ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Professional Review
ASRock may have started out from humble beginnings by offering some oddball, relatively low quality motherboards but that ship has since been turned around. Over the last three years to so, they have quickly gained the respect of PC enthusiasts by offering a blend of features and performance at a price that is usually more palatable than the competition. The latest Fatal1ty Z87 Professional exemplifies many of these characteristics and while it is priced at $250, it is still a relatively good deal compared many other ‘gaming’ orientated motherboards.
While the Fatal1ty brand has seen its share of ups and –mainly- downs the ASRock / Fatal1ty business relationship has proven to be rather successful for everyone. Every generation ASRock releases a Fatal1ty motherboard and every generation they get better, more feature rich and as a result have become quite successful. This success is largely based on the fact that ASRock knows precisely what this particular corner of the market is looking for: stability, performance, ease of overclocking, aesthetics, and built in features which can give gamers an edge over the competition. Most importantly, price may only be of secondary concern, but value is very important to anyone looking for this particular class of motherboard. Consumers have no qualms with paying more upfront as long it proves to be a better long-term investment.
Overall value is a very intangible term which is hard for any manufacturer to consistently get right. However, ASRock’s ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach has historically proven to be a rather good way to do just that. The latest Z87 based Fatal1ty board has been loaded with features to give PC gaming enthusiasts not only what they want, but actually offer up what they don’t even know they need - yet. It has all the usual high end features – built in OC software, Japanese capacitors, robust cooling, 2oz copper PCB layers, and so on- as well as ASRock's XFast features, but also includes a few subtle touches that only Fatal1ty and ASRock could think to include. From his input ASRock have not only included a good onboard, gaming orientated Audio solution – Creative Sound Core3D - and dual Intel NICs but also a little feature they call the Fatal1ty USB port. When combined with the included software, this USB port transforms even the most mundane of mice into a high performance, gaming peripheral replete with ‘sniper’ and macro abilities.
While the Fatal1ty Z87 Professional’s main priority is PC Gaming enthusiasts, many of those special features should also make the typical, high end motherboard buying consumer take note. Special touches like ten SATA ports, internal headers for four front USB 3.0 ports, 12 phase digital power and a color scheme that was not designed by a fan of the Jersey Shore TV series will make even average buyers pause and take a second look. This flexibility is what ASRock are hoping will drive sales in a wide array of markets and allow ASRock to further cement their reputation as a serious manufacture of serious grade motherboards.
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