standard. That means microATX still has enough room around the CPU interface to include a big voltage regulator or support four memory channels. Builders still get up to four slots, which is enough for most, and two-way CrossFire or SLI, which also covers the majority of enthusiasts. In fact, microATX’s only performance-oriented restriction is that, with less slot space to waste, manufacturers tend not to blank out the top slot space in favor of oversized on-board devices.

Many builders realized microATX’s potential for semi-portable gaming machines right before they forgot about them in favor of mini-ITX. A few stood by the design, though. A handful of companies kept the candle lit with power user-class motherboards until recently, and now other companies are stepping in to fill the niche.

We recently gave EVGA’s X99 Micro our seal of approval for standing up to its full ATX rivals in every measurable metric. Now it’s ASRock’s turn. A comparison of its X99M Extreme4 and Fatal1ty X99M Killer motherboards to the X99 Micro may be enlightening, but a comparison between the two ASRock boards is even more entertaining.

LGA 2011-v3 Micro ATX Motherboard Features
 ASRock X99M
Extreme4
ASRock Fatal1ty
X99M Killer
EVGA X99 Micro
(131-HE-E995-KR)
PCB Revision1.021.021.0
ChipsetIntel X99Intel X99Intel X99
Voltage Regulator12 Phases12 PhasesSix Phases
100.0 MHz BCLK99.94 (-0.06%)99.94 (-0.06%)100.19 (+0.19%)
I/O Panel Connectors
P/S 2111
USB 3.0446
USB 2.0444
Network221
eSATA11None
CLR_CMOS Button111
Digital Audio OutOpticalOpticalOptical
Digital Audio InNoneNoneNone
Analog Audio555
Other DevicesNoneNoneNone
Internal Interfaces
PCIe 3.0 x16
(5960X, 5930K)
2 (x16/x16)
SLI, CrossFire
2 (x16/x16)
SLI, CrossFire
3 (x16/x16/x8)
SLI x3, CrossFire x3
PCIe 3.0 x16
(Core i7-5820K)
3 (x16/x8/)
SLI, CrossFire
3 (x16/x8/)
SLI, CrossFire
3 (x16/x8/x4)
SLI x2, CrossFire x3
PCIe 2.0 x161 (x4)1 (x4)None
PCIe 2.0 x1NoneNoneNone
USB 3.01 (2-ports)1 (2-ports)1 (2-ports)
USB 2.02 (4-ports)2 (4-ports)1 (2-ports)
SATA 6Gb/s10106
SATA ExpressNoneNoneNone
4-Pin Fan225
3-Pin Fan33None
FP-Audio111
S/PDIF I/ONoneNoneOutput Only
Internal ButtonsPower, ResetPower, ResetPower, Reset, CLR_CMOS
Internal SwitchDual BIOS IC SelectorDual BIOS IC SelectorNone
Diagnostics PanelNumericNumericNumeric
Other ConnectorsTB (Card) HeaderTB (Card) HeaderEVGA Probe-IT, M.2 Wi-Fi
Mass Storage Controllers
Chipset SATA10x SATA 6Gb/s
(Includes M.2, eSATA)
10x SATA 6Gb/s
(Includes M.2, eSATA)
6x SATA 6Gb/s
(Includes M.2, SATA-E)
Chipset RAID Modes0, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 100, 1, 5, 10
Add-In SATANoneNoneNone
USB 3.0NoneNoneVL805 PCIe
ASM1042 PCIe
Networking
Primary LANWGI217V PHYWGI217V PHYWGI217V PHY
Secondary LANAR8171 PCIeKiller E2200 PCIeNone
Wi-FiNoneNoneNone
BluetoothNoneNoneNone
Audio
HD Audio CodecALC1150ALC1150ALC1150
DDL/DTS ConnectDTS ConnectDTS ConnectNone
WarrantyThree YearsThree YearsThree Years

ASRock uses the same PCB for both boards, just like Asus and Gigabyte did when they were part of this group. But unlike those competitors, ASRock doesn’t leave any component space unfilled on the less-expensive version, instead switching to a cheaper Ethernet controller from the same brand. Both boards have dual-networking to stand against EVGA’s extra USB 3.0 in value calculations, and the Killer also adds goodies to the box to justify the price hike over its Extreme4 sibling.