The Board - Layout
Getting the board out of the box, I felt like I was blinded by the bright yellow of the PCIe x16 slots and a couple of the DIMM slots that quickly caught my eye. I almost think ASRock engineered the packaging to hide that yellow until the last moment to make sure it had such an impact upon first glance. Yet, it's not bright, bright yellow, but a yellow color that can look a lot brighter depending on the light. Flipping it over to looking for mounted components, I could not find a single one that might interfere with aftermarket cooling.
On the bottom left of the board is a rather unique feature in the form of a little window that lets you see each individual layer of the board, with each layer being denoted by a number. ASRock tells me that this board features no less than four 2 oz. copper PCB layers, which should aid in cooling, and maintain signal integrity when overclocking. The socket area is pretty cramped with a fairly large CPU VRM cooler around two sides and many capacitors close to the socket. The cooler features an installed waterpipe. No extra coolers for the board need to be purchased if you are going to watercool the board.
ASROck didn't mess around with extra slots for the ASRock Z77 OC Formula. The board has five slots available, three PCIe x16 slots and two PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. Those PCIe x1 slots are positioned well, allowing you to use the x1 slots even if you have dual-slot VGAs in every slot. We find the usual four slots for DIMM slots, here two in black and two in yellow, each ready for DIMM up to 8 GB in density.
The bottom edge carries a molex plug for additional PCIe power when overclocking, as well as the usual USB 3.0, audio, and front panel headers. There are also a couple of buttons, but more on that later. There are no less than six available fan headers on the ASRock Z77 OC Formula, with another already populated by the VRM cooler-fan.
The rear I/O panel is actually pretty basic, and consists mostly of USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports. There's a ClearCMOS button and a PS/2 keyboard/mouse port, a LAN port, audio, and only a single HDMI video output. That was a bit disappointing, but I clearly understand why there is only one since it's made for overclocking. For SATA port expansions, I found six SATA 6 Gb/s ports and four SATA 3 Gb/s ports, four more than what the Intel Z77 Express chipset supports. I was surprised to find so many ports for an overclocking-themed board, but overclocking is clearly not all ASRock had in mind even if it is the board's main theme.