ASRock Z170 OC Formula Intel LGA 1151 Motherboard Review

Layout, Design and Features …

On the black box of the ASRock Z170 OC Formula we can already see, what this board is made for: OC – Overclocking !
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The back of the package is already showing some powerful features of the ASRock Socket 1151 motherboards like Hyper BCLK Engine, 4266+ DDR4 OC, 18 Phase CPU Power Design, XMP Switch and the scope: Designed for Overclockers. Additionally this “Stable and Reliable” motherboard is from the ASRock Super Alloy series and providing special features we want to preset you later on.
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Some special features of this OC motherboard are already shown in the unboxing video. Here is the YouTube Unboxing Video of the ASRock Z170 OC Formula in German with English subtitles:

ASRock Z170 OC Formula Mainboard Unboxing Video OCinside.de
Watch this video on YouTube.

Let us open the box and take a first look at the content that is relatively spartan.
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Like other high-quality ASRock motherboards, this motherboard is wrapped with foam for safe delivery:
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Even at first glance we think about overclocking, because the mat High Density Fibre PCB of the ASRock Z170 OC Formula offers numerous exceptional OC features ! Furthermore it has very durable Nichicon 12K Platinum Caps capacitors, the Premium 60A Power Chokes, the 18 power phase design, Digi power and Purity Sound 3 with Nichicon Fine Gold audio capacitors.
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Here you can see below the menu button, the rapid OC buttons, the two buttons for power and reset, moreover the PCIe on/off switches, the LN2 mode switch, the slow mode switch to the reduce the CPU speed, the XMP switch to load the XMP profiles, the direct key button, to turn on the PC and to get directly in the UEFI, the Dr. Debug 7-segment LED post code display, the stylish ASRock lettering and right the two socketed BIOS modules with selector switch for the two UEFI BIOS ICs, but more on that at the UEFI review page. We only miss the useful HDD saver power connector, which let you switch on/off HDD or SSD during operation per software.
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The buttons are LED back lit and provided with the Menu, +, -, Power and Reset lettering. Furthermore, even a stylish OC formula lettering with the board layer numbers are located on the translucent PCB. It almost looks like an O-LED display …
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But a look below the circuit board immediately reveals how ASRock has solved the yellow shining field: the two upper LEDs illuminate the OC Formula logo through the board and the four lower LEDs are shining through the PCB layer numbers.
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Furthermore, the ASRock Z170 OC Formula offers three fast Ultra M.2 Slots for PCIe Gen3 x4 modules with up to 32 Gb/s connection. The Ultra M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 Slots are supporting M.2 cards (NGFF) with a length from 30mm up to 110 mm and a bandwidth up to 32 Gb/s. Of course the Ultra M. 2 slots need to share the lanes. For example, when using the M.2_1 slot, the SATA3_0, SATA3_1 and the SATA express 0 port is disabled.
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Here you can see the internal USB3.0 connectors, above that an internal USB port for a fast plug in of a USB memory stick or to connect an internal USB infrared receiver to remote control your PC, the high-quality 12K Platinum capacitors, beside the 24-pin ATX power connector, then a special V-probe plug to access different voltages to GND like VCore, VCCIO, 1.0V PCH, above a few status LEDs are located and in the corner two of the six 4-pin Fan connectors.
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Here you can see a side view of Super Alloy motherboard with the large XXL heatsinks made of aluminum alloy, which were very carefully mounted on the MOSFETs and the chipset.
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And here you can see the LGA1151 socket along with the surrounding 18 power phase design and the XXL heat sinks.
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So let us insert the four 4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR4-2400 modules that supports dual-channel on Skylake platforms.
put in the Intel Skylake CPU and remove the plastic cap.
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Here you can see the LGA1151 test system. For the Z170 motherboard reviews we are using 3.5 GHz Intel Core i5-6600K Skylake CPU in the LGA1151 socket.
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Equipment and other features …

The Z170 OC Formula motherboard ASRock comes with a manual, DVD, four SATA data cables (2x both sides straight, 2x a page 90° offset), SLI bridge, screws for the M.2 socket, screws for an optional PCIe WiFi module, WiFi module bracket and an ATX I/O panel. More USB slot brackets, the ASRock USB 3.0 front panel or the ASRock Front USB 3.1 panel for the SATA Express Port with cables and screws are optional available.

The ASRock Fatality Z170 OC Formula has many features like the ASRock Formula Drive Tool, ASRock Instant Flash, ASRock Internet Flash, ASRock APP Charger, ASRock Fast Boot, ASRock Restart to UEFI, ASRock XFast LAN, ASRock XFast RAM, ASRock Crashless BIOS, ASRock OMG Online Management Guard, ASRock UEFI System Browser, ASRock UEFI Tech Service, ASRock Dehumidifier Function, ASRock Easy RAID Installer, ASRock Easy Driver Installer, ASRock Good Night LED, ASRock USB Key, Purity Sound 3, Secure Backup UEFI, 18 Power Phase Design, Digi Power, ASRock FAN-Tastic Tuning.

Expansion cards …

The motherboard offers four PCI Express 3.0 slots for AMD CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI, which is either a graphics card with x16 bandwidth, or two graphics cards at x8 bandwidth or two graphics cards at x8 bandwidth and one connected with x4 bandwidth, or one graphics cards at x8 bandwidth and three graphics cards at x4 bandwidth. The motherboard comes with a SLI bridge. More SLI/XFire Switch cards are not required to obtain the optimum performance for the single or CrossFireX or 4-Way CrossFireX mode. In addition to the four PCI Express 3.0 slots, there are one PCIe 3.0 x1 Slot (Flexible PCIe), a PCIe 2.0 x1 Slot and a vertical Half-size Mini-PCIe Slot for WiFi and BT.

Memory …

The ASRock Z170 OC Formula board can be upgraded with up to four DDR4 modules and is depending on your operating system (see list) upgradable to a maximum of 64 GB memory.

Here you can see an image of the four DDR4 memory slots with dual-channel support, for that you have to install the modules in the two black slots DDR4_A2 and DDR4_B2:
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The Intel LGA1151 motherboard supports DDR4 memory modules and can be optimized in the BIOS with a Skylake processor to DDR4-2133 dual channel modules. In UEFI there are adjustments for DDR4-800, DDR4-1000, DDR4-1066, DDR4-1200, DDR4-1333, DDR4-1400, DDR4-1600, DDR4-1800, DDR4-1866, DDR4-2000, DDR4-2133, DDR4 -2200, DDR4-2400 to DDR4-4133 available and higher memory clock speeds can be selected with manually Intel BCLK overclocking thanks to new Hyper Engine BCLK or directly by the DRAM Presets.

Thanks to XMP support (Intel Extreme Memory Profile) XMP memory modules are correctly set with a mouse click in UEFI and there are of course more memory adjustments and/or more OC options, but more on that later on the UEFI OC page. What specific RAM modules are officially supported, you should read before buying on the ASRock memory support page.

Hard disk drive connectors …

The ASRock Z170 OC Formula offers 10 SATA3 ports and three shared SATA Express 10 Gb/s ports. Six of them are realized via the Z170 chipset and two of them over the ASMedia ASM1061 chip.

Here you can see eight of the ten SATA3 ports, you should run the Boot Device on SATA3 0:
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The SATA 3 ports SATA3_0 to SATA3_5 (Intel Z710) support RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 5, RAID 10, Intel Rapid Storage Technology 14, Intel Smart Response Technology, NCQ, AHCI and the Hot Plug function in AHCI mode (AHCI stands for Advanced Host Controller Interface and can, and should be selected with a SSD in UEFI especially). Thanks to the UEFI BIOS also drives with more than 2 TB can be used with Windows 10 x64, Windows 8.1 x64 and Windows 7 x64.

Drivers can be installed via the Easy Driver Installer or Easy RAID Installer point in UEFI. They are also supplied with a DVD for both 32 bit/64 bit Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 and can be downloaded from the ASRock support.

USB and FireWire …

The ASRock Z170 OC Formula has two new USB 3.1 ports at the ATX panel: 1x USB 3.1 Type-A (top) and 1x USB 3.1 Type-C (bottom, both sides can be inserted), each with up to 10 Gb/s.
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The mainboard has also four more USB 3.0 ports and two USB 2.0 ports on the ATX-panel. Internally there are two USB 2.0 connectors for up to four optional USB ports, an internal USB 3.0 Type-A port and two USB 3.0 connectors for up to four optional USB 3.0 ports. The 20-pin pin header can be connected, either to an optional USB3.0 front panel or a case connector with USB3.0 support.

Network …

The ASRock Z170 OC Formula is equipped with the Intel I219V, bringing the 10/100/1000 network connector on the ATX panel. The LAN connection is WoL capable, offers LAN cable detection, supports the 802.3az energy efficient Ethernet standard and supports Intel Remote Wake Technology, ASRock Full Spike Protection, PXE and more.

Serial connector and parallel port …

The serial COM port is available as an internal motherboard connector.

Sound …

The ASRock Z170 OC Formula motherboard provides the ALC1150 Audio Codec with Content Protection, 115dB SNR DAC, TI NE5532 premium headset amplifier and Purity Sound 3, which supports 7.1 surround sound output on the 5x 3.5mm jacks at the ATX panel or over the internal front panel audio connector. Furthermore, there is an optical SPDIF digital output and premium Blu-Ray support. Thus, an additional sound card with digital outputs for most users is not necessary.

ATX back panel connectors …

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From left to right you can see 1x PS/2 connector for PS/2 keyboard or PS/2 mouse and 2x USB 2.0, Clear CMOS button, HDMI, DisplayPort 1.2, USB 3.1 Type-A Port and USB 3.1 Type-C Port, 2x USB 3.0, Intel RJ45 Gigabit LAN and 2x USB 3.0, optical SPDIF output and 5x 3.5mm audio jacks for the sound output/input.

ASRock Z170 OC Formula BIOS and Overclocking …