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ASRock X99 OC Formula/3.1 (Intel X99) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2011 in Motherboards | Posted: Jul 6, 2015 8:13 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASRock

Packaging and the Board

 

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The box carries the famous OC Formula logo, it looks sleek and clean. The packaging is well done, the board is zip tied into a foam container and there is an antistatic bag covering the board.

 

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Accessories are plenty; 6x SATA6G cables, two 2-Way SLI bridges, one extended SLI bridge, USB 3.1 card (A+A), IO Shield, SATA Saver power connectors, screw for M.2, manuals, case badge, and driver DVD.

 

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I have circled the fan headers on the board, there are a total of six headers, two circled in red are 4-pin PWM headers, and four circled in blue are 3-pin voltage mode headers. The gold heat sinks are vibrant and look quite nice in person. It can be a little overpowering depending on your color scheme, but it has grown on me. ASRock has done very well with matching the gold heat sinks to the yellow slots. The back of the board has some components on it, there are backside MOSFETs and they was protected by a golden shield.

 

You can see the PCB isolation for the audio, the doublers/dual drivers for the CPU VRM, and the OC socket holes which aren't present on other ASRock X99 motherboards. The pins for the memory DIMMs that you can see on the back are very low profile; this reduces electrical noise and helps with clearance levels for certain chassis.

 

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The back panel IO features a 2x 1GBit NIC, 6x USB 3.0 ports, 1x C-Type USB 3.1 port, 2x USB 2.0 ports, PS/2 keyboard and mouse, a 7.1 TOSLINK for audio with S/PDIF out, and a ClearCMOS button.

 

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The PCI-E layout on this motherboard is optimized for 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX. Eight PCI-E 3.0 lanes from the CPU are routed to the middle black slot which is linked to the Ultra M.2 slot. If you install an M.2 drive into the Ultra M.2 slot, it will disable this slot. The first and third yellow 16x slots operate at 16x/16x when two cards are installed, and when 4 cards are installed, these each go down to 8x, while they each give 8x to the yellow 16x slots below them.

 

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Dual M.2 slots are present. The one near the CMOS battery is a 2x PCI-E 2.0 M.2 slot, and will support both PCI-E and SATA based M.2 drives. When that slot is in use the S_SATA3_3 will be disabled. The second M.2 slot is an Ultra M.2 slot meaning it was 32Gb/s of bandwidth opposed to the 10Gb/s of the other M.2 slot. There is also a half-size miniPCIe slot located near the Purity Audio. A MOLEX power receptacle is there for extra PCI-E power when running three or more GPUs.

 

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There are 10 SATA6G ports from the PCH. S_SATA3_3 shares its bandwidth with the PCI-E 2.0 M.2 slot. SATA Express is also present, and those two SATA ports near the connector can be used for SATA or SATA Express. Two USB 3.0 front panel headers are located north of the PCH which is great for cable management. A USB 3.0 port is located near the two USB 3.0 internal header and can be used as a normal USB slot on an open-air test bench.

 

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As one would expect from an OC Formula series motherboard, there are a ton of OC features. The X99 OC Formula/3.1 has rapid OC buttons for on-the-fly frequency and voltage adjustment, voltage read probe connectors, LN2 mode switch, slow mode switch, and PCI-E disable switches. Some LEDs adjacent the 24-pin connector show boot, VGA, CPU, and memory status. Moving to the bottom of the board there is a trusted POST code display, a direct key button, dual BIOS selector button, and your power and reset buttons.

 

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ASRock has the socket with the extra pins. They refer to it as X Series OC Socket as it allows for higher cache frequency overclocking and lower required IMC voltages for higher DRAM clocks. Unlike many other ASRock X99 motherboards, the X99 OC Formula has a through-hole socket with threading, this is for liquid nitrogen overclocking pots.

 

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These are the heat sinks, all of them use screws and contact looks great on the VRM and PCH.

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