ASRock intros Killer gaming mobos, includes M.2 connectivity

ASRock has introduced a new lineup of gaming-oriented motherboards, and I'm not sure I can set the stage any better than the press release:

While tossing and turning in bed, great minds often stumble upon the same philosophical questions of life. Are you there God? What is love? And what are the definitive attributes that differentiate a gaming motherboard from regular motherboards? Now ASRock elaborates the definition of real gaming motherboards with their new Killer Series – Z87 Killer, B85 Killer, 990FX Killer and FM2A88X+ Killer!

Well then. All the boards share a collection of common features. True to their branding, they're equipped with Killer NICs that boast packet prioritization software. The integrated audio combines a high-end Realtek codec with a Texas Instruments amplifier chip, upgraded capacitors, extra EMI shielding, and isolated PCB traces. The boards also sport HDMI inputs that allow one's screen to be shared with an additional device.

Although the boards have largely identical features, the most intriguing addition is limited to perhaps the most unlikely candidate. The 990FX Killer is the only one in the bunch with an M.2 connector for mini SSDs.

Now, this isn't the first motherboard we've seen with an M.2 slot; Asus' Maximus VI Extreme has a similar connector. That slot is limited to a single lane of PCI Express bandwidth, though. ASRock claims the 990FX is the first motherboard with a two-lane M.2 implementation good for 10Gbps of bandwidth.

Thanks to additional interface bandwidth, M.2 SSDs can offer higher performance than existing SATA models. It's a little puzzling to see such a cutting-edge feature tied to a motherboard with such a limited upgrade path, though. The 990FX platform is 2.5 years old, and its AM3+ socket is basically a dead end as far as future CPU upgrades go. Perhaps the chipset's bounty of PCI Express 2.0 connectivity played a role in getting the M.2 slot onboard.

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