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ASRock X99 OC Formula Motherboard Review

With every little detail tending to the needs of enthusiasts and overclockers, ASRock's X99 OC Formula combines impressive overclocking-geared components with smart design choices and a well-tuned UEFI.

It doesn't matter whether an overclocker is using LN2 to cool their CPU or simply listening to their favourite music after an intense benchmarking session, ASRock's X99 OC Formula features hardware that is well-suited to a variety of scenarios.

The overclocking performance of ASRock's X99 OC Formula was impressive. While the board didn't manage to push our chip past its 4.4GHz 24/7 stability limit, it did manage to survive far longer than the competition when running at 4.5GHz.

Further fine-tuning should help the board deliver impressive overclocking results, especially when it is paired with elaborate cooling solutions. High memory frequencies require additional user input over XMP configurations, although all motherboard vendors (with the exception of Asus' high-end parts) are struggling in providing straightforward compatibility with 3GHz+ DDR4 kits.

Efficiency and brute performance are the key characteristics for the strong 12-phase CPU power delivery system. Under full overclocked load, we recorded ASRock's X99 OC Formula using less power than competing options from Asus and MSI, which implies that less energy is being wasted as heat when a user thinks it is catering for the CPU.

I know there are some design choices in the power delivery system that will spark debates amongst the overclocking crowd. For a start, ASRock's use of Intersil's ISL6379 PWM controller may be questioned (especially as sources suggest that it is not a fully digital design) when the current International Rectifiers and (to a lesser extent) CHiL solutions are so highly respected. And then there's the Fairchild MOSFETs, which are forced to contest with International Rectifiers IR355x and Texas Instruments NexFET MOSFETs on competing vendors' overclocking flagship motherboards.

That's not to say that the power delivery system is bad, it simply highlights the point that many overclockers trust certain components from certain brands and can sometimes be reluctant to deviate from those. High-speed overclocking results will put many potential doubts to rest.

The X99 OC Formula's layout choices are smart, as are the PCIe lane allocation decisions. Connectivity-wise, there's nothing missing that we see an overclocker crying out for, especially as M.2 seems to be confidently winning the battle against SATA Express. And the board's overall style is similar to past OC Formula parts which seem to have been perceived well in terms of appearance.

Availability for ASRock's X99 OC Formula is currently non-existent in the UK. We expect availability to pick up in the coming weeks as the X99 platform continues to mature. Price-wise, we are told to expect the X99 OC Formula to cost around £230 (update 12/10/14: the latest information suggests that the cost is more likely to be around £260.)

That's a competitive price that sees ASRock under-cutting the price of flagship overclocking solutions from Gigabyte, Asus, and MSI. On the other hand, all of those boards offer overclocking features unique to each part that may warrant the additional cost.

Without extreme cooling at hand, we only touched the surface of the ASRock X99 OC Formula motherboard's overclocking capabilities. Even so, we saw enough potential from the strong CPU power delivery system, well-tuned UEFI, and smart design decisions to make the board a worthy purchase in a tough market segment.

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Pros:

  • Impressive CPU power delivery system.
  • Strong CPU overclocking performance with even greater potential under extreme cooling.
  • Effective support for 4-way SLI/CrossFire and 32Gbps M.2 connector.
  • Conformal coating and 5 year warranty.
  • 32Gbps and 20Gbps M.2 connectors can be used simultaneously.
  • Large VRM cooling solution.
  • Positive non-overclocking features – Purity Audio, HDD Saver, Atheros & Intel NICs.

Cons:

  • Currently having difficulties with high-speed memory kits' XMP configurations.
  • Formula Drive software incorrectly reads some voltage levels.

KitGuru says: An impressive motherboard with strong overclocking-geared hardware and positive general usage features. The BIOS still needs further tweaking for its high-speed memory support.

WORTH BUYING

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Rating: 8.5.

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One comment

  1. Hey Luke, what attracts me to this board are the 2 x M.2 slots. Unfortunately you cannot run them in hardware Raid 0, but I believe you can software raid them in Windows. The other thing is do you know if the 5 year warranty is available worldwide? Or just the US/Europe?