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ASRock X99 OC Formula Motherboard Overview and Overclocking Guide

By: Steven Bassiri | Guides | Posted: Nov 13, 2014 3:07 am

Motherboard Circuit Analysis




Removing the heat sinks reveals a plethora of little ICs that run all the advanced circuits of the X99 OC Formula. It is interesting to see how ASRock manages the X99 PCH's bandwidth to provide ten SATA 6GB/s ports, as well as three M.2 ports. One of the M.2 slots gets its bandwidth from the CPU (4x PCI-E 3.0), so that leaves another M.2 slot that is 4x PCI-E 2.0 from the PCH, as well as a 1x M.2 that is for mini PCIe devices like WIFI/BT controllers.




I could not find a routing diagram for the X99 OC Formula, so I made one myself. ASRock is utilizing FlexIO to switch a single SATA 6GB/s port to the 4x M.2 when it is in use. Otherwise, they are utilizing seven PCI-E lanes for devices, and five USB 3.0 ports. This would be noted as Flexible IO configuration of 5-7-10 (USB3-PCIe2-SATA6). You will also notice ASRock is using all Intel controllers except for the second NIC.




This is the Intel i218v, Intel's PHY for the integrated MAC in the PCH; this is the preferred NIC arrangement, as most prefer the Intel NIC for its performance. However, there is a second NIC in case you need dual NICs, it is an Atheros AR8171, which is like a basic Killer NIC, minus the software that killer is known for.




ASRock has updated the normal ALC1150 codec with their Purity Sound 2 setup. Under that gold-plated EMI shield is a Realtek ALC1150, and its back panel and front panel outputs are both amplified by their own Texas Instruments NE5532 amplifiers. The PCB is also isolated from the signals on the digital side of the motherboard.




There are two of these ASM1074 USB 3.0 hubs. Each one takes a single USB 3.0 port, and increases it to four USB 3.0 ports. Hubs have become very popular to utilize on the X99 motherboard to provide a lot of USB 3.0. On the X99 OC Formula, four back panel ports go through one hub, and the two internal USB 3.0 headers go through another hub. Two ports on the back panel and one internal vertical port go directly to the PCH.




Above is an ASM1480, which is a two lane PCI-E 3.0 quick switch. There are a total of eleven of these on the motherboard. Four of these switch eight lanes from the 1st yellow PCI-E slot to the 2nd, as shown in the chart from the manual. Another four switch eight lanes from the 3rd yellow PCI-E slot to the 4th yellow PCI-E slot. Two of them switch four lanes of PCI-E 3.0 from the middle black PCI-E slot to the Ultra M.2 port. The last one switches one PCI-E/SATA port between the SATA port and the second M.2 slot.




ASRock has a SuperIO and an EC on this board; both are from Nuvoton. There is an NCT6791D, and a NCT6683D. They handle all of the fan control, temperature, and voltage monitoring, as well as OC features on the motherboard.




Dual 128Mbit BIOS ROMs are used on this motherboard, and this is a first for ASRock; previously, they used 64Mbit BIOS ROMs. ASRock is using a high-end eight layer 2oz copper PCB.

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