Today we are delving back into the high end Intel marketplace with a look at a motherboard designed for gamers and enthusiasts. This is our ASRock X99X Killer Review.
ASRock X99X Killer Review – Packaging and Bundle
ASRock stick with some familiar box art on the X99X, based on their well known Fatal1ty branding. The box gives us plenty of information on the features of the board and then inside is a decent bundle. That includes the product documentation, software disc, SATA cables, SLI bridges, I/O Shield and power cable. This is a power cable specific to ASRock and connects to a port on the board, before plugging into our drives. Then, in software, we can disable the Hard Drives to save energy and potentially extend the lifespan of the drive (or hide them from view).
ASRock X99X Killer Review – The Board
The X99X Killer is shown above and it is a full size ATX board which uses a black 2oz copper PCB and red aluminium alloy heatsinks. ASRock enhance the build quality using 60A power choke configuration, memory alloy chokes, Nichicon 12k platinum capacitors, high quality (Dual-N) MOSFETs and gold contacts on the memory slots, PCIe connector and PCIe power connector. The board uses a 12 phase design with multiple filter capacitors and supports the latest Socket 2011-3 CPUs including Core i7 and Xeon models. This also means that ASRock have implemented support for standard DDR4 DIMMS as well as ECC RDIMM.
In terms of protection circuitry ASRock provide surge protection (from PSU), lightning protection (LAN) and ESD protection (USB/LAN and MOSFETs). A Dehumidifier function is also built in which will resume the system from sleep to run the fans and ensure the chassis remains as dry as possible.
Looking down to the bottom left of the board we start our PCIe slots with a 16x 3.0 spec slot. Next up is 1x followed by 16x, 1x and 8x. Between the two 16x slots is an M.2 connector (30mm-110mm) which supports Gen3 x4 speed (if used, PCIe 5 is disabled) and between the bottom two slots is a mini PCIe connector ideal for compact WiFi cards. 3Way SLI and CrossFire X are both supported. Also in this section are our Realtek ALC1150 based audio components which include Nichicon fine gold capacitors, 115dB SNR DAC with Differential amplifier, TI NE5532 amp (with 600ohm support), EMI shielding and a dedicated PCB area.
Round at the bottom right of the board we find an onboard power and reset button along with debug LED. There are ten SATA ports on the X99X Killer and these offer RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10. There is also a connector in this area which is certified to work with the ASUS Thunderbolt add in card.
Moving up the right edge of the board we find two front panel USB 3.0 connectors, our 24 pin power input (there is an 8pin on the top edge and molex next to PCIe 1) with the final item of note on this edge being a USB connector. There are eight memory slots on the X99X Killer and these are split across four channels. DDR4 is the order of the day with speeds in excess of 3000MHz and capacities up to 128GB.
Flipping the board round we get to the back panel connectors which include fast charging tech and these start with USB 2.0 and PS/2. ASRock call one of those ports the Fatality mouse port and allow us to control the polling rate on this. Next up is the clear CMOS button, two USB 3.0 ports (ASMedia 1042) and eSATA. Four more USB 3.0 ports are up next (ASMedia 1074) and above them are two GB LAN connectors. The first uses Killer NIC technology (E2200, PCIe 1x based) and the other is an Intel I218V. Then we find our 3.5mm audio connectors which run from the 7.1 audio processor as does the optical audio out connector.
ASRock X99X Killer Review – BIOS and Software
ASRock stick with a GUI BIOS for the X99X Killer and it uses a nice, simple layout which is easy to navigate with our keyboard and mouse. The key options for enthusiasts are found in the OC Tweaker screen however the tools section is also packed with useful items. These include the easy RAID installer and ability to update the BIOS from both the internet, or USB.
For those who need them ASRock provide tools which unlock higher capacity drives on older versions of Windows, offer media/cloud functions, tweak tools for our LAN ports and software which works with Macro/Sniper functions in game. The main software is however F-Stream. From inside this we can enable quick profiles, tweak our system in detail, monitor it and download the latest software and drivers/BIOS from the net before automatically installing. As an added bonus we also get access to X-Split for recording/streaming our gaming. The latest versions of the above are available from ASRock.
ASRock X99X Killer Review – Performance
Key Test Specifications:
Intel Core i7-5960X /Intel Core i7-4790K
ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5, Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 5, MSI X99S Gaming9 AC
NVIDIA GTX 980
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800
16GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-2666
Samsung 840 Evo 1TB
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB (SATA Testing)
OCZ RevoDrive 350 (PCIe testing)
Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD
Antec Kuhler 1250
Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench
Windows 8.1 64-bit
NVIDIA Drivers: 344.07
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Music Conversion (2CD lossless to MP3)
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Video Conversion 4K to 720p
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Memory Bandwidth DDR3/4 2666
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SATA3 (Samsung 850 Pro)
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USB 3.0 (Corsair Voyager GTX)
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PCIe (Revodrive 350)
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M.2 SSD (Plextor M6e)
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ASRock X99X Killer Review – Conclusion
Starting with the build quality of the X99X Killer, we have no significant issues to report. The board uses high quality components throughout and we noted no issues with loose parts (e.g. heatsinks) and no damaged items. It is also good to see plenty of protection functionality and high end audio parts too. In terms of design there is a lot to like about this board. The first thing we noticed for example was that there is a bit more space than some other boards between the top PCIe slot and the CPU socket which makes installation of large tower coolers easier, and issue free. For example on a competitor board we reviewed previously one of our Cooler Master coolers rests against the back of a GTX 980 which isn’t ideal. That said, we are not fans of the location of the PCIe power connector on the X99X as it makes tidy wiring more difficult. Elsewhere on the board we have everything we would like to see from an X99 product, including multiple 16x slots, M.2, a large number of SATA ports and support for plenty of DDR4. ASRock then go above and beyond with the inclusion of two high end GB LAN ports, mini-PCIe, HDD Saver and support for ECC/RDIMM.
As far as software and the BIOS goes, ASRock get all the basics correct with a nice simple layout and some key features like updates from USB drive. Things are good on the software front too. We still think that ASRock over complicate their offering with the Fatality port, cloud/media software and the like. These don’t seem particularly geared to this boards target market however X-Split and F-Stream are welcome additions.
Pricing for the X99X Killer is competitive but key to the success of the board is its performance. In that area we were very impressed. The board consistently sat at the higher end of the X99 performance scale and provided no issues throughout our testing. PCIe, USB 3.0, memory bandwidth… gaming. All had high end results which any enthusiast would be pleased with. We were also happy to see that the overclock, on air and liquid, allowed us to hit the same level as the likes of the Rampage V Extreme with our i7-5960X sample.
Summary: A board with a good level of build quality, excellent features and a decent layout. The performance is it best aspect though, very much a high end X99 product which can compete with the best the competition has to offer.