ASRock has a new high-end Socket 1155 motherboard specially aimed at overclockers. Professional overclocker Nick Shih assisted with the design of the ASRock Z77 OC Formula board, and also added a number of custom overclocking profiles. Hardware.Info tested the board, and compared it to dozens of other Z77 boards. See all technology buying advice.
ASRock started out as the budget brand of ASUS. By releasing very affordable motherboards under a different name, ASUS was able to compete with budget brands such as ECS without risking its good name. The ASUS family has evolved quite a bit since then, and ASRock has been paving the way in recent years with more high-end products. See also: MSI Z77 MPower review: guaranteed to overclock.
In their review of the MSI MPower Z77 motherboard, Hardware.Info wrote that “Yellow is the new red”, and the same could be said of the ASRock Z77 OC Formula. It's made entirely in black and yellow, with a few touches of gold on the capacitors and the heatsinks. It's too bad that ASRock still has the incessant need of adding as many logos and pieces of text it possibly can to the motherboard, but other than that the motherboard looks very good.
The board is built around the Intel Z77 chipset and will therefore work with all Socket 1155 Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors. You can fit four DDR3 memory modules. The OC Formula has three PCI-Express x16 slots, with a total of 20 lanes (16/0/4 or 8/8/4), and two PCI-Express x1 slots. The number of expansion slots is therefore a little lower than on most Z77 ATX boards, but is still sufficient.
There are 10 SATA ports, six of which are SATA 600. Stickers indicate which six are connected to the Intel chipset and are best used. Marvell 88SE9172 controllers provide the extra ports. The board does not have eSATA. The motherboard has eight USB 3.0 ports, six of which are on the back. You also get 10 USB 2.0 ports, of which six are on the back. You don't get any FireWire, Bluetooth or Thunderbolt.
The integrated GPU has a single HDMI port, and you can't connect more than one monitor. The audio chip is a Realtek ALC898, which many Z77 motherboards have. ASRock bundles it with THX TruStudio Pro software. The board has a single Gigabit LAN port, provided by a Broadcom chip.
To find out about all of the overclocking features and how the motherboard performs, read the full review on Hardware.Info.