ASRock Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 Review
The ASRock Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 wants to conquer the medium priced gaming / enthusiast market. Being the cheapest Fatal1ty x370 to date, we're curious to see though how it will perform and if it is worth spending more on the x370 Professional Gaming or saving the money.
RGB LED zone + headers
Gold audio jacks
Creative Sound Blaster™ Cinema 3
PCI-E STEEL SLOTS
Memory slots: 4
Memory type: DDR4
PCIe 3.0 x 16 Slots: 2
PCIe x 1 Slots: 4
M.2 Slots: 2
SATA Ports: 6
USB 3.1 Gen1: 6 + 4
USB 3.1 Gen2: 1 Typ A, 1 Typ C
Audio connectors: 5 x 3.5mm, 1 x Toslink
Codec: Realtek ALC1220
Networking: 1x 1 GBit
RGB: Zone on board + 2 Header
Price / performance ratio
No OC-Presets / Autotuning
Color design is questionable
After reviewing the Fatal1ty x370 Professional Gaming a while back we finally had the chance take a closer look at the ASRock Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4. With a difference of roughly 100€ separating both mainboards, the x370 Gaming K4 obviously is not targeting the premium market like its bigger sibling. How this manifests itself in performance shall be our subject today. So let’s get started.
Obviously you’ll get the manual and a quick installation guide and the usual CD with drivers and software. But you’ll also find an SLI-Bridge, four SATA-cables and screws for possible M.2 devices and the I/O cover sporting the Fatal1ty colors. And since we’re talking about a Fatal1ty mainboard there is, of course, a postcard with the Fatal1ty gaming logo.
Layout and Features
First of all let’s state the obvious: The Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 is ready for Ryzen APUs. Otherwise the HDMI port would not make any sense at all since the Ryzen CPUs currently available don’t have an integrated GPU. Besides that you’ll get 6 USB 3.1 Gen1, two USB 3.1 Gen2 (one of which will be Type-C) and a GBit Lan port as well as your gold audio jacks and, because we’re talking about a Fatal1ty board, two PS/2 ports.
As with almost every single Fatal1ty mainboard in the last decade or so, our old pal DR. Debug is there as well. This little feature will display some hexadecimal codes as the system boots up and if it gets stuck you’ll see exactly what happened. F9 for example will tell you that something went wrong while initializing your memory. In our case this was the code that told as that we had messed up the memory settings once again.
The Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 offers 6 SATA 3 6GB/s connectors that support AHCI, NCQ, Hot Plug and RAID with the modes 0, 1 and 10. Besides that you’ll get an M.2 slot as well as an Ultra M.2 one.
Like the pricier version, the Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 uses the ALC 1220 Audio Codec and you’ll get the Creative Sound Blaster Cinema 3 software to get the most out of it as well. To top it off you’ll again find that Nichicon Gold Series audio caps and the TI® NE5532 premium headset amplifier are used.
Both PCIe slots offer increased stability so that they won’t bend that easy even when confronted with the biggest gpus available.
The x370 Gaming K4 possesses 5 4-pin fan headers. Two of them are declared as being able to work as a pump header (meaning that they will be able to deliver up to 1.5A). Whether or not the placement of those two headers is optimal may depend on your setup. One thing however wasn’t thought through: there is not a single header located at the left hand side so you’ll most likely be left with one of two choices:
Connecting the rear chassis fan of your case to one of the bottom or top headers and have an ugly cable going right over your board or get an extension to do it on the back of your case.
On top of all that you’ll get the nice I/O armor that features the Ryzen banner. ASRock claims that this will protect your rear I/O from static electricity.
Customizing your Fatal1ty
As with almost every single mainboard marked as a gaming one, the Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 offers the possibility of customizing the color scheme of your rig, but in contrast to the big brother it only has a single RGB zone on top of the two RGB headers. Again we’ll have to state the obvious: offering the possibility to set your own color scheme is a nice little feature. Utilizing the same old red and black colors on the board itself not so much. These two features get in the way of each other and we really hope that ASRock will follow MSI and ASUS on their path of a general black design with LEDs being the only things setting colored accents.
As with every mainboard we’ll now take a look at the BIOS of our Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 to see how it is designed and if we’ll be able to find everything needed to get the most out of our system.
If you can say one thing about ASRock, it’s that they are pretty consistent when it comes to certain designs. Because of that it wasn’t that big of a surprise to see that almost everything is identical to the BIOS of our x370 Professional Gaming. The only real difference is the absence of the adjustable baseclock. That’s due to the fact that there is no external clock generator for you to adjust.
To sum it up: you’ll find everything in the right place and thanks to AGESA 188.8.131.52 you’ll be able to overclock your memory beyond the official limit of 3066 MHz listed in ASRock’s memory QVL list. Actually we were able to achieve stable 3600 MHz with our Trident-Z 3200 modules which is actually pretty awesome.
Every mainboard capable of overclocking will have to show how well it does its job. The x370 Gaming G4 will be no different but first let’s take a look at the prerequisites: The x370 Gaming K4 possesses 12 power phases in a 8 + 4 configuration, one used for example by the ASUS x370 Crosshair VI Hero. Despite that 12 phases is still above average in x370 mainboards.
Since we’d like to get comparable results we once again put in our G.Skill Trident-Z RGB (F4-3200C14D-16GTZR) modules as well as our trusted Ryzen 5 1600 which, as we already know, is able to run at just a bit under 4200 MHz without any hiccups. Since we knew that going all in, setting the current to 1.55V and our multiplier to 41.75 should have done the trick, we started exactly like that. But we were surprised: this setup did fail us after just a few minutes and so we sadly had to tune down the multiplier bit by bit, finally reaching stability at exactly 4.1 GHz.
Memory overclocking and compatibility were big issues when Ryzen was first released. Now, with Agesa 184.108.40.206 updates being around for quite some time, you’ll need much less fiddling to get good performance results. The XMP settings of our Trident-Z modules worked instantaneously and even 3600 MHz were possible with just a few adjustments to timings.
There was only one problem: combining an overclocked CPU with overclocked memory is still something I would not consider to attempt with children being around, due to the quantity of curses you are bound to shout out. 4100 MHz on the CPU and 3200 MHz on the memory did work pretty well, 3333 MHz once in a while, but increasing the frequency of our memory modules just a bit resulted in Dr. Debug screaming the “F9” code at every attempt.
First off we’d like to make it clear that this is a regular “off the shelf” mainboard and not a prototype, a special review sample nor has some special BIOS version.
As we stated before, we don’t just want to give you some benchmarking results with roughly comparable values achieved with other mainboards. Therefore we will, if possible, not only use the same hardware for all mainboards but identical settings like memory timings and speeds. Furthermore we’ll update all previous reviews to incorporate results of the newly tested piece of hardware.
The only difference to previous tests will be the power supply. Should you be interested in why we changed it, feel free to check it out. Since previous results were achieved using BIOS versions already including Agesa 220.127.116.11 there was no noteworthy performance increase by software in the meantime.
- Processor: Ryzen 5 1600 @ 3.4 GHz (Boost deactivated)
- Mainboard: ASRock x370 Gaming K4
- Memory: G.Skill Trident-Z RGB @ 2666 (16-16-17-35)
- GPU: Zotac NVidia GTX 780Ti AMP! Edition
- System disk: Samsung 850 Evo 256 GB
- Storage disk: Western Digital Blue 2 TB
- Power supply: Seasonic Prime Titanium 750W
Test methodology and results
We ran all tests at least 5 times and the results listed below represent the average values of such measurements. For FPS data from games, the same scene was selected and the average frame per second figure was measured over 10 minutes.
The Fatal1ty x370 Gaming K4 doesn’t have to hide behind its bigger counterpart and, as you can see, doesn’t really fall behind as some might have expected given the difference in pricing. In fact it doesn’t fall behind at all. But at least now we know why ASRock explicitly informed us about the board not being anything special, just a regular sample you’d get from every retailer: They wanted to avoid us thinking that there must be something going on with those results…
If you want to go off limits and squeeze everything out of your components you might find that the x370 Gaming K4 is capable of almost getting you there. You could say that this is a shame considering its performance even though it should have been clear that the low price tag can’t be achieved by just cutting out luxuries.
It does however offer very good performance, almost on par with much more expensive premium mainboards. If you’re only interested in performance out of the box without aiming to the highest overclock and don’t need fancy stuff like on-board WiFi, more RGB zones or more I/O options, the x370 Gaming K4 is a very good “bang for the buck” and you will almost certainly love it. It is a well-built mainboard for a more-than-reasonable price. The design is classic Fatal1ty and you either like it or you don’t, but that’s for everyone to decide on his own.
Since the only really negative statement would have to be that, by looking at its performance, you might expect a premium board with premium overclockability features as well, we have no choice but to give the x370 Gaming K4 our gold award at well as a recommendation for its price/performance ratio.
Attention: Sadly the x370 Gaming K4 has already reached its End of Life when this review was published and will no longer be produced. This is due to the fact that a supplier could not deliver the necessary components to ASRock anymore and some components of this board had to be changed, which led to a slightly different layout and therefore a new name: x370 Gaming X. We hope to take a look at this revamped product in the near future. In the meantime: Should you be interested in the Gaming K4 grab it while you can.
Thanks to ASRock for the sample. You can buy ASRock’s products on Amazon.de: