With the release of the Broadwell-E CPUs, like the 6950X we reviewed a few weeks ago, comes the time for motherboard partners to release their updates and pack in more features. In this article we are going to take a look at one of EVGA’s refreshes, the X99 FTW K. The K version brings with it some much needed updates in today’s motherboard landscape with Broadwell-E support out of the box and the addition of an M.2 slot and USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A and C like its mainstream brother, the Z170 chipset. There are also some changes on the network adapter side of things with dropping one Intel NIC to be replaced by the Killer E2400 NIC. Stick around for more details and performance comparisons later!
Specifications and Features
Picking off the specifications table below, the E-ATX sized board has eight DIMM slots supporting up to 128 GB of DDR4 memory at speeds over 3200 MHz (when overclocking). 4-Way SLI support is carried over from the original FTW model with configurations as follows: 1×16, 2×16, 3×8, or 4×8 with the appropriate CPU/PCIe lane count. The slot configuration is a bit different in the PCIe x1 connector moves between slots 1/2 in the “K” instead of slots (on the bottom) 4/5 on the original. There are ten total SATA ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 5, 10, and JBODs.
EVGA added USB3.1 Gen2 support with both the more familiar Type-A and the smaller Type-C. Another update is replacing one of the Intel NICs with the Killer E2400. I admit, I like the addition of the Killer NIC if only to give the user a choice of which to use. Along with the ten native SATA 6 Gb/s ports they have added an M.2 Socket M PCIe x4 32 Gbps supporting up to 110 mm lengths.
The additions really help reinvigorate the nearly two year old platform by adding the latest available features for peripheral, storage, and network.
|EVGA X99 FTW K|
|CPU||Intel® Core™ i7 Socket 2011-3|
|Chipset||Intel® X99 Express|
|Main Memory||8x DIMM Quad-Channel DDR4 3200 MHz+ (OC) (Up to 128 GB)|
|Multi-GPU Support||Supports 4-Way NVIDIA® SLI™ Technology|
|Expansion Slots||5x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots (1×16, 2×16, 3×8, or 4×8)|
1x PCIe 3.0 x1 slots
10x Native SATA 6.0 Gb/s Ports
|USB||2x USB 3.1 (1 Type-C, 1 Type-A)|
8x Native USB 3.0
8x USB 2.0 (Intel PCH and ASMedia 1042A)
|Audio||Realtek® ALC1150 Codec|
7.1-Channel High Definition Audio
Supports S/PDIF output
|LAN||1x Intel® Gigabit NIC (i-218v)|
1x Killer Gigabit NIC (Killer E2400 MAC+PHY)
|Back Panel I/O Ports||4x USB 2.0|
4x USB 3.0
1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A
2x Gigabyte LAN
8 Channel Audio + Optical PS/2 keyboard/ mouse port
|Internal I/O Connectors||2x USB 2.0 Header (4 Ports)|
2x USB 3.0 Header (4 Ports)
10x SATA 3/6G Ports
E-ATX Form Factor
Width: 10.375 in – 264 mm
On the EVGA website for the FTW K, they list several features they would like for you to be aware about. Picking out a few…
They have slightly updated the GUI BIOS again making it even more ergonomic and easy to use. Being a board with an overclocking pedigree, there are many features which are helpful when overclocking and benchmarking in the PCIe disable switches (aid in troubleshooting multi-gpu setups), more gold content in the CPU socket, 8-Layer PCB, EVGA’s E-Leet X Tuning Utility for tweaking and monitoring within Windows, Dual BIOS support for stress free BIOS flashing, the EZ voltage read points which are critical when extreme overclocking as well as troubleshooting, and finally an 8-phase PWM section for plenty of clean stable power delivered to the CPU.
The right angle 24 pin ATX power lead is a great aesthetic add and unique among other motherboard partners. This really helps with cable management and the look of the board. The debug LED not only informs you of where the board is at/hung in the POST process, when it completes, it will display the CPU temperature. Last up is the addition of the Killer E2400 NIC in place of one of the Intel NICs. People have a love/hate relationship with the Killer NIC. As I said earlier, it is good to have a choice if that happens to be a make or break item when choosing a motherboard.
For more details, please check out their website!
Retail Packaging and Accessories
Below are our first shots of the retail packaging for the X99 FTW K. In typical EVGA fashion, the packaging is black along with the lighter grey/silver letters naming the model hiding inside. The big difference here is the large “K” on the front for the addition of the Killer E2400 NIC is red instead of the X99 portion on the original packaging. Flip the box around and on the back you see key features and specifications.
When you open up the package, you are greeted with another box. Inside that box the first light to reach your eyes comes in the form of the accessories resting on a cardboard partition above the motherboard. The motherboard sits protected underneath. Very typical packaging… no worries on this front.
A Closer Look
One of the first differences you may have noticed between the X99 FTW and the FTW K are the PCIe slots coloring. On the non “K”, these slots are red, while on the “K”, they are all black. The same goes for the SATA ports in that the top six were red, but now on the “K”, they are all black. The only red on the “K” is on the VRM heatsink (was black/grey on the non “K”). The passive PCH heatsink sporting the EVGA “E” carried over but has a different sticker on the FTW K.
We see a total of five full length PCIe slots along with one PCIe x1 slot which now sits between slots 1/2 because of the added M.2 support. The eight pin CPU power lead sits above the 8-phase VRM heatsink and CPU and between the eight DIMM slots. There are several fan headers scattered throughout the board so fan control via the BIOS should not be an issue.
Another difference between the two boards are the separated audio section (LED in between to note separation) from the rest of the board. It still uses the popular and more-than-adequate-for-most ALC1150 codec. The x16 PCIe slots remain in the same orientation with only the x1 slot moved up to the top to make room for the M key M.2 connection/drives between slots 4 and 5. That M.2 slot will support up to a 110 mm drive so there are no worries on length restrictions.
Sliding to the upper right hand part of the board where four/half of the DIMM slots reside (total of eight supporting up to 128 GB of DDR4), we can see more clear shots (from L to R) of the PCIe DIP switches to enable/disable PCIe slots for troubleshooting and benchmarking purposes, the dual BIOS switch, followed by the 90 degree curved 24 pin ATX power lead. Continuing our journey to the right (top) of the motherboard you will see the debug LED, EZ Voltage Read points, as well as the power/reset/CMOS buttons, and a couple of PWM fan headers (CPU and System).
Next are pictures of the back I/O showing its slew of USB ports, both 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and C, the dual Intel/Killer E2400 NIC combo, as well as the Realtek ALC1150 audio stack with its optical port. The picture to the right shows the ten SATA 6 Gbp/s ports. Notice there is not an U.2 connector here. I would have like to have seen one of those on this class of board if only for another storage connectivity option.
After taking off the heatsink around the power delivery area, we are greeted with a total of eight phases. This should be plenty for ambient overclocking particularly considering these are of the higher quality International Rectifier parts. Though admittedly, I would have liked to have seen more on this class of board. Time will tell if that is an issue, but I would expect not on any ambient overclocks.
Below you will see a slideshow of EVGA’s UEFI BIOS implementation. Not much has changed from our last EVGA review really. It is the same black on grey with some sea foam blue mixed in. Across the top you have more of a system summary with the core speed, number of RAM sticks populated, as well as CPU/Memory voltages, and finally, VRM and CPU temperatures. The Memory tab goes into voltage, speed, and timing levels (quite deep). The Advanced tab is where one would set options on the board for SATA, USB, and the the NIC cards among other things. The Boot menu is pretty self explanatory where one would edit the boot order. Last is the Save and Exit screen. Tons of options here folks, we only scratched the surface.
Next, for the overclockers, are more slides of the overclocking section as well as the secondary and tertiary memory timings. This BIOS won’t get in the way of tweaking your CPU or memory!
Test Setup and Results
|CPU||Intel i7 6950X|
|CPU Cooler||Custom Loop with EK LTZ CPU Block, Swiftech MCP655 Vario,|
Swiftech MCR320 + PA 120.2, 3x Yate Loon High @ 1K RPM
|Motherboard||EVGA X99 FTW K|
|RAM||GSkill Trident Z 4×8 GB DDR4- 3.2K 14-14-14-34 @ 3K MHz 15-15-15-35|
|Graphics Card||AMD R7 260|
|Hard Drive||Intel 750 Series 400GB SSD|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic Platinum-1000|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Pro x64 (Fully Updated)|
Cinebench R11.5 and R15
x265 1080p Benchmark (Hwbot)
Super Pi 1M/32M
This is our second X99 motherboard we tested while using the mighty 6950X so we have the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon to compare it with. Both boards are priced similarly enough so its a fair look at each.
With past reviews we know that the difference between motherboards for the average user is really within a margin of error type variance. Nothing has changed here in these multi-threaded tests. The “biggest” lead the FTW K held was a whopping 1% difference in this set of benchmarks (multi-threaded productivity type benchmarks). A virtual tie in this for this kind of testing.
We moved on to more canned benchmarks in the second graph and here it was not much different honestly. The EVGA showed a 1.5% advantage over the MSI in Intel XTU, otherwise it was 1% or less difference win or lose. Pretty typical results…being so close together.
Last are the AIDA64 Memory Bandwidth tests. For this testing I used the same sticks as in the 6950X review on the MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon. Set XMP and away we went! In this test the FTW K did show more than negligible improvements over the MSI board ranging from about 1-3%. The raw data is presented below.
|AIDA64 Memory Benchmarks – Raw Data|
|EVGA X99 FTW K||64468||68593||67418||56.5|
|MSI X99A Gaming Pro Carbon||66568||64543||65491||56.5|
Pushing the Limits
As is always the fun part for me, I got a chance to lean into this 10 core, 20 thread monster a bit and pump out some benchmarks. I managed to hit 4.5 GHz with the GSkill 4×8 GB DDR4 3200 MHz we received for review using its XMP profile. At 1.37 V it was stable enough to get through Cinebench R15, Hyper Pi, Super Pi 32M, and both WPrime tests. That 8-phase power setup held its own throughout the benchmarking never really getting more than warm to the touch. No worries there!
The 6950X I have seems like an above average CPU from the samples I have run across. Silicon lottery states that 19% of their samples were Realbench stable at 4.4 GHz 1.344 V (and they sell for $1999.00!!). I didn’t bother to bench it at 4.4 GHz 1.344 V, but I will try that out soon and can report back.
It is pretty clear the board could handle this overclock without issue. It doesn’t have an overkill VRM, but the eight phases didn’t flinch at these clocks, nor would I expect it to much higher. Intel has made overclocking the CPU a piece of cake it was set a set XMP, set CPU multiplier and VCore, then go for 24/7 clocks like these. You can certainly have some fun messing with the BCLK and memory though!
EVGA’s X99 FTW K board builds on the solid product the non “K” version is and adds some new modern features with out of the box with Broadwell-E support, PCIe x4 32 Gbp/s M.2 slot, USB 3.1 G2 Type-A and C connectivity, and swaps out an Intel NIC for the Killer E2400. There are slight changes to the appearance of the board to set it apart from its namesake to the tune of a lot less red and more black (SATA and PCIe ports). Overall, I feel it is an improved look and certainly welcome additions making it relevant for today’s technologies (though it does not have a U.2 port, note).
Pricing on the X99 FTW K is currently sitting at $299.99 at the EVGA webstore, which puts it on the mid-range for X99 motherboards. There are a slew of other boards around it with varying features, more and less. Please make sure you take a look at your needs before making a choice. If the EVGA X99 FTW K has what you are looking for feature-wise, you have a very well-rounded board for a gamer, and an overclocker, which should put the X99 FTW K high on your list in that price bracket.
– Joe Shields (Earthdog)