ASRock Z170 OC Formula Motherboard Review

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ASRock Z170 OC Formula Review

ASRock-Z170-OC-Formula-Overview

Like most motherboard manufacturers, ASRock has an impressive line-up of new motherboards that support many of the various features of the latest Intel Z170 chipset.  ASRock has over 17 Z170 motherboards geared towards different types of users.  They sent over their Z170 OC Formula, which as the name implies is designed for overclocking.  In fact, one of the worlds top overclockers partnered with ASRock to perfect the Z170 OC Formula, Nick Shih.  With Nick’s knowledge of overclocking, the Z170 OC Formula immediately began setting records for overclocking when it made it’s debut at the Intel Developers Forum 2015; actually the ASRock Z170 OC Formula was the only Z170 based motherboard to be featured at the IDF 2015!  Let’s take a quick look at a few things that this motherboard has to offer before we get to the technical aspects and taking a look at what ASRock and Nick Shih has put together for us.  If you are wanting to get the ASRock Z170 OC Formula motherboard for yourself, you can pick it up now at various online etailers for around $252.99 plus shipping.

As we take a look at the motherboard, a few things to be aware of is that on the ASRock Z170 OC Formula features several extra large aluminum alloy heatsinks designed to pull heat away from the MOSFET and chipset.  The 60A Power Chokes utilized on the motherboard should improve the power going to the motherboards components.  The capacitors are a combination of 820uF and 100uF 12K Platinum Nichicon’s, which are designed with a longer lifespan, along with providing superior stability.  Another quick feature for overclockers that might be overlooked is the Hyper BCLK Engine, this allows for a very fine tune of the clock, letting overclockers squeeze every ounce of speed possible.

ASRock-Z170-OC-Formula-3x-Ultra-M2

Nestled between the four PCIe x16 slots is three Ultra M.2 slots which are capable of up to 32Gb/s bandwidth with the right PCIe M.2 card, or 6Gb/s if you have a SATA based M.2 card.  Another option is to utilize ASRocks U.2 kit to connect the latest U.2 PCIe Gen3 x5 SSD’s.  The varioud M.2 slots share bandwidth with the onboard SATA and SATA Express ports, so you’ll want to make sure you know how many drives of each you want to utilize.  With three M.2 slots, you should be able to set up a very nice M.2 RAID.

The speed of the memory that a motherboard supports is a big part of overclocking and getting the most out of the system.  The Z170 OC Formula supports 4x 16GB DDR4 modules, for a total of 64GB of memory.  Utilizing the dual channel memory, it’ll run at 2133MHz prior to enabling overclocking, at which time it’ll run all the way up to 4400MHz in dual channel mode.  If you only want to run one memory module, you can take it up over 4500+MHz!  Like most motherboards, it’ll support the Intel Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP) 2.0.

We have already discussed a large number of features on the Z170 OC Formula, however that is not all that has to offer.  We’ll take a closer look at some of the other features while we are looking over the motherboard.

Features and Specifications

ASRock Z170 OC Formula

  • Triple Ultra M.2 32 Gb/s (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
  • XMP Switch
  • USB 3.1 10Gb/s Type-A + C
  • Purity Sound 3
  • Flexible PCIe Slots
  • Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps
ASRock Z170 OC Formula Specifications
OC Formula Kit OC Formula Power Kit
– 18 Phase CPU Power design + 2 Phase Memory Power design
– Digi Power (CPU and Memory)
– Dual-Stack MOSFET (DSM)
– Multiple Filter Cap (MFC) (Filter different noise by 3 different capacitors: DIP solid cap, POSCAP and MLCC)
– Jumbo V
OC Formula Connector Kit
– Hi-Density Power Connector (8 pin and 4 pin)
– 15μ Gold Contact (memory sockets and PCIE x16 slots)
OC Formula Cooling Kit
– 8 Layer PCB
– 4 x 2oz copper
– Heat Pipe Design
OC Formula Monitor Kit
– Multi Thermal Sensor
Unique Features ASRock USB 3.1
– ASRock USB 3.1 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s)
– ASRock USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s)
ASRock Super Alloy
– XXL Aluminum Alloy Heatsink
– Premium 60A Power Choke
– Premium Memory Alloy Choke (Reduces 70% core loss compared to iron powder choke)
– Dual-Stack MOSFET (DSM)
– Combo Caps
– Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps (100% Japan made high quality conductive polymer capacitors)
– I/O Armor
– Matte Black PCB
– High Density Glass Fabric PCB
ASRock Ultra M.2 (PCIe Gen3 x4 & SATA3)
ASRock Full Spike Protection
ASRock Live Update & APP Shop
CPU Supports 6th Generation Intel Core i7/i5/i3/Pentium/Celeron Processors (Socket 1151)
Digi Power design
18 Power Phase design
Supports Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 Technology
Supports Intel K-Series unlocked CPUs
Supports ASRock BCLK Full-range Overclocking
Supports ASRock Hyper BCLK Engine
Chipset Intel Z170
Memory Dual Channel DDR4 Memory Technology
4 x DDR4 DIMM Slots
Supports DDR4 4500+(OC)*/4400(OC)/4300(OC)/4266(OC)/4200(OC)/4133(OC)/4000(OC)/3866(OC)/ 3800(OC)/3733(OC)/3666(OC)/3600(OC)/3466(OC)/3400(OC)/3333(OC)/3300(OC)/3200(OC)/3000(OC)/ 2933(OC)/2800(OC)/2600(OC)/2400(OC)/2133 non-ECC, un-buffered memory
Max. capacity of system memory: 64GB
Supports Intel Extreme Memory Profile (XMP) 2.0
15μ Gold Contact in DIMM Slots
BIOS 2 x 128Mb AMI UEFI Legal BIOS with multilingual GUI support (1 x Main BIOS and 1 x Backup BIOS)
Supports Secure Backup UEFI Technology
ACPI 5.0 Compliant wake up events
SMBIOS 2.7 Support
CPU, GT_CPU, DRAM, VPPM, PCH 1.0V, VCCIO, VCCPLL, VCCSA Voltage Multi-adjustment
Graphics Supports Intel HD Graphics Built-in Visuals : Intel Quick Sync Video with AVC, MVC (S3D) and MPEG-2 Full HW Encode1, Intel InTru 3D, Intel Clear Video HD Technology, Intel Insider, Intel HD Graphics 510/530
Pixel Shader 5.0, DirectX 12
Max. shared memory 1792MB
Dual graphics output: Support HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 ports by independent display controllers
Supports HDMI with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2160) @ 24Hz / (3840×2160) @ 30Hz
Supports DisplayPort 1.2 with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2304) @ 60Hz
Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI Port (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
Supports Accelerated Media Codecs: HEVC, VP8, VP9
Supports HDCP with HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 Ports
Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) playback with HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 Ports
Audio Supports Intel HD Graphics Built-in Visuals : Intel Quick Sync Video with AVC, MVC (S3D) and MPEG-2 Full HW Encode1, Intel InTru 3D, Intel Clear Video HD Technology, Intel Insider, Intel HD Graphics 510/530
Pixel Shader 5.0, DirectX 12
Max. shared memory 1792MB
Dual graphics output: Support HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 ports by independent display controllers
Supports HDMI with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2160) @ 24Hz / (3840×2160) @ 30Hz
Supports DisplayPort 1.2 with max. resolution up to 4K x 2K (4096×2304) @ 60Hz
Supports Auto Lip Sync, Deep Color (12bpc), xvYCC and HBR (High Bit Rate Audio) with HDMI Port (Compliant HDMI monitor is required)
Supports Accelerated Media Codecs: HEVC, VP8, VP9
Supports HDCP with HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 Ports
Supports Full HD 1080p Blu-ray (BD) playback with HDMI and DisplayPort 1.2 Ports
LAN Gigabit LAN 10/100/1000 Mb/s
Giga PHY Intel I219V
Supports Wake-On-LAN
Supports Lightning/ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection)
Supports Energy Efficient Ethernet 802.3az
Supports PXE
Slots 4 x PCI Express 3.0 x16 Slots (PCIE1/PCIE2/PCIE4/PCIE6: single at x16 (PCIE1); dual at x8 (PCIE1) / x8 (PCIE4); triple at x8 (PCIE1) / x4 (PCIE2) / x8 (PCIE4)); quad at x8 (PCIE1) / x4 (PCIE2) / x4 (PCIE4) / x4 (PCIE6))*
1 x PCI Express 3.0 x1 Slot (PCIE3) (Flexible PCIe)
1 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slot (PCIE5)
1 x Vertical Half-size Mini-PCI Express Slot
Supports AMD Quad CrossFireX™, 4-Way CrossFireX™, 3-Way CrossFireX™ and CrossFireX™
Supports NVIDIA® Quad SLI™ and SLI™
15μ Gold Contact in VGA PCIe Slot (PCIE1 and PCIE4)
Storage  6 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors by Intel® Z170, support RAID (RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel® Rapid Storage Technology 14 and Intel® Smart Response Technology), NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
4 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s Connectors by ASMedia ASM1061, support NCQ, AHCI and Hot Plug
3 x SATA Express 10 Gb/s Connectors*
3 x Ultra M.2 Sockets, support type 2230/2242/2260/2280/22110 M.2 SATA3 6.0 Gb/s module and M.2 PCI Express module up to Gen3 x4 (32 Gb/s)
Connector 1 x COM Port Header
1 x TPM Header
1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
2 x CPU Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
4 x Chassis Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector
1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
1 x 4 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector)
1 x Front Panel Audio Connector
1 x Thunderbolt™ 2 AIC Connector (5-pin)
1 x Thunderbolt™ 3 AIC Connector (10-pin)*
2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection))
2 x USB 3.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 3.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection))
1 x Vertical Type A USB 3.0
1 x Dr. Debug with LED
1 x Power Switch with LED
1 x Reset Switch with LED
V-Probe™: 1 x 7-set of onboard voltage measurement points laid
Rapid OC Buttons: +/- buttons to adjust OC frequency
1 x Menu Button
1 x PCIe ON/OFF Switch
1 x Post Status Checker (PSC)
1 x Slow Mode Switch
1 x LN2 Mode Switch
1 x BIOS Selection Switch
1 x XMP Switch
1 x Direct Key Button
Rear Panel I/O 1 x PS/2 Mouse/Keyboard Port
1 x HDMI Port
1 x DisplayPort 1.2
1 x Optical SPDIF Out Port
2 x USB 2.0 Ports (Supports ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection))
1 x USB 3.1 Type-A Port (10 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM1142) (Supports ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection))
1 x USB 3.1 Type-C Port (10 Gb/s) (ASMedia ASM1142) (Supports ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection))
4 x USB 3.0 Ports (Intel Z170) (Supports ESD Protection (ASRock Full Spike Protection))
1 x RJ-45 LAN Port with LED (ACT/LINK LED and SPEED LED)
1 x Clear CMOS Switch
HD Audio Jacks: Rear Speaker / Central / Bass / Line in / Front Speaker / Microphone
Accessories 1 x ASRock Flexible SLI Bridge Connector Cable
Quick Installation Guide, Support CD, I/O Shield
4 x SATA Data Cables
1 x WiFi Module Bracket
2 x Screws for WiFi Module
3 x Screws for M.2 Sockets
Hardware Monitor CPU/Chassis temperature sensing
CPU/Chassis Fan Tachometer
CPU/Chassis Quiet Fan (Auto adjust chassis fan speed by CPU temperature)
CPU/Chassis Fan multi-speed control
Multi Thermal Sensor
Voltage monitoring: +12V, +5V, +3.3V, CPU Vcore, GT_CPU, DRAM, VPPM, PCH 1.0V, VCCIO, VCCSA
Form Factor  ATX Form Factor
Warranty  1 Year

With the technical information out of the way, let’s take a look at the retail packaging of the ASRock Z170 OC Formula motherboard, before taking a close look at it’s layout and running benchmarks.

 

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  • Mike C.

    I’m just gonna outright say it. If you are from Pittsburgh, this is a really tempting board just for the design!

  • YOUDIEMOFO

    Maybe I just do not understand the idea of it all, but how are you supposed to have quad graphics cards and still be able to utilize all four cards respectively along with three M.2 drives in a raid??

    Does this not take up more than the available PCI-E lanes allocated for the GFX/disk/HDD’s? I could see with a 2011 socket allowing 40 lanes of PCI-E 3.0 there being no problem…..I just hope someone can enlighten me as I’m always looking at tech just to see what’s avaislble for the ol’upgrade…

    • Georgian

      you the real MVP
      maybe this socket will be used for future generation of cpu on this soket, that will have more pci lanes

      • YOUDIEMOFO

        I see in the specifications of this particular motherboard here on this review it has an * (asterisk) next to where it explains the PCI-e throughput. It does not however explain what that asterisk means in lieu of the PCI-e lanes in question.

    • Steven Kean

      It seems that each motherboard does it a bit differently. The GB Z170 board specifically mentions that the PCI-E lane and SATA ports becomes disabled, where the ASRock Z170 OC doesn’t mention the PCI-E lanes, but does mention disabling the SATA ports. Another one I’m testing is like the ASRock board, only disabling the SATA ports. That seems to be the most common aspect of the M.2 implementation.

      • YOUDIEMOFO

        Nice. And thanks for shedding a bit of light on this for me. Just did not understand the asterisk by the explanation of the PCI-E lanes in the article clipping they took from the manufacturer. I sure there was something elsewhere explaining exactly what that was supposed to mean…

        • Steven Kean

          Sorry, I’ll watch those next time. The * on the PCI-E slots is just that they support NVME as boot drives, nothing to major.

        • YOUDIEMOFO

          Ah’thank you….