Accessories Continued: OC Panel
Accessories Continued: OC Panel
Now you might have seen the ASUS OC Panel before, since it is sold as a standalone accessory for about $100, and it was also first came bundled with the Maximus VI Extreme and Rampage IV Black Edition motherboards. It's basically the natural evolution of the ROG team's efforts to improve upon real-time overclocking and monitoring without having to fiddle with the motherboard itself. This effort started with the TweakIt Module on the Rampage II Extreme, was then followed up with the laptop-enabled ROG Connect solution, the interesting but largely unavailable OC Station, and the more recent OC Key dongle, which was included with the Rampage IV Extreme.
The essence of all these gadgets and innovations has been distilled into a purpose-built device with capabilities that surpass all the previous iterations. Depending on the user, ASUS designed the OC Panel to work in either Normal or Extreme mode. As you would expect, we will start off with the Extreme mode, in which you have the OC Panel located outside of your case.
The OC Panel features a 2.6-inch display sidelined by 4 buttons: Normal/Extreme mode switch, CPU Level Up, display backlight on/off, and fan speed control. Under the display is the system on/off Start button and the remote control area, from which you can select the various options and increase or decrease various settings.
While there is just a handy stand on the back, the left side features the Subzero Sense area, which allows users to plug in two K-type thermal probes. Why? Well the OC Panel actually features two onboard digital thermometers. That is a pretty awesome addition when you consider that standalone 2-port digital thermometers aren't exactly cheap, yet are basically required if you plan on doing any sub-zero overclocking.
The bottom of the device features a plug for the proprietary OC Panel cable (which then connects to the ROG_EXT plug at the very bottom of the motherboard) and a SATA power connector. As you will see below, the SATA connection is needed primarily to power the four PWM fan ports.
Once you slide the cover off, a number of other features are revealed, many of which were previously found onboard the Rampage IV Extreme but have now been relocated to the OC Panel. The two red connectors are for the VGA Hotwire functionality. With Hotwire compatible ASUS graphics cards you can run wires directly from the cards to the OC Panel, and gain total voltage control from the OC Panel itself, or from Windows, or even from within the UEFI BIOS. ASUS have also included two sets of voltage probe points so you can monitor the graphics cards voltages in real-time. That's pretty damn cool. ASUS have even been so kind as to include a few extra resistors and capacitors to help overclockers voltmod their graphics cards.
For the most serious of benchmarkers, the OC Panel also features a Slow Mode switch, which changes the CPU multiplier to 12X in order to help with system stability in between benchmarks or while you take any necessary screenshots, and a Pause switch that allows you to freeze the system at a hardware level, thus permitting you to adjust your cooling (or other aspect) during very heavy benchmarking loads. As mentioned previously, there are also four 4-pin PWM fan connectors, but you will need to plug in the SATA power connector.
In Normal mode, the OC Panel is transformed into a device that you can install in your case via the included 5.25-inch drive bay. In this model, the OC Panel can be used to display real-time info like CPU temperature, basic system clocks, and fan speeds. It also allows for some basic auto overclocking and CPU fan speed adjustments
We aren't going to show you every screen combination possible, but here is some of what you will see in either Normal or Extreme mode. In Normal mode, the screen is displaying the CPU temperature, CPU fan speed, BCLK and the CPU multiplier. In Extreme mode, we have one thermal probe plugged in (ie: T1), the target CPU VTT voltage and the real-time CPU VTT reading. Again these are just some of the many options for both modes.
Overall then, in the right hands, this is a fantastic product. We envision that it's going to be a perfect addition to many overclockers' arsenal of tools, and it definitely makes this RoG Extreme model stand out from the rest of the LGA2011-3 motherboard field.
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