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EVGA Z170 Classified (Intel Z170) Motherboard Review

By: Steven Bassiri | Socket LGA 1150/1151 in Motherboards | Posted: Nov 21, 2015 2:18 am
TweakTown Rating: 92%Manufacturer: EVGA

Packaging and Overview

 

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EVGA does things a bit different when it comes to box and packaging. For starters, almost every single accessory comes in a sealed anti-static bag (even SATA cables and SLI bridge). The motherboard is well protected, and there are seals on almost everything, so you know the board has not been used before. Only EVGA seals their products like this.

 

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Accessories aren't too plentiful, but there are some unique accessories. EVGA includes; metal IO shield (with screws), USB 3.0 internal header to 2x USB 3.0 port bracket, 4x SATA6gb/s cables, IO shield, 2-way SLI bridge, ProbeIT connector, EVGA case badge, driver DVD, and manual.

 

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The EVGA Z170 Classified has seven onboard fan headers. The two circled in red are 1A PWM only headers, and the five circled in blue operate as either PWM or DC mode headers and have that same 1A current capability. Overall fan control is quite good in the UEFI, with the ability to choose operating mode as well as custom curves, EVGA isn't behind some of the bigger players when it comes to fan support. Overall the board boasts a huge number of PCI-E slots, some heavy heat sinks, and an overall dark color theme. The black heat sinks and capacitors match each other quite well, and when you install the IO shield cover, the aesthetics are kicked up another notch.

 

This board should appeal to many who want the board to blend into the background, but the brushed aluminum heat sinks and IO cover are worth showing off. The back of the motherboard is quite bare; there are LEDs for the audio divide and some doublers behind the VRM area.

 

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The IO panel on the Z170 Classified is what most people like to see; 6x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0, ClearCMOS, 2x 1Gbit Intel NICs, HDMI, DisplayPort, and 7.1 audio outputs with S/PDIF.

 

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The PCI-E layout of the Z170 Classified is unique. In the past, many board makers had some interesting PEX8747 (or NF200 before that) implementations, but these days it is straight forward, except on the Z170 Classified. The PEX8747 takes in 8x or 16x and outputs 32x for PCI-E lanes, the issue is that it adds some latency that is noticeable when using a single GPU. To overcome this EVGA has wired things a bit differently, but it is not too confusing. There are five PCI-E 16x slots, the first slot has 8x directly wired to the CPU, and the remaining 8x goes to four quick switches so that it can go back to the first slot for 16x direct from the CPU or to the PEX8747 that expand 8x into 32x for multi-GPU configurations. If you utilize any of the bottom four slots, the first slot is 8x, and the PEX8747 is in action. The PEX8747 supplies 16x to the second slot and 16x to the fourth slot. The third and fifth slots share 8x with the slot located right above them.

 

The implementation provides the following configurations; 16x (CPU direct)/0x/0x/0x/0x or 8x/16x/0x/16x/0x, 8x/8x/8x/8x/8x, 8x/16x/0x/8x/8x, or 8x/8x/8x/16x/0x. In the end, you are left with a total of 40 PCI-E lanes, but keep in mind that the bottom four slots get their bandwidth from only half the CPU's PCI-E lanes. If I had a lot of money and only needed one GPU, I would fill the first slot with a GPU and the remaining four slots with PCI-E based SSDs. I should also mention that there is an extra power connector for multiple GPUs, but its downward orientation might cause problems with cases.

 

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The board supports two SATA Express ports that can provide 4x SATA when not being used as SATA Express. It also has two normal SATA ports connected to the PCH and two extra from a Marvell controller. Keep in mind that the M.2 slot shares 2x lanes with two of the SATA ports, so you need to check the manual when using it. EVGA also provides four USB ports through two internal headers, but this is where things get interesting. The header on the right is hooked up to a USB 3.1 controller while the header on the left is hooked up to the PCH.

 

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The motherboard has a full sized 4x PCI-E 3.0 M.2 slot as well as a Key-E M.2 slot that is primarily for wireless LAN cards.

 

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The EVGA Classified series is known for overclocking, and EVGA delivers a strong set of overclocking features. There is a clear CMOS button not only on the backpanel but also on the PCB and, of course, your basic power and reset buttons. A POST code display sits to the left of EVGA's ProbeIT connector (attachment is included) for reading voltages. Adding to the appeal of the product are three BIOS ROMs (one of which is replaceable), and a single switch allows for easy selection. EVGA also includes PCI-E disable switches to disable power to the PCI-E slots for debugging or extreme overclocking.

 

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The EVGA Classified keeps with the tradition of the right-angled 24-pin connector. There are also dual 8-pin CPU power connectors above the VRM heat sink.

 

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EVGA's CPU VRM consists of 8 phases for the CPU, 4 for the iGPU, 1 for the VCCSA, and an integrated converter for the VCCIO. The heat sink is quite large and should cool the VRM down nicely.

 

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The PCH and VRM heat sinks make excellent contact with the chips they cool. EVGA also has the VRM heat sink cool down the inductors.

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