Does ASRock's Fatal1ty Z170 Professional Gaming i7 Really Offer More Features?

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MasterMace

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There's no point in these expensive mainstream boards. They don't have enough lanes to support SLI to its fullest, and thus only are good for 1, maybe 2 gpus depending on how expensive they are (with the less expensive being more favored).

For your enthusiast gpus, you're going 2011-3 for 40 lanes, or Xeon if you got money to spend for 64.
 

Tom Griffin

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This is old news and Tom's Hardware addressed it in the Z170 chipset overview quite awhile ago. You will notice on each manufacturers specifications page that using x will disable y. I think the author needs to attempt to delve into reading previous articles before spouting the obvious.
 

db188

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the point of Z170 is that it has optional connections, even if many of these are trade-offs. who the F cares about SATA Express anyways? it's DOA. tri and quad sli is a waste of money, even if sli didn't scale so horribly beyond 2 cards the cpu bottleneck would hold high end cards back. i think it's pretty obvious to anyone paying attention that Z170/Skylake is for gamers only. X99/Haswell-E is for gaming/workstation and if you're just going to render/model a Xeon setup is the way to go.
 

PureEnergi

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looked this chipset for quite a bit.. im running z97. The Cpu is only 17$ (i5) more than the 1150 Cpu where i shop; Plus if you buy the board ram processor together they give you a significant discount. The board isnt really that expensive either over an 1150. Setting aside the cost of jumping to a new ram platform (ddr4) there was very little reason to upgrade from a 1150. Seems most of the ASUS boards pimp the sata express which.. I see as a gimmick. I dont entertain many other brands. Gigabyte and MSI have caused me serious issues in the past. I think Ill wait till something more substantial comes out.
 

warezme

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I haven't worried about upgrading in a long time but let me get this straight. What this is showing is that the Z170 chipset isn't technically possible of supporting not even 8X PCIe lanes let alone 16X lanes without basically rendering the rest of the board bare of any other function? So what is the performance chipset with plenty of lanes?
 

firefoxx04

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This has always been a thing. My manual for my z97 extreme 6 clearly states what ports are disabled when sata express or m.2 is utilized.

It's the not the board manufacturers responsibility to make sure it's users understand the nitty giddy way the chipset works.

Good read, but saying asrock does not "come out and say this" and then saying "they don't hide it either" seems like a pointless statement unless the reason behind it was to make them look bad.
 

Quixit

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Well, the shared SATA Express lanes don't matter. NO ONE has ever made a SATA Express SSD.I'm sure the M.2 sharing with SATA3 probably annoys people who love to have huge numbers of storage devices, but that's about it.

Shared bandwidth on things like this is pretty normal, My P8-Z68-V PRO board from years ago has a PCI-E 4x slot that shares with the secondary SATA controller and USB controller. Annoying, but not new.
 
I haven't worried about upgrading in a long time but let me get this straight. What this is showing is that the Z170 chipset isn't technically possible of supporting not even 8X PCIe lanes let alone 16X lanes without basically rendering the rest of the board bare of any other function? So what is the performance chipset with plenty of lanes?
Well the PCI-E x16 connections are powered by the CPU, so graphics cards shouldn't be an issue. I probably should have mentioned that in the article so as not to confuse people. The real issue is that you end up paying for a lot of connectivity that you just can't use.
 

diagrafeas

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My ideal configuration would be:

1st Slot: PCIE x16(x16)
2nd Slot: none (m.2 PCIE x4)
3rd Slot: PCIE x16(x8 electrical from CPU)
4rth Slot: none (m.2 PCIE x4)
5th Slot: PCIE x16(x4 electrical shared with 1st m.2)
6th Slot: PCIE x16(x4 electrical shared with 2nd m.2)
7th Slot: PCIE x16(x4 electrical)

Which leaves
6+4 USB3 (preferably 2 internal)
4 USB2 (preferably 2 internal)
2+(4) SATA3 (#)->shared
1 Gigabit LAN
x1 PCIE for wifi ac
2 SATA Express (shared with 2 m.2 which are shared with 2 PCIE x16(x4 electrical)) or (4) SATA Ports).
So you could use 2x 1m.2/or 1PCIEx4/or 1SATA Express/or 2 SATA at time.
 
I guess there is a positive way to look at this: you get to choose what combination of devices you use, instead of being locked in by the choices made by the motherboard maker.
If the board is not too expensive, that'd be true. But I'm pretty sure it'll NOT be cheap.
 

epobirs

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It can be dizzying but at least the choices are between good alternatives. I have an Asrock mATX board from a few generations back that had an mSATA slot that had an either/or relationship with a SATA port. But it was a SATA II port.

Why the hell would anyone buy an mSATA drive for a new build to run it at less than SATA-III? I couldn't get a straight answer from Asrock as to what speed the mSATA slot ran at and ultimately used a regular 2.5" SSD in that build rather than take the risk of wasting the performance of the mSATA card I'd already bought. Fortunately, I friend needed a new machine on short notice and it went into that to recoup my investment.
 

Nyhil116

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When will motherboard manufacturers figure it out...

HIGH QUALITY BOARDS DON'T NEED:
10 sata ports (who the hell has that many things connected?! 1 main SSD and 1-2 backup HDD.... 4-5 ports max)
6+ USB 3.* ports (seriously... keyboard, mouse and thumbdrive.. and maybe a usb hub.. 4 ports is enough)
10 USB 2.0 ports (I can't imagine needing more than 2-4 USB 2.0 ports...)
4 sata express ports (if you want to run fast drives use m.2 not sata express... sheesh... only need 2 of these, at best)
2 m.2 connections (I don't see the need to have more than one.. but hey, if you raid 0, these things would kill load times)
2 LAN ports (is there any real practical use to have 2 F'ing LAN ports?! Give us a Killer NIC built in with 1 port!)
Any form of onboard video connector (except perhaps hdmi for testing)

I really wish I could design, or help them figure this out. What I would love to see is a gaming motherboard with a GOOD built in audio chip. 2 rear & 1 front USB 3.0 and 1 front USB 3.1. A single HDMI connector (no va, displayport, and 2 hdmi). We only really need 1 m.2 port as one of those speedy drives is fast enough; if you want to include sata3 ports, give us like 4 of those and 2 sata express... at most. I doubt most normal gamers, including some who buy these boards (which I will be one of next year if someone makes a good one) actually have 3 cards in SLI or crossfire. In all likelihood they have a single card or dual cards at best. Modesty can be more sexy than overindulgence... I miss the days when Gigabyte would release its gaming motherboards and they were minimalist, but had everything a gamer NEEDED.

2 cents added.
 


Disagree with about half of that...

USB ports are dirt cheap and you can never have too many. Why would I want to have an extra USB hub hanging in space if I could just get a board with a pile more USB ports? People use USB to charge cellphones, for scanners, card-readers, external hard-drives, and boatloads of other stuff.

Same goes for the display outputs; not everyone is a gamer wanting to spend $200 on a GPU. If I want three displays off an iGPU, why stop me? DVI-I, HDMI, and a DP, please.

It's pretty common for high-end boards to use link aggregation so you get double the LAN bandwidth. This is important if you're moving stuff to/from SANs frequently. Also, an increasing number of people are using PCs as a router. Killer NICs are branding and nothing else.

M.2 can also be used for a WiFi card.

Largely agree on the SATA ports, though. Unless it's in use as a NAS.
 
Yea, for SATA ports, I used to use a board with six of these, and I ran out. Now i have one with 8, and have all of them in use, and use a RAID controller for extra. I don't think 10 is too many, but anything more than that is really pushing it, because you start to get to the point that you will have trouble fitting enough drives in a standard PC case to plug into them.

I disagree for the USB ports a little bit. I definitely wouldn't want to use an external hub if I can avoid it. Happy to use the ones that go on the front of the PC case though. 6 USB 3.0 slots is probably plenty for most users, as it seems unlikely to me that users would use more than 6 USB 3.0 capable devices at a time. The only reason I think that OEMs shouldn't bother with more, is in situations like this where it starts sucking HSIO lanes away from other potential devices, in which case it would be much better to implement USB 2.0 pots instead. If that wasn't an issue, I'd say you can't have too many.

M.2 devices, I completely agree here. I honestly don't see the need to have more than two of these, especially given their cost at the moment. Although, later down the road when they are as cheap as HDDs I'd rather see nothing but these (though, possibly connected via some type of cable to conserve space on the motherboard) but that is a long ways off.

Ditto Someone Somewhere on the LAN and video ports.

It would be a lot of fun to design your own board. I've wanted to do that for a long time now. I'm a big fan of integrated hardware, so I'd love to see more robust integrated audio and other devices, so I definitely agree with you on that one. Although I don't agree with all of your points Nyhil116, I'm glad you posted them because it is important to see what others like in a product. It is fortunate the market is usually overfilled with motherboards to give us a lot of options, because it is rare that a board has everything that everyone wants, but may have everything someone wants. In this case, the board seems overloaded with parts, but it's trying to draw in everyone even if it drives cost up at the same time.
 

Dr Mario

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The only issue I see with this motherboard is that they promote it as being Quad SLI capable. But when you look at the arrangement of the 4 x16 slots, it's not possible with 4 dual slot GPU cards. The card in the second slot from the CPU socket is going to cover the third slot.

The motherboard is actually more future proof than others.
For instance, you might start out with 3 x SATA SSD's. Then, 1 - 2 years later, when M.2 PCI-e SSD's become more affordable you swap the SATA based ones out without changing the motherboard. You lose 6 SATA connections. But with 10 SATA connections, you could even hang on to the 3 x SATA SSD's and have 1 SATA connection left.

EDIT: I have to correct myself here. Slap!
The CPU provides 16 real PCI-e 3.0 lanes. The Z170 chipset in fact provides only 4 real PCI-e 3.0 lanes. Not 20. Because all 20 lanes of the chipset are connected through DMI 3.0 to the CPU, and DMI 3.0 operates at a speed equivalent to the speed of only 4 real PCI-e 3.0 lanes. So there is a total bandwidth of 20 PCI 3.0 lanes only. 16 (CPU) + 4 (DMI 3.0) = 20.
What a croc!
 
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