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ASRock X299 OC Formula Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 2066 in Motherboards | Posted: 1 week, 3 days ago
TweakTown Rating: 93%Manufacturer: ASRock

Here are key points about the ASRock X299 OC Formula.

 

What's Hot

 

Designed with Special Circuits: After looking at the chips on the motherboard, I scratched my head, wondering why there were two Winbond chips that were routed to the socket and why there was a second SuperIO chip. There was no extra fan control compared to their other X299 motherboards, so I figured it had to do with either the voltage control header or the overclocking features. After talking with ASRock, it became apparent that the two Winbond chips directly monitor low-key CPU voltages and the extra SuperIO is there to translate what the Winbond chips report. I am told that this extra hardware is a bit of the secret sauce that allows the X299 OC Formula to overclock extremely well. They wouldn't tell me exactly what is being done behind the scenes, but I assume it relates to auto rules in the BIOS. The voltage control header doesn't even interact with these chips, and is actually a separate system, and should help those who do the DMI modification for extreme KabyLake-X overclocking.

 

 

VRM Quality and Cooling: As we saw on other ASRock X299 motherboards, the brand new digital PWM controller from Intersil matched with their high-quality Smart Power Stages really competes with International Rectifier's offerings. Their light load phase balancing and full load operation prove very good in a high current setup, like that needed on an X299 motherboard. The VRM heat sink has also been improved, and it shows under the thermal camera.

 

Excellent Overclocker: Overclocking on the X299 OC Formula was a breeze, the motherboard was super easy to work with, and during some other testing I was doing, I was able to clock the mesh to 3.2GHz with 500mv less set on the mesh voltage rail compared to another top-tier X299 motherboard. The new overclocking features are nice too, the hard reset button/retry button and the safe boot button are welcomed additions, and they add a little extra to this overclocking motherboard. The motherboard's use of four memory DIMMs should also aid in high-frequency memory overclocking.

 

PCI-E Layout: The X299 OC Formula is the only motherboard I know of that supports five PCI-E lanes all running at x8 from the CPU, and it also supports 4-way SLI. It also allows decent operating modes for the 28 lane and 16 lane CPUs, allowing you to run 3-way on the 28-lane CPU and 2-way on the 16-lane CPU.

 

What's Not

 

Overclocking Specific: With this motherboard, you lose four DIMMs when compared to most X299 motherboards with a Skylake-X CPU. While you can still run quad channel memory, you cannot upgrade by adding in memory sticks down the line. The motherboard also features only two M.2 slots compared to the three you find on most other X299 motherboards, and you only find six native SATA6Gb/s ports rather than the eight found elsewhere. The motherboard has been optimized for overclocking, with some features stripped back to enhance it.

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

ASRock has done a fine job with the X299 OC Formula, producing a truly overclocking centric motherboard, with the ability to fully support both Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X to their maximums. The motherboard is clearly designed for extreme overclocking. One DIMM per channel, a large gap between the OC buttons and memory slots (so the buttons don't freeze during LN2), a hole behind the CPU socket, extra OC circuitry, voltage control headers, ASMedia SATA for Windows 7 compatibility, and even a PCI-E layout designed to take 4-way records come together in the X299 OC Formula.

 

asrock-x299-oc-formula-motherboard-review_93

 

However, you are going to be paying for a lot of these overclocking features when you buy this motherboard, as opposed to paying for more platform features such as a 10Gbit NIC. The true target users for the X299 OC Formula are extreme overclockers and those with delidded CPUs.

 

Overall, I found the motherboard to be of excellent quality, loaded with overclocking features, and ready to take on world records. If you want a motherboard that's all about overclocking, the X299 OC Formula is a great fit.

Product Summary Breakdown

TweakTown award
Performance97%
Quality95%
Features91%
Value90%
Overall TweakTown Rating93%

The Bottom Line: ASRock's X299 OC Formula is all about the megahertz. It was designed with only two things in mind; taking world records and keeping them, and it has done both.

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