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AsRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ review

Tom Morgan
5 Aug 2015
Asrock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ three quarters
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
160
inc VAT

Overflowing with connectivity and a potent overclocker, the Gaming K6+ is a powerful, if rather costly, Skylake motherboard

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Specifications

Processor socket: LGA 1151, Dimensions: 303x243mm, Chipset: Z170, Memory slots: 4, PCI-E x16 slots: 3, PCI-E x1 slots: 3, PCI slots: 0, USB ports: 6x USB3, 2x USB 3.1, Video outputs: HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort

The Gaming K6+ is the top of Asrock’s Z170 motherboard range, built primarily for overclockers and gamers that want to use the new Intel Skylake chips; if the Fatal1ty branding doesn’t give the game away, the moody black and red colour scheme and metallic Asrock logo certainly does. The design doesn’t get in the way of features or connectivity, however, with the latter being among the best out of all the Z170 boards we’ve seen so far.

Features

You get three PCI-Express 3.0 X16 slots (which will run at x8 speed if you fit two or three graphics cards) and three PCI-E x1 slots, as well as an M.2 expansion slot for SATA or PCI-Express SSDs on the board’s front face, along with a whopping eight SATA3 ports on the right, of which four also double as SATA Express for super-fast NVMe SSDs.

The Rear I/O panel is equally packed, with six USB3 ports and two USB 3.1 ports, split between a single Type-A port and single reversible Type-C port. DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs give you plenty of choice for connecting a monitor if you decide to use your processor’s integrated graphics, while five 3.5mm jacks and a digital optical audio output let you hook up a surround sound speaker system. Finally, Killer Networks provides Gigabit Ethernet for interruption-free gaming, where network traffic is prioritised to reduce lag.

Asrock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ ports

Asrock is also the only motherboard manufacturer we’ve seen so far that bundles a USB 3.1 front panel in the box, adding a second type-A and second type-C connector to the front of your case. Installing it takes up one of the SATA Express ports and one of the motherboard’s USB headers, however. You do at least get one USB3 header and two USB headers, so most cases will still be able to hook up all their front I/O ports.

Two CPU fan headers are sensibly placed below the LGA1151 socket, which will only accept 6th generation Core processors. We could install our giant BeQuiet! Dark Rock Pro 3 tower cooler and still have space to connect each of its fans. Four additional fan headers are also within easy reach at the edges of the board. You should be able to fit the largest air coolers, as the CPU circuitry heatsinks sit relatively flush to the board, although you’ll still want to check if your cooler will obscure the four DDR4 RAM slots.

Asrock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ board layout

Performance

Once we’d fitted our reference components, a 3.5GHz Intel Core i5-6600K CPU, 8GB of Corsair DDR4 RAM and an AMD Radeon R7 260x graphics card, the Z170 Gaming K6+ produced an overall score of 112 in our 4K multimedia benchmarks. As expected, this is around a 10 per cent increase over last year’s Devil’s Canyon refresh processors, with the 121 score in the image editing test seeing the biggest boost.

We also tested the processor’s integrated graphics, and were pleasantly surprised to see an average frame rate of 45.3fps in Dirt Showdown. Although most Skylake upgraders will be pairing their new CPUs with a dedicated graphics card, it’s great to see the Gaming K6+ can be used without one if you choose.

AsRock Z170 Gaming K6+ UEFI Bios

Of course, with only multiplier-unlocked K-variant processors available at launch, it would be a waste to only test at stock speeds, so naturally we overclocked the processor to see what extra performance we could squeeze out of it. AsRock gives you several choices here, with an automatic overclocking mode letting you choose from different pre-set Turbo Boost speeds, or complete manual control over multiplier, base clock and voltages in the BIOS. A jumper to switch from the primary BIOS to a backup secondary BIOS is very welcome, meaning you’ll always have a failsafe if you push the board too far when overclocking.

The F-Stream utility will also let you adjust fan speed settings, provide system information and even overclock from within Windows, but we experienced a few lock-ups and freezes; we had more luck using the UEFI BIOS, which would boot and run stably at the same settings.

We managed to boost the CPU up to 4.7Ghz by increasing the voltage slightly, which boosted the multimedia benchmark total up to a fantastic 148 – that’s almost 50% extra performance over our reference processor, a Haswell Core i5-4670K.

Conclusion

The Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K6+ is a potent performer, whether you run your components at stock speeds or overclock them, and there’s ample connectivity to plug in multiple disk drives and peripherals without sacrificing speed – other Skylake boards we’ve seen still include slower USB ports, so it’s great to see AsRock completely switching over to USB3 and even USB 3.1 if you have compatible hardware. The F-Stream utility is a useful inclusion, although we expect most serious overclockers to ignore it in favour of the comprehensive UEFI BIOS. It overclocks well, but when MSI’s Z170A Gaming M5 outperforms it for a similar price, it isn’t quite an award winner.

Hardware
Processor socketLGA 1151
Form factorATX
Dimensions303x243mm
Processor support6th Generation Core processors (Skylake)
Processor external bus100MHz
ChipsetZ170
Supported memory typeDDR4
Maximum memory speed2,133MHz / 3,600MHz (OC)
Memory slots4
Maximum memory64GB
Motherboard power connectors1x 24-pin ATX, 1x 8-pin 12V
PCI-E x16 slots3
PCI-E x4 slots0
PCI-E x1 slots3
PCI slots0
Motherboard fan headers6
SATA II ports0
SATA III ports8
RAID support1, 0, 5, 10
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
Motherboard sound (ports)Realtek HD Audio (5x analogue, optical S/PDIF)
USB ports6x USB3, 2x USB 3.1
USB headers2x USB, 1x USB3
Video outputsHDMI, DVI, DisplayPort
Other portsPS/2, M.2, SATA Express
Cables included4x SATA, SLI bridge, SATA express, USB power for front panel
Motherboard clock adjustmentCPU, RAM, GPU
Motherboard voltage adjustmentCPU, RAM, GPU, chipset

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