Set in the color scheme of gold on a sapphire black PCB, the ASRock X99 OC Formula motherboard is the worlds only waterproof motherboard (not that we would check), and uses Intel’s newest 2011-3 socket which is definitely not compatible with the original 2011 release. This socket only supports Intel Core i7 and Xeon 18-Core processors that are compatible with the LGA 2011-3 socket. ASRocks own ‘conformal coating’, not only protects the motherboard against unexpected spills in typical scenarios, but also, it gives an extra sense of security to those using liquid nitrogen or helium; their 5 year warranty guarantees this.
Let’s face it, the world overclocking record wouldn’t have been possible without some very specific high end components making it possible, the first of which is the OC Formulas 12 phase CPU VRM that provides for 1300W of CPU power, another first by ASRock. This is coupled with a four phase VRM for memory where eight DDR4 slots can support up to 128GB of quad channel memory. In our scenario, Kingston has been kind enough to send us 4 modules (4GBx4) of their HyperX Predator DDR4 memory with power just reduced to 1.35V.
For those new to overclocking, our experience simply selecting a pre-configured overclock speed of 4.5Ghz, and then even increasing our Kingston HyperX Predator DDR4 memory from stock settings to 2666Mhz, was a piece of cake. Here is a shot of our Intel Extreme Tuning results. We were able actually able to pull this score up to 2338 points, but we liked the consistency of this result in the graph much better.
We also thought we might try out our system with PCMark 3D Mark albeit with the single GPU and system overclocked as shown. When testing in Firestrike, we ended up with a result of 7562 points, that better than 78% of all results. We did a bit better when testing in Sky Diver as you can see here:
Some things about this board really interested us and they start in the top picture on the upper right side. Unlike other ASRock boards, you will see 3 buttons labelled +, – and menu. These buttons enable quick and easy overclocking on the go when using Rapid OC. Just below that is a PCIe on/off switch that allows immediate shutting down of any or all of the PCIe X16 slots while configuring, or checking for inconsistencies in the system. The next switch is a LN2 on/off switch that helps to eliminate cold boot problems when extreme overclocking with liquid nitrogen. Taking this a step further, ASRock dares you to OC this board by including ‘Nick Shih’s OC Profile” in the BIOS that instantly sets the system to the proper configurations of several overclocks well above the 5Ghz point. Just below this switch is also a ‘Slowmode’ button that allows you to run the processor at its lowest frequency.
Also on the lower right side (as we have shown it above) are 10 SATA 6Gbps ports. As with the previous generation, using a M.2 SSD means losing functionality of certain SATA ports, If you are using a SATA M.2 SSD. In this case, you would lose the SATA S_SATA_3 port if you installed a SATA M.2 SSD in the Ultra M.2 slot closest to Nick Shih’s signature. Below this, and the LED, you will find a key that we have already found to be very useful. It is called the Direct Key and pressing it starts your system directly into the UEFI.
Looking at the I/O panel, there are two USB 2.0 ports, along with a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port below that. Does anyone else wonder why we still have PS2 ports on motherboards? To the right of this is the CMOS switch, followed by one of the two LAN RJ-45 ports for the Intel LAN. Also found on the panel are 6 USB 3.0 ports, however, it merits mentioning that the four centered in between the LAN ports are connected to an ASMedia 1074 hub and may result in lower data transfer speeds when using an external storage medium. The good news is that all of these 6 USB 3.0 ports have native support and do not need 3rd party drivers after the fact. On the far right, we have our audio connections, along with an Optical SPDIF Out port.