ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer Socket FM2+ Motherboard Review

Result and general impression

++++ The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer/A/ASRK motherboard has a price of approx. 85 Euro (04/2014) and is thus in the middle price segment of the Socket FM2+ motherboards.

Today, here at we test the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer – a brand new Socket FM2+ motherboard with special gaming features, or rather killer features. The Socket FM2+ motherboard is backward compatible with Socket FM2, so we have tested it with an AMD Richland and AMD Trinity in addition to the latest AMD Kaveri processor. Not only the compatibility has been tested, but also the performance and the overclocking options with an AMD A10-7850K, A10-6800K and A10-5800K APU on the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard is compared.

In this cardboard box the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer is delivered:

The ASRock FM2A88X+ Killer is very high finished, has durable Premium Gold Caps capacitors, offers 4+2 Power Phase Design for FM2 processors up to 100W and FM2+ processors up to 95W with extra power connector for SLI/XFire and 7.1 Purity Sound with Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec. The new locking lever of PCIE slots that have been significantly larger at this motherboard and this is very practical:

A first look at the other corner of the motherboard is however somewhat sadder for fans of high-quality ASRock boards, because the Fatal1ty killer motherboard has neither a lighted power/reset button, nor the 7-segment post code display, but again a TPM header and a chassis intrusion connector that detects open chassis which is designed for this purpose:

Here you can see already some “Killer” features, that this board has to offer – the Qualcomm Atheros Killer E2200 LAN chip. And at the bottom of the picture you can see the new AMD FM2+ Socket, which has 2 pins more in comparison to the Socket FM2 and remains backwards compatible to the Socket FM2:

Equipment and other features …

The Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard from ASRock came with a manual, software setup guide, one DVD, four SATA data cables and an ATX I/O shield. USB Slot brackets or the ASRock 3.5-inch USB3.0 frontpanel are optional available. Also contained was a 3-month license by XSplit for broadcast streaming and recording.

This mainboard offers a lot of features and has a lot of addons, like for example the ASRock F-Stream Tuning Tool, ASRock Instant Flash, ASRock Internet Flash, ASRock APP Charger, ASRock Instant Boot, ASRock Restart to UEFI, ASRock XFast USB, ASRock XFast LAN, ASRock XFast RAM, ASRock Crashless BIOS, ASRock Online Management Guard, ASRock UEFI System Browser, ASRock Dehumidifier Function, ASRock Easy RAID Installer, ASRock Easy Driver Installer, ASRock interactive UEFI, ASRock UEFI Tech Service, ASRock Good Night LED, ASRock USB Keyboard Remote Power On, USB Mouse Power On, Purity Sound, ASRock FAN-Tastic Tuning, ASRock Key Master and more.

Here is a picture of the included accessories:

Expansion cards …

The 3-Way CrossFireX motherboard offers one PCI Express 3.0 (with a FM2 CPU/APU PCI Express 2.0) and another PCI Express 2.0 video card slot, whereby either one video card can operate with x16 band-width, or one with x16 lanes and one in x4 mode. If one like only use one video card on the Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer, one should insert the PCI Express video card into the PCIe2 slot to get the fastest x16 bandwidth. Additionally to both PCI Express slots there are two x1 PCIe 2.0 slots and three PCI slots.

Memory …

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer can be equipped with up to four DDR3 modules and is expandable depending upon operating system used (see list) to maximally 64 GB memory.

Here you can see the four DDR3 sockets with Dual Channel support:

The Socket FM2 motherboard supports DDR3 memory modules and can be optimized in the BIOS for DDR3-800, DDR3-1066, DDR3-1333, DDR3-1600, DDR3-1866, DDR3-2133, DDR3-2400 and faster Dual Channel modules. Higher clock-rates are currently only possible with overclocking and official DDR3-2600+ is only supported with two modules. Thanks to AMP (AMD Memory Profile) and XMP (Intel eXtreme Memory Profiles) support, AMP/XMP memory modules are set correctly with one mouse click at OC-Tweaker in the UEFI.

Hard disk drive connectors …

The Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer offers eight bent SATA3 connectors (6 Gb/s). The Serial ATA III ports supports RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, NCQ, AHCI and the Hot Plug function in AHCI mode (AHCI stands for Advanced Host Controller Interface and can be selected in the BIOS / UEFI BIOS). The UEFI BIOS support drives with more than 2TB for a Windows 8, Windows 7 x64 or Vista x64 installation.

Here you can see the eight bent SATA ports:

The manual and the included DVD contains all basic information to manage a new installation of Windows XP, Windows Vista Windows 7 or Windows 8 with SATA3 drives, and how to make a RAID installation. 32-Bit and 64-Bit drivers for Windows XP, Windows Vista Windows 7 and Windows 8 are provided on the DVD and can be downloaded on the ASRock support page.

USB and Firewire …

The motherboard has four USB 3.0 connectors on the ATX-panel (2x AMD A88X und 2x ASMedia ASM1042A), three more USB 2.0 connectors on the ATX panel, three internal USB 2.0 plugs for up to six optional USB ports and one internal USB 3.0 plug for up to two optional USB 3.0 ports. The special 20-pin connector can be connected for example to an optional USB3.0 frontpanel or to a PC chassis with 20-pole USB3 connector.

Here is a picture of the internal 20-pin USB connector:

This Fatal1ty motherboard killer offers a special USB 2.0 Fatal1ty mouse port, which can be configured by the supplied F-stream software, to set the mouse sample rate from 125 Hz up to 1000 Hz.

Hint: Over the supplied F-stream software you can additionally build macros, adjust the scroll speed, sniper mode, key repeat rate and repeat delay. Who uses Windows 7 or Windows 8, should also install the ASRock XFast RAM software, which we have discussed already several times in some forum posts.

Network …

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard is provided with the Qualcomm Killer E2200 chip which offers a 10/100/1000 network connector on the I/O panel. The LAN connection is WoL capable, offers LAN cable detection and supports the Qualcomm Atheros Security Wake On Internet Technology, PXE and energy efficient 802.3az ethernet. The Qualcomm-Atheros Killer E2200 series also has a very low latency and allows traffic prioritization via the supplied killer network manager.

Only the German translation may be optimized slightly:

Serial and parallel port …

The motherboard does not provide a parallel port. A serial port is optionally available as internal onboard connector.

Sound …

The ASRock FM2A88X+ Killer Fatal1ty motherboard is equipped with the ALC1150 audio codec with content protection, 115dB SNR DAC, TI NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier and Purity Sound, which supports 7.1 surround sound for example analog over 5x 3.5mm connectors on the ATX panel or over an internal frontpanel audio connector. Furthermore, there is an optical digital SPDIF output, DTS Connect support and premium Blu-Ray audio support. So most users do not need to buy an additional sound card with digital outputs.

Graphics …

The AMD A88X chipset offers in combination with a Richland, Trinity or Kaveri APU processor a full integrated graphics solution with DX11 or DX11.1 support. Depending upon processor used there is an AMD Radeon R7, HD 8000 or HD 7000 graphics unit. The AMD A10-7800K CPU used in this test is equipped with the AMD Radeon R7 graphics unit, the additionally tested AMD A10-6800 K CPU is equipped with the AMD Radeon HD8670D graphics unit and the also tested AMD A10-5800 K CPU has an integrated AMD Radeon HD7660D GPU.

The performance of the AMD Radeon R7, HD8670D, and HD7660D GPU can be seen even without overclocking: The graphic chip of the AMD A10-7850 K APU achieved in Windows 7 with 3DMark06 7976 3DMarks, the AMD A10-6800 K APU with 3DMark06 7833 3DMarks and the AMD A10-5800 K APU with 3DMark06 7695 3DMarks! In comparison, the HD6550D GPU of the AMD A8-3870K FM1 APU reached on the ASRock A75 Pro4 Motherboard 6181 3DMarks. An Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU of an Intel Core i5-4670K CPU on an ASRock Z87 Extreme4 reached 7892 3DMarks and an Intel HD Graphics 3000 GPU of the Intel Core i5-2500 K CPU on an ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP motherboard scored in 3DMark06 4310 3DMarks. An AMD HD 4290 IGP of an AMD 890GX chipset achieved with an AMD Phenom II 710 X3 processor for example a score of 2204 points in 3DMark06 (tested with an ASRock 890GX Extreme4). Furthermore the integrated video processor supports with a FM2 DirectX 11 and with a FM2+ DirectX11.1, supports HDCP, Full HD 1080p and offers thanks to the onBoard HDMI connector and the low power consumption even optimal conditions for a HTPC, but more on that in the energy consumption comparison test below.

ATX backpanel connectors …

From left to right one can see 1x USB 2.0 Fatal1ty Mouse Port, 1x USB 2.0 and 1x PS/2 connector for PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse, 15-pol Sub-D VGA and DVI-D VGA, 2x USB 3.0 (AMD A88X) and HDMI Output, 2x USB 3.0 (ASMedia ASM1042A), RJ45 Gigabit LAN and 2x USB 2.0 (AMD A88X), optical SPDIF out and 5x 3.5mm jacks for analog sound.

BIOS Overclocking …

Let us continue with BIOS / UEFI options and UEFI overclocking. By pressing F2 or Del, you get access to the UEFI with all important hardware settings.

The ASRock UEFI BIOS of the Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer offers a graphical surface for an intuitive operation with a mouse or with a keyboard, depending upon desire. User with an USB mouse and USB keyboard should not deactivate the Legacy USB support in the BIOS with the USB Configuration, because otherwise they can not access the UEFI Setup. In Auto mode, the board decides if the USB device need to operate in Legacy mode. Keyboard and Mouse should be still connected to the USB 2.0 ports.

Thanks to UEFI surface, also graphic elements are possible, here e.g. the ASRock system browser, which clearly shows the installed components:

Another feature is the “Active Page on Entry” selection, where you can decide which UEFI page you like to see when you enter the UEFI Setup. This is mainly very helpful for overclocking, since one have to visit the second OC Tweaker menu very often to find the best OC settings, so ASRock helps you to save mouse clicks.

Over “Active Page on Entry” starts the UEFI surface with the desired page:

UEFI BIOS Update …

ASRock offers several ways to flash BIOS updates, like e.g. the very comfortable ASRock Instant Flash or the latest ASRock Internet Flash with a direct internet connection.

On this Tool page, two more useful features: RAID Installer and Easy Driver Installer can be found, to download the needed drivers for the Windows installation very simply, as soon as you have connected an USB thumb drive.

One can enter the ASRock Instant Flash utility in the Advanced Screen or by pressing F6 during the PC start. Hereby one can upgrade a downloaded ASRock BIOS without further boot CD, USB boot stick, etc. very easily. Just start the ASRock Instant Flash utility and select a BIOS Flash ROM from the device like an USB Stick to flash the BIOS without an additional boot medium. If you need technical help about the UEFI, you can contact the ASRock over the UEFI Setup and LAN connection.

The board came with BIOS M1.00E. At review date, the UEFI BIOS P1.70 was the latest version for download.

How to overclock the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard …

The Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer UEFI Setup offers versatile OC-settings for easy overclocking. For DDR3 memory it offers settings like e.g. the memory setting from DDR3-800 over DDR3-1066, DDR3-1333, DDR3-1600, DDR3-1866, DDR3-2133 up to DDR3-2400 or with reference clock OC even higher:

The frequency of all memory modules is calculated and shown after changing the reference clock and makes it much easier to adjust the right RAM frequency. Up to DDR3-2400 can be selected in the BIOS and higher DDR3 frequencies over DDR3-2400 are available with reference clock overclocking. It is very advantageous that the ASRock FM2A88X+ Fatal1ty motherboard can read both AMP and XMP profile values from the memory modules and setup the RAM modules thus for their optimal speed.

The host clock is adjustable from 100 MHz up to 136 MHz and the NB frequency can be adjusted between 5x to 31x, which results in 1000 MHz up to 6200 MHz at default APU/PCIE rating of 100 MHz.

In our tests, it was possible to overclock it stable up to 125 MHz reference clock. With voltage increasement it was possible to overclock the motherboard to 131 MHz reference clock
(results in 132.73 MHz), which was of course added to our OCinside Team rankings and for short overclocking it was possible to reach 136 MHz.

Overclocking with the reference clock should be proceed with caution, because some other frequencies are increased by the internal clock generator as well. When overclocking Black Edition processors, so-called “K” APUs with unlocked multiplier, it is more easy to overclock the APU by increasing the multiplier. Anyway, the reference clock is still important at least when you buy high-end OC RAM and like to operate it on the maximum frequency, because this is on most boards only possible with reference clock or APU/PCIE frequency increasement.

The boot failure guard was checked in this review as well and it was possible to start the PC on standard values with too high overclocking settings without using Clear CMOS. ASRock offers the “Boot Failure Guard Count” option, where the user can decide, how often the board should try to start with too high settings, before it reduces all necessary frequency settings for a correct boot. If one prevents the PC from booting with wrong values, one can press the Clear CMOS button, the stored profile values are still saved and can be loaded quickly.

Furthermore, this board offers a Vcore setting on the AMD A10 Trinity test CPU from 0.6000 V to 1.5500 V with an Offset of -0,300 to +0,300, a CPU NB/GFX voltage from 0.6000 V to 1.5500 V, an APU PCIE voltage from 1.052 bis 1.484 V, a SB voltage setting between 1.10 V and 1.40 V and more settings to reach higher overclocking results. Additionally, the board offers an APU and NB Load Line Calibration, which can be set from 100% to 0%. NB and APU Load Line Calibration / LLC offers a compensation of the voltage in Idle/Load CPU load alternation. For manual overclocking of FM2 or FM2+ processors, the CPU Load Line Calibration should be disabled to get higher OC results stable. The DDR3 memory voltage can be set between 1.165 V up to 1.800 V in steps between 0.01 V and 0.0125 V, which should be enough power for some DDR3 OC RAM modules.

If these are too many values for you, one can also easily select a predefined overclocking at boot time with the X button – the so-called ASRock XBoost feature, so that the values can be increased easily without OC know-how by some percent.

Here is a suitable AMD Socket FM2 tuning guide with helpful OC tips and additionally we will help you in our PC Forum (German and English).

With the CPU Thermal Throttle option, it is possible to lower the CPU frequency on too high internal CPU temperature to protect the CPU from overheating. This is a helpful CPU protection which should be left enabled, but it is still necessary to have a good cooling for overclocking.

One can store three different UEFI OC settings with a desired name. Thus one can save for example balanced BIOS settings, overclocking settings and underclocking settings in a user profile of the BIOS to load them very quickly at any time. Just before a BIOS update you should remember your overclocking values, because you can reset the profile with the update.

Here is a screenshot of the User Profile:

BIOS Undervolting …

The downclocking or underclocking was also tested in this review. It was possible to lower the AMD A10-7850 K Black Edition CPU or APU multiplier over the BIOS to 14x and underclock with 100 MHz reference clock to approx. 1400 MHz.

Underclocking is outside of the manufacturers specification as well as OverClocking. It’s necessary to have a bit luck, but ASRock give you some useful options to overclock or underclock / undervolt the system more easily.

The BIOS of the passive cooled Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard offers a large temperature fan control for 4-pin and 3-pin CPU fans and 4-pin chassis fan:

The fan control can also easily set using the ASRock F-Tuning Tool supplied and also both other fans can be adjusted manually in the UEFI or by software, so it is non-essential to spend money for an additional fan controller.

Power consumption …

Power consumption will vary depending upon the hardware and upon the PC load. The current consumption of the test PC with 4GB DDR3-1333 memory, hard disk drive and Cooler Master Silent Pro M 600W test PSU was without overclocking depending upon load:

With an AMD A10-7850 K Kaveri APU we measured following PC power consumption values: – With Sapphire HD6870 card the consumption was between 56.3W idle and 233.5 Watt load. – With internal R7 GPU the consumption was between 30.2W idle and 118.8W load.

We tested the same system once again with an AMD A10-6800K Richland APU and achieved the following total PC consumption wattages: – With Sapphire HD6870 card the consumption was between 51.6W idle and 238.1 Watt load. – With internal HD8670D GPU the power consumption was between 32.6W idle and 138.2W load.

Last but not least we have tested the same system once again with an AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU and achieved the following total PC consumption wattages: – With Sapphire HD6870 card the consumption was between 51.7W idle and 231.4W load. – With internal HD7660D GPU the consumption was between 30.5W idle and 122.3W load.

So nearly all consumption values were below the previously tested ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ motherboard. Overclocking adjustments and temperature monitoring can be pleasantly performed with the included ASRock F-Stream software:

Result …

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer AMD Socket FM2+ DDR3 motherboard offers especially for enthusiastic gamers great additional features and is a great OC platform for current AMD Socket FM2+ Kaveri processors up to 95W TDP as well as for previous Richland or Trinity processors up to 100W TDP with a good basic equipment.

The basic equipment of the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer offers eight SATA3 ports with RAID support, up to six possible USB 3.0 ports, up to nine possible USB 2.0 ports, one additional USB 2.0 Fatal1ty mouse port, one low latency Gigabit LAN connector, 7.1 purity sound, analog sound output over five 3.5mm jacks, digital sound output over an optical SPDIF connector and dependig on the processor used, it offers a graphics output over HDMI-Out, 15-pin D-Sub or DVI-D.

All in all is the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer is an absolutely recommendable AMD Socket FM2+ gamers motherboard, which is designed for current Socket FM2+ processors and is also excellent suitable for previous Socket FM2 Trinity and Richland processors. If you wont need the professional gaming features, like the Killer LAN port and the Fatal1ty mouse port, the previously tested ASRock FM2A88X Extreme6+ motherboard offers more features at a similar low price.

Here you can buy the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard. *Ad

Special thanks to ASRock for their support.


* All Socket FM2+ PCIe motherboard reviews since 01.04.2014 are based on an AMD A10-7850K Black Edition, on an AMD A10-6800K Black Edition and on an AMD A10-5800K Black Edition APU,Sapphire HD6870 1024MB ATI Radeon HD6870 PCI Express 2.0 video card, 2x 2048MB Crucial Ballistix Tracer DDR3-1333/PC3-10600 memory modules, Cooler Master Silent Pro M 600W power supply unit and the following software configuration: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate, SiSoftware Sandra 2013, Futuremark 3DMark, 3DMark Vantage, 3DMark06 and 3DMark03 (the software is available in the Links & Downloads section). All benchmark results only offer a comparison among themselves for a rough motherboard performance comparison.

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