Overclocking…my favorite part! This is where the OC Formula is supposed to shine. Built for overclockers means built for me. Personally. That’s right.
Like all other motherboards in the market at the moment, ASRock have provided a tool to overclock in the operating system. However, as a purist and also someone who doesn’t break habits particularly easily, I like to overclock in BIOS. Whilst I’m sure you’d be able to attain a decent enough overclock from the software, the Formula Drive suite simply doesn’t offer enough for me to use it as a true alternative to overclocking “properly.”
First things first; I always update BIOS to the latest version. I used ASRock’s Instant Flash utility within the UEFI to upgrade to BIOS version 1.40.
As I have previously attained stable overclocks and have the voltages required burned into my mind, I initially attempted to boot at 4.5Ghz. I was able to achieve this, stable, at +0.045v, which is between 0.005v and 0.010v better than previous boards I have used in this segment.
4.5Ghz is easy, though. With the ASUS P8Z77-V PRO, I was able to attain 4.8Ghz at +0.230v.. on the OC Formula, I hit this at +0.220v. However, due to the heat limitations of Ivy Bridge, I had to scale back my overclock to 4.6Ghz in order to benchmark without risking chip degradation. Of course, I could delid the chip – but the idea of these reviews is to give an idea of average user scenarios.
To keep everything stable, I opted to use a 4.6Ghz clock that I obtained by using an x46 multiplier as opposed to utilizing BCLK (aka FSB). This kept everything else at standard configuration, which made RAM overclocking easier.
When you overclock RAM, you start with frequency (speed) and voltage. If you’re unable to POST, you relax timings. Eventually you will hit a wall where you can either: not go faster, or not relax timings any further. Then you find your sweet spot of lowest timings yet the highest speed.
The Samsung RAM I use for testing is capable of 2400Mhz – I know this as when I tested it, I hit that speed with the Z77 Extreme6, with timings of 10-12-11-24-2. I was not able to hit over 2133 Mhz on the P8Z77-V PRO. On the OC Formula? 2400Mhz at 10-11-11-24-2. It’s not a huge improvement, but it IS an improvement, and I find myself impressed.
4.6 Ghz is a 1.2 Ghz (35%) overclock, which is great for a 24/7 overclock. As previously mentioned, we also managed to boot at 4.8Ghz, which is a 1.4 Ghz (41%) overclock – very impressive, and if heat weren’t an issue for Ivy Bridge I’m sure we’d have been successful in benchmarking at this clock speed.