ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional £138
1st May 2012 | 11:30
A bargain board with angular looks, but does anyone remember Fatal1ty anymore?
Introduction and benchmarks
Hitting the more bargainous end of the Z77 motherboard market is the excellent ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 professional.
But,were it not for the massive 'Fatal1ty' branding on the chipset heatsinks of ASRock's Z77 Professional you'd be forgiven for thinking you were looking at one of Asus' Republic of Gamers boards.
It's finished in the same sort of black and red styling, with large heatsinks and a plethora of connections that have become almost synonymous with the RoG brand. ASRock has even started using the single clipping DIMM slots that Asus has been pioneering.
Unlike the RoG boards though the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is resolutely aimed at the gamer. Realistically then it's a great board to be pairing with the Intel Core i5 3570K Ivy Bridge CPU.
That may sound odd given that gaming is in the Asus brand's name, but the series has moved ever further away from actual PC gaming and more into the enthusiast/liquid nitrogen-sniffing overclockers market.
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is totally set up to rock your gaming world.
And for a very reasonable price it's got a hell of a feature set too, even down to the legacy IDE support so you wont necessarily have to ditch your current PATA optical drive.
We've felt that pain before…
Socket - Intel LGA 1155
Chipset - Intel Z77
Graphics support - 2x PCIe 3.0 x16, 1x PCIe 2.0 x16, Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire
Memory - Dual-channel DDR3
High speed interfaces - 8x USB 3.0, 6x SATA 6Gbps
In the X264 and WiC benchmarks you can see the Gigabyte and Asus boards holding quite a lead which is because they're Turbo-ing to 3.9GHz by default, whereas the Intel and ASRock boards are running at 3.7GHz in Turbo.
In general performance terms though the Fatal1ty board stands up well against the pricier competiton.
CPU encoding performance
Memory bandwidth performance
Look at the backplates of the Asus P8Z77-V Pro and the Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H and you'll see every display output under the sun, ASRock though understands the Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is only ever going to have a discrete pixel pusher strapped to it taking care of the display needs of the system.
That means the back panel alone has six USB 3.0 ports and another six USB 2.0, as well as twin Gigabit LAN connectors.
And if you really must output via the onboard graphics at any point ASRock has still strapped HDMI and DisplayPort connectors on the back too.
All that despite being the cheapest of the Z77 boards we've tested.
To bolster its gaming credentials you also get the latest version of Lucid's Virtu technology, MVP. According to the marketing blurb it'll help boost frame rates, sort out VSync stutters and make you breakfast in the morning.
In real life though things aren't so rosey.
The HyperFormance (we just sicked up a little at that trademark) part of the MVP software does some sort of asynchronous multi-GPU shenanigans to make use of the CPU graphics inside the Intel chip.
In reality though it only works with certain titles, and even then only sporadically.
In both DiRT 3 and World in Conflict MVP actually made frame rates drop, though did boost the minimum frame rate in WiC. Things seemed a little better when the final figures were spat out of the Shogun 2 benchmark, offering a 10FPS boost, though the graphical artefacts in-game mean it's still not worth it.
The actual ASRock board's performance is pretty impressive though, even at stock speeds it's got some decent number-crunching chops.
When the Intel Core i7 3770K is set to it's stock 3.7GHz multi-threaded Turbo it even out-performs the Asus P8Z77-V Pro, which only managed a rather paltry 7.39 in Cinebench. We can see why that board Turbos to 3.9GHz by default now.
The Z77 Professional also posted the best memory bandwidth figures of the bunch too.
It didn't keep up with the top two in the overclocking stakes though, managing only 4.7GHz. But that's still a hell of an OC, especially on such a well-priced board.
Ultimately then it's a great bargain Z77 board, offering impressive options for the PC gamer without breaking the bank.
Ivy Bridge: What you need to know
Intel Core i7 3770K review
Intel Core i5 3570K review
Straight away the price makes this Z77 motherboard an absolute steal - it's perfectly judged as a gamer's board.
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional is also up there when it comes to performance too. It may not have the straight-line speed, but it's more than competitive.
It's also great that ASRock has opted to include more USB connectivity than extraneous display outputs. It knows the motherboard's audience.
The pricier Asus and Gigabyte boards automatically take it upon themselves to constantly push the performance envelope - with the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 professional though you'll have to take matters into your own hands.
An absolute bargain Z77 motherboard, perfect for the peripheral-heavy gamer, and pretty good for everyone else too.