ASRock Z77 OC Formula Reviewccokeman -
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ASRock has included a few specific utilities that offer added functionality and capabilities to the ASRock Z77 OC Formula that include standard fare equipped on the Z77 Extreme 4 and some model specific tools. The utilities that I will focus on are the ones that offer the most usability including XFast USB that improves transfer throughput on attached USB 3.0 storage, XFast LAN to manage network traffic, XFast Ram, Instant Boot Rapid OC, Timing Configurator and a very functional utility for this board Formula Drive.
This utility is used to allow the system to resume instantly from a cold boot. The idea is to give the user an instant on feel each time that the user starts the system, much like you get when start up your smart phone or tablet.
This little utility works similarly to ASUS' USB 3.0 Boost to increase data throughput to attached USB 3.0 storage devices. The software component is powered by technologies from FNet. By enabling the software Turbo Mode the transfer bandwidth is increased substantially across the board from the 4k file size all the way up to the 4MB file size. With this board I saw performance increases over the Z77 Extreme 4. When comparing the results to the standard transfer rates across the same USB 3.0 port, the XFast USB software allowed a 25% boost in speed for reads and a 14% boost in the writes.
This utility is designed to allow the end user to have the ability to shape their online experience by managing how and when the network traffic is sent and received. This tool is part of the XFast test suite and is provided by cFos software. The utility is fully configurable through the settings panel. A small monitoring window will show on the bottom right of the screen that can be expanded to show data trends. This window can be hidden from view so as to not interrupt the end users view during a fierce online fire fight.
ASRock's Formula Drive tuning utility is a software application that allows the user to overclock their system as well as monitor critical system operating temperatures and voltages while in the operating system environment. Formatted much like its AXTU utilitiy there are a total of seven areas with which changes in the operation of the board can be modified: Hardware Monitoring, Fan-Tastic Tuning, Overclocking, OC DNA, IES, Multi Thermal sensor and XFast RAM.
Hardware Monitoring does just what it says allowing the user to monitor clock speeds, fan speeds and temperatures of the CPU and motherboard, as well as system critical voltages. Fan-Tastic Tuning is used to manage the fan speeds and profiles to enhance the thermal performance of the attached fans either by manual control or by temperature. Overclocking allows the user to tune the CPU bclock, clock multiplier and voltages to deliver the highest stable OC possible before adjusting the settings permanently in the BIOS. OC DNA allows the user to set the saved profiles from the BIOS and load each of them. IES (Intelligent Energy Saver) is used to manage the power consumption and active power phases feeding the CPU. Multi Thermal sensor is a tool that allows the user to monitor a total of 15 thermal sensors located around the PCB.
XFast RAM is part of the Formula Drive tool and is used to set up a RAMDisk to improve system responsiveness and disk performance. Using this feature is supposed to show a five times net performance gain when using the RAMDisk with Photoshop. Setting up an 8GB RAMDisk will deliver sequential read/write bandwidth of over 9.5GB. CPU overhead does rise as the size of the RAMDisk increases.
The Rapid OC configuration tool is used to set up hot keys for on the fly overclocking that can control the CPU bclock and voltage. Timing Configurator is used to tweak the memory sub timings within the operating system.
ASRock has included a comprehensive set of tools that allow added functionality from within the OS. Formula Drive is a fully functional tool to overclock your system. XFast RAM and XFast USB offer added performance with little overhead. Instant boot does what it say offering an instant on experience for the user. The only downside is an extended shutdown cycle.