The ASRock Z170 Gaming K6+ is the top-end board in the company's Z170 gaming range. This is signified by the Fatal1ty branding and the inclusion of "enhanced audio and graphics design, plus improved stability, specifically tailored for gamers".
In non-marketing speak this translates to having a more hefty 12-phase power delivery to the CPU for better overclocking, Killer LAN for prioritising gaming traffic over your network, and a Fatal1ty mouse USB socket.
That may not sound like much – and, sure enough, that's why it costs only £30 more than the mid-range ASRock Z170 Extreme 4+ – but it adds up to a board that's certainly well worth considering.
ASRock's Z170 board wears its gaming heart on its sleeve, with a host of bright red highlights adorning the otherwise all-black board. A shiny, spiky logo can also be seen on the chipset heatsink and there's a smattering of Fatal1ty branding too.
For those who don't know, Jonathan "Fatal1ty" Wendel is an ex-professional gamer who has attached his brand to a host of hardware products over the past 10 or so years.
The design works quite well, with a the red highlights not making the board look too garish. That said I'm not overly keen on the Fatal1ty branding and prefer the even subtler look of the Extreme 4+, but for fans of black and red it certainly hits the mark.
See also: Best Intel Z170 Motherboards
Looking more closely at the feature set, the Gaming K6+ will support all the latest Intel Skylake CPUs with its LGA 1151 socket, and marries that with support for up to 64GB of 3,886MHz DDR4 RAM. Said memory slots also use the convenient one-sided installation mechanism, where there's a clip only on one side of each DIMM, which means you don't have to worry about the clips fouling against your graphics card when you try to open them.
You can also run up to three AMD graphics cards or two Nvidia graphics cards, including support for quad-SLI with dual-GPU cards. Sitting between the three x16 PCI-E slots are three x1 slots, meaning there's no legacy PCI support here.
However, you do get an M.2 slot for adding a slim-line PCI-E SSD. Its position is such that it's likely you'll have to remove your graphics card to get to it – but that's common enough on these boards.
Elsewhere, there are all the usual enthusiast conveniences such as onboard power and reset buttons. Also present is an LED post readout and a CMOS reset button on the rear IO plate, making installation, overclocking and problem-solving nice and easy.
All the fan headers support PWM speed control and two are conveniently situated right at the top of the board, while a further two are placed further down and a further two are for the CPU cooler.
Those that like to keep their systems' cables in order will also be glad to see that all the SATA/SATA Express ports are right-angled and situated next to each other on the right edge.
The main performance feature of this board over lower models in ASRock's range is the 12-phase power delivery, which is topped by more generous cooling too. This should ensure even more reliable power delivery for a stable overclock.
You also get a Fatal1ty mouse port, which, when combined with ASRock's software, allows you to set the polling rate from 125Hz up to 1,000Hz. With most decent gaming mice allowing you to set this from the mouse driver, it's a very niche feature.
Killer LAN is potentially more beneficial, since it ensures your gaming network traffic is always given priority for reduced latency. Of course, it can't prevent others on your network ruining your experience, but at least it will ensure your computer isn't the bottleneck.
You wouldn't know there was a different LAN port looking at the rear IO of the Gaming K6+, compared to the Extreme 4+; both look identical. This is in contrast to some boards that include Killer LAN in the form of an extra port – here it just replaces the Intel Ethernet port.
Otherwise, the set of inputs and outputs is mostly decent. There are six USB 3.0 ports and two USB 3.1 ports (including one in Type-C format), the CMOS switch, plus HDMI/DisplayPort/DVI display outputs and onboard audio with a digital optical output.
You also get a PS/2 socket, for all those gamers will to spend hundreds of pounds on a new motherboard and processor but not buy a new USB keyboard/mouse.
Motherboards performance is tested with Cinebench’s single and multi-core benchmarks to show how a board can alter the ability of a processor, and 3DMark’s Fire Strike test is used to evaluate graphics performance.
Also measured is the idle and peak temperature of the processor in my test rig, and the power levels of my machine in order to see how motherboards influence heat and power consumption.
The test machine uses a Core i5-6600K processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, and 16GB of 2,666MHz DDR4 memory alongside a Samsung 850 Pro SSD.
This high-end ASRock board shows what it's made of in comparison to its cheaper sibling, delivering a score of 651 in Cinebench’s multi-core benchmark. This compares to a score of 647 for the cheaper board. It also showed a small advantage in 3DMark, scoring 10,791 compared to 10,736.
This extra performance does come at the expense of a tiny increase in power consumption, though. In idle it consumes 39W, compared to 36W, and under load it sucked up 283W, compared to 281W.
The Gaming K6+ packs in a great set of features that's ideal for any enthusiast home user. It has all the performance you could want in addition to the little extras tinkerers and overclockers like to see.
It perhaps lacks that one key stand-out feature – a high-end audio solution or extra M.2 slot – that would have elevated it above rivals, but nonetheless it's a solid platform that has the performance and core feature set to mostly justify its price.
Those who don't care too much about overclocking may prefer ASRock's own Extreme 4+, which is a slightly cheaper option that misses out on little else.
The ASRock Z170 Gaming K6+ is a great board for those looking to build a powerful Intel Skylake-based PC and want to do some overclocking. Its headline extras are of debatable real-world use – but nevertheless it delivers on looks, overall features and performance.