Comptium’s stand this year was the only one with any overclocking going on and I’ve been bringing you news on how their efforts went throughout the weekend. Before the expo opened I chatted to Pro Overclocker Andrew Roberts (dRweEZ) to see what he thought of the products he was using. Andrew has a firm handshake and an unassuming attitude and looks right at home painting a motherboard with vaseline.
NAG Online: Hi Andrew! So, compared to other boards out there like the Gigabyte Z77-UD3H, ASUS’ Rampage Gene family and MSI’s GD-series family, how does the Asrock Z77 OC Formula handle?
dRweEZ: Well, for starters Asrock’s had a huge change of heart and mindset since Nick Shih came on board. All the boards you see here, from the Pro 3 all the way to the Extreme 9 was created with some input from Nick and that’s a big bonus to the company and bow the boards perform. When you look at the OC Formula its the 8-layer PCB, the redesigned VRM phases and the ease of use for overclockers especially is just a huge boon and definitely something that makes the board special compared to the others. In terms of performance there are very few that can match this board and I don’t actually think there is anything that performs as well in the same way.
NAG Online:I saw specifically the way in which you reached the limits of the Core i7-3770K so quickly, landing 6.8GHz the first day and 7GHz the second. You clearly know where the limits are for the board. I see that you make a good use of the OC buttons on the top-right, tell me how they work?
dRweEz:With most boards you get this application you install in Windows that allows you to control clocks, like MSI’s OC Genie. With Asrock there’s a very lightweight utility that allows you to change which settings the buttons operate and there’s only two – up and down, plus or minus. Most other apps take up somewhere in the region of 200MB before you change anything and that affects your performance measurably. With this you can switch through voltage and dial things up with the button, change the BLCK up or down and even adjust the multiplier, CPU frequency and memory divider ratios all with these two buttons. What takes you ten minutes in the UEFI BIOS with other brands is done in under two minutes with the OC Formula and these are all done in real-time; no restarts, no resets, just plain and simple changes from within Windows.
NAG Online:On the charts there were entries for overclocking a few graphics cards, but that wasn’t done…why not?
dRweEZ:Well I forgot the screws for the LN2 bracket at home so that’s the main reason (laughs). But we did push it as far as we could go and things went pretty well. Those scores weren’t posted up because just about anyone can get those, so we concentrated more on getting a stable CPU overclock.
NAG Online:I also see you’re using a brand of PSU I’ve never heard of. What’s so special about Be Quiet?
dRweEZ:Firstly, this isn’t some Seasonic or CWT rebrand, its designed from the ground up by Be Quiet themselves. That gives them a lot of flexibility in terms of the features they can include and how everything is set up and works. Its an extremely efficient design and I was sceptical myself when seeing it for the first time. I mean, what’s another 1200 watt PSU to the world, really? We have too many of those already. But once I looked at it a little closer I said, “Hang on, this is something special right here.”
NAG Online:I see there are a few odd connectors on the back here…
Christi Lombard:Those are specially designed and you won’t find them in any brand. On the right you have four twin-channel fan connectors, so you can run two fans off each connector. You can use PWM fans as well here, although this is designed to run any fan you connect to it at full speed for better cooling and a more stable overclock. Otherwise, everything else on the PSU is completely modular – there’s even separate cables that have either four, two or even a single Molex or SATA connector to keep clutter down.
NAG Online:There’s also a set of jumpers here labeled “OCK”.
dRweEZ:Yes, that’s to change the way the PSU behaves in certain situations. Say you’d like to aim for the maximum stable overclock with a single GPU – you can connect a cable to the OCK plug here which then connects to a PCI bracket at the back of your PC. Once you flick that switch, this PSU changes from a multi-rail design to a single-rail PSU with more stable outputs for more stable overclocks. I’d also like to mention the cables you get with the package in this regard: you get a set of special cables for other brands that invert two PCI-E connectors into a single one for better power delivery, similar to those Molex-to-PCI-E adapters. The cables shipped with this PSU are designed to fulfill the same purpose when used with the PSU in OCK mode – it just makes everything simpler.
NAG Online:So you’ve been having your go at the OC Formula, are you looking at the rest of the Asrock lineup?
dRweEz:Yes, I’ll be going through the rest of the boards and I’m also going to be looking at the budget lineup – you know, the ones magazines won’t review because its too cheap or has fewer features and whatnot. Asrock also has AMD AM3+ boards and I’ll be going through those as well. Trinity will be especially interesting.
NAG Online: Thanks for your time, Andrew, I’ll check back in to see your GPU overclocks later!