There really isn’t much to separate the pair of ASRock boards kicking off this X99 motherboard test. There are some obvious differences in scale and memory support, but in the rest of the spec – and particularly performance – these two mobos are like peas in a PCB pod. There’s a pretty good reason for that – they’re both from essentially the same family. True, this ATX version is from the higher-end Fatal1ty Killer series, with gleaming metallic red heatsinks following the Wendel-based branding, but if you peel the name sticker off the X99M you’ll find it’s a Fatal1ty PCB too.
ASRock has used the same actual board for both the micro ATX Extreme4 and Fatal1ty X99 mobos, then swapped the red heatsinks for blue and added a Killer networking chip. It works the other way around too – underneath the X99X Killer sticker, the Extreme6 branding is printed on the PCB.
That all speaks well to the build of ASRock’s boards, because this full-scale Fatal1ty version is a real powerhouse. The premium components used in its makeup make theX99X one of the quickest overall boards in our test, only slipping behind the excellent Asus X99 Deluxe in stock performance benchmarks. It also has the same speedy storage as its smaller sibling, allowing for the same quick sequential read/write speeds from the PCIe M.2 connection.
The weighty power design used in both ATX and mATX form factors means the overclocking performance of the Fatal1ty board is almost identical to that of the X99M Extreme4. We hit 4.4GHz easily, partly thanks to the quality of the board itself and also to the impressive new ASRock BIOS screens.
The company has obviously been putting the work in on that front, making tweaking your machine a doddle. Like the MSI board, the ASRock BIOS has a neat Multicore Enhancement option that lets you bypass the 3.3GHz limit Intel has in place to stop the 5960X hitting its 3.5GHz Turbo speed when all cores are in use. Switch it on and you’ll run up to 3.5GHz without any trouble, pushing up your CPU performance with no overclocking hassle.
But because the ASRock boards are so similar, it’s no surprise that the Fatal1ty board shares the XMP restrictions on our high-end Corsair RAM. We did get a little further with this larger board though – there’s an option to overclock to 4GHz in association with XMP which allowed us to boot. Once.
The memory was running at 1.35v rather than 1.2v and the whole machine crashed in the second runthrough of the Cinebench rendering test. This wasn’t such a problem for the cheaper micro ATX board, but this £200+ option really ought to be capable of running at the 3,000MHz overclocked memory setting on the box. This is the whole reason XMP was created – so we don’t have to mess around with timings and voltages to get our RAM to run. And when Asus’ OC Socket is capable of running the top memory settings without breaking a sweat, for the same price, the X99-A suddenly becomes a far more attractive board.