Motherboard Guide

ASRock Z77 OC Formula review

ASRock Z77 OC Formula - Intel Z77 Chipset Goes High-End

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Launch SRP S$409
Latest Price From S$375 (Check Latest Prices)

Overall rating 7.5/10
Performance:
7.5
Features:
8.5
Value:
6.5
THE GOOD
Good engineering build
Well equipped and geared for overclocking
Lots of USB 3.0 ports
THE BAD
Overall performance no better than mainstream boards
Overclocking needs to be tricked out
Unleashing the board's potential requires expensive LN2 equipment
Very expensive


BIOS Settings & Test Setup

BIOS Settings

The UEFI BIOS Utility of the ASRock Z77 OC Formula is rather well-organized and navigating it was a no-brainer as the top menu tabs have been labeled clearly. We did appreciate the large navigation tabs; while on the right, descriptions of the functions of each menu item are available. There's also a QR code at the bottom of the description column, which when scanned with the appropriate mobile device loaded with a QR code scanner software, the user will be lead to the board's manual in PDF format.



BIOS Settings: OC Tweaker

The tab where we spent a large part of our time at was the OC Tweaker. It contained many settings that directly affect the performance of the processor, memory and the attached devices on the bus channel of the board. Besides tweaking these operating frequencies, OC Tweaker also allowed us to change the voltage and other timing configuration of these components; namely the CPU and the installed memory modules.

 

BIOS Settings: Tool

In the main Tool tab, we were given access to several utility functions; one of the interesting tools is the Dehumidifier function of the board. When enabled, the board will operate the attached chassis fans to expel any hot air in the system's casing. This is supposed able to expel the moisture in the hot air that may damage the sensitive motherboard components. We can't really vouch for its usefulness at this point of time since most of the tropical countries are perpetually hot and have high moisture content in the air. If you're in a controlled air-conditioned environment, the environment is usually dry. So in either case, you are at the mercy of your operating environment; a single burst of air pushed out of the chassis isn't going to help much.

 

  • Tool - System Browser

The System Browser is a well-designed piece of blueprint layout of the board's schematics. By moving the mouse pointer over the relevant components, we were able to obtain information easily.

 

  • Tool - Multi Thermal Sensor

With thermal sensors spread across the board's PCB, this utility allows us to monitor the temperatures of these PCB spots with the ease of our mouse pointer.

 

  • Tool - OMG

 

The last BIOS utility that  piqued our interest is the Online Management Guard (OMG) that functions as some sort of parental control for internet access. It allows users to control network access at certain times of the day. We assume this may be somewhat useful to control the system's access to the Internet; especially, if the addressed user is a gaming addict and needs to be denied online access.

The BIOS tools contained in the rest of the main tabs of H/W Monitor, Boot, Security and Exit are the usual suspects seen across any respectable BIOS. For the purpose of this review, we have highlighted the ones that we felt were unique to the ASRock Z77 OC Formula.

 

 

 

Voltage Controls Across Different Boards

While most enthusiast class boards these days have way too many overclocking related settings, we've decided to compile the available voltage settings of the various Z77 boards we've tested. As you'll see later in our overclocking efforts, we decided to manually adjust the voltage of the CPU PLL to determine how high we can push the CPU Base Frequency. In the case of this particular board, base frequency values can be adjusted by 10KHz for finer tweaking.

Basic Voltage Settings in BIOS
Model CPU Voltage DRAM Voltage Other Voltage Settings
ASRock Z77 OC Formula -0.3000 to 0.600V (Offset Mode)
(0.005V steps)
1.165 to 2.100V
(0.005V steps)
  • CPU PLL Voltage: 1.500V - 2.900V (Voltage steps vary from +0.013V, +0.018V, and +0.012V)
MSI Z77 MPower   0.80 to 2.155V
(0.005V steps)
 1.1080 to 2.4655V
(0.0075V steps)
  • CPU IO Voltage: 0.95 to 1.55V (0.02V steps)
  • CPU PLL Voltage: 1.400 to 2.430 (0.05 steps)
ASRock Z77 Extreme6

0.80 to 2.20V
(0.005V steps)

1.17 to 1.80V
(0.005V steps)
  • Vtt Voltage: 0.77 to 1.63V (0.01V steps)
ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe
0.80 to 1.99V
(0.005V steps)
1.20 to 1.92V
(0.02V steps)
  • VCCIO Voltage: 0.80 to 1.70V (0.00625V steps)
Biostar TZ77XE4

1.000 V to 1.790V
(0.01V steps)

1.300 to 2.112V
(drop-down menu selection)
  • VCCIO Voltage: 1.062 to 1.700V (0.012/0.013V steps)
  • System Agent Voltage: 0.900 to 1.605V (0.012/0.013V steps)
ECS Z77H2-AX 1.00 to 1.50V 
(0.015V steps)
Voltage Offset:+0 to +0.63 V
(0.01V steps)
  • IMC Voltage: 0.010 to 0.630V (0.01V steps)
  • System Agent Voltage: 0.01 to 0.630V (0.01V steps)
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H WiFi
0.80 to 1.90V
(0.005V steps)
1.17 to 1.80V
(0.005V steps)
  • CPU Vtt Voltage: 0.800 to 1.900V (0.005V steps)
MSI Z77A-GD65  0.80 to 2.155V
(0.005V steps)
 1.10 to 2.10V
(0.005V steps)
  • CPU IO Voltage: 0.95 to 1.95V (0.02V steps)  

 

Test Setup

This is the test configuration for our Intel Z77 Express-based motherboard comparisons.

  • Intel Core i7-3770K
  • 2 x 2GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 (CAS 9-9-9-27)
  • MSI N460GTX Hawk (ForceWare 285.62)
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA 6Gbps hard drive (one single NTFS partition)
  • Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit
  • Intel INF 9.3.0.1020

 

Benchmarks

The following benchmarks were used to test the motherboards:

  • BAPCo SYSmark 2007 Preview (ver 1.06)
  • SPECviewperf 9.0
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage (ver 1.03.1, 64-bit)
  • Futuremark PCMark 7
  • Futuremark 3DMark Vantage (ver 1.03.1)
  • Futuremark 3DMark11 (ver 1.03)
  • Far Cry 2