This is where you can fast forward to the final section of the review, and get a quick recap and points on the EVGA Z170 FTW.
High-end circuit design: EVGA put a lot of emphasis on quality with the Z170 FTW. The all International Rectifier VRM with their latest in digital PWM technology really does make a difference as you can see in the overclock and thermal imaging results. Even though the CPU VCore is made up of 5 PWM phases, it handled strenuous overclocks, while staying relatively cool under the camera. Looking at how clean the audio pathway is and then at the results shows a desire for quality and performance. IO performance was also quite good, reflecting sound engineering practices.
Fan Control: I was surprised to find that EVGA implemented 7 fan headers, and gave all of them the ability to change between PWM and DC mode. On top of that, 5 headers have SMART fan control, while all were given some level of control. It seems that almost all the manufacturers have really focused on fan control as one of the distinguishing aspects of their Intel Z170 motherboards.
All Black Montage: These days aesthetics are as important as fan control, and EVGA really listened to the community. Many enthusiasts have been asking for all-black motherboards for a while, and it makes a lot of sense. Motherboards are a required backdrop and their colors can clash with other accessories. The IO panel is also an eye-sore and EVGA took care of that with a black brushed aluminum IO cover, which goes great with the heat sinks and black PCB. To make everything as black as possible, EVGA even used black capacitors.
POST Code Display and Basic OC Features: I am a strong believer that when you pass the $200 mark for a motherboard, you should get some type of POST code display. Diagnostics can be such a pain without one, and EVGA not only provides the POST code display, but also provides back-panel clear CMOS button, as well on-board power and reset buttons.
No USB 3.1: I was a little surprised that EVGA didn't implement USB 3.1 in their Z170 motherboards. While there is a shortage of USB 3.1 devices currently, they are slowly but surely coming to market; it's inevitable. EVGA make it up to the user by providing expansive PCH PCI-E slots in almost all flavors, so if you decide to buy a USB 3.1 add-in card, then EVGA has the slot layout to support it without disrupting your graphics.
SLI Spacing: To be clear, almost all Z170 motherboards support a maximum of 2-way SLI, but EVGA routed the first two slots to the CPU, meaning that half of the PCI-E slot spacing is not to be used for SLI. This means that if you go with SLI, then the card in the first PCI-E slot must be, at a maximum, double slotted because the second card will be two slots down. The bottom three PCI-E slots, including two full sized 16x slots, are routed to the PCH and operate at 4x/4x/1x (from top to bottom). EVGA does say in its specifications that the board supports 2-way SLI + PhysX, so if you have a PhysX card, then you should be ready to go with the Z170 FTW.
Overall, I was impressed with the quality, looks, and performance of the EVGA Z170 FTW. I have always been a fan of how EVGA doesn't compromise quality for marketing, and the Z170 FTW stays true to EVGA's roots as a quality vendor. If you are looking for an all-black motherboard, you should definitely give the Z170 FTW a look since it is exactly that, you can even turn out all the lights in case they clash with your case design. The UEFI is very easy to use and it makes overclocking very simple, even though there are no built-in profiles.
While I had a few qualms with the PCI-E layout of the board and its lack of USB 3.1, the Z170 FTW's price is pretty good considering the quality of the components. I don't think many other motherboards in the same price range have the same high-level of component quality, but many of them do carry a few more features.
|Performance (including Overclocking)||92%|
|Quality including Design and Build||95%|
|Bundle and Packaging||90%|
|Value for Money||88%|
|Overall TweakTown Rating||90%|
The Bottom Line: I was very pleased with the EVGA Z170 FTW, and at $220 currently, I think it's worth a look if you are in the market for a high quality motherboard with quiet aesthetics, strong performance, and solid choice components.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing]
- Page 2 [Packaging and the Z170 FTW]
- Page 3 [EVGA Z170 FTW Circuit Analysis]
- Page 4 [EVGA Z170 Circuit Analysis Continued]
- Page 5 [BIOS and Software]
- Page 6 [Test System Setup]
- Page 7 [Overclocking]
- Page 8 [CPU, Memory, and System Benchmarks]
- Page 9 [System IO Benchmarks]
- Page 10 [Thermal Imaging and Power Consumption]
- Page 11 [What's Hot, What's Not & Final Thoughts]