Whether overclocking the processor is your cup of morning tea / coffee / something stronger or not, there are special motherboards built by professional overclockers and engineers designed to deliver the best possible performance. For example, while the average everyday computer user might moan at the thought of spending $ 500 on a Z590 motherboard with two memory slots, boards like the ASRock Z590 OC Formula pay homage to the art of overclocking. As such, legendary overclocker and ASRock employee Nick Shih oversaw the design and creation of one of the best series of overclocking motherboards. OC Formula has been an ASRock brand for their performance motherboards for generations – it seemed dead because we hadn’t seen it in a long time, but it came back with some great style. The latest iteration has experienced a face improvement and comes with a wave of features – but can ASRock strike the right balance between the enthusiast and the conventional? Let’s discover in our review of the Z590 OC formula.
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ASRock: Does it have the right formula?
ASRock launched its Z87 OC formula for the first time in 2013, and it also received rave reviews at a time when overclocking was an exciting time in the industry. This was followed by the Z97, Z170, X99 and X299 versions – the last in 2017. That’s when the brand fell asleep. We cried out for a restart on twitter, but there was no response then. But Nick waited on the wings.
Nick Shih, ASRock’s internal overclocker, oversaw the design of all of them. There are official leagues for overclocking rankings, and he sat at the top. If there had ever been an extreme Overclocker Hall of Fame, Nick would have found himself among other historical legends: hipro, rsannino, rbuass, andreyang, Splave, 8pack, Dancop, Hicookie, k | ngp | n, Fredyama, der8auer, Shamino, Smoke, Toppc and others – for those who have lived in overclocking for the last two decades, these were the drivers, and some of them were picked up by motherboard manufacturers to make better products.
That’s why every now and then we get a focused overclocking motherboard that pushes the boundaries. This is what the OC formula wants to do, while offering a stable foundation for building the system. For the OC formula, the last ‘mainstream’ model was the very popular Z170M model Ian then actually refused the examination because the coverage of our motherboard distorted ASRock during the year and we wanted to balance that. It is perhaps one of the most desirable records for sub-zero and breaking world records since the launch of Intel’s Skylake in 2015. Even I have unsuccessfully searched for one for my personal collection.
With all that in mind, when ASRock announced that the Z590 OC Formula was coming to market and offered us a sample, it was important to put it all on our minds and approach the board with a neutral perspective. If there’s one constant in all of our OC Formula reviews, it’s that balance between suitability for the more common market and its potential for overclocking – a system completely geared towards overclocking wouldn’t be a good consumer product. The state of overclocking has changed since the last launch of OCF in ASRock, and one of the reasons why we published a test on the limits of daily overclockability of system users on multiple 11900K chips and multiple Z590 boards before we came to OC Formula.
While previous generations of OC Formula had a cult, vibrant yellow-black theme, the latest ASRock Z590 OC Formula opts for a brighter metallic yellow (almost gold) color with plenty of integrated RGB LED lighting for users to create a custom look. Conventional computer users looking to build a system around the ASRock Z590 OC formula will find a daunting but cutting-edge set of desktop-based features.
For an overclocking-focused model, it includes much of what a “regular” Z590 motherboard includes, such as three M.2 slots, including one with support for the fastest-available PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe drives. Other storage options include eight SATA ports, six of which support standard Intel RAID arrays. Networking includes a typical high-end 2.5 GbE port, a Gigabit port, and Intel’s latest Wi-Fi 6E CNVi for users who plan to connect wirelessly to the Internet. Other features include a fairly high-end HD audio codec and DAC pairing, which takes care of the integrated sound and plenty of USB options on the back panel. Despite the fact that there is no USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C on the rear panel, there is the usual 10 Gbps Type-C port, but users who want 20 Gbps can use the front panel header to achieve this if the chassis used supports the premium features of the Z590.
Perhaps the largest feature set similar to the ASRock Z590 OC formula is found in the powerful overclocking feature set, which matches the pedigree given by other OC Formula boards in the past. This is also present in the memory department, as the Z590 OC Formula, according to ASRock, supports up to DDR4-6000 in its specifications. This is done via two memory ports, which will also help those competing in the leagues to choose some fast memory time without the interference of 2 memory slots per channel. Despite the larger size of the E-ATX than usual, the PCB is intentionally backed by ASRock to improve memory performance when using extreme cooling methods, such as liquid nitrogen or dry ice. Other elements focused on overclocking on the OC formula include a robust and abundant set of overclocking tools and a dedicated LN2 mode switch that users can enable or disable depending on the type of cooling used.
In terms of performance, the Z590 OC Formula has achieved notable results in our stock performance testing package, including computing, games and our system-focused testing. We’ve seen higher power consumption in both sleep mode and sleep mode than the other Z590 models tested, but the OC Formula performed well at full load. ASRock has gone through our time testing that is not UEFI POST and DPC latency, with solid results in both of these tests. Sometimes an overclocking-focused motherboard refuses to have good basic performance, but the OC formula marks the framework which means that even without adjustments it can work for everyone.
Since overclocking is the thing that should separate the OC formula from the ‘regular’ Z590 models, we’ve seen very strict VDroop control throughout all of our testing. With our Core i9-11900K we even managed to achieve a stable 5.3 GHz core, which has only been achieved by a few models so far, although we have been hit thermally, not the limitations of the board. We also saw good thermal efficiency in our VRM thermal testing, with the OC formula being one of the best boards we’ve tested so far. This is due to the active cooling of the energy delivery cooler and the superior 16-phase design you would expect from a model of this caliber.
The ASRock Z590 OC formula goes through our VRM thermal testing
When it comes to looking for a motherboard specifically designed to maximize performance and performance with Intel’s Rocket Lake processors, 55+ models are available. Only four of them are focused on overclocking as OC Formula. Looking at the price, the ASRock Z590 OC Formula is one of the cheapest with an MSRP of $ 550, with GIGABYTE’s Z590 Aorus Tachyon, which has a similar feature set, at a slightly cheaper MSPR of $ 530. Other models include the ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Apex for $ 600, while the dark horse of the EVGA Z590 Dark pile (review coming soon), which is available directly from its website for $ 600. All four models have comparable features, two memory ports for improved memory performance, as well as 2.5 GbE, Wi-Fi 6E and a host of M.2 slots for regular users.
As for buying a motherboard focused on overclocking, many of the current extreme overclockers in the world will have a general idea of the brand they will go with (depending on whether they are sponsored or not), as well as searching through large HWBOT databases to determine how they behave against each other in terms of world records, measurement performance and achieved overclockers. Today we will focus exclusively on performance with our motherboard test desk. Although we’ll be reviewing the EVGA Z590 Dark in the coming weeks, we’ve already reviewed the GIGABYTE Z590 Aorus Tachyon, so now it’s time to see how the OC Formula fits in with the other Z590 models we’ve tested.
Read on for our extended analysis.
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