ASRock Z170 OC Formula Intel LGA 1151 Motherboard Review

BIOS and Overclocking …

Get fast to the right UEFI settings …

BIOS and Overclocking
ASRock Z170 OC Formula Overclocking
ASRock Z170 OC Formula memory settings
ASRock Z170 OC Formula voltage settings
Overclock even easier
BIOS Undervolting
Fan control
Energy consumption

BIOS and overclocking …

Let us continue with the BIOS / UEFI Setup options and the UEFI overclocking. By pressing F2 or Del during PC boot, you get access to the UEFI Setup.

The ASRock Z170 OC Formula UEFI BIOS has a graphical interface that allows intuitive operation with the mouse or can still be conventionally operated with a keyboard.

For beginners there is the ASRock EZ Mode – so Easy Mode, an entry page with most important information and is still not looking overloaded.

In addition to basic information such as time, date, CPU temperature, motherboard temperature, fan speeds, as well as an adjustment possibility of the fan with one click, you can see important details about the hardware.

If you want to view more details about the installed hardware, there is also the System Browser view, where you can view graphically which components are installed in the PC.

You can get more information with a click on the component and with a click on the I/O panel you can see the installed devices of each port.

Of course, you can also set the time and date.

More functions can be activated with keyboard shortcuts or using the F-key.

And with the F6 key you can get back to the ASRock advanced mode after a short confirm, which you can also set as standard option. Overclockers, the OC Formula is intended for, start probably already with the Advanced mode or directly with the Tweaker menu or the favorite menu, but just more.

In Advanced Mode you can see at the first screen the UEFI version, the CPU used, the installed DDR4 memory with dual channel support, a language selection, the Easy Mode button and the My Favorite menu item.

The My Favorite function is very useful, because you can put here often needed menu items, to make them comfortable to see on one page and activate them more quickly. You start with an empty page and can fill the page with your own My Favorite menu items by simply selecting the relevant menu item, then pressing F5 and the function is included in the My Favorite summary page.

Of course, the Z170 mainboard has again the Full HD UEFI selection and the Active Page on Entry selection, where you can decide on which page you want to start the UEFI setup.

UEFI BIOS Update …

Before we begin with the UEFI settings, we first update the UEFI BIOS to the latest version. ASRock offers several ways to update the BIOS and one very comfortable option to flash BIOS updates is the so-called ASRock Instant Flash or ASRock Internet Flash with direct access to the internet.

The board is supplied with the BIOS P1.30. At the time of testing the UEFI BIOS version P1.90 was available as latest download, which we updated of course immediately.

With the so-called ASRock Instant Flash option in the tool screen or via F6 during PC start you get into the ASRock Instant Flash utility. Or you can go, as shown in the next image, over the previously mentioned EZ Mode input side to Instant Flash. Now you can simply flash a previously downloaded ASRock BIOS without a boot CD or similar by simply starting the ASRock Instant Flash utility. Just select the BIOS Flash ROM from the desired drive, such as a USB stick and even without a boot medium it is flashed and available after a restart.

Furthermore, this motherboard is equipped with a backup BIOS, that can be updated on the tool screen by the “Secure Backup UEFI” option with a working BIOS from the other BIOS EEPROM and can be selected at any time through the BIOS Selection Switch.

If you need technical UEFI support, you can now even contact the ASRock tech service over the UEFI setup and a network connection.

On the tool page you can also find he ASRock system browser with the details of the latest hardware.

Additionally, there is an OMG – Online Management Guard, with which you can define the times and days for the Internet access. This is for example useful for parents who like to specify a fixed Internet time for their children and want to restrict access with a password securely in UEFI BIOS, or for companies that allow Internet access for their employees only during lunch or after regular working hours.

ASRock Z170 OC Formula overclocking …

We now finally come to the most important part of the ASRock Z170 OC Formula motherboard – overclocking. In the Z170 OC Formula UEFI setup, there are numerous OC options for Intel LGA1151 CPU overclocking.

ASRock split the settings in CPU Configuration, DRAM Configuration and Voltage Configuration.

Let’s begin with a few of the many OC Tweaker settings in CPU Configuration:

New on Intel’s Skylake is the separation of the DMI bus of the Base Clock – short BCLK. By separating the PCIe and DMI from BCLK higher BLCK values are possible, at least when the memory permits this. The BCLK/PCIE Frequency may be adjusted in this ASRock motherboard thanks to the Hyper Engine BCLK from 75 MHz to 600 MHz. From this frequency, also with an Intel LGA1151 processors there are still generated some values that can quickly get too high. For this reason you should raise the BCLK clock only carefully.

In our test, the board was maximally overclocked to over 350 MHz BCLK and stable over a longer time, we could operate it with 220 MHz !

Unfortunately this is no guarantee to highly overclock Skylake-S CPUs with locked multiplier, because as already published in the Intel Core i5-6400 OC guide Intel has build in a limit, thus the maximum BCLK for a locked non-K CPU is currently limited to below 103 MHz.

The Intel Skylake 6600″K” CPU has an unlocked multiplier, so you can increase the desired CPU frequency with the CPU Multiplier and in very fine steps with the BCLK. With the 6600K CPU (standard clock at 3500MHz with a CPU Ratio of 35x) the ASRock Z170 OC Formula motherboard offered a multiplier range from 8x to 120x.

Here you can see the lower part of the OC-Tweaker page:

So, it should not be on ASRock, because they have integrated numerous options to make OC much easier, like for example the selection of Max Battery, Max non-Turbo performance and Turbo performance to adjust the performance during the startup and in the operating system.

Then, there’s still an adaptation of FCLK frequency with which such high BCLK overclocking is possible.

Of course that was not all regarding OC tweaking settings, because after CPU Configuration, DRAM Configuration and Voltage Configuration are following.

ASRock Z170 OC Formula memory settings …

Thanks to the Load XMP support in XMP settings, the memory modules are already set correctly with one click in the UEFI BIOS.

In the DRAM Configuration Menu there is an option to change the DDR4 reference clock to 100 MHz or 133 MHz, and get again the BCLK selection.

In the DDR4 memory settings you can, for example, adjust the DRAM frequency from DDR4-800 to DDR4-2133.

With the standard BCLK frequency of 100 MHz you can reach DDR4 frequencies up to DDR4-4133 MHz.

With manual BCLK raise (look at Intel OC guide) there are much more higher rates possible and the frequency of the memory modules is immediately calculated and displayed as soon as you change the reference clock (BCLK).

If you want can also load special presets for some DDR4 DRAM Modules:

And of course you can also adjust all DDR4 timings manually:

Furthermore, the ASRock Z170 offers more options for the memory in the DRAM Tweaker menu and an overview of all SPD and XMP memory values for direct selection.

ASRock Z170 OC Formula voltage settings …

Now we come to the various voltage settings that can also be adjusted very extensively.

To offer the motherboard manufacturers a little more room for different motherboard equipments, the voltage regulator (FIVR) were implemented externally on the motherboard and not anymore inside of the Intel Skylake CPU. Due to that the FIVR Configuration Menu is no longer available and we can proceed directly to the voltage configuration. Here you can see the values for voltage configuration:

And here you can see the lower part of the voltage configuration settings:

The motherboard has numerous voltage settings, such as the VCore with the Intel Core i5-6600K CPU Test from 0.900 to no less than 2.000 Volt ! for Extreme Overclockers, PCH +1.0 Voltage (chipset) from 0.900 to 1.500 volts, PCH PLL Voltage 0.875 to 1.820 Volt, VCCIO Voltage 0.850 to 1.585 Volt, VCC PLL Voltage 1.100 to 3.400 Volt, VCCSA Voltage (System Agent Voltage) 0.950 to 1.685 Volt, Boot CPU PLL Voltage 0.910 to 2.210 Volt, Eventual CPU PLL Voltage 0.910 to 2.210 Volt, CPU Internal PLL Voltage 0.900 to 1.845 Volt, Primary Plane Current Limit, Short Duration Power Limit, Long Duration Power Maintained, System Agent Current Limit, CPU Amplitude 1.5V/ns to 4.5V/ns, CPU Amplitude 700mV to 1000mV, and CPU Load Line Calibration 1 to 5.

For the memory modules there is a Boot DRAM Voltage 1.000 to 2.300V, DRAM Activating Power Supply 2.400 to 2.800 Volt and the DDR4 voltage can be set in the BIOS from 1.000 volts to 2.300V !, so you can overvolt the DDR4 modules strongly mainly for Extreme Overclocking.

Overclock even easier …

If you do not want to get in touch with manual overclocking, you can try the so-called Load Optimized CPU OC Setting. There you can let the system overclock in different Turbo steps automatically – at least if the luck plays along and if it is possible with the components and the CPU. Simply select the desired increase and some components are overclocked with the Load Optimized CPU OC setting to the desired value, for example Turbo 4.2 GHz, Turbo 4.4 GHz, Turbo 4.6 GHz or Turbo 4.8 GHz – overclocking could not be easier !

Here you can see the Load Optimized CPU OC Settings of the Intel 6600K CPU:

And as for OC motherboards from ASRock, there are again prefabricated OC profiles with liquid nitrogen cooling of the Overclocker NickShih:

If you need help, please join the Intel OC area at our German and English PC Forum and we will be glad to help you.

When the correct settings are found, you can save up to five different BIOS settings with names in UEFI under the point OC Tweaker. There you can take, for example, a balanced BIOS settings, overclocking settings and undervolting values as user profile to load these values anytime again.

Of special interest is the “Save User UEFI Setup Profile to Disk” option.

Just click and save your own UEFI settings on the hard drive or USB stick.

The Boot Failure Guard was also examined in the test and was able to boot the PC even after too high overclocking values without CMOS Clear. If the system however is not able to boot, you can use the Clear CMOS button. The stored values of the user profiles fortunately remain to load them quickly.

BIOS Undervolting …

The underclocking was also tested again in this review. To do this, the Intel Core i5-6600K CPU was set to the lowest multi 8x via the BIOS and could be downclocked thanks to new DMI/PCIe BCLK separation at 75 MHz BCLK to approximately 600 MHz. Underclocking is of course just like overclocking out of specification, so that in this case a bit of luck is always needed. ASRock provides at least the tools for the simplest possible Undervolting.

That are still not all UEFI settings, because there are the CPU, Chipset, Storage, Intel Thunderbolt, Super IO, ACPI and USB Configuration to choose from.

A tip if the USB keyboard and/or USB mouse does not work in Windows 7, because no driver has been installed: ASRock offers under the point USB Configuration a PS/2 Simulator, which can easily be activated in this case, and afterwards you can use the keyboard and mouse in Windows.

Who wants to save power with his PC, necessarily should also go through the settings in CPU Configuration menu in Advanced.

But the other settings, like the Advanced Chipset Configuration Menu are not unimportant as well.

Fan control …

The UEFI setup of passively cooled Z170 OC Formula motherboard has an extensive, temperature-controlled fan controller for the 4-pin CPU fan, CPU fan 1 and 2, as well as the 4-pin Chassis fans, Chassis fan 1 to 4.

The settings for the fan controller can be found in the H/W monitor directly below the very extensively display of voltage values …

… and temperature values, and with this OC Formula six additional motherboard temperature sensors were integrated.

In the fan control you have the choice between Customize, Silent, Standard, Performance and Full Speed.

In Customize mode several temperature steps are available where you can assign a particular fan speed.

Because the fans are controlled with this fan control based on the CPU or the motherboard temperature, you can usually get along without an expensive fan control. BTW. the fan control can also be conveniently set via the supplied ASRock Formula Drive tool. First, you start the fan test to determine all possible rotation speeds, and then you can adjust the temperature curve as desired. The ASRock Formula Drive software offers many other tools, such as temperature monitoring and some OC settings OC Tweaker menu.

But that’s not enough, so ASRock has even implemented, as shown in the X99 reviews a graphical interface for controlling the fan in integrated UEFI setup. You can find the FAN-Tastic Tuning menu also in the H/W monitor and thus can make all the settings very clearly. Simply select the respective fan connector on the left and on the right side you can select the mode – e.g. Performance.

In Customize mode you can even set all the values directly in the chart and save them.

For the Chassis Fan connectors you can select which source you want to use for temperature measurement: Monitor CPU Sensor or Monitor Mainboard Sensor.

Then just click Apply or exit the menu and save the values.

Energy consumption …

The PC power consumption will vary depending on hardware and PC load. The power consumption of the test PC with Intel Core i5-6600K LGA1151 CPU, 4x 4GB DDR4-2400 memory, hard drive and Cooler Master Silent Pro M 600W PSU was without overclocking depending on load at the following consumption:
– With MSI Radeon R9 280 graphics card was the entire Z170 PC power consumption 57.6W Idle and full load 270.6W.
– With integrated Intel HD Graphics GPU 530 the total consumption was 39.2W Idle and 80.3W at full load.

An ASRock Z170 Extreme6 motherboard with an Intel Core i5-6600K LGA1151 CPU and 4x 4GB DDR4 memory had the following power consumption:
– With MSI Radeon R9 280 graphics card the entire power consumption was 50.5W idle and full load 256.1W.
– With integrated Intel HD Graphics GPU 530 the total consumption was 36.0W idle and 70.7 Watt at full load.

An ASRock X99 Extreme6 motherboard with an Intel Core i7-5930K LGA2011-3 CPU had the following power consumption:
– With MSI Radeon R9 280 between 60.5W idle and 290.4W load.

An ASRock Z97 Extreme6 motherboard with an Intel Core i5-4670K LGA1150 CPU had the following power consumption:
– With MSI Radeon R9 280 between 53.1W idle and 270.7W load.
– With Sapphire HD6870 graphics card the entire power consumption was 55.8W idle and 219.5W full load.
– With integrated Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU the total consumption was 33.5W idle and 94.5 Watt full load.

An ASRock Fatal1ty FM2A88X+ Killer motherboard with an AMD A10-7850K Kaveri APU had the following PC energy consumption:
– With Sapphire HD6870 between 56.3W idle and 233.5 Watt full load.
– With internal AMD Radeon R7 GPU between 30.2W idle and 118.8 Watt full load.

An ASRock FM2A85X-ITX motherboard with an AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU had the following power consumption:
– With Sapphire HD6870 graphics card from 52.9W to 221.0 Watts.
– With internal AMD Radeon HD7660D GPU 29.4W idle and 120.4 Watt full load.

ASRock Z170 OC Formula Result and general impression …