Never fear folks, I’m back again after a short break from reviews. Today I bring to the benching stand EVGA’s newest flagship motherboard, the Z270 Classified K. Loaded with features and ready to overclock, this motherboard should be a real winner for our community. Sit down, get comfy, it’s time to dig in.
Specifications and Features
Taking a quick look at the specifications of the Z270 Classified K, there’s a few things that stand out. Among those is the 13 phase PWM power section, 3600 MHz DDR4 Dual-Channel support, and three PCIe 3.0 slots. The board supports SLI+PhysX in PCI-E 3.0 x8/x8/x1 configuration, has eight USB 3.0 ports (4 front/4 rear), two USB 3.1 ports, and a Creative-powered audio section.
All specifications in the table below are provided by EVGA.
|EVGA Z270 Classified K Specs|
|CPU||Intel® 7th Generation Socket 1151 Processors|
|Memory||4 DIMM Dual-Channel DDR4 3600MHz+ (Up To 64GB)|
|Expansion Slots||PCI-E Slot Arrangement – 1×16 and 1×1, 2×8 and 1×1
PCI-E x16 Mechanical Slots – 3
PCI-E x1 Slots – 3
|Graphics||1 HDMI 1.4 Port
1 DisplayPort 1.2 Port
|Multi-GPU Support||Enthusiast Layout Supporting 2-Way SLI® + PhysX®|
|Storage||SATA 6.0Gb/s Ports/Controller
-4 / Intel® Z270 PCH
-4 / Marvell 9235
– 2 / Intel® Z270 PCH (Shared with SATA)
– RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10
2 M.2 Key-M 80mm/110mm up to 32Gbps
1 M.2 Key-E 32mm
1 U.2 Port
Intel Optane Support
– 2 / Killer™ E2500 NIC / Intel® i219 PHY
– 6 Channel HD Audio
– Creative Core3D Quad-Core Audio Processor + Optical
|USB||USB 2.0 Ports/Controller
– 2 (from internal header) / Intel® Z270 PCH
USB 3.0 Ports/Controller
– 8 (4 from 2 internal headers) / Intel® Z270 PCH
USB 3.1 Ports/Controller
– 2 (1 Type-A, 1 Type-C)/ Intel® Z270 PCH
|Back I/O Ports||– HDMI 1.4
– DisplayPort 1.2
– Clear CMOS
– 2x Gigabit LAN
– 4x USB 3.0 Type-A
– 1x USB 3.1 Type-A
– 1x USB 3.1 Type-C
– 1x Thunderbolt 3
– 5x 3.5mm Audio
– 1x Optical S/PDIF Audio Out
|Internal I/O Ports||– 1x Angled 24-pin ATX Main Power
– 2x 8-pin ATX 12V Power
– 1x 6-pin PCIe Power
– 8x SATA 6Gb/s
– 2x SATA-Express
– 1x 110mm M.2 Key-M
– 1x 80mm M.2 Key-M
– 1x 32mm M.2 Key-E
– 1x U.2 Port
– 1x USB 2.0 (two additional ports)
– 2x USB 3.0 (four additional ports)
– 7x PWM Fan Headers
– 1x Front Panel Audio
– 1x Front Panel Connections
– 1x EVGA Probe-It Connector
|OS Support||Windows 10 32/64bit
Windows 8 32/64bit*
Windows 7 32/64bit**Intel Kaby Lake-S CPUs only support Windows 10.Intel Skylake CPUs support:
|Form Factor||12 in. x 10.375 in. (30.5 cm x 26.4 cm)
E-ATX Form Factor
Some notable features of the Z270 Classified K are the Triple BIOS support, E-LEET support, onboard controls, and onboard temperature monitoring display. These are all great for those who overclock and benchmark to get the most from the system while keeping it safe.
The next table lists the high-level feature set of the Classified K. All images and descriptions provided by EVGA.
Looking at the packaging I see a very similar design as the last iteration. Simple front with the brand/logo that will catch your eye, while the back is a full feature/specification listing. For the inner box, it is plain black. Inside this box there is a cardboard divider with the motherboard on bottom and the accessories on top. The motherboard itself if wrapped in a foam layer and then inserted into an antistatic bag.
The Z270 Classified K comes with a fairly standard, but thorough, accessory package including an SLI Bridge, two SATA 6G Cables, Manual, Driver CD, I/O Shield, and I/O Cover. This is plenty to get a new build up and running, even if you have multiple drives and GPU’s. There are a couple stand-out items here including the rear PCIe USB 3.0 Bracket and Probe-It connector.
The rear PCIe USB ports are nice as many cases do not use two internal connectors for their front panel. For the serious overclocker, the Probe-It connector gives a convenient way to use a multimeter quickly and safely with the motherboard. A pin-out of the Probe-It is given in the manual, linked here, on page 49.
The EVGA Z270 Classified K
It is finally time to look at the motherboard itself. Continuing from the Z170 generation, the Z270 Classified K features a solid black color scheme. There are heatsinks seemingly everywhere on this motherboard and they are all linked with one solid heatpipe.
When turning the board around we see that all the heatsinks are attached with spring-loaded screws, all three PCIe 3.0 slots are soldered as x16, and we catch a glimpse of the under-board lighting at the audio section.
A Closer Look
In the PCIe area, EVGA has done something I quite like. The M.2 sockets that share lanes with the PCIe ports are clearly labeled with the exact ports/slots which will be disabled when they are in use. Here is where we find the three PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots, 110mm M.2 Key-M slot, 80mm M.2 Key-M slot, and the M.2 Key-E slot.
In the upper area of the Z270 Classified K we find two 8-pin EPS 12V CPU power connections, a PWM CPU_FAN header, and a PWM CPU_FAN2 header. Each of these fan headers are rated for 1A.
Shifting slightly to the upper right corner of the motherboard we find a lot of features. For fans there are two PWM/DC headers, one labeled PWR_FAN and one labeled SYS_FAN, these can be controlled either by voltage or PWM. There is also the debug display, Probe-It connector, triple BIOS switch, power/reset buttons, and 24-pin ATX power connector in this corner of the motherboard. As a bonus to many of us who build our PC’s, the Z270 Classified K has a rotated 24-pin ATX power connection!
In the lower left section of the motherboard we find many more connection options. These include a 6-pin PCIe 12V power connection for use when running SLI, two PWM/DC fan connectors (SYS2_FAN and CHA_FAN), a built-in speaker, the front USB 2.0 connector, and the front audio connector. It is worth noting the 6-pin supplementary power and both fan headers in this area are rotated.
In the lower right hand portion of the Z270 Classified K we will wrap up the internal features/connectivity. Here we find two rotated USB 3.0 front panel connectors, the front panel switch/LED connections, four SATA III ports, two SATA Express ports, a U.2 connector, and the final PWM/DC fan header (AUX_FAN).
For external connectivity, we find the I/O ports of the motherboard. For USB we find one USB 3.1 Type-A, one USB 3.1 Type-C, and four USB 3.0 ports. There is a Lightning 3 port directly beside the USB 3.1 Type-C, so don’t get those mixed up! For networking you have two Gigabit Ethernet ports, the left is controlled by an Intel i219 chip and the right is controlled by a Killer E2500 chip. Regarding displays there are two ports, the upper is DisplayPort 1.2 and the lower is HDMI 1.4. Directly adjacent to the display ports is the CMOS Reset button, be sure not to press this one when plugging in an HDMI cable! And last, but not least, we have five 3.5mm ports and an optical S/PDIF connection for audio.
Stripping the Z270 Classified K
With this flagship motherboard from EVGA sporting a 13-phase VRM with huge heatsinks, there should be no issues from this board when pushing the limits. Below you can see pictures of the VRM both with and without the heatsinks.
The VRM controller on the Z270 Classified is an International Rectifier IR35201 paired with an IR35204. The first is an 8-phase, fully digital, PWM controller. The second is a 4-phase, fully digital, PWM controller. I’m missing a phase here, somewhere, but the point is this is a solid VRM.
As mentioned before, these heatsinks are beefy. All contact points were solid with their respective components. The singular heat pipe design helps with heat transfer in high load situations.
The audio section is driven by the Creative CA0132, which is a Sound Core3D product. It has all low profile Nichicon audio capacitors. The sound section is also isolated from the rest of the motherboard to give the best sound possible. There is no word from EVGA on how many ohms of impedance this audio section can drive.
As mentioned earlier, the Z270 Classified K has dual Gigabit Ethernet. The first controller is the newest Intel i219 solution, the other is Killer’s E2500. Both are great controllers.
Below are some thumbnails, click for a bigger view, of the other miscellaneous integrated circuit chips on the Z270 Classified K.
UEFI BIOS and Overclocking Software
The BIOS is almost identical to last generation’s user interface. In the first slideshow the Overclock and Memory tabs are shown. In the Overclock tab there’s control for CPU ratio, BCLK frequency, and system voltages. In the Memory tab there are settings for memory speed, timings, and voltages. This tab also lets you set an XMP profile for the system memory. As before there is control for primary, secondary, and tertiary timings in this BIOS.
The next slideshow details out the Advanced tab. This is where all the system tweaks that don’t belong in an overclocking setting are located. From here things such as power savings, fan controls, and onboard devices can be configured to user preferred settings, among many other features.
Found in the third and final slideshow are the Boot and Save & Exit tabs of the BIOS. Here the user can set where to boot from along with other startup settings, save BIOS profiles, and override the boot device for a one-time boot.
For the Z270 series of motherboards EVGA has released a new version of their tuning software, E-LEET X. As always, this is one of the simpler tuning programs on the market. The software works flawlessly with Windows 10 x64. It has features such as system monitoring, system information, and overclocking adjustability. Previously, in the Z170 version, one key function that I found to be missing was vCore control. This has been rectified with the newest version and you can fully control the vCore, even setting Adaptive/Override. Screenshots of the software can be seen in the slideshow below.
Test Setup, Benchmarks, and Overclocking
Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking.
|CPU||Intel i7-7700K @ 5GHz 1.4V / 4.2GHz Ring|
|Cooler||CoolerMaster Glacer 240L|
|Motherboard||EVGA Z270 Classified K|
|RAM||2×8GB DDR4 GSKILL TridentZ @ 3600MHz 18-19-19-39 1.35 V|
|Graphics Card||EVGA GTX 750Ti FTW|
|Solid State Drive||OCZ Trion 150 480GB|
|Power Supply||EVGA SuperNova G2 850W|
|Operating System||Windows 10 x64|
We’ll perform our usual set of benchmarks which tests rendering, memory performance, and single/multi-threaded CPU performance. For 2D benchmarks we’ll use SuperPi 1M and 32M, wPrime, PiFast, and Intel XTU. For rendering it’s Cinebench R11.5 and R15. Memory performance is checked against AIDA64 and MaxxMEM. For encoding, we use x265 (HWBOT Version) and PoV Ray. A more real-world test is included in 7zip. Testing is performed with the CPU at 5GHz to eliminate any inherent differences in stock BIOS options. Memory speed is XMP, unless otherwise specified.
We’ll be comparing the Classified K to a few different motherboards, their models and links to the reviews are below. The reviews linked below run at DDR4-3866, but the Classified K is running at DDR4-3600. I could not get the Classified K to boot at over DDR4-3600.
Memory Bandwidth and Throughput Benchmark – AIDA64 and MaxxMEM
CPU Rendering Benchmarks – Cinebench R11.5 and R15
Single Threaded CPU Benchmarks – Super Pi 1M and 32M and PiFast
Multi-Threaded CPU Benchmarks – WPrime 32M and 1024M, x265 (HWBOT Version), PoV Ray R3.73, 7Zip, and Intel XTU
Overall, the results seemed to be in line with the expected performance of a top-tier motherboard. The small differences seen in the memory and XTU testing would be due to the performance hit of running DDR4-3600 instead of DDR4-3866 as the other boards in this comparison are.
Pushing the Limits
Unfortunately, I have no other boards in my stable to compare the Z270 Classified K with in this section. It is the first board to see my i7 7700K. Even so, it hit 5.1GHz on the CPU. It seems to be fairly stable at this level, running Cinebench R15 without issue. Booting 5.2GHz happened, but I couldn’t complete R15 at this speed.
Alright, time to nitpick. The only real negative I found with this board is the fact it didn’t boot over DDR4-3600 no matter how much tweaking I did. If this turns out to be my CPU/RAM, not the board, I’ll update here later. On the positive side though, EVGA has come around with another flagship motherboard and it impresses. The Z270 Classified is loaded with features, pushes the limits very well, and is quite aesthetically pleasing.
Some great additions from the previous generation to the Classified are the quad-core Creative audio processor, additional power phases, and a Killer network controller. These improvements all do one of two things; reduce CPU load or bring the CPU cleaner power. EVGA had stability in mind here.
Comparing to the previous generation, the overclocking features of Classified has been pared down some. No more 4-way SLI, PCIe Disable Switch, or PLX chip. That said, the current generation’s price reflects this, as it comes in $100 cheaper than the Z170 Classified. The Z270 Classified K can be found on Newegg for $299, but you can only buy from EVGA direct until 2/15/2017. It’s a heck of a board at this price, the Z270 Classified K gets the Overclockers Approved stamp!
Click the stamp for an explanation of what this means.