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Six $220-280 Z77 Express-Based Motherboards, Reviewed

Z77 OC Formula Firmware

The Z77 OC Formula employs ASRock’s familiar overclocking presets. However, the firm hired a reputable overclocking guru to develop this board’s settings beyond those of previously-reviewed models. The top overclock, Stage 11, uses a 50x CPU multiplier and 1.45 V. Each step down drops around 1x from the multiplier and 0.05 V from the CPU core.

Generic overclocking profiles are designed to support a broad range of CPU samples, but some cores are inherently better than average. We were able to reach 4.70 GHz at 1.25 V, though the actual setting needed to get us that voltage was 1.240 V.

Most disconcerting was that we needed to set our DRAM to 1.61 V in order to reach its rated 1.65V setting. We’ve noticed that motherboards have been getting better at memory overclocking, and that voltage creep appears to be part of this trend. Even at the lower voltage setting, we were able to slightly exceed our memory’s DDR3-2666 rating.

A full set of primary and secondary memory timings are available for tweaking, along with clock skew controls.

The most unusual setting we found in the Z77 OC Formula UEFI was ASRock Dehumidifier. This feature simply wakes the computer from S3/S4 states periodically to warm the hardware up and prevent the collection of moisture, with user-defined waking and sleeping times.

The Z77 OC Formula provides ten storage registers for custom BIOS configurations, allowing users to experiment with various overclocking techniques and return to previous versions. Though its competitors offer similar functionality, we’ve never seen (nor needed) this many user profiles.

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