[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

The Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer is a socket FM2+ motherboard from ASRock, based on the most high-end chipset for this platform, the A88X. It is targeted to the forthcoming FM2+ “Kaveri” APUs, but it is also compatible with socket FM2, second-generation APUs from AMD, codenamed “Trinity.” Let’s see what this motherboard has to offer.

APU is a name that AMD coined for their CPUs with integrated video. The integrated video controller found on socket FM2 APUs support up to three video monitors, while the forthcoming socket FM2+ processors will support four video monitors. 

AMD launched three chipsets for socket FM2+ platform: A88X, A78, and A68. They are pretty much updated versions of the A85X, A75, and A55 chipsets, but with eight SATA-600 ports instead of six and the support for RAID 5, which is not available on the previous models. A difference between the A85X and the A88X is the support for XHCI 1.0 and Debug Port on the USB 3.0 ports of the A88X, while the A85X supports XHCI 0.96.

AMD socket FM2+ APUs will have an embedded PCI Express 3.0 controller, while the PCI Express controller included with FM2 processors is 2.0. Second-generation APUs allow the x16 port to be divided into two x8 ports. It is important to understand that this is a feature provided by the processor, not by the chipset.

While socket FM2+ motherboards support socket FM2 processors, when a socket FM2 CPU is installed the PCI Express lanes are only compatible with the 2.0 standard.

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer does not support the Virtu Universal MVP, which allows you to combine the performance of the integrated graphics processor available in the CPU with the performance of any video card installed, a feature that is available on some socket FM2 motherboards.

In Figure 1, you see the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard, which is based on the ATX form factor, measuring 12.0 x 8.8 inches (305 x 224 mm).

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 1: ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard

[nextpage title=”Slots”]

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer comes with one PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot (PCIE2), one PCI Express 2.0 x16 (PCIE4, that always works at x4 speed), two PCI Express 2.0 x1, and three PCI slots.

You also need to keep in mind that PCI Express 3.0 is only supported if an FM2+ processor is installed. With an FM2 CPU, the board only supports PCI Express 2.0.

The portrayed motherboard supports CrossFireX with up to two video cards (maximum of four GPUs).

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 2: Slots

[nextpage title=”Memory Support”]

AMD CPUs have an embedded memory controller, meaning that it is the processor, not the chipset, that defines what memory technologies you can have and the maximum amount of memory that is possible. The motherboard, however, may have a limitation as to how much memory can be installed.

The integrated memory controller from socket FM2 processors supports DDR3 memories up to 1,866 MHz. FM2+ CPUs memory specifications are not published by AMD to date. According to ASRock, the Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer supports memories up to DDR3-2600.

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer has four memory sockets. According to the manufacturer, it supports up to 64 GiB if four 16 GiB memory modules are used.

In order to enable the dual-channel mode, you must install two or four memory modules. When installing two memory modules, you will have to use two sockets with the same color, i.e., you must install one module in the first socket and the other module in the third socket (and not in the second one).

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 3: Memory sockets; install two or four identical modules for the best performance

[nextpage title=”On Board Peripherals”]

The AMD A88X chipset is a single-chip solution. This chip supports eight SATA-600 ports with RAID (0, 1, 10, and 5). The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer has the eight SATA-600 ports available. They are installed on the motherboard edge and rotated 90°, so the installation of video cards will not block them.

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 4: SATA-600 ports

The AMD A88X chipset supports 10 USB 2.0 ports and four USB 3.0 ports. The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer offers ten USB 2.0 ports, four soldered on the rear panel and six available through three headers located on the motherboard; and six USB 3.0 ports, four located on the motherboard rear panel and two available on a header located on the motherboard. The two extra USB 3.0 ports at the rear panel are controlled by an ASMedia ASM1042 chip.

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer does not have FireWire ports.

This motherboard supports 7.1+2 audio format, i.e., eight channels plus two independent channels for audio streaming. On this motherboard, the audio is generated by the chipset using the Realtek ALC1150 codec, which is an excellent audio codec, providing 115 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog outputs, 104 dB signal-to-noise ratio for the analog inputs, and up to 192 kHz sampling rate for both inputs and outputs, with 24-bit resolution. These specifications are good even for the user who wants to professionally capture and edit analog audio (e.g., converting LPs to CDs or MP3, converting VHS to DVDs or any other digital format, etc.)

The codec chip is shielded against electromagnetic interference, and the audio interface is equipped with a TI NE5532 amplifier for the front headphones output.

The analog audio outputs are independent and the motherboard also comes with an on-board optical SPDIF output.

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 the “line in” jack.

The portrayed motherboard has one Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by an Atheros Killer E2200 chip, a high-performance Gigabit Ethernet controller. Like the codec, this chip is also shielded, as you can see in Figure 5.

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 5: Shielded audio codec and Killer E2200 chip

In Figure 6, you can see the motherboard rear panel with a shared keyboard/mouse PS/2 connector, two four USB 2.0 ports, VGA output, DVI-D output, HMDI output, four USB 3.0 ports, Clear CMOS button, a Gigabit Ethernet port, an optical SPDIF output, and the analog audio jacks.

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 6: Motherboard rear panel

In Figure 7, you can see all of the accessories that come with the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer.

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 7: Accessories

[nextpage title=”Voltage Regulator”]

The CPU voltage regulator circuit of the ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer has four phases for the CPU main voltage (VDD a.k.a. Vcore) and two for the CPU VDDNB (integrated memory controller, HyperTransport interface controller, and L3 memory cache) voltage. Therefore, it uses a “4+2” configuration, using a digital design.

The voltage regulator is controlled by a Richtek RT8894A chip. Each phase is driven by one PSMN9R1-30YL (“9130AL”) and one PSMN5R8-30LL (“5830DL”) transistors.

The voltage regulator circuit is shown in Figure 8.

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 8: Voltage regulator circuit

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer uses solid electrolytic capacitors. All coils on this motherboard are ferrite-core models, which can provide up to 20% improvement in efficiency.

If you want to learn more about the voltage regulator circuit, please read our tutorial on the subject.

[nextpage title=”Overclocking Options”]

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer provides a few overclocking options. Below, we list the most important ones available at the motherboard’s setup:

  • Base clock: From 100 MHz to 136 MHz in 1 MHz increments
  • CPU voltage: From 0.60000 V to 1.55000 V in 0.00625 V increments
  • CPU voltage offset: From -0.300 V to +0.635 V in 0.005 V increments
  • Integrated video controller voltage (“GFX Engine Voltage”): From 0.600 V to 1.550 V in 0.00625 V increments
  • Integrated video controller voltage (“GFX Engine Voltage”) offset: From -0.300 V to +0.635 V in 0.005 V increments
  • Memory voltage: From 1.165 V to 1.800 V in 0.005 V increments
  • Chipset (“SB”) voltage: From 1.10 V to 1.40 V in 0.10 V increments
  • CPU PCI Express voltage: From 1.208 V to 1.563 V in 0.012 V increments

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 9: Overclocking options

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 10: Voltage options

ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ KillerFigure 11: Memory timings adjusts

[nextpage title=”Main Specifications”]

The main specifications for the ASRock FM2A88X EXTREME6+ include:

  • Socket: FM2+
  • Chipset: AMD A88X
  • Super I/O: Nuvoton NCT6776D
  • Parallel ATA: None
  • Serial ATA: Eight SATA-600 ports controlled by the chipset (RAID 0, 1, 10, and 5)
  • External SATA: None
  • USB 2.0: 10 USB 2.0 ports, four on the motherboard real panel and six available through three headers on the motherboard
  • USB 3.0: Six USB 3.0 ports, four on the motherboard rear panel and two available through one header on the motherboard, two ports controlled by an ASMedia ASM1042 chip
  • FireWire (IEEE 1394): None
  • Thunderbolt: None
  • On-board video: Controlled by the CPU; VGA, DVI, and HDMI connectors
  • On-board audio: Produced by the chipset together with a Realtek ALC1150 codec (7.1+2 channels, 24-bit resolution, 192 kHz sampling rate, 115 dB SNR for the outputs, and 104 dB SNR for the inputs), on-board optical SPDIF output
  • On-board LAN: One Gigabit Ethernet port controlled by an Atheros Killer E2200 chip
  • Buzzer: No
  • Infrared interface: Yes
  • Power supply required: EPS12V
  • Slots: One PCI Express 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI Express 2.0 x16 slot (working at x4), two PCI Express 2.0 x1 slots, and three PCI slots
  • Memory: Four DDR3-DIMM sockets (up to DDR3-2600, 64 GiB maximum)
  • Fan connectors: One four-pin connector for the CPU cooler, one three-pin connector for CPU cooler, one four-pin connectors for auxiliary fan, and three three-pin connectors for auxiliary fans
  • Extra features: None
  • Number of CDs/DVDs provided: One
  • Programs included: Motherboard utilities
  • More Information: https://www.asrock.com/
  • Average price in the U.S.*: USD 95.00

* Researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer is a good motherboard if you are building a computer with a socket FM2 processor, with the advantage of being compatible with future socket FM2+ APUs.

It has almost only the basic features provided by the chipset (except for two extra USB 3.0 ports), but they (eight SATA-600 ports, one eSATA-600 port, four USB 3.0 ports, and ten USB 2.0 ports) are more than enough for the average user.

The highlights of this motherboard, being part of the Fatal1ty Killer series from ASRock, are the high-end audio and Ethernet interfaces.

So, if you are looking for a simple yet powerful motherboard with excellent cost/benefit ratio to build a computer based on the AMD FM2 or FM2+ APUs, the ASRock Datal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer is a great deal.