ASRock Z77 OC Formula Reviewccokeman - October 30, 2012
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Testing the Asrock Z77 OC FOrmula will involve running it through OCC's test suite of benchmarks, which includes both synthetic benchmarks and real-world applications, to see how each of these products perform. The gaming tests will also consist of both synthetic benchmarks and actual gameplay, in which we can see if similarly prepared setups offer any performance advantages. The system will receive a fully updated, fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit edition, in addition to the latest drivers for each board and the latest AMD Catalyst drivers for the XFX HD 7970. To ensure as few variables as possible, all hardware will be tested at their stock speeds, timings, voltages, and latencies – unless otherwise stated. Turbo Boost is disabled to make a fair comparison without skewing results.
- Processors: Core i7 3770K
- CPU Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100
- Motherboard: Asrock Z77 OC Formula
- Memory: Mushkin 993997 Redline PC317000 9-11-10-28 16GB
- Video Card: XFX HD 7970 Black Edition
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1200
- Hard Drive: Corsair Force GT 240GB
- Optical Drive: Lite-On Blu-Ray
- Case: Corsair Obsidian 650D
- USB 3.0 Dock: Thermaltake Black X 5G
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- ASUS P8Z77 WS
- Asrock Z77 Extreme 4
- ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe
- Gigabyte Z77X-UD5H WiFi
As an overclocking-centric board the Z77 OC Formula has the ability to deliver all that your hardware can offer. Sounds like a pretty general statement when you read it back but is in fact what you get. There are more than a couple ways to overclock this board. First is by manually tweaking the bclock, clock multiplier, and voltages to reach the level of performance you are looking for. By using 1.330v on the Corei7 3770K, 1.660v on the memory, and tweaking the VTT and VCCSA to the levels needed by my CPU, I was able to reach 4.8GHz on the CPU with the memory still at 2133MHz without much trouble. Further tuning allowed a bclock of 107 x 45 or 4.82GHz again with just a bit more tweaking, this time on the PLL voltage.
Memory tuning proved fruitful by using the preset profiles for the memory ICs my modules are equipped with, in this case Hynix BFR. I used the Hynix B/CFR 2400MHz profile and found that it was spot on to get these modules to the 2400MHz level using 10-12-12-28 timings. Dropping trp to 11 from 12 proved to be just as stable under testing so I left everything else alone including the memory voltage at 1.66v. Using the Nick Shih profiles in the BIOS worked well to deliver a higher clock speed. Some additional voltage tuning will be required at most steps over 4.3-4.4Ghz depending on the abilities of your silicon. Even so it is as simple as point and click. Couple that with the memory presets and it really is not hard to pull a nice solid overclock out of your chip with a minimal time commitment.
Manual tuning is easy and ASRock's Formula Drive software and Memory configurator make overclocking from within the OS just as easy. It's a way to find out what works and what does not before applying the settings in the BIOS. I was able to duplicate my overclocks using these tools in the OS just as easily as I was by using the Crashless BIOS. Speaking of the Crashless BIOS. This feature proved invaluable by allowing a specific number of user configured reboots after a failed overclock. This feature allowed the board to post and run without having to clear the CMOS after a failed overclock. This feature worked like a charm each and every time. In the end I was able to add 1.52GHz to the clock speed of the Core i7 and 267MHz on the memory.
Each CPU and motherboard has been tested for stability at the clock speeds listed when in an overclocked state. These clock speeds will be used to run the test suite and will show the performance increase over the stock settings in the overclocked scoring.
Scientific & Data:
- PCMark 7
- HD Tune 5.0
- AIDA64 2.50
- Sandra 2012 SP6
- HandBrake 9.8
- ATTO 2.47
- DiRT 3
- Battlefield 3