HWM (Malaysia) - - TEST -

As its name sug­gests, the Z170 OC For­mula has been de­signed un­abashedly with over­clock­ing in mind. The board boasts a 18+2 phase dig­i­tal power de­sign, with the two ad­di­tional phases ded­i­cated to the mem­ory com­po­nents. While the num­ber of power phases is a poor in­di­ca­tor of a board’s abil­ity to sup­port high over­clocks, it does serve as a gen­eral guide of over­clock­a­bil­ity.

But power phases aside, the Z170 OC For­mula also comes with a host of other fea­tures to im­prove sta­bil­ity. Th­ese in­clude 60A power chokes for cleaner Vcore volt­ages, pre­mium mem­ory al­loy chokes to feed power more re­li­ably to the mem­ory mod­ules, and dual-stack MOSFETs that dou­ble the die area over tra­di­tional MOSFETs and make power de­liv­ery for the CPU Vcore more ef­fi­cient.

In ad­di­tion, there is a wide se­lec­tion of con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions, in­clud­ing a to­tal of four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, one PCIe 3.0 x1 slot, and one PCIe 2.0 x1 slot. There’s even a ver­ti­cal half-size mini-PCIe slot for a net­work adapter as the board lacks on­board Wi-Fi.

There’s only sup­port for two-way NVIDIA SLI, but if you did have four AMD cards, they could run in x8/x4/x4/x4 mode – not ideal, but it’s work­able. The Z170 plat­form re­ally only al­lo­cates 16 PCIe 3.0



MARCH 2016 lanes to the GPUs, so the se­cond PCIe 3.0 x16 slot has been wired to the PCH to tap on the PCIe 3.0 lanes from the chipset it­self.

Other stand­out fea­tures in­clude the 10 SATA 6Gbps ports and three M.2 sock­ets that pro­vide plenty of stor­age con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions. How­ever, you won’t be able to pop­u­late them all at once be­cause of the fi­nite num­ber of PCIe 3.0 lanes avail­able through the chipset, so do take note which ports have shared lanes so you don’t in­stall your devices in con­flict­ing ports.

Fi­nally, the board fea­tures a plethora of ded­i­cated hard­ware switches to al­low quicker ac­cess to over­clock­ing set­tings in an open test bench. The ‘+’ and ‘-’ Rapid OC but­tons also al­low you to tweak your CPU fre­quency in the Rapid OC Win­dows ap­pli­ca­tion by ad­just­ing the base clock, CPU mul­ti­plier, CPU core volt­age and CPU cache ra­tio. Then there’s the LN2 mode, Slow mode and XMP DIP switches and Di­rect Key but­ton that let ex­treme over­clock­ers re­solve po­ten­tial is­sues with LN2 over­clock­ing or sim­ply stream­line the en­tire over­clock­ing process.

And as ex­pected of an over­clock­ing-ori­ented board of this cal­iber, a dual BIOS switch en­ables you to switch be­tween the two BIOses and re­cover from failed over­clocks.

The on­board Pu­rity Sound 3 au­dio so­lu­tion can drive high im­ped­ance head­phones up to 600 ohm.

There are a to­tal of three M.2 sock­ets, the most out of all our tested boards.

Ded­i­cated over­clock­ing but­tons and switches are found on the bot­tom-right cor­ner.

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