ASRock X299 Extreme4 and X299 OC Formula Motherboards Review – One Feature Rich Board For Core-X Platform Under $200 US and The Other Designated For Overclockers
ASRock X299 Extreme4 / ASRock X299 OC FormulaQ3 2017
ASRock X299 OC Formula Motherboard- Close Up
ASRock’s X299 OC Formula reeks of high-end on first inspection. The design and layout has been vastly improved by ASRock on their X299 series and OC Formula carries everything you should expect of a high-end Intel HEDT motherboard. Being a standard ATX form factor motherboard, it can be noted that there are a lot of features crammed into this board. ASRock has used a light grey and black color scheme on this motherboard and one particular section on the right side of the board is unique in design which we will detail later.
On the back of the motherboard, we can see that ASRock has equipped the motherboard with a large LGA 2066 retention bracket. This is true for all X299 motherboards and the larger than usual retention bracket is to support beefy coolers on the X299 platforms.
The board uses the LGA 2066 socket to support Intel Core-X series processors. The socket is compatible with both Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors. You can note that while the total pin count has increased, the socket dimensions remain largely similar to the previous LGA 2011 socket. The socket has a protective cover out of box which can easily be removed when installing the processor.
The motherboard packs a 13+2 DigiPower phase design to power the socket. The motherboard is outfitted with premium 60A power chokes, premium memory alloy chokes and Dr.MOS design. ASRock is also using the finest Nichicon 12,000 hours rated black capacitors and a high density glass fabric PCB that allows protection against electrical shorts.
The CPU is supplied power through and 8+4 pin power configuration. This will feed the CPU with up to 225 Watts of power. Most Intel CPU’s will be shipping with TDP’s of 140W but that changes when users overclock, that changes power limit based on applied voltages and clock speeds. This was a much needed change that was highlighted on the initial X299 motherboards that had stability and power issues when it came to supporting the higher-end Core-X processors.
The VRMs are cooled by an updated XXL Aluminum Alloy heatsink . The heatsink is colored silver and is very beefy and has a metallic silver “X299” logo etched in the middle. The heatsink is fitted with heatpipe design that ensures effective heat dissipation from the MOSFETs.
The left hand heatsink is a solid aluminum block which makes contact with the memory power phases. This allows cool and stable operation for the memory specific power delivery system under overclock and normal loads.
The XXL heatsink supports up to 450W CPU with airflow. These extra-large aluminum alloy heatsink along with heatpipe make sure that heat is effectively dissipated from the MOSFET, so that the whole system may perform more stable.
ASRock’s DR.MOS design features the latest SPS (Smart Power Stage) technology. It’s optimized for monitoring current and temperature of each phase, thus delivering smoother and neater power to the CPU with enhanced performance and OC capability. The 8 Layer PCB comes with 4 sets of 2 ounce copper inner layers, providing stable signal traces and power shapes and delivering lower temperature and higher energy efficiency for overclocking. Other quality features include Premium 65A power chokes, Nichicon 12,000 black capacitors and a high-density glass fabric PCB. The power design allows for up to 720A and 1300W support.
The motherboard has a total of four DDR4 DIMM slots which can support up to 64 GB (Quad Channel) and 32 GB (Dual Channel) Non-ECC, un-buffered memory. These slots are rated to support XMP profiles up to 4600+ (O.C) MHz. Each slot is labeled, making it easier to install DIMMs in the proper orientation.
The reason for having four DIMM slots instead of the normal eight DIMM slots is that this is a OC oriented motherboards which can take full potential of one DIMM running per channel. This allows for extreme memory overclocking and this motherboard is rated to support DDR4-4600 MHz as such.
Expansion slots include five PCI-Express 3.0 x16, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x4, a single PCI-Express 3.0 x1 and dual M.2 slots. The board can support 4-Way multi-GPU (CrossfireX / SLI). The M.2 slots are rated to support NVMe PCI-e Gen3 x4 and Intel Optane series memory. Only a CPU that offers 44 lanes can deliver full x16 operation on two SLI or Crossfire configured discrete GPUs. There’s a additional 6-pin power connector just to power the expansion slots if need be.
ASRock has featured their Steel Slot technology on the expansion slots. Not only do these slots offer a solid cover plate for high-end cards but it also prevents from any sort of signal interference. Such slots are ideal for modern generation of graphics cards such as the MSI GTX 1080 Ti Lightning X which takes up three slots and puts a lot of weight on the PCIe slot.
The supported types for the M.2 socket are 22110, 2280, 2260, 2242 and 2230. M.2 slots offer up to 32 GB/s link speed compared to just 6 GB/s on SATA 3 bus. All M.2 slots can operate at full x4 (32 GB/s) speeds, provided that enough PCIe lanes are available. Otherwise, users will have the choice to select from PCIe and SATA 3 modes.
One of the M.2 slots is located right under the PCH heatsink while the other rests on the top side of the same heatsink.
The X299 PCH is housed beneath a metallic heatsink with ASRock logo and label embedded on it. The heatsink is a edged block with various cuts in metallic silver color. The PCH heatsink also emits RGB LED which can be controlled manually through ASRock’s RGB LED software.
Storage options include six SATA III ports rated to operate at 6 GB/s running off of the PCH and 2 SATA III ports running off of the Asmedia ASM1061 controller. These can support 8 different storage devices at a single time. There is also a single U.2 port. The motherboard supports RAID 0, 1, 5, 10 configurations but to enable that, you have to buy a separate RAID key from Intel and supported only on Core i9 series processors that can address up to 20 bootable drives.
Following is a list of all internal connectors on the motherboard:
– 1 x Virtual RAID On CPU Header
– 1 x TPM Header
– 1 x Power LED and Speaker Header
– 2 x RGB LED Headers
– 1 x Voltage Control Header
– 1 x CPU Fan Connector (4-pin)
– 1 x CPU Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
– 2 x Chassis Fan Connectors (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
– 1 x Chassis Optional/Water Pump Fan Connector (4-pin) (Smart Fan Speed Control)
– 1 x 24 pin ATX Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector) (for Motherboard)
– 1 x 8 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector) (for Motherboard)
– 1 x 4 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector) (for Motherboard)
– 1 x 6 pin 12V Power Connector (Hi-Density Power Connector) (for PCIe graphics card)
– 1 x Front Panel Audio Connector (15μ Gold Audio Connector)
– 1 x Right Angle Front Panel Audio Connector
– 1 x Thunderbolt AIC Connector (5-pin)
– 2 x USB 2.0 Headers (Support 4 USB 2.0 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1 x USB 3.1 Gen1 Header (Supports 2 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports) (Supports ESD Protection)
– 1 x Front Panel Type C USB 3.1 Gen2 Header (ASMedia ASM3142)
– 1 x Dr. Debug with LED
– 1 x Power Button with LED
– 1 x Reset Button
– 1 x Retry Button
– 1 x Safe Boot Button
– Rapid OC Buttons: +/- buttons to adjust OC frequency
– 1 x Menu Button
– 1 x PCIe ON/OFF Switch
– 1 x Post Status Checker (PSC)
– 1 x Slow Mode Switch
– 1 x LN2 Mode Switch
– 1 x BIOS B Select Jumper
ASRock also provides overclocking specific features on this board in the form of notches and buttons. These can be found over the top right corner of the motherboard. These include a power button, a reset button, a retry button, a safe boot button, rapid OC buttons to adjust overclocking frequency, a menu button to access the BIOS instantly, a PCIe on/off switch, a slow mode switch, a LN2 mode switch, a BIOS B select jumper and the much useful Dr.Debug LED.
In terms of audio, the ASRock X299 OC Formula is equipped with the latest Purity Sound 4 system that comes with the Realtek ALC1220 Audio Codec offering 7.1 CH HD Audio with Content Protection. Features of the Purity Sound 4 include Nichicon Fine Gold Series Audio Caps, 120dB SNR DAC with Differential Amplifier, TI NE5532 Premium Headset Amplifier for Front Panel Audio Connector (Supports up to 600 Ohm headsets), Pure Power-In, Direct Drive Technology, PCB Isolate Shielding , Impedance Sensing on Front Out port, Individual PCB Layers for R/L Audio Channel, Gold Audio Jacks and 15μ Gold Audio Connector.
The motherboard comes with a single USB 3.0 front panel header, dual USB 2.0 front panel headers and a RGB LED strip header. One interesting feature about this motherboard is that the CMOS battery isn’t located in the center of the board but rather right below the 24-pin ATX power connector which is much more easier to access.
The I/O on the motherboard includes a PS/2 porrt, a SPDIF port, 2 USB 2.0 ports, 2 USB 3.1 Gen2 ports (Type-A + Type-C), 4 USB 3.1 Gen1 ports, Dual RJ-45 LAN ports (Intel I219V, Intel I211AT), a BIOS flashback button and a Clear CMOS button along with a 7.1 channel HD Audio jack. All USB ports come with ESD protection out of box.