Marketing is a very powerful tool.  A successful marketing campaign or product segmentation can increase sales more than ten-fold.  It is not something we hear or talk about much in the motherboard arena – while a manufacturer will try and promote all the features they have on a product, advertising is usually limited to web advertisements, gaming shows, or an attempt to get as many positive reviews in the media as possible.  But certain manufacturers do enjoy branding their products – Republic of Gamers, Sniper, Big Bang, and Fatal1ty.  Today we are looking at just that – a Fatal1ty branded product, the ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional.

The Fatal1ty Branding

I will cut straight to the heart of the branding.  Jonathan ‘Fatal1ty’ Wendel is a professional gamer, considered the first true professional gamer notching up near US$500,000 in prize money and twelve world titles in First Person Shooter games.  He has been featured in several mainstream magazines and media outlets for these achievements.

Since 2007, he has toned down his active competing, focusing more on selling himself as a brand, on anything gaming related from (and I quote) “motherboards, energy snacks, sound cards, gaming desks, computer mice, headphones, and power supplies bearing his moniker”.  One could hardly criticize him on this as he is capitalizing on a dream that many gamers have – to turn professional and make it a true money earner.

The issue comes from the direction of the marketing.  I should note that this paragraph is a personal ditty rather than views of AnandTech.  As an ex-clan gamer several years ago, I wanted to be better than others on my own steam – people like Fatal1ty seemed very smug to get to where they were and the mindset was to be the best by beating everyone, not by helping them in their career by investing in their products.  This attitude, in my opinion, is copied over most of my local circle of fellow gamers, especially those in the western hemisphere.  As a gamer, being reminded every time I start my computer of ‘the ultimate challenge’ is not a road I wanted to walk down, so you would buy a product which did not remind you of any gamer who had ‘made’ it.

Nevertheless, I did discuss this mentality with some regular and senior members at ASRock last year at Computex.  In their view, the Fatal1ty branding had increased sales significantly of their higher end offerings, especially in eastern hemisphere.  This essentially describes a very different mentality from what I perceive – the idolization (or willingness to accept) of professional gamers against the ‘us vs. them’ mentality I have encountered amongst my peers (of whom only one person owns a Fatal1ty product).  In my view, perhaps it might benefit ASRock sales in certain areas of the world to market under a new, non-person specific moniker, such as the ‘ASRock Gaming Series’, and have boards named the ‘Z77 Extreme G6’ or similar.

ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional Overview, Visual Inspection, Board Features
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  • Senti - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Hell yes to IDE port. It was very frustrating to find on my new motherboard no IDE but "great" SATA 6 was there. Marvell, 2 SATA 6 ports on single PCI-E 2.0 line. Who sane would use that instead of integrated Intel RST plain SATA 3? IDE controller would be way, way more useful.

    The same story with PCI slots on new boards: we get 0 PCI and 7 PCI-E. But hey, if you plug something in slot X then Y won't work, or if this 1x slot is used then that 4x would become 1x. How about providing fully supplied (or at least more supplied) PCI-E ports and filling space left with PCI?
  • hechacker1 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Yeah I like the IDE port, even if I'm going to rarely use it. They might as well shrink the header and give us a breakout cable to save space.

    I guess with USB 3.0, they could just give us an IDE to USB cable and solve the problem.
  • mapesdhs - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    This is why I kept buying Asrock boards, the slot layout and choice was excellent,
    eg. the P55 Deluxe is really good (I have several). Loved the 3-slot spacing for
    SLI/CF, has floppy/IDE (I use SAS RAID cards which usually need a floppy for
    BIOS/fw updates, and I was carrying over an IDE DVDRW), good price. Infact I
    didn't think Asrock's P67 boards were as good as the P55 Deluxe.

    The exception is my P67 board, an ASUS Maximus IV Extreme, because I got it for
    a very low price refurb, otherwise I would likely have bought a Z68 Extreme4.

  • silverblue - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    ...ATi logo on the board adjacent to the top PCI port.
  • IanCutress - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    We actually see that on a lot of boards still. Perhaps it's time for a design update :)

  • hardslime - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    "There are six fan headers on the board – the CPU socket has two fan headers above the top heatsink, one 4-pin and one three-pin, and two above the first PCIe x1 slot (both are three pin). Other fan headers on board are at the bottom, where we find two three-pin chassis headers."

    One of the chassis headers is a 4-pin. I own this board, you can also see it in some of the pictures.
  • Matt355 - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    They should remove the Gamer tag and brand this as what it is, a Home Server Motherboard. 10 SATA ports, IDE, Floppy, lots of fan headers, PIC slots. Not what most Gamers are looking for but it still might sell to the home server crowd.
  • faster - Monday, May 21, 2012 - link

    Gamers are hardcore competitive. There is no way I'm going to copy the setup of someone I want to beat. I'm going to do my research and build a better system to try and squeeze out those extra framerates to give me the edge.

    I build a lot of systems and I have never bought a "Wendel" component and I probably never will unless it clearly beats the competition, something I have never seen from a Wendel component.
  • ocyl - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    The fact that ASRock Fatal1ty Z77 Professional has built-in IDE and floppy connectors is one of the primary reasons why I will purchase this motherboard rather than the others in the same price range. Sure, I may never need to use these connectors again after the next system migration, but if/when I ever do in the future, I won't have to spend any additional money on expansion cards, nor will I need to allocate any PCI (Express) slot or USB port for them.

    On the other hand, I would have liked to see dual-link DVI, DisplayPort, and D-sub, or at least dual-link DVI and DisplayPort, instead of DisplayPort and HDMI, video output connectors on this motherboard. I have invested a lot of money in professional-grade monitors, and I am not going to swap them out simply because they are equipped with DVI connectors. Passive DisplayPort-to-DVI and HDMI-to-DVI adapters can only output single-link DVI signals.
  • jigglywiggly - Tuesday, May 22, 2012 - link

    i have better aim that fatal1ty

    i have a frag of him somewhere, and every game i've played with him, my lg and rail accs are always better, 1.5x.

    I still want his stuff, he is p cool, and a great dueler.

    Wat u r describing is a lozer

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