Today we have a chance to look at another EVGA X99 based board. Instead of their more than formidable flagship Classified that Lvcoyote reviewed, this time we get to look at a more mainstream offering in the FTW. This model offers plenty of features for the gamer and for the heavy overclocker, so don’t let that label fool you. Let’s hunker down and take a look at what the EVGA X99 FTW has to offer!
Specifications and Features
Below is a list of specifications sourced from the EVGA website. At a high level, we see the board supports up to 4-way SLI/CFX (don’t forget to use a 5960X/5930K with more integrated PCIe lanes!), 128 GB DDR4 capacity across x8 DIMMs, a total of 14 USB ports (x8 USB2 and x6 USB3), 10 total SATA3 ports, two Intel Gb Ethernet, 7 total fan headers, and the latest Realtek ALC1150 CODEC among other things. Please see the table below for more details.
|EVGA X99 FTW Key Specs|
|Graphics Slot Arrangement||
Below is a list of features EVGA would like to share about the X99 FTW (images from EVGA website).
The first item of note would be the revised GUI BIOS, which they say focuses on functionality. I must admit, most everything one needs, ok, I need, is really right there for you.
Next is the E-LEET tuning utility. When this item works, and it does not seem to on the X99 platform at this time, it does a solid job. But again, when it works. Though this is a mainstream board, to not have a functioning windows overclocking utility is a bit concerning. In fact, it doesn’t work on this platform at all at the moment. Hopefully they come through soon with a fix.
In order to overclock and keep things cool, EVGA uses anl International Rectifier based controller and MOSFET 8-phase power delivery solution. These are higher quality parts that we usually see on higher end boards, so its nice to see it in the mainstream too. EVGA also uses an 8-layer PCB to improve overclocking stability and cooling. Last up on the hardware/overclocking side of things is the socket, which EVGA states contains a 1.5X higher gold content for lower inductance and better power delivery.
A few of what I call ‘great to have’ features start with the PCIe DIP switches that help troubleshooting any PCIe device by easily disabling the slot. Another is dual bios support so you can flash to and fro worry free as well as use two different profiles. The right angled 24 pin power lead on the board is a nice touch to help with wire management, and the debug LED also doubles as a temperature gauge. Last but not least is the passive heatsink on the PCH allowing for silent operation versus others that may unnecessarily put fans on it.
Moving on to the retail packaging, we see EVGA’s typical black base with the chipset in large red letters and the “FTW” model name below it. Flipping the box around it shows some pictures of the board itself, some key features and specifications, and a screenshot of the updated BIOS. Per usual, there isn’t too much to see on the sides or the top but for more features.
Once inside the box, you are presented with the accessory stack up top with a thin cardboard partition separating it from the board. The board sits in an anti-static bag and some padding underneath.
Below is a shot of the included accessories all wrapped up. Plenty of things to get you going in a lot of configurations. Here is the list of what’s included:
- Driver Installation disk with E-LEET software
- Rear case I/O panel
- Rear case I/O cover
- 1 Probelt Cable
- 6 SATA 6G Data Cables
- 2-way SLI Bridge
- 3-way SLI Bridge
Meet the EVGA X99 FTW
Ok, ok, enough with my chatter and the retail packaging… here is the board! As expected, we see a black PCB with black DIMMs and red highlights via the five PCIe slots and six of the SATA ports. The specifications stated we would see a total of eight DIMM slots flanking the large CPU socket area and they are correct. What was a surprise is the bare Realtek IC for the audio on the left hand side. I am surprised as a lot of board makers are covering these up for better EMI protection and improving the sound. I can’t say it made much of a difference with it gone in my environment anyway, but a lot of times the difference is measurable but not heard. Overall, I like this look and it should be easy to fit such a board in a lot of themed builds.
There isn’t ever too much to see on the back side of the board, and that trend will continue with this board. About the only thing worth noting is seeing that all five PCIe slots have full electrical x16 capabilities.
A Closer Look
Zooming in on things a bit, we will start with the bottom half of the board. On the left hand side we again see the audio section. Nothing too special here in the way of caps or as mentioned above, even a covered audio chip. But there she is, the Realtek ALC1150 CODEC ready to pump some sound to your speakers or cans.
Next is the PCIe slot configuration that includes from top to bottom, four PCIe x16 slots, a 1x slot, and the fifth x16 slot on the bottom. SLI/CFx configurations are as follows, 1×16, 2×16, 3×8, 4×8. This is of course with a 5930K or greater that provides more PCIe lanes than the entry level CPU for this platform, the 5820K.
As we keep sliding over the right, we can see the large PCH heatsink with the “E” from EVGA’s logo gracing the top of it, and then a top down shot of the ten SATA ports on the board.
Surprisingly, one glaring omission on this board is a M.2 slot. A lot of the new boards, both Z97 and X99 alike, are using these. They are seemingly becoming more popular, so if you want to go that route for your SSD form factor, you will have to step up to the Classified.
In the upper right hand quadrant, we can see one bank of the eight total DDR4 memory slots supporting up to a whopping 128 GB. Down in this picture we see the PCIe DIP switches, BIOS switch, the neat 90 degree angled 24-pin power lead, LED debug/temperature display, voltage read points, and last but not least, the reset, power and CMOS reset buttons. With the voltage read point, EVGA includes a set of cables to plug in there, which should makes things a bit easier to monitor.
Around the socket area, we can see the large Lotes bracket to hold down the monster 2011-3 CPU. You can also catch a glimpse of some of the MOSFETs there, and the International Rectifier driven power delivery area. Outside of the caps up top, its pretty clean and easy to insulate if you want to go sub ambient. On the other side of that nifty looking heatsink is an 8-pin power lead for the CPU.
Below you can check out the gratuitous amount of SATA ports EVGA has slapped down on the board. All ten are native to the chipset with the six red being able to support RAID (0,1,5,10, JBOD) and four black do not. Across the bottom of the board from left to right, there is a 6-pin PCIe plug to help feed power to the PCIe slots, which is needed for multi-GPU setups. Also located here are the front panel audio, speaker, and fan headers, front panel USB2 and USB3 connectors, and your case wiring headers. The rear I/O area has, from left to right, x2 USB2 ports, CMOS reset button, four more USB2 ports, the first Intel NIC and two USB3 ports, the second Intel NIC and x2 more USB3 ports. To the right of that is the audio section complete with optical.
Listed below are a few of the IC’s doing the work behind the scenes, making this board hum!
- Audio – Realtek ALC1150
- Super I/O – Fintek F&1889AD
- IR 3563B – 8 Phase PWM controller for CPU
- IR 3550M – MOSFETs for CPU (60A)
- IR 3570B – Controller for Memory
- IR 3553M – MOSFETs for Memory (40A)
- WGI210x – Intel NIC (Not pictured the WGI 217X for the other NIC)
UEFI BIOS, Overclocking Software
Moving on to EVGA’s UEFI BIOS, we see that they did a little tweaking from their last chipset, but not terribly much. It is still a basic black backround with teal accents around top middle, which gives you information on the current clock speed and amount of active cores/HT. Across the top, it shows which memory slots are populated, their capacity, speed and voltage (CPU voltage too). On the top right hand side, the display shows you which PCIe slots are populated and its speed. Below that information are the VRM and CPU temps.
As you likely have seen already, the BIOS starts out in the Overclocking tab (more details below), next would be memory (also more details on this below), Advanced which has your CPU/SATA/PCIe/USB/Network/Power Management options. The Boot tab I would have to imagine is self explanatory, and last is Save and Exit tab to hold your BIOS profiles and an area where you can update the BIOS.
The next picture is within the advanced section and the hardware monitoring and adjustments. The readout is pretty basic in what it covers, but it has what is needed. Following that and the last picture in this slideshow is a detailed look at the SATA section.
Below, I chopped out the overclocking parts of the BIOS. The first and second screen is the entire Overclock tab with all the overclocking options you need. The next three snaps are of the Memory tab in its entirety. There are tons of secondary and tertiary settings to play with here folks. The last picture is of the CPU advanced section under the Advanced tab. Here is where you would change the settings for the C-States when overclocking. Everything you to need to push your CPU to its limit is within reach in these few screens.
Overclocking Software – E-LEET
This section is going to be a bit anti climatic. Those who have used EVGA motherboards in the past few years are likely aware of their windows monitoring and overclocking application, E-LEET. E-LEET is a great utility that controls just about everything one would need for overclocking or pushing the limits from within windows. The kicker here is, that it does not yet work with the X99 platform. That is pretty disappointing regardless if there are workarounds… but such is life being on the bleeding edge of a new platform. Hopefully a BIOS release or something fixes this issue. Below is a picture of the program from another chipset.
Test Setup, Benchmarks, and Overclocking
Listed below is the test system used for benchmarking:
|CPU||Intel 5820K @ Stock (for the motherboard) and 4.5GHz Overclocked|
|Motherboard||EVGA X99 FTW|
|RAM||4×4 GB Kingston HyperX DDR4-3000 15-16-16-39 1.35v|
|Graphics Card||Galax GTX 970 HOF|
|Solid State Drive||64 GB OCZ Agility 3|
|Power Supply||SeaSonic SS-1000XP (80+ Platinum)|
|Operating System||Windows 7 x64 SP1|
AIDA64 and MaxxMEM – Memory Bandwidth and Throughput
Cinebench R11.5 and R15 – CPU Rendering Benchmark
Super Pi 1M and 32M / Pifast – Single threaded CPU benchmark
WPrime 32M and 1024M – Multi threaded CPU benchmark
So there we have it. One thing you may have noticed if you were paying attention to the results above is that unlike my past two X99 motherboard reviews, the memory bandwidth in AIDA64 is normal. It seems that the EVGA X99 FTW plays nice with this set of Kingston memory and I am actually getting the results I should! You can see more on that in the graph below, but it was worth mentioning out of the gate for those that follow my motherboard/memory reviews.
Moving on and comparing the other two boards to the FTW, as expected we do not see too much of a difference here. Super Pi results are right there, but WPrime is slower by around 2%, while Pifast comes in right where it should.
The next grouping is for Cinebench R11.5, R15, and AIDA64. The Cinebench results fall right in line with the other boards. Now, as mentioned above, the AIDA64 results are NOW where they should be. Enough of blaming the ram/Kingston, it seems that the problem was with the two boards I tried in some way, shape or form. Anyway, look up at the 4.5GHz results above, and look at the huge differences we see here.
Pushing the Limits
This was about all I could do and be stable enough to run these benchmarks with all the cores lit up. I could only manage a 32M run of WPrime as the 1024M would bork out in the middle of it. I bet with more voltage than I would like to put into this chip under water, it would make it as I had some temperature headroom believe it or not. I was hitting around 78C (19C ambient room). But anyway, there she is, 4.74GHz of six core thunder!
And there you have it folks, the EVGA X99 FTW landed here with me anxiously waiting for it. I love the look of the EVGA boards and have been pleased with all that I have used thus far. The X99 based FTW was no exception. Navigation inside the UEFI was easy and intuitive. I like that the vast majority of overclocking options one needs is all in one section and the rest of the configuration options are just a tab away, giving it a pretty ergonomic feel.
Overclocking was a breeze and the board didn’t fight with me in the least. I have no doubts due to the quality hardware used in the power delivery area, all those IR parts, that any ambient overclock would be a breeze. On the overclocking and monitoring side of things, E-LEET is still not working on this platform, and I don’t think on Z97 still. Here is to hoping EVGA gets that working again as it was a pretty useful and stable windows based overclocking/monitoring utility.
As far as pricing goes, you can find this board at newegg.com for $288.99. This puts it right in the super populated middle of the pack… or maybe even lower middle end as there are some pricey boards out there. This puts it right up against ASRock Extreme 6/ac, Gigabyte UD5, and the Fatality X99X Killer I reviewed. About the only outstanding difference between these boards for this conversation is the lack of an M.2 slot while the other boards I listed, priced several dollars less to several dollars more, all have it included. So if you were planning on using that type of connector, you will have to look elsewhere. That curious omission aside, the price does fall well within reason for what you are getting with this board.
Overall the board gave me no trouble and was easy to work with. The only real drag about the X99 FTW was that E-LEET isn’t working at this time. That aside, there is no reason the EVGA X99 FTW shouldn’t be at the top of your list of options for a moderately priced X99 based board. This has been Overclockers.com approved!
Joe Shields (Earthdog)