ASRock X99 OC Formula/3.1 And Fatal1ty X99 Professional/3.1

ASRock’s latest X99 boards fill the budget gap between the high-end and premium motherboard markets, but do their features justify the extra price?

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Color is the only visible difference between X99 OC Formula/3.1 and Fatal1ty X99 Professional firmware. Updates for these motherboards are released in tandem, which makes sense when the only hardware difference is the PCIe network controller.

Both boards contain a range of factory-programed LN2 overclocking profiles. Developed by famed overclocking competitor Nick Shih, these range from 5.25 to 5.76 GHz at 1.60V CPU Core and 5.89 to 6.00 GHz at 1.65V CPU Core. All of these profiles use a 1.45V CPU Cache setting and 128 MHz BCLK.

Traditional overclocking profiles include 4.0 GHz at 1.20V, 4.2 GHz at 1.225V, 4.4 GHz at 1.30V and 4.5 GHz at 1.36V. The voltage levels are adequate to stabilize the majority of Haswell-E CPU samples, though many CPU heat spreaders and/or coolers lack the thermal dissipation required to prevent full-load thermal throttling at the highest two settings.

Both of the above firmware screenshots show ASRock’s “Multi Core Enhancement” setting, which disappears when manual multipliers are chosen. This setting overrides Intel’s specified ‘more cores, less Turbo Boost’ power scheme to deliver the CPU’s maximum Intel Turbo Boost ratio regardless of how many cores are deployed. It’s disabled by default and during our benchmark comparisons.

While the X99 OC Formula/3.1 reached 4.40 GHz at 1.28V CPU Core, the Fatal1ty X99 Professional only got to 4.35 GHz. These should have produced identical CPU core overclocks since both the hardware and firmware are virtually identical, save for an uninvolved network controller, and the difference might point to variability between samples (aka “bad luck”). Memory overclocking was far closer to our expectations, with both motherboards pushing stable DDR4-3251 data rates while using 1.33V settings that resulted in 1.35V measurements.

ASRock also provides several DRAM overclocking presets that use such high voltage that they might not work with our processor’s temperamental memory controller. Ditching those for known working values, we find the full range of primary, secondary and tertiary timing menus, along with a few extra related settings.

ASRock decided to break out the CPU’s integrated controller into a separate “FIVR” menu. DRAM voltage is redundant from the DRAM menu.

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.