ASRock’s motherboard lineup for Haswell is looking good and the company is very competitive in terms of pricing and features compared to its two biggest rivals, Gigabyte and MSI. However, they may be bumped up to the top of the pack with the inclusion of some overclocking features not seen on other H87-series motherboards.
Intel’s been a Scrooge lately with overclocking, limiting tweaking options and extra performance gains to those lucky enough to have the money to spare for the K-series chips and the Z87 motherboards, which may or may not have features you consider extraneous. The step down from that is the H87 chipset, but it locks things down tremendously, only allowing enthusiasts to tweak memory settings for some slight performance boosts.
ASRock appears to have taken offense to that and has included a software hack on their EUFI BIOS called Non-Z OC. It unlocks the option to adjust multiplier levels on K-series CPUs but locks any alteration to the BLCK, which is the only trade-off here.
This means that in any future hardware builds that MyGaming readers might dream up, assuming ASRock never takes this option away due to pressure from Intel, this means that their boards are the better choice if there’s any chance you’ll upgrade to a better CPU in future. ASRock also touts this feature on their B85 boards, although its unlikely that they’ll ever apply this to whatever motherboard lineup replaces the H61 family.
In short, if you’re looking to save some money and still have overclocking options available in future, ASRock may be the brand to go for. Although its just one brand so far, this effectively takes away the benefit AMD users have had for some time with the FX lineup.
Its worth noting that no other manufacturer does this. Other board partners limit overclocking to the Z87 chipset only, but with ASRock’s goal of moving up in the rankings to become the top motherboard brand in the world, it looks like they’ll leverage features to their advantage that bigger brands can’t, or won’t, do.