EVGA has hit the X99/Haswell-E market with three new motherboard offerings. They include the X99 Micro, X99 FTW, and today’s review sample… the X99 Classified. As EVGA’s flagship X99 offering, it is aimed at the PC enthusiast, overclocker, and anyone looking to build a high performance system. A lot of attention was paid to the onboard devices EVGA used on this motherboard, which means you get a feature packed offering in the X99 Classified. Should this be the motherboard you choose for your X99 system build? Let’s find out if we can answer that question!
Specifications and Features
The specifications show some impressive capabilities, including up to 4-way SLI/CFX, Dual Intel LAN ports, and a Creative audio solution. An abundance of connectivity options are provided as well, which include 10 SATA 6 GB/s ports, two M.2 ports, and a total of 14 USB ports (8X USB 2.0 and 6X USB 3.0). Specifications courtesy of EVGA.
|EVGA X99 Classified Key Specs|
|Graphics Slot Arrangement|
Looking at the many features the X99 Classified offers, there are many popular design qualities that overclockers and PC enthusiasts like to see. A few of the highlights here are the 10-phase power design, EZ Voltage read points, and the dual 8-pin CPU power connectors. You’ll also find a triple BIOS select switch for easy access to three UEFI BIOS versions, a CPU socket with a higher gold content than standard specifications call for, and an 8-layer PCB to help with stability and keeping the PCB cool.
|Brand New GUI BIOS Interface|
Focused on Functionality
|PCI-E Disable Switch|
Quickly and Easily Troubleshoot!
|E-LEET Tuning Utility|
Adjust your Overclocking in O.S.
|Triple BIOS Support|
Use 3 Separate Profiles!
|Right Angled 24-Pin|
Improved Cabe Management
|Includes M.2 Support|
The Newest Peripheral Standard
|EZ Voltage Read Points|
Easy Read Dedicated Read Points
|Onboard CPU Temp Monitor|
Monitor CPU Temps Qucikly and Easily
|Passive Chipset Heatsink|
No fans, Lower Noise, Longer Lifespan
|Dual 8-Pin CPU Power|
Optional 8-Pin Provides Up To 600W
Cleanest Variable Power Switching
Improved Overclocking Stability and PCB Coolong
|Higher Gold Content|
Lower Inductance, Better Power Delivery!
The packaging that EVGA uses for their Classified motherboards hasn’t changed a whole lot over the past couple of years; but as usual, it’s an attractive presentation. A look around the box gives the potential customer a good deal of information on what the product offers. Most of what we covered above can be found printed on the box.
Once inside the box, you’ll find the contents well-protected and neatly arranged. The motherboard itself is wrapped in an anti-static bag with a protective foam sheet.
EVGA Classified motherboards usually come fully outfitted with a host of accessories, and that’s exactly what we have here. Everything you need to get this motherboard up and running is included… and then some! Here is the list of accessories packaged in the box.
With the X99 Classified unwrapped, we can see it’s further protected with several film strips and has stickers with helpful installation instructions.
As you can see by the images below, the X99 Classified holds true to the familiar red and black theme. It’s mostly black with the EVGA “E” on the PCH heatsink, and the top of the capacitors are the only red highlights. Still, another very attractive presentation as we’ve come to expect from EVGA Classified motherboards. Before we explore the X99 Classified in more detail, here are several pictures to enjoy.
The EVGA X99 Classified Up Close
Beginning at the bottom-left edge of the X99 Classified, you’ll find a supplemental 6-pin PCI-E power connector, front panel audio connector, two 90° 3-pin fan headers, EVGuage header, PC speaker, and the Thunderbolt header. The bottom-right edge has a pair of USB 2.0 headers, the CMOS battery, one USB 3.0 header, and the case wiring connectors.
Along the right side of the motherboard is another 90° 3-pin fan header at the very bottom. Moving up from there, we come to the 10 native SATA 6 GB/s ports, another 90° 3-pin fan header, the PCI-E disable dip switches, and the Triple BIOS Selector switch. If you look just to the left of the Triple BIOS Selector switch, you see the BIOS chip holder. You can easily open it and replace the BIOS chip if that ever becomes necessary. At the upper-right edge are the 24-pin ATX power connector, post code/CPU temperature LED display, GPU Link connector, MCU Turbo switch, onboard power and reset buttons, and a 4-pin secondary CPU fan header.
Moving around to the top of the X99 Classified, the clear CMOS button sits on the left corner followed by the Probe It header, CPU fan header, and two 8-pin CPU AUX power connectors. At the top-left edge, there is only a 4-pin PWM fan header to mention. If you’ve been keeping count, that’s two CPU and five additional fan headers. That should be more than adequate for the vast majority of users.
The upper-left side of the X99 Classified is where you find the I/O connections, which include six USB 2.0 ports, four native USB 3.0 ports, dual Intel LAN ports, and the 6-channel audio out jacks. Additionally, there is a clear CMOS button located by USB 2.0 ports and an optical out connector found in the audio jack block. At the lower-left edge, we find the Creative Core3D components and the first of two M.2 ports. Although we don’t see the audio isolation and EMI shielding that’s become so popular on competitor motherboards, we also don’t have the Realtek audio solution they use either. The quad-core Creative Core3D solution should be a step up from a Realtek solution, but I suppose it depends on each individual’s taste.
Looking at the expansion slots, we have five PCI-E graphics card slots and one PCI-e x4 slot. The table below give you the lane distribution for 40 and 28 lane CPUs.
|40 Lane CPU||28 Lane CPU|
|PE1||x16 (x8 if PE2 is Used)||x16 (x8 if PE2/PE3 Are Used)|
|PE3||x8||Slot Not Functional With 28 Lane CPU|
|PE4||x16 (x8 if PE3 is Used)||x8|
|PE5||x4 (Gen 2, 4 Lanes Pulled from PCH)||x4 (Gen 2, 4 Lanes Pulled from PCH)|
Located between the bottom two PCI-E slots is the second M.2 port.
Having a look at the CPU slot area, we see a relatively uncluttered area that should accommodate the most popular enthusiast level air coolers. I can’t imagine a water block that wouldn’t fit here as well. The eight DIMM slots viewable from here support up to 128 GB of DDR4 memory at 2667 MHz+ (OC).
The passive cooling scheme is comprised of two heatsinks connected with a heatpipe. The section covering the MOSFETs uses two thermal pads, and the section covering the PCH uses a silver TIM of some sort. Both heatsinks were found to be making excellent contact with their intended targets.
With the heatsinks out of the way, we can see the 10-phase power design EVGA used for the X99 Classified. Voltage regulation is handled by the International Rectifier 3563B controller. All the other voltage controllers and MOSFETs found on the motherboard are also International Rectifier products.
Having a look at a few of the ICs that make up some of the motherboard’s features, we see the two Intel LAN controllers (I210 and I217) that EVGA used here.
As mentioned earlier, the Creative CA0132 quad-core Core3D audio chip is used on the X99 Classified. For I/O functionality, EVGA used the Fintek F71889AD controller, and the monitoring capabilities are handled by the nuvoTon NCT7802Y IC. PCI-E switching is handled by the ASMedia ASM1480 ICs found scattered about the expansion slots. The last picture below is of the X99 PCH.
The EVGA UEFI BIOS
The UEFI BIOS consists of five main areas that are easy to navigate and offer plenty of tweaking options. At the top of the screen, you’ll find real-time monitoring information and hardware details on the CPU, memory, and video card. The Overclock tab has all the settings needed to adjust the CPU multiplier, BCLK frequency, and important voltages.
Moving over to the Memory tab, we find where you can set the XMP profiles or manually set voltages and timings. The picture below shows the memory profile set to automatic, but XMP and manual options are selectable.
The Advanced tab has eight sub menus dealing mostly with system configuration options. The H/W Monitor Configuration sub menu deserves special mention as it contains fan control settings and a few additional voltage options.
Under the Boot tab is where you can set your boot device order and BBS priorities. You can also choose to turn off the beep sounds during post. The Save & Exit tab has the usual options, but also adds a BIOS flashing option and the ability to save up to 16 profiles.
Bundled Software EVGA E-LEET X
The particular version of E-LEET X that supports the X99 platform is still in its infancy stage, but future updates are promised to add additional functionality. Most of the tabs are very similar to what you see when using CPU-Z with the addition of the overclocking tab. The areas that need the most work are the memory tab and overclocking tab. EVGA says voltage control will be added to the overclocking options and more information will be displayed when viewing the memory tab. For now though, the pictures below will give you an idea of what’s in store once the utility is updated.
Benchmarks and Overclocking
Here is the list of components used in our test bed.
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||EVGA X99 Classified|
|CPU||Intel i7 5960X|
|Memory||ADATA XPG Z1 DDR4-2400 32 GB|
|Video Card||EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified|
|Storage||Samsung 840 Pro SSD 256 GB|
|Cooling||Water w/EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block|
|Operating System||Windows 7 Pro x64|
I wanted to use higher speed memory for the review on the X99 Classified; but as of now, EVGA is still working on a BIOS that will support DDR4 2800 MHz and beyond. That BIOS has been promised in short order and may already be released by the time you read this. EVGA usually gets issues like this fixed rather quickly, so I don’t consider this a deal breaker at all. So, for now we’ll run with the ADATA DDR4-2400 MHz memory and run the X99 Classified through our benchmark suite using that kit. I went ahead and locked the CPU speed at the turbo speed of 3.5 GHz as I normally do for stock testing. The overclocked benchmark scores are with the CPU set to 4.7 GHz, which was a piece of cake to accomplish. All it took was sending 1.35 V to the CPU and a little vDroop adjustment… BAM, 4.7 GHz.
Our benchmarks will be checking compression, rendering, video conversion, and memory performance. We’ll also toss in some 2D benchmarks such as SuperPi, wPrime, and Intel XTU to round things out. So, let’s get to it!
Compression, Rendering, and Video Conversion Benchmarks
Cinebench R10 – R11.5 – R15
x264 Pass 1 and 2
PoV Ray R3.73
7zip Compression Benchmark
Wprime 32M and 1024M
SuperPi 1M and 32M
Aida64 Cache & Memory
I think it’s safe to say the X99 Classified threw out some pretty impressive scores during our benchmark runs, especially when overclocked to 4.7 GHz. Where applicable, I went back and compared scores against the ASUS X99 Deluxe we used during our review of the i7 5960X CPU. Even with a slower set of memory installed on the X99 Classified, it pretty much swapped blows with the X99 Deluxe and actually beat it in several of these benchmarks. Impressive.
Pushing the Limits
At 4.9 GHz, I was able to get wPrime to finish both the 32M and 1024M runs. I also ran a quick SuperPi 1M just to see how fast it could finish at 4.9 GHz.
As far as memory overclocking goes, I was able to set the BCLK to 125 and get the memory set to 2750 MHz. Until EVGA provides a BIOS that works with 2800 MHz memory and above, that’s about all you can expect for now. I expect support for 2800 MHz to happen sooner rather than later.
The EVGA X99 Classified gives any enthusiast the tools they need to get the most from their Haswell-E Processor. While overclocking the i7 5960X to 4.9 GHz, the X99 Classified was eager to please and capable of pushing it as far as it would go. You’re more than likely going to reach the overclocking limit of your CPU long before this motherboard gets in your way.
Dual M.2 ports, dual Intel LAN ports, a triple BIOS switch, and a Creative Core3D audio solution are just a few of the items that make the X99 Classified an attractive option. The UEFI BIOS is well laid out, easy to understand, and has all the options we’d expect to see in an enthusiast level motherboard.
As far as performance goes, it threw out some great benchmark scores and was right on par with other X99 offerings we’ve tested. Running the memory at 2400 MHz had little to no impact when compared to another X99 system that was using 3000 MHz memory. Nothing at all to complain about on the performance front.
EVGA does have a little work to do on memory support for 2800 MHz and above, and the E-LEET desktop utility still needs updating to fully support the X99 platform. I suspect both of these issues will be fixed rather quickly as EVGA has told us they are indeed working on those issues.
Pricing on the X99 Classified is $399.99 at Newegg, which is right where I thought it would land. That seems to be where most EVGA Classified motherboards are priced when first released. There are probably a dozen or so X99 motherboards all priced within $50 of each other, so it boils down to picking one with the performance and features you’re looking for. The X99 Classified definitely has the performance and features that justify the price.