ASRock.com Homepage
Forum Home Forum Home > Media&User's Review > AMD Motherboards
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Asrock X370 Fatal1ty Gaming K4 Review
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Asrock X370 Fatal1ty Gaming K4 Review

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
Message
ket View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2017
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1661
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ket Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Asrock X370 Fatal1ty Gaming K4 Review
    Posted: 19 Jul 2017 at 1:56am
I thought I might as well put this here as well as the other places. Seemed a bit too shameless of a self promotion at first then I thought what the hell Tongue


X370 Fatal1ty Gaming K4 Review





Introduction

Asrock, as I hope most people would now know, have long since broken away from their budget roots and have for some time been offering really rather excellent intel and AMD based mainboards, I particularly enjoyed their P67 and Z68 Extreme4 as well as their Z77 Extreme6. Today I have in my hands the Asrock X370 Fatal1ty Gaming K4 which the guys from Asrock have sent me to explore for your reading pleasure, this will be my first time with a Asrock AMD board since the 990FX Deluxe 3 which I really rather liked too. Unlike some manufacturers Asrock don't believe in cherry picking, the board I have is from the production line it is one hundred percent representative of what you will also pick up, which is a good thing. Let's see if the good folks at Asrock will be the ones to restore my excitement and vigour for AMDs AM4 platform and Zen as other X370 boards I've looked at from other competitors in what I'm now going to coin as "the peoples review" have ranged from downright poor to average at best. You see, almost all of the hardware I review for you guys I pay for out of my own pocket so aside from having principles and standards I will not abandon I will always be honest in my opinions, showing you what I consider to be good points and the bad. It's how I roll.

This review took longer than initially planned for various reasons including me deciding to simultaneously review G.Skills RipjawsV 3200MHz DDR4 kit alongside the K4 but here we are today at long last to look at the K4 itself so without further delay, can Asrock single handed turn my frowny face upside down as bad X370 encounters take their toll on even my optimistic nature? Will the Fatal1ty Gaming K4 be a hit, or another fatality? We'll find out.


Picture Time
Let's start with a three for one shot today;


Get off that box chimp it's not a climbing frame! Ok one picture. Poser.

First glance then, I'm happy to See Asrock keep the marketing to a minimum and focus on telling you about the features of the board. People want specs not marketing in order to make an informed purchase and I'm sure anyone like me is actually put off by masses of marketing on a product, so I'm glad to see Asrock don't plaster the box with marketing exclusive material and focus more on the hardware and specs. Chimp approves too.



 

Up close and personal now we get to see some of the goodies this Gaming K4 has, quite large Mosfet heatsinks so a good start there, no heatpipe though to help spread thermal load which is a bit disappointing. Two, yes two, M.2 slots which is great, neither of which are poorly placed so extra points for that and even though I'm not a fan of these plastic shrouds everyone has decided to start sticking on their boards the plastic shroud on this Gaming K4 isn't too bad it doesn't do what my main complaint has been with other shrouds which is falling foul of the Mosfet heatsink by impeding airflow. The heatsink on the Southbridge looks like it might be deceptively good despite a lack of fins because it is a rather thick lump like the Mosfet heatsinks but the lack of fins on any heatsink always bothers me as it's not thermodynamically optimal. There is even a slot on this board to plug in a little wifi card too which is great, this board is packing a lot more hardware than what initially meets the eye with even the inclusion of a couple ports down to the bottom right for LED strips, that's pretty nifty and certainly better than building a smorgasbord of LED lights in to the PCB, this way we benefit from being able to replace the LEDs once they have dimmed too much.

I'll give special mention to the DIMM banks, they don't look like anything much at first but you will notice there are only clips at the top of the banks to open in order to take modules out or insert them. This makes removing or installing memory much easier if you happen to have a long graphics card and / or a meaty finned GPU backplate. I for one appreciate and applaud whoever had the good sense to do this.



 

Here we have something I picked out to help emphasise how good the components are I'm seeing on this board. These here are Nichicon FG (Fine Gold) audio capacitors. They are right up there in terms of quality with the likes of Nippon Chemi-con and Rubycon. Looks like if you have an aging sound card you just might be able to abandon it in favour of this ALC1220 solution.



 

Now for a sneaky up close peek of the socket area, as you would expect the area has been kept clear and everything is neat and tidy.





Moving on to the IO panel we see all of the usual suspects, 6x USB 3.0 ports which should have your devices quite well covered plus 2x USB 3.1 ports, HDMI, LAN, and audio jacks. Even a PS/2 port each for a mouse and keyboard. I'm sure there are some that will appreciate that latter touch but personally I'd rather have a few more USB ports. At the very left are where the antenna ports for the wifi would be, in case you are wondering.




The bundle the board comes with, functional but bare metal. I'll give a pass on the 4x SATA cables as this board has 6x SATA ports. That is much better than a board that has 8x SATA ports say, but still only comes with 4x SATA cables. There is a SLI HB bridge as well for you SLI folks. One thing I do find is an odd omission is that no LED strip has been included to help show off the LED header feature which I assume Asrock intend as a highlight to make the board unique as they even advertise it on the back of the box. You can't fault the accessories much for the 144 pounds price point of the Gaming K4 but it is unfortunate no LED strip is included.


Tearing the board down



 

Ah there you are Mr. PCB, let's see what you have been hiding under all of those heatsinks and shrouding. We have the X370 chipset itself of course, Debug LED, Intel Gigabit I211AT LAN, Realtek ALC1220 audio, but sadly no clock generator chip. Not many X370s have a clock generator so I can't say I'm surprised at not finding one but it would be nice to see more X370 boards with a clock generator.

There is also only one ROM chip. I commented on this back when I did a peoples review on the intel Asrock boards. Having only one ROM chip with no backup creates a precarious circumstance, in the event of a bad flash the user cannot simply flip a switch to recover the "bad" ROM chip, add to this the ROM chips are now soldered so you can't even remove the chip and re-flash it with a programmer and you have a real recipe of risk. A backup or removable ROM chip saves considerable inconvenience in the event of a bad flash on the users end. You won't have to deal with as many RMAs by adding a backup chip either Asrock so come on, let?s start seeing backup ROM chips to your otherwise extremely well thought and laid out boards.

Moving to the fan header placements, they are all generally well placed and quite plentiful although a fan header could do with moving or one simply being added to the left side of the board. Don't forget about the people who use AIO liquid coolers and dual fans on the radiator Asrock.

Finally some eagle eyes might have noted the LEDs around what would be the edge of the SB heatsink embedded on the PCB. It's a nice place to put a few LEDs, but a long graphics card with a dual slot cooler will block a good portion of the LED glow.



 

Now we get to the real meat, the Mosfets. These are Sinopower SM4337s, their operating range is between minus 55c to 150c as best as I can tell, they seem to be good quality. I have not seen anything during the tear down to suggest Asrock have used anything but very good quality components for the construction of the X370 Gaming K4 and in fact even the solder work on the back of the board I would consider to be flawless with not even any flux residue and everything in general very neatly done.


Test Setup

CPU: AMD Zen 1700
Mainboard: Asrock  X370 Fatal1ty Gaming K4
RAM: 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V 3200MHz 15-15-15-35
GPU: 4GB GTX 980 @ 1.5GHz, 7.5GHz memory
Storage: 250GB Hynix SL301 SATA SSD, WD 120GB M.2 SATA SSD (OS drive), 2TB Seagate Barracuda
Opticals: 24x Lite-On iHAS324 DVD-RW, 16x HP BH40N Blu-Ray
Sound: Xonar DX 7.1, Realtek ALC1220
PSU: EVGA 1000w Supernova G2
OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 (latest ISO) and all updates
Case: NZXT Phantom 530


Benchmarks

Now for what I bet most of you have been waiting for, cold, hard, numbers.

 



 




Edited by ket - 19 Jul 2017 at 2:01am
Back to Top
ket View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2017
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1661
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ket Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2017 at 1:59am
That is some good numbers right there alright, if only there was a way to set a faster memory divider than the XMP of 3200MHz I'd love to see if this kit of F4-3200C15D-16GVK has 3400 and even 3600MHz in it and what performance would be like.
 




Don't let the chart fool you, the difference in Cinebench between 2133MHz and 3200MHz memory speed is not significant, but there is a small bump in this test when switching to faster memory Cinebench is just not bandwidth limited but all about raw CPU speed which is why the faster memory only has a small impact here.





That is one hell of a difference in Cloudgate simply switching to 3200MHz memory speed you really see how sensitive to bandwidth and latency Zen is here. The CCX just loves the extra speed it can run at with faster memory.



 

The Stalker Call of Pripyat benchmark is an excellent test of a system as a whole, using X-Ray 1.6 the engine places every bit as much stress on the GPU as it does the CPU and memory subsystem, if there is a bottleneck this benchmark will find it. Above are the settings that were used.



 

This is some interesting results really highlighting how you can potentially cripple Zen gaming performance if you use slow memory. Average performance changes very little but those minimum frame rates increase by 47.1% when increasing to 3200MHz memory speed! Now that is what you call a night and day difference and makes me wish for dividers above the XMP maximum even more to see what else Zen has to give.


Test your Metal!

I haven't done this in a while, and every time I do it always comes back with a slightly different name where I've not settled on one but I think this is a good one, it's time to "test your metal!". The purpose in this section is to test thermodynamic efficiency of any heatsinks.

For those that don't know the most efficient type of heatsink is always one that uses high grade thermal interface material, the thinner the better, good contact between heatsink and IC (a good, solid imprint of the heatsinked ICs is a sure indication of optimal contact), solid way of mounting the heatsinks, and the heatsinks themselves will have a lot of fins to maximise cooling capacity and take advantage of any natural airflow with the base of the heatsink being free of any milling marks that would hinder thermal efficiency.

For testing I will be using a DT8380 infrared temperature gun, accurate to +/- 2%.

With that all said, let's take a look at the K4s heatsinks.





I'm pleased to see Asrock have not changed with their approach to heatsinks, the base is nicely finished with proper standoffs to prevent board warping and solid contact between IC and TIM is not a problem in the slightest. For consistency with other X370 reviews I've done I'll replace the Mosfet thermal pads with some Laird 6W/mK pads - the very same NASA used to use on the space shuttle. This is to ensure that the ground is as equal as possible and any differences are related to the thermal design and not the thermal interface material.

The one area of concern is the lack of fins on the Mosfet heatsinks which mean any natural airflow is going to be wasted. You see Mosfets get hot, very hot, particularly when a system is under load and even more so when overclocking. For the latter case particularly this is going to lead to hotspots and you need an effective heatsink. As for the southbridge heatsink the lack of fins should not pose much of a issue as the southbridge doesn't create much heat but why have any component getting hotter than it needs to, right?

To testing then!





So what can we take away from these results? The Mosfets stay well within their operating temperature range but the amount of heat being generated at 1.37v+ just cannot be effectively dealt with by natural airflow and even active airflow directly over the heatsinks will not be as effective as it could be due to the lack of fins on the Mosfet heatsinks. Under prolonged load duration this leads to a lot of heat inside the case where it cannot be effectively pulled away from the heatsinks with airflow. These heatsinks are quite effective, but the lack of fins prevents them from reaching maximum effectiveness. If the Mosfet heatsinks had been finned all the way across and a heatpipe been present in my test system at least the 1.37v side Mosfet temps would have been 5-7c lower which in terms of preventing heat build-up inside a case is quite substantial.

As expected the southbridge faired absolutely fine, a finned design would improve temps for it but there is nothing to worry about, I'd just like to see a southbridge heatsink that is smaller.

Overall the Mosfet and southbridge heatsinks perform decently, but there is room for improvement particularly for the Mosfet heatsinks a finned design with a heatpipe to spread the thermal load would have seen them doing a fair bit better.


BIOS / UEFI

The Asrock Fatal1ty Gaming K4 is simply filled to the brim with options in the UEFI so I have tried to limit the screens to what you will be most interested in while also giving a peek at just how many options this board has elsewhere in the UEFI. All screenshots have been taken from UEFI 2.2.

 





Just look at all those options and we are still on the same UEFI page! There is a very real chance Asrock have more options on their single OC Tweaker page than the AX370 Aorus gaming 5 has in the entirety of it's UEFI. Are you paying attention Gigabyte? You should be because this is how you make a good, no great, UEFI.




Let's take note of the ability to save UEFI settings to removable media such as a USB drive, very handy for quickly backing up settings instead of jotting them all down prior to a update or useful for sharing with friends or fellow overclockers who have the same board. I sense a very beneficial ecosystem could develop from this simple feature.



 

 

 



That brings us to the end of what I think you all would be most interested in, the Fatal1ty UEFI is simply superb, well laid out and enough options to make your head spin. There's a few niggles but they are very minor ones, simply astoundingly good work by Asrock, showing the Gigabyte AX370 Aorus Gaming 5 how it should be done. Fatality!


Overclocking

Before we get in to this it's worth reminding everybody that you play the silicon lottery when overclocking not all CPUs and memory are created equal, as such any overclocking results you see should be taken as a rough guideline only of what you may or may not be able to achieve.

So with that said, what can you realistically expect to get from a Zen CPU? On the whole 3.7 - 3.9GHz you can consider to be fairly average for most Zen chips, with more exotic cooling and higher voltages you might be able to attain 4.0 - 4.1GHz, and do remember that with SMT on it will play a role in your maximum OC as will it possibly play a role in some applications performance - not all software benefits from SMT and some applications will actually lose performance with SMT on. For these overclocking tests I'll favour absolute core speed which means I'll be seeing how far I can go with SMT OFF.

Let's get to some overclocking then, which turned out to be very good like many other aspects of the K4. It is also worth mentioning that vcore stability is (As)rock solid with barely any variation and the G.Skill RipjawsV 3200MHz kit performs well in both sets of DIMM banks, the love between Asrock boards and G.Skill continues I'm happy to say.





Oh me, oh my, oh golly! Would you look at that! A mite over 4GHz for around the 1.3v mark anyone? I'll take that thank you kindly, what's that? You'll run 16GB RipjawsV at 3200MHz with 14-14-14-25 timings and give me over 60FPS minimum on the CoP sunshafts benchmark too? Well I'm not going to say no to that!

These results are simply awesome. If we cast our minds back a bit we will recall that with the R7 1700 at 3.7GHz with 2133MHz memory the CoP benchmark had a minimum FPS in the sunshaft test of 36.7, it then jumped to 54.1 when changing memory speed to 3200MHz, and now we see the 300MHz OC has netted another 6.6FPS on top of that. These results well and truly answer that gaming is great on AMD when paired with a good memory kit. What I find more interesting though is how memory frequency makes far more difference to Zen than overclocking it does, that'll be due to that pesky latency and CCX speed. My advice; Zen for gaming is awesome as long as you pair it with a 3000MHz or 3200MHz memory kit.

I also attempted overclocking with SMT ON, the resu

Edited by ket - 19 Jul 2017 at 2:10am
Back to Top
ket View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2017
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1661
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ket Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2017 at 2:02am
Conclusion

Here we are at the end of another "peoples review", and one I hope you have enjoyed reading. To say the Asrock Fatal1ty Gaming K4 is exceptional for its price point of 144 pounds would be to do it a disservice, I just do not have enough plaudits for this board. It packs more practical useful features, very good build quality, and a feature rich and far better laid out UEFI than other more expensive boards I have looked at for you all in recent times (I'm looking at you AX370 Aorus Gaming 5). The Asrock Fatal1ty Gaming K4 is not only a exceptionally well rounded board that performs superbly well it even has dashes of real thought here and there which not only sets it out from the crowd but also makes it just that little more enjoyable to use such as the little touch for the DIMM banks which really does make removing and installing memory much easier if you have a long graphics card. The level of thought put in to this board is clear to see from the component choices on the PCB right the way through to the UEFI. Memory compatibility also seems to be very good so far but for added peace of mind for people getting a few more 3000MHz and 3200MHz kits on the QVL list would be nice.

For me, looking at hardware is more than just turning it on and running some tests, that is why this Fatal1ty Gaming K4 is also being  used as I write this all up, it has performed butter smooth without so much as a hiccup. Combine excellent vcore stability with what appears to be better than most manufacturers when it comes to memory compatibility and a very nice 12 phase board design and you have one killer combination.

As with anything, nothing is perfect but the Asrock Fatal1ty Gaming K4 comes damn close, making only a few minor missteps, the omission of a LED strip to go with the LED headers I feel is a missed opportunity to have the board stand out out-of-the-box from the competition, the lack of a heatpipe and finned Mosfet heatsink design  I think would of really added a nice finishing touch not only to the efficiency of the heatsinks but to the overall look of the board and a backup ROM chip for end users or a removable one in order to overcome those worst case scenarios easily would of been nice. I can't help but feel AMD have work to do still in their AGESA code in order to really make Zen shine. This is especially true for memory compatibility and something I hope AMD and manufacturers continuously work tirelessly to improve upon as while my experience with memory compatibility on the K4 has been good, memory compatibility for Zen remains the Achilles heel. That really is about it though, the Fatal1ty K4, in my opinion, is almost perfect and easily stands out as a excellent X370 example and should make every ones shortlist for consideration.

Regardless of if you are simply looking for a solid, reliable board or you want something that is capable of some solid overclocking the Fatal1ty K4 will impress and look pretty good while doing it.

My thanks goes to everybody at Asrock who made this review possible, you all know who you are!

Ok, to the final scores then;

Hardware Functionality & Quality, Accessories: 26 / 30
Board Aesthetics: 7 / 10
UEFI Functionality & Quality: 28/ 30
Performance 30 / 30

Final Score: 91%



I will spare a moment to comment on something I have never commented on before, but I feel it is important and worth always remembering regardless of what you the reader may have a personal preference for. When I first done a peoples review for the Asrock P67 Extreme4 I was just a humble purchaser who felt the board was so good it deserved more attention than it was getting but it did have a few bugs to be ironed out, so I sent a support ticket to Asrock detailing everything. Not only did they listen they acted and did everything possible to help not only me but every person that posted in the Extreme4 P67 support thread I set up who had a problem. Asrock continue to provide that level of commitment and service for their products now. These are genuine, good people, they do everything they can to help and you can trust them to help you as much as they can. It is a level of commitment far too few manufacturers aspire to be like and even in my 22 years in the tech arena it is something I have very rarely come across.


Edited by ket - 19 Jul 2017 at 2:02am
Back to Top
ket View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2017
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1661
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ket Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jul 2017 at 2:18am
The original review was written May 30th, so before AGESA 1.0.0.6/a.I would of added that small bit of info to the first post but the forums seem to be going bonkers right now and keep showing me a 500 error written in Chinese or Japanese it looks like whenever I try to edit a post.
Back to Top
XHellAngelX View Drop Down
Newbie
Newbie


Joined: 28 Aug 2018
Status: Offline
Points: 4
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote XHellAngelX Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 Aug 2018 at 2:09pm
Hello, how can you reach 3200 MHz RAM on this board ?
Back to Top
ket View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2017
Location: UK
Status: Offline
Points: 1661
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote ket Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Sep 2018 at 10:58pm
Originally posted by XHellAngelX XHellAngelX wrote:

Hello, how can you reach 3200 MHz RAM on this board ?


I reached 3200MHz with a lot of coaxing and fine tuning. With the newest AGESA reaching 3200 should be much easier than when I wrote this review things have matured substantially over the last year or so.
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 12.04
Copyright ©2001-2021 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.047 seconds.