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ASRock Z170 OC Formula (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Sep 9, 2015 2:24 pm
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: ASRock

Packaging and the Board




The box is pretty much the standard box we have seen from ASRock for their OC Formula lineup. The packaging is well done with anti-static foam packaging and an anti-static bag for the motherboard.





Accessories include 4x SATA6G cables, IO shield, bracket and screws for WIFI/BT module, 2-Way extended SLI bridge, screws for M.2, driver DVD, case badge, and manuals.




The ASRock Z170 OC Formula has six fan headers. They are all circled in red and all support PWM and voltage mode fans. ASRock is sticking with their yellow and black color theme which we have come to expect from their OC Formula lineup, except this time they have added plastic shields that cover up the back panel IO and audio area.


For Z170, ASRock has moved towards more black with hints of gold/yellow, and they did a nice job trying to match the heat sinks with the yellow slots. The motherboard is also loaded with overclocking features and they are pretty prominent in the lower right-hand corner of the board. The back of the board does have some chips and components, so you should be careful when installing the board in a case. While the PCB divide for the audio is not illuminated, there is an ASRock OC Formula logo which is illuminated in the center of the PCI-E area. I will show you what it looks like on the Test Setup page.




The IO panel features a clear CMOS button, 4x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 2.0 ports, Intel GBit NIC, HDMI, DisplayPort, PS/2 KB/Mouse, and 7.1 audio outputs with TOSLINK.




There are three Ultra M.2 slots which each run at 4x PCI-E 3.0 and each one shares bandwidth with two of Intel's SATA6G ports/one SATA Express port so that they can RAID. The PCI-E layout isn't too difficult to figure out; all the PCI-E slots except one of the PCI-E 1x slots (PCIE5) are PCI-E 3.0. The first, third, and last PCI-E 16x slots are wired to the CPU. You can run 16x/0x/0x, 8x/8x/0x, or 8x/4x/4x on the first, third, and fourth 16x PCI-E slots. The second PCI-E slot is wired to the PCH at 4x PCI-E 3.0 as is one of the PCI-E 1x flex slots. Since AMD GPUs can handle 4x per GPU in multi-GPU configurations, the board can run 4-way CrossFireX, but only 2-way SLI like most other boards.




Each SATA Express/2 SATA ports shares its bandwidth with one of the M.2 slots, so if you occupy all the M.2 slots, then all the SATA Express/Intel SATA6G ports will be disabled. However, ASRock provides four ports through two ASMedia SATA6G controllers, so you still have some SATA even if it isn't from Intel. ASRock provides two internal USB 3.0 headers as well as a vertical USB 3.0 port for easy USB stick access.




This board is loaded to the brim with overclocking features. While it has the typical power, reset, clear CMOS buttons, POST Code display, and voltage read points, it also has many more overclocking features. Two BIOS ROMs can be individually selected through a switch on the PCB, there are DIP switches allowing you to disable each of the PCI-E 16x slots, and Rapid OC allows you to change BLCK, multipliers, and voltages in windows on-the-fly with the plus/minus/menu buttons. There is a slow mode switch to reduce the CPU multipliers to their lowest frequency, an LN2 switch to help with subzero temperatures, a Direct Key button to get you directly into the UEFI, and an XMP switch for the novice overclocker to enable XMP without entering the UEFI.




ASRock includes an extra 4-pin CPU power port for extra power during extreme overclocking. The CMOS battery is vertically installed in a slot above the first PCI-E slot so that it can be removed without having to remove a video card. There is also a mPCIe slot for a WIFI/BT module.




ASRock's third installment of their upgraded Realtek audio is known as Purity Sound 3, and the gold Nichicon audio capacitors match the yellow of the plastic shield.




While the shield is plastic and the heat sinks are a mixture of aluminum and copper, they are all held down by screws, which is excellent for long term contact between the heat sinks and the PCB.

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