In years past, it was typical to find the high-end motherboard market split into dedicated gaming and overclocking series, but more recently we have seen a shift towards consolidating the different models into a more gamer-focused lineup. While the dedication to overclocking has waned in recent years for some major brands, it has become even stronger for others. ASRock is a company that will build a product designed to meet the needs of niche markets, and whether it is successful or not, they do get a fair amount of respect from the community for undertaking the endeavor. ASRock has decided to produce a product optimized for the highest memory overclocks.
The Z170M OC Formula is a contender for the overclocking-paradox; a feature that puts the motherboard ahead of its competitors in the overclocking arena also reduces its overall competitiveness on the open market. Voltage regulator upgrades, buttons, and special features usually help on both fronts, but when it comes to memory DIMMs, fewer is usually better. Most Z170 motherboards have two DIMMs per channel. The second DIMM for each channel is typically empty during overclocking, and can have a detrimental impact. Memory DIMM trace routing is extremely important, and more recently DDR4 specifications include a lot of T-topology, which is much better than the daisy-chain topology for two DIMMs on a single channel, but can be worse than daisy chain for single DIMM usage because of the "T" juncture.
By removing the second DIMM for each channel, it is much easier to route the traces to each channel and optimize trace lengths to improve timing. The absence of the second DIMM for each channel is one reason why many memory overclockers prefer smaller motherboards since they typically only have one DIMM per channel. Without further delay, let's dig into the Z170M OC Formula.
The ASRock Z170M OC Formula has a lot of high-end features such as Ultra M.2, Intel Gbit LAN, 7.1 Audio, support for 3-way CrossFireX and 2-way SLI, 8x SATA 6Gb/s, and even two SATA Express connectors that are shared with four of the SATA 6Gb/s ports.
The Z170M OC Formula is available from many large retailers for roughly $199, which is expensive for a Z170 Micro-ATX motherboard, but people who buy this product won't care since it's a relatively decent price for the overclocking potential.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and Z170M OC Formula Overview]
- Page 3 [ASROCK Z170M OC Formula Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [ASROCK Z170M OC Formula Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [The BIOS]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]