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
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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


Overclocking

Overclocking

In our attempts to overclock the board, we approached it from three different test scenarios. For the first test, we tried to achieve the highest CPU base frequency by pushing it beyond the default value of 100MHz. At the same time, we kept the DRAM timings at the default values defined by the Intel XMP specifications that was compatible with our Kingston HyperX memory modules. We also set the DRAM voltages to around 1.65V to ensure system stability at the higher CPU base frequency.

Highest CPU Base Frequency

In this section, we managed to get a stable overclock by adjusting the voltage of the CPU PLL to a value of 1.95V so that we could push the board's CPU Base Frequency to a high of 107MHz. 

Model Maximum CPU Base Frequency Achieved
ASRock Z77 OC Formula 107.00MHz
MSI Z77 MPower 108.20MHz
ASRock Z77 Extreme6

100.00MHz

ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe 108.00MHz
Biostar TZ77XE4 104.00MHz
ECS Z77H2-AX
104.00MHz
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB WiFi
109.00MHz
MSI Z77A-GD65 107.86MHz

 

Highest CPU Core Ratio

In the second scenario, we kept the host CPU base frequency at 100HMz while we attempted to achieve the highest CPU core ratio.

Model Maximum CPU Core Ratio Achieved
 ASRock Z77 OC Formula 45
MSI Z77 MPower 44
ASRock Z77 Extreme6

43

ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe 45
Biostar TZ77XE4 45
ECS Z77H2-AX
45
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB WiFi
44
MSI Z77A-GD65 45

With the ASRock Z77 OC Formula, we managed to reach the maximum value of 45 for the CPU Core Ratio. We tried to push to a value of 46; however, our system started to lock up during our benchmarking tests. Hence, we concluded that the highest stable CPU core ratio value is 45 for this board to achieve the best possible performance gain.

 

Highest Overall Overclock

In the final overclocking scenario, we attempted to achieve maximum overclock on both the CPU base frequency and the CPU core ratio. Keep in mind that the numbers obtained earlier may not be possible to achieve when tweaking more variables consecutively. We kept to an average value of about 1.25V for the CPU core voltage as we would like to avoid overheating the Intel Core i7-3770K processor. Damaging this processor from excessive operating temperatures for slight performance gains is not worth the risk!

Overclocking Results
Model CPU Core Ratio CPU Base Frequency (MHz) Maximum Overclock Achieved
ASRock Z77 OC Formula 45 101.00 4.5GHz
MSI Z77 MPower 43 101.00 4.3GHz
ASRock Z77 Extreme6
43 100.00

4.3GHz

ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe 44 103.80 4.6GHz
Biostar TZ77XE4 43 103.85 4.5GHz
ECS Z77H2-AX
45 103.50 4.7GHz
Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB WiFi
45 103.00 4.6GHz
MSI Z77A-GD65 41 100.98 4.1GHz

Unfortunately, we failed to reach the 4.6GHz mark for the final CPU frequency; however, compared to its compatriot ASRock Z77 Extreme6, the overclocking performance of the ASRock Z77 OC Formula generally acceptable for a board with high-quality components. Its results put it on par with the top-tier boards from the mainstream segment, but it fails to show off its OC-cred against them.

Our overclocking experience with the board was a time-consuming process as our usual over-voltage settings did little to stabilize its performance at overclocked levels. Although the board's BIOS UEFI utility offered a myriad of finer points in voltage settings, it quickly became a quagmire where one particular setting seem to negate the effect of a previously stable one. Our final settings had to be tricked out after a long and drawn out process. So while it did fare decently in overclocking performance, the process of getting there wasn't and you would actually have managed a higher overclock and a much more speedier process with 'simpler' boards like the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB.

Even the rival MSI Z77 MPower was simpler to tackle and while it didn't outperform the ASRock in final OC outcome, test performance shows better actual raw performance from the MSI board. This is in-line with ASRock's Z77 OC Formula's overall performance which was a little behind expectations, which usually hints of some leeway in OC capability and that's exactly what we got in our actual tests. So which is the better board for overclocking? For us, the less hassle, the better.

 

Overclocking using ASRock Formula Drive Utility

We also attempted our overclocking efforts with the ASRock Formula Drive's overclocking utilities; however, we were unable to change the bus clock frequency from its default value of 100MHz to a higher value. We did manage to set the CPU ratio from its default value of 39 to 45. This change was reflected in CPU-Z, unlike the bus clock frequency value which failed to register our changes made via the Formula OC drive software. Of course, we also ran some tests that boosted the work load to check for any change in the outcome, but it was futile. Fortunately, we were able to tweak the voltage settings accordingly using the software.

 

Overclocking with Rapid OC

We also turned our attention to the Rapid OC system and tried overclocking our test system with the Rapid OC Configuration software with the onboard Rapid OC buttons.

In summary, we still prefer the BIOS UEFI utility to overclock the board; while the two OS-based utilities would come in handy for tweaking voltage settings or to make some changes to the CPU ratio to achieve optimal performance levels. But we believe most overclockers would just do it the old fashioned way.