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ASRock X99 OC Formula Review

ASRock X99 OC Formula Review

Recently we reviewed the ASRock X99X Killer, a board aimed at gamers in the X99 marketplace. ASRock offer a range of boards for different markets though and today in our ASRock X99 OC Formula Review we look at a model aimed at enthusiasts and those looking to overclock easily.

ASRock X99 OC Formula Review – Packaging and Bundle

asrock-x99-oc-formula-box asrock-x99-oc-formula-bundle

ASRock go with packaging that uses a fairly minimal design on this product. We get a note of some key features via logos on the front however the majority of the information is elsewhere. Inside is a set of documentation and a software disc. A case sticker and IO shield are next and then ASRock go an extra mile, providing a pouch (where we can store the other items like SATA cables, SLI bridges etc).

ASRock X99 OC Formula Review – The Board

asrock-x99-oc-formula-board asrock-x99-oc-formula-socket

Black and yellow is the order of the day on this ASRock board and the first feature worth noting is that the glass fabric PCB uses a Conformal Coating which helps to protect it against conductive liquids, corrosion and dust. This E-ATX board has a 12 phase digi power design with 24 Dual-N MOSFETs that can provide support for 1300w. ASRock also use their Hi-Density power connectors which reduce power loss and temperature, 15µ gold pins are used on the CPU socket, DRAM slots and 16x PCIe slots and the 8 layer PCB has four layers of 2oz copper. Aluminium alloy is used for the multiple heatsinks and the chokes (60A) are designed to enhance the current saturation for stable Vcore. Over at the memory are “new-gen” alloy chokes which are highly magnetic and heat resistant for stable power delivery. Premium Nichicon Platinum capacitors are used throughout and then down in the audio portion of the board we find Nichicon Fine Gold audio series capacitors along with 115dB SNR DAC (Differential Amplifier), TI NE5532 headset amplifier and EMI shielding. Thermal sensors are also positioned across the board for enhanced monitoring.

As far as key component support goes, we get all CPUs which run on Socket 2011-3 as well as DDR4 up to 3400MHz and 128GB (Xeon and ECC support is also provided).

asrock-x99-oc-formula-pcie asrock-x99-oc-formula-sata

Down at the PCIe area of the board we start with PCIe 16x (3.0 spec) and then go through 8x, 8x, 16x, 8x. A half length mini PCIe connector sits off to the left and then there is a surprising feature, two M.2 connectors, one below PCIe 16x 1 and one above PCIe 5. Both support all of the key m.2 length devices and between them PCIe Gen3 x4, SATA 3 and PCIe Gen2 x4. The bottom right of the board has power and reset buttons with a Debug LED, BIOS selector switch for the dual BIOS and HDD Saver connector. This is a feature we saw on the X99X Killer which allows us to hide/disable hard drives in the OS by powering them down in software. Speaking of drives we have 10x SATA 3.0 ports which support RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.

asrock-x99-oc-formula-mem asrock-x99-oc-formula-io

Further up the right side of the board we find 2x USB 3.0 headers, our main 24pin power connector, USB 3.0 port, multimeter points, buttons for LN2/Slow mode, switches to enable/disable PCIe lanes and easy OC buttons. Round at the back panel are 2x USB 2.0, PS/2, CMOS Reset, 2x GB LAN (Intel I218V/Atheros AR8171), 6x USB 3.0 and the 3.5mm and optical audio connectors powered by the Realtek ALC1150 controller. For those wanting the headphone amp, with support for headsets up to 600ohm, that is provided via the front panel audio connector.

ASRock X99 OC Formula Review – Software and BIOS

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ASRock stick with a GUI BIOS for the OC Formula, just rebranding it for the board styling and it uses a nice, simple layout which is easy to navigate with our keyboard and mouse. The key options for enthusiasts are found in the OC Tweaker screen however the tools section is also packed with useful items. These include the easy RAID installer and ability to update the BIOS from USB.

asrock-x99-oc-formula-review-software

As always, for those who need them ASRock provide tools which unlock higher capacity drives on older versions of Windows, offer media/cloud functions, tweak tools for our LAN ports and monitoring software. This main software is Formula Drive and from inside this we can enable quick profiles, tweak our system in detail, monitor it and download the latest software and drivers/BIOS from the net before automatically installing. With this board we also get Rapid OC and Timing Configuration to help us manage overclocks from within Windows.

ASRock X99 OC Formula Review – Performance

Key Test Specifications:

Intel Core i7-5960X /Intel Core i7-4790K
ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Gigabyte X99-Gaming 5, Gigabyte Z97X-Gaming 5, MSI X99S Gaming9 AC, ASRock X99X Killer
NVIDIA GTX 980
16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-2800
16GB Corsair Dominator DDR3-2666
Samsung 840 Evo 1TB
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB (SATA Testing)
OCZ RevoDrive 350 (PCIe testing)
Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD
Corsair AX1500i
Corsair H110i GT
Installed on a Dimastech EasyXL Test Bench
Windows 8.1 64-bit
NVIDIA Drivers: 344.07
Cinebench R15
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Music Conversion (2CD lossless to MP3)
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Video Conversion 4K to 720p
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Memory Bandwidth DDR3/4 2666
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SATA3 (Samsung 850 Pro)
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USB 3.0 (Corsair Voyager GTX)
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PCIe (Revodrive 350)
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M.2 SSD (Plextor M6e)
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ASRock X99 OC Formula Review – Conclusion

Starting with the build quality of the X99 OC Formula we have yet another impressive board from ASRock. Glass Fabric PCB with multiple 2oz copper layers, protective coating, durable components, shielding, the list goes on and on, including quality items like our headphone amp. The design and features are also right up there too, dual M.2 slots is great for future proofing. OC focused reading points, monitors, dual BIOS, switches and buttons (as well as software) are always appreciated and while there are little quirks here and there like a molex plug which extends out the bottom of the board, potentially causing space/wiring issues in smaller chassis, the overall layout is trouble free.

The connectivity provided by ASRock is great, and while some may look at other boards with their built in Wi-Fi, the potential is here to add a card for that in the mini-PCIe slot if we wish. So that brings us to performance where the X99 OC Formula was able to compete with the best X99 boards we have tested to date. Right across the suite of tests it was at the top end of the performance charts which is ideal. For the enthusiast/overclockers out there we can tweak things with ease but it was great to see that this board allowed us to hit the highest speed we have seen from our current i7-5960X to date, 4.5GHz with 1.4v.

What would we choose between this and the X99X Killer? If you don’t want Killer NIC and the gaming related software then probably the X99 OC Formula is the way to go. It offers many of the same great features but with some nice additions like that extra connectivity and overclocking potential.

Performance Award

Available from CCL and Newegg.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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