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[Review] ASRock Z370 Fatal1ty Gaming ITX/ac

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Old 23-01-2018, 01:39 AM   #1
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[Review] ASRock Z370 Fatal1ty Gaming ITX/ac

Hi all, thanks for stopping by.

I'd just like to share my personal take and review on this ITX board I've hooted awhile ago. Will try not to write up a wall of text, but here goes ! Around October time frame, I was looking at a couple of Coffee Lake ITX boards and this model caught my eye ASRock Z370 Fatal1ty Gaming-ITX/ac, though not at first glance. I managed to place a special order with the distro, tech dynamic (was not available in sg at launch) and received it on the final week of Nov '17. It carries a SRP of ~$319 (As at Nov '17), available at Dynacore/Bizgram as of late.

Bryan shushu listed on Lazada

Shame that a number of shops out there aren't keeping that many skus and that ITXes are taken as the red headed stepchild.

The product page
https://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Fata...s.asp#Overview



This board fully paid-up by myself, thoughts and comments on the product are indepedent views of my own. I've also not contacted TD that I'll be doing such a writeup either, so consider this a lengthy "SIC" of what I've found to be a very good board with a reasonable price tag.

You can find a full review of this ITX board on Tweaktown. https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/84...iew/index.html

But I'll leave my closing thoughts on this board upfront in case you're interested on what's up with this ITX board without the full breakdown.

Closing thoughts
https://deluxeforums.hardwarezone.co...581-post6.html
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Last edited by Encrypted11; 01-05-2018 at 04:28 PM..
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Old 23-01-2018, 01:40 AM   #2
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While my writeup over here will be tailored towards testing the board's features & some synthetic bench numbers after a likely overclock of ~5GHz. Out of good measure, I've added pre/post meltdown/spectre security patch numbers for your persual at the relevant sections. This is not a Coffee Lake CPU benchmark so you'll find just a few of those (if any at all). You can expect short writeups relating to the features and abit of practical usage.

Test Setup
  • Intel Core i7-8700K (Delidded)
  • Core/Cache: 5000MHz/4700MHz, RAM: XMP_3200 C14 (Except OC Section)
  • ASRock Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac
  • 2X G.SKILL TridentZ Black/White 3200MHz-CL14
  • https://www.gskill.com/en/product/f4-3200c14d-16gtzkw
  • GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition 11GB
  • Storage (NVMe): Samsung SSD 960 PRO 2TB
  • Storage (SATA): Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB
  • EVGA G3 750W
  • Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Related Drivers



Unboxing

  • Box Contents
  • 2x SATA Cable
  • WiFi/BT Antenna
  • M.2 Screw
  • IO Sheild


Board layout walkthrough
As per asrock manual



Circuit Analysis
https://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/84...ew/index3.html


Actual Pics

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Last edited by Encrypted11; 17-05-2018 at 12:20 PM..
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Old 23-01-2018, 01:40 AM   #3
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BIOS gallery
Help yourself to the gallery here https://imgur.com/a/CoDl3.
It's jumbled up by imgur unfortunately.


POST Times
This result is attained with a dGPU, RAMs at 4000MHz C16-1T (see mem OC section).
  • At a POST time of cold boot/reboot at 8.3 / 5.0 seconds respectively.
  • That's phenomenal considering there are no additional associated with memory training at aggressive RAM overclocks, its a completely different experience with my previous board.
  • Also worth mentioning, no memory training drifts on cold vs. reboot.
Spoiler!


Wireless Connectivity - Intel AC-8265 867Mbps Wireless Bluetooth / WiFi
Speedtest.net throughput
  • looks normal with some overhead (433+433Mbps up/down).
  • DPC latency with the driver are quite surprisingly low even at maxed throughput compared to my last Qualcomm Atheros QCA61X4A 867Mbps chipset.
LatencyMon screenshot records the DPC latency over a ~1Hour GTAV. It displays only the weakest link (worst spike in that time span).
Typical levels of NVidia driver DPC latency aside (not related to motherboard), worst readout for the networking part is 0.593miliseconds on WiFi! Which is very reasonable considering I'm using the full frequency range and SpeedShift Power Management, balanced power plan (800MHz - 5200MHz as I recorded this)! Can be lower with no power management.
Note: See post 6 for recommended power management disablement tweak to prevent WiFi bandwidth throttling
Spoiler!



Note: Unless you're looking for DPC latency issues related to a specific app or driver, it should be ran for an extended period with system load (e.g. 20m, 30m, 1hr) for a more accurate gauge of potential DPC/ISR issues on a particular setup. A short measurement for just a couple of minutes at computer idle will always give you low readouts that may not be representative of actual use.

Resplendence LatencyMon is geared towards "Weakest Link" or worst case readouts during the time span.

Other DPC latency checkers like those of Thesycon has chart readouts over the time span.
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Last edited by Encrypted11; 17-05-2018 at 12:20 PM..
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Old 23-01-2018, 01:41 AM   #4
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Connecting to LG TV via Windows 10 Settings - Miracast
It works, 1080p@30Hz. All display projection options available (extend, mirror etc)
Spoiler!

Running an Xbox Wireless Controller
It works, no dropouts/disconnections. Inputs register consistently. It can pair with your BT speaker & other BT accessories as well.
Spoiler!


Type C Port (Thunderbolt 3 2x PCIe 3.0)
[To be added]


-LAN: I don't use it so...

Storage
Note: This is the UWP version of CrystalDiskMark on Windows Store, runs different default benchmarks than the old installer.
SATA: Samsung 850 PRO 512GB SSD
NVMe: Samsung 960 PRO 2TB SSD
Spoiler!

Pre numbers look about right, considering its close to the DMI 3.0 hard limit of ~3.5GB/s, less overheads and other IO parked under this umbrella.
(normally sound, ethernet, audio, USB controllers share these resources)
For those who are unaware about DMI link in relation to NVMe. It is the PCIe 3.0 x4 based link between the CPU and PCH that also houses the data traffic from your NVMe SSD.
https://www.pcper.com/reviews/Storag...PCIe-RAID-Resu

Post patch numbers suffer a brutal haircut with both SATA and NVMe SSDs on 4K random IO regardless of low or high queue depth.
This can most probably be replicated on other systems on this platform.
I haven't felt a perceptible difference, but it ultimately depends on how IO intensive your workloads are but its there.

Last edited by Encrypted11; 23-01-2018 at 06:48 PM..
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Old 23-01-2018, 01:41 AM   #5
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Key Overclocking Voltage/Setting Maximum values in BIOS (as of P1.40 to P1.90 BIOS version)
Note: Absolute maximums allowable are not definitively your safety margins. Some are, some are not.
  • Short Duration Power Limit: 200W Max
  • Long Duration Power Limit: 200W Max
  • Current Limit: 255.50A Max (Platform Max)
  • Core Voltage: Unlimited
  • VccIO: 1.2V Max
  • VccSA: 1.35V Max
  • VDIMM / VDDR: 1.5V Max


CPU Overclocking
Just quick numbers, these are in my daily "stable" presets. They pass Handbrake AVX2 transcoding and OCCT.
Spoiler!
  • Power Limit maxes at 200W (Platform limit 4095W aka unlimited) which is not a number you can saturate under gaming loads but AVX2 Handbrake transcoding you'll be close near 1.4V...
  • This board sports some very potent hardware in the area of power delivery and doesn't even get hot at 200W.
    (5+2 true 60A intersil powerstages, 12K Nichicon caps)
  • Some of competing boards on the other hand are known to VRM throttle at the FET package limits giving those boards an effective hard limit of ~150W at high temperatures that severely hampers overclocking.
  • All things considered, it is still ahead of the Z370 ITX pack. Since the other boards aren't close in power capabilities its sad that there's probably no incentive for ASRock to uncork some of the BIOS hard limits they've set


Memory Overclocking
This board deserves a whole LOT of praise on its mem OC capability. Firstly, the board takes cold booting on high speed memory (4000MHz+) like a piece of cake if your CPU specimen is up to scratch (sample's IMC capability).
  • NO cold boot training drift shenanigans
  • NO extended POST times from memory training sequences, failed POST or multiple retry.
I managed to obtain a google stressapptest stable memory OC at 4000MHz 16-17-17-18 with 1T Command Rate (VCCIO/SA at 1.02V/1.1V - silicon lottery dependent). No errors on 5 hour run stress testing the memory bus. Read/Write/Copy benchmarks do scale on AIDA64's mem/cache benchmark.
Spoiler!



I've since ran it on 4133MHz C17-18-18-38-1T, passes GSAT as well but ran 2 hours due to time constraints. This time with IO: 1.05V, SA 1.1V in BIOS. Again, thumbs up for good memory trace routing on this board that showed up in tangible mem frequency numbers.
Spoiler!
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Last edited by Encrypted11; 27-03-2018 at 12:22 AM..
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Old 23-01-2018, 01:42 AM   #6
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The good
General
  • USB C (2 lane thunderbolt) Power Delivery Charging up to 36W, works with PD charging laptops, phones, tablets.
  • Consistent Wireless AC 8260 2x2 MIMO NIC, decent gain at 5GHz even at 10 meters from router with some obstruction.
  • AC 8260 NIC paired very well with Xbox one wireless controller, as well as Wireless Display projection (Miracast) at 1080p 30Hz on a basic 4k smart tv with miracast.
  • 6 SATA Ports on ITX (2 will be disabled if M.2 2280 slot is running a M.2 SATA SSD)
  • 3 Fan headers - anything above 2 on ITX is good..
  • Phenomenal POST times even with heavy memory overclocks and discrete GPU (5 sec warm, 8.3 sec cold boot)
  • No DPC latency issues

Overclocking
  • The Z370 ITX with the highest power limit with 5 true 60a phases on the core, 2 more on the iGPU.
  • BIOS power limit is capped at 200W with comfortable VRM temperatures
  • Heat output under heavy load on back side of mobo/VRMs doesn't burn the rear cable management chamber and tightly routed cables of a case like the Fractal Design Nano S at all with no airflow at this region.
    (attainable in real world without package limit or temp throttling).
  • Does memory training well at high memory speeds from cold boot, obtained 4133MHz C17-18-18-38-1T Google StressAppTest stable on a somewhat average Samsung-B SS memory kit. Board is spec'd for "4300+" 2 DIMMs.
  • 4000MHz CL16-17 is not a wild target as long as your CPU lottery is decent with a pair of ss Samsung-B IC based RAM kit
  • P/C state overclocking with SpeedShift enabled works without issues.


Closing comments
For SFF fans, this board takes about anything within the BIOS limits you throw at it no problem. It just ticks like a clock even on aggressive overclocks without any growing pains or serious kneecapping. VRMs are comparable to those you get on top mid range ATX board at a fraction of the footprint. Good NIC, has a 2 lane thunderbolt 3.0 through usb c. There's a CMOS reset button. but would be nice if there's a panel for POST codes or debug LEDs alternatively. BIOS settings are abit limiting for heavy overclockers, but will protect the average user from blowing up their hardware.
Spoiler!

Well priced for the features it offer. The only gripe though, of the 3 fan headers only CPU_OPT is capable of PWM+DC mode. CHA_Fan and CPU_Fan are PWM control only so DC fan users take note... hopefully this can be worked on for future ITXs from ASRock. Decent price for the features at SRP ~S$319, currently the only ITX that will give you sustained 200W on the cores. So far its working well for me.
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Old 23-01-2018, 01:43 AM   #7
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ASRock Z370 Fatal1ty Gaming-ITX/ac Resources
  • Recommended BIOS With spectre patch: P1.90
    (Fully working C state OC, improved cold boot memory training on extremely tight memory subs better than P1.40)
  • Recommended BIOS Without spectre patch: P1.40
    (Fully working and stable C state OC)
  • General (Drivers) - here
  • Full BIOS repository including betas - here (ctrl+f to find "Z370 Gaming-ITXac")
  • Soundblaster Cinema 5 Audio Suite - It might work, haven't found a download from ASRock

ASRock Windows 7 Patcher for USB install (xHCI driver compatibility patcher tool)

"How to" section

1. Prevent WiFi bandwidth throttling on Intel AC8260
With the AC8260 default settings, there may be brief occassions its throughput tanks to <100Mbps.

  • Search for device "Device Manager" via start menu > head to the Intel AC-8260> advanced
  • Reduce "Roaming aggressiveness" to medium or medium-low for the wireless AP scanning will help with consistency.
  • Disable MIMO PowerSave Mode > No SMPS

The Intel AC 8260 default settings are mostly tuned for maximum power savings than raw performance since it is designed mainly to fit laptops so this tweaks will be very beneficial.
Spoiler!



2. BIOS settings for using P/C States (even while overclocked)
(dynamic frequency and voltages depending on load)

P/C state overclocking with dynamic frequency and voltage scaling works very well with "offset" and "auto" voltage modes.
It works perfectly regardless of set multiplier behaviour ("Per core", "Specific per core" and "All core"). Is there an incentive to enabling speedshift? Well most probably. The frequency transitions are very quick relative to Speed Step (EIST).


Based on testing through actual use, I'm recommending the following baseline power management settings required for SpeedShift to work even under overclocked conditions. By doing so, you're able to relegate the full use of power management to the OS through the Balanced and High Performance power plans. You can expect CPU package power draw as low as ~5W when used in conjunctioned with Balanced.

OC Tweaker\CPU Configuration
● Intel SpeedStep Technology: Enabled (This is a mandatory flag for Speed Shift (HWP) to work on ASRock Z370)
● Intel SpeedShift Technology: Enabled

Advanced\CPU Configuration
● CPU C States Support: Enabled
● Enhanced Halt State (C1E): Auto/Enabled
● CPU C3 State Support: Auto/Enabled
● CPU C6 State Support: Auto/Enabled
● (Optional) CPU C7 State Support: Auto/Enabled
● (Optional) Package C State Support: Enabled

However if you're experiencing OC stability issues, you may consider disabling deeper C States that selectively shut off more processor logic under low usage (C7 and Package C States). If it doesn't help, you may consider disabling C6 or power management overall. Do keep in mind that power management typically ranks last on the list of "to-do's" while ascertaining OC stability.

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Old 23-01-2018, 01:59 AM   #8
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Other good reads - Buying Guide
Z370 / Z390 VRM Discussion Thread - overclock.net
ASRock Fatal1ty Z370 Gaming-ITX/ac Motherboard Review - TweakTown
(Highlights: Page 3-4 for circuit analysis, page 10 for VRM temperatures)
LGA 1151 Z170 / Z270 / Z370 / Z390 VRM List - Hardwareluxx.de
Tweaktown Intel Z370 Motherboard Buyers' Guide by Steven .B


Other good reads - Overclocking Guide
Kaby Lake Overclocking Guide by Rajinder G. (Raja@ASUS)
Tweaktown Coffeelake Overclocking Guide by Steven B. (Motherboard editor)
Intel Temperature Guide - Computronix@Tomshardware
Intel DDR4 24/7 Memory Stability Thread - OCN

VRM Rating by AlphaC@OCN
The list is compiled by AlphaC, board power capabilities are ranked based on datasheets, layouts, heat sinking

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Old 23-01-2018, 09:01 AM   #9
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Good effort! I'm using a z170 asrock itx fatality myself

Bought two stick antenna to replace the square antenna provided by asrock
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Old 23-01-2018, 12:16 PM   #10
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Keep it up! Thank you for the time taken to write this review!
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Old 23-01-2018, 12:50 PM   #11
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Thanks for the comments, I think this review is a one off piece though . The primary motivation for putting out this piece is simply to raise some awareness of some lesser-known SFF boards available locally.

Especially around 2017 time frame onwards with AMD Ryzen and Intel Kabylake launch, it is quite clear that board vendors in general have kept minimal focus on ITX boards. Most notably, mATXes and ITXes with good power delivery designs are disappearing in favour of adding just RGB onto what appears to be mediocre or regular boards while the decent ones stay within the ATX circle. If RGB has to stay, decent hardware shouldn't be the trade-off!

Vendors like ASUS that used to make decent mATXes like the Maximus Gene and Impact series have abandoned the line. It's good to see ASRock pushing SFF limits with their coming X299/X399 mATX OC Formula brand when everyone else isn't doing it.

While the review isn't going to do a lot, I'm hopeful its going to maintain some degree of interest in SFF systems over here .
Hopefully local distributors & resellers don't see SFF boards as niche with slow turnaround and aren't worth carrying.
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Old 23-01-2018, 04:37 PM   #12
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Nice nice. Keep up the good stuffs!
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Old 23-01-2018, 04:44 PM   #13
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+1 in this power review thread

Sent from Finally Unbanned using GAGT
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Old 25-01-2018, 01:07 AM   #14
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nice +1
am considering asus or this board
with 8700k
replacement for 4770k with asus maximus impact

asus mb just uplorry
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Old 01-02-2018, 08:06 PM   #15
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Find the only Z370 ITX that would do high ambient cooling volts and the associated amount of power draw in the sea of ATXes around.

http://hwbot.org/benchmark/xtu/ranki...20#interval=20
Note: Good chips are a must for the score too!
Unfortunately, this requires uncorking power limits (200W) atop of the ASRock BIOS imposed caps via XTU .


Hopefully can add some basic Google Pixel 2 10-100% charge time numbers in these few weeks if possible.

Also added some useful references. Somehow the thread has been referenced by AlphaC on the Z370 / Z390 VRM Discussion Thread on OCN, he co-authored with br0da from hardwareluxx..

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