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ASRock X299 OC Formula Review

Software & Firmware

There haven’t been any major changes to ASRock’s software suite since our Gaming i9 review, although the X299 OC Fomula doesn’t include the Gaming i9’s Creative audio software. A minor update has added firmware compatibility to ASRock’s RGB LED software application. Users can set the heat sink light to several colors, including rainbow cycles, and patterns that include breathing and strobing. The two RGB outputs can be set either synchronously or asynchronously depending on the user’s taste.

Formula Drive replaces F-Stream and A-Tuning applications of ASRock’s other motherboard series, although these are essentially different names for the same application. The application was not able to access firmware-based overclocking profiles, but its manual tuning worked as expected. Maximum settings are shown based on the limits of firmware.

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Firmware opens by default to the advanced UEFI interface, where the “Main” page has a section that allows users to store favorite settings.

Moving over to the OC Tweaker menu, we find Nick Shih’s LN2 profiles, ASRock’s regular “Optimized CPU OC” settings, and several submenus to control overclocks.

Every Nick Shih OC is based on a 50x CPU ratio at 1.45V CPU core, with other voltage levels varying with CPU model. For example, the 7800X through 7900X configurations use a 2.3V CPU input, while the 7920X through 7980EX use 2.45V.

“Optimized” overclocks are far more limiting, with the 4.2 GHz setting having negative core multiplier offsets of 2x for AVX2 and 3x for AVX3 mode, and the 4.8 GHz setting offsetting the core multiplier by 8x and 15x, respectively. We like to test the core at a true maximum load, and found that the AVX setting of “Auto” gave us no AVX offset whatsoever.

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Using the same heat-determined 1.15V CPU core as we’ve used on other boards, we reached the same 4.40 GHz overclock at 10-core, 20-thread, Prime95 AVX load. Additional setting changes were not required, as the OC Formula’s default power and thermal limits fully supported this processor at those settings.

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The X299 OC Formula reached a super-high DDR4-4122 overclock at full four-DIMM stability, proving the usefulness of its single-DIMM-per-channel slot layout. Users who want to tweak their memory beyond basic SPD or XMP timings will find the full range of settings farther down the DRAM Configuration submenu.

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Merely changing the CPU ratio mode from “Auto” to “Manual” causes the X299 OC Formula to change its CPU Input voltage from “Auto” to “2.10V Fixed.” Since several of the “Optimized” settings were based on a 1.90V fixed input, I simply changed this value back to “Auto.” The “Level 2” load-line calibration produced the expected stability and thermal values we’ve previously seen when overclocking this CPU, and the 1.35V DIMM setting produced a measured 1.353V at the DIMM slots.

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The “Advanced” menu of UEFI’s “Advanced” mode includes a setting (near the bottom) to change the UEFI boot interface back to “Easy” mode. One can also get into “Easy” mode from “Advanced” mode by pressing the keyboard’s F6 function key.

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The “Tools” menu of UEFI contains everything mentioned in our Gaming i9 review, including an RGB menu identical to that of ASRock’s software application. The software application operates by changing the value in firmware.

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Only two of the X299 OC Formula’s headers can be switched from PWM to voltage-based fan control, and those same two headers are tagged for use with pumps up to 1.5A. The other headers have a 1.0A limit. You can set compatible fans using various programed profiles within the FAN-Tastic Tuning submenu.

Although the X299 OC Formula can be set to open its “Easy Mode” interface by default, that setting is found within “Advanced Mode.”

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