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ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Professional Gaming i7 floods you with connectivity options

By Ian Chee & Koh Wanzi - on 4 Nov 2015, 12:22pm

ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Professional Gaming i7 floods you with connectivity options

Image source: ASRock.

ASRock has just announced the Fatal1ty Z170 Professional Gaming i7 motherboard, its new flagship board that is positioned at the very top of its Intel Z170 board lineup. As a Fatal1ty-branded board, ASRock has also set its sights on the most demanding gamers with this board.

It is equipped with premium features like 60A power chokes, Nichicon platinum capacitors, and Purity Sound 3 onboard audio that is capable of driving headsets up to 600 ohm. However, the power delivery system is a little less comprehensive than we would expect from a flagship board. It uses a 12-phase digital power design, which is still less than the 16-phase design on the ASUS Z170 Deluxe, which isn't even targeted expressly at gamers.

Furthermore, ASRock seems to think that having a high-end board means having more connectivity options than you care to use. We saw this with the Z170 Extreme 7+, and this is the case with the Professional Gaming i7 as well.

For better or worse, the board comes with 10 SATA 6Gbps ports (including three SATA Express connectors), three M.2 sockets, eight USB 2.0 ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, and even two USB 3.1 ports (one Type-A, one Type-C).

On top of that, you get four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, with support for up to Quad SLI. There is also a half-size mini PCIe slot for things like Wi-Fi add-on cards. Incidentally, a built-in Wi-Fi module is one thing this board is lacking.

The rear I/O panel also comes with DVI-D, HDMI, and DisplayPort connectors. In the unlikely event that you’re going to pair this board with onboard graphics, you don’t have to worry about not having the correct display cable.

In addition, ASRock has included dual Gigabit Intel LAN chips. The board uses Intel I219-V and Intel I211-AT controllers and supports teaming, which allows you to combine two connections for improved bandwidth.

Image source: ASRock.

However, as we noted in our review of the Z170 Extreme 7+, we’re not sure how much utility users are going to be able to get out of having so many connectivity options. Because of the finite HSIO lanes (26 to be exact) available on Z170, you cannot use all of the options at once, if you even own the hardware to want to do so that is. For example, using any one of the M.2 slots will end up disabling three other SATA ports, so if you do install three M.2 devices, you’ll put nine out of the 10 available SATA ports out of action.

We’ll update when we have more details on availability and pricing. This might be a board you want to keep your eye on if you want plenty of options for hooking up storage devices of various form factors, but again, do bear in mind that you can't take advantage of all the ports and connectors at once.

Source: ASRock.