Page 3 : DDR4 Memory, Ultra M.2, SATA Ports, Purity Sound 3
DDR4 Memory Slots
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K4 motherboard has four DDR4 DIMM slots, their contacts gold-plated to protect them against oxidation and corrosion. Even though the Intel Z170 chipset only supports non-ECC memory, these DIMM slots can accept ECC memory modules – with their ECC capability disabled.
The Intel Z170 chipset only supports DDR4 memory up to 2133 MHz in frequency, but the Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K4 allows for overclocked memory clock speeds of up to 3600 MHz with selected modules. It even supports 3866 MHz, but only if a single memory module is installed.
Ultra M.2 Socket
The Ultra M.2 socket is a unique ASRock feature. The M.2 socket is usually connected to the Z170 chipset using two PCI Express lanes. ASRock has instead connected the M.2 socket directly to the Intel Core processor using four PCI Express lanes. This not only doubles the maximum bandwidth to 32 Gbits/s (4 GB/s), it also reduces the M.2 socket’s latency.
Of course, you will need an M.2 SSD that supports PCIe x4. Even so, PCIe x2 SSDs may benefit slightly from the lower latencies associated with the Ultra M.2 socket being directly connected to the CPU, bypassing the Z170 chipset.
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K4 specifications officially quotes 2 SATA Express ports as well as 6 standard SATA 3 ports. However, this is not really the case – it only comes with 2 SATA Express ports and 2 SATA 3 ports.
Of course, each SATA Express port can be “converted” into 2 standard SATA 3 ports. After all, the SATA Express port is really just two SATA 3 ports with a smaller PCI Express port that delivers two PCIe lanes. In other words, it supports up to 2 SATA Express drives and 2 SATA drives, or up to 6 SATA drives.
Depending on how many drives you intend to use in your system, this may or may not be sufficient. But the good news is that they did stack the connectors, like they did in the ASRock Z170 Extreme4. This makes the Z170 Gaming K4’s connectors must easier to access.
ASRock Purity Sound 3
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K4 motherboard comes with the ASRock Purity Sound 3 audio solution. This is a combination of the Realtek ALC1150 audio codec with a 115 dB SNR DAC, two Ti NE5532 amplifiers as well as EMI and PCB shielding.
One of the Ti NE5532 amplifiers is used as a differential amplifier, which avoids the distortion caused by audio capacitors. The other Ti NE5532 amplifier is dedicated to driving the headphone port, allowing you to use high-impedance headphones without a separate amplifier or sound card.
The ASRock Fatal1ty Z170 Gaming K4 was designed with techies in mind. It sports two 128 Mbit BIOS chips, with a physical switch. This allows you to quickly switch to the backup BIOS if you make an unrecoverable mistake in the BIOS setting, or the BIOS is corrupted after a flash failure.