On-Board Peripherals

The Intel X79 chipset is a single-chip solution, which is also known as a PCH (Platform Controller Hub). This chip supports two SATA-600 ports and four SATA-300 ports, supporting RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5).

The ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion has another four SATA-600 ports, controlled by a Marvell 88SE9230 chips, supporting RAID 0, 1, and 10.

One drawback is that the manufacturer used only two colors to identify the SATA ports: black for the SATA-300 and red for the SATA-600. The manufacturer should have used different colors to identify to where each port is connected. We think they should have used one color for the SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (which are the ones to the immediate left of the SATA-300 ports) and another color for the ports controlled by the additional chip.

All SATA ports are located at the motherboard’s edge and rotated 90°, so video cards won’t block them. See Figure 5.

ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion motherboardFigure 5: SATA-600 (red) and SATA-300 (black) ports

This motherboard also has two eSATA-600 ports, controlled by a Marvell 88SE9172 chip.

The Intel X79 chipset supports 14 USB 2.0 ports. Unfortunately, this chipset doesn’t support USB 3.0 ports natively. The ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion offers eight USB 2.0 ports, two soldered on the rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard. It also supports 12 USB 3.0 ports by using three Texas Instruments TUSB7340 chips, eight soldered on the motherboard rear panel and four available through two headers. The motherboard comes with a 3.5” panel containing two USB 3.0 ports for you to use on one of the motherboard’s USB 3.0 headers if your computer case doesn’t have four USB 3.0 ports with internal connectors.

The ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion has two FireWire ports, one soldered on the rear panel and one available through a header. These ports are controlled by a VIA VT6308S chip.

This motherboard supports 7.1 audio format, using a Creative Sound Core3D audio controller, which provides CrystalVoice technology for improving the audio quality during audio chats and several other technologies for improving audio. Specifications for this chip include 102 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) for its outputs and 101 dB signal-to-noise ratio for its inputs, with a 192 kHz sampling rate and 24-bit resolution.

ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion motherboardFigure 6: The Creative Sound Core3D chip

The motherboard has on-board optical SPDIF output. A header labeled “HDMI_SPDIF1” also provides SPDIF output for you to install a coaxial SPDIF output or to route digital audio to older video cards that require this physical connection in order to have digital audio output in their HDMI connectors.

The analog audio outputs are independent only if you use a 5.1 analog speaker set. If you install a 7.1 analog speaker set, you will need to use either the “mic in” or the “line in” jacks.

The portrayed motherboard has two Gigabit Ethernet ports that are controlled by two Broadcom BCM57781 chips. These support the “teaming” function, which combines the bandwidth of the two ports for a maximum bandwidth of 2 Gbps if you have compatible networking hardware.

In Figure 7, you can see the motherboard rear panel with two USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 keyboard connector, a clear CMOS button, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, eight USB 3.0 ports, one FireWire port, two eSATA-600 ports, an optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio connectors.

ASRock X79 Fatal1ty Champion motherboardFigure 7: Motherboard rear panel

The top-most USB 2.0 port is the special “Fatal1ty mouse port,” which has a polling rate that can be manually configured between 125 Hz and 1 kHz. The main problem here is that there is no label indicating the presence of this port. The manufacturer should have used a different color (red) for this port, making it easier for users to identify it.

Gabriel Torres is a Brazilian best-selling ICT expert, with 24 books published. He started his online career in 1996, when he launched Clube do Hardware, which is one of the oldest and largest websites about technology in Brazil. He created Hardware Secrets in 1999 to expand his knowledge outside his home country.