Z97 Extreme6 Firmware
I mentioned having a new CPU to use for this round-up, and that processor is Intel’s Core i7-4790K. Intel made a lot of noise in March’s pre-launch briefing, but the clamor was muffled by its Computex launch. It turns out that the improved thermal material was no magic bullet; the die in our sample has worse voltage handling characteristics than the Core i7-4770K I was using previously.
Our general recommendation to stay under 1.3 V over the long term is based on reports from readers, motherboard manufacturers, and professional overclockers, and that remains. In the past, however, we were thermally limited by our CPU at 1.25 V. That constraint shifts to 1.28 V with the -4790K we're using today. Unfortunately, this sample requires that extra voltage to reach the same 4.6 GHz clock rate. For shame Intel, for shame.
Level 1 CPU load-line calibration keeps our core voltage stable, though the Z97 Extreme6’s 12-phase voltage regulator is certainly part of that stability equation. ASRock is up to its old DRAM overclocking tricks by under-reporting voltage, though we did reach DDR3-2883 at the corrected, 1.625 V setting.
Z97 Extreme6 firmware includes a menu for ASRock’s Thunderbolt add-in card, plus a range of “Tool” menu items, such as its spin-up utility for rarely-accessed hard drives.
Another firmware item facilitates direct UEFI access to ASRock’s email-based tech support.
“Easy Driver Installer” lets you grab the newest drivers directly from ASRock’s server prior to loading the operating system.