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EVGA’s lineup for the Intel Z490 platform consists of the DARK and FTW WiFi. The DARK was designed with extreme overclockers and serious enthusiasts in mind. However, if you’re after a more conventional, but still feature-rich gaming motherboard, then the FTW is worth taking a look at. Even though the DARK is their flagship motherboard, EVGA hasn’t overlooked the FTW in terms of overclocking support tools and features. We obtained a sample of the Z490 FTW and we’d like to give you the tour and show you why makes it a worthwhile consideration for your next build.
Specifications and Features
Intel’s new 10th generation LGA 1200 processor supports up to 10 cores and 20 threads with hyper-threading. We started to see very over-powered VRM’s on mainstream motherboards back with the introduction of Intel’s Sandy Bridge microprocessors, but with just 4 cores they didn’t utilize all of the available power on top boards. Fast forward 8 generations to the Comet Lake microarchitecture and we finally see the real need for large VRM’s. Intel’s current mainstream flagship CPU, the 10900K, can draw over 400W from the wall running heavy stress programs such as Prime 95 with a stock CPU. Introduce overclocking and the need for big power delivery becomes apparent.
With a highly efficient 14-phase digital VRM (8 of which are devoted to the CPU) the EVGA FTW is capable of delivering more than enough power to push the 10900K and overclock it as well. The core VRM uses Intersil ISL99227BFRZ-T, which is a 60A single power stage. It features the Intersil ISL6617A phase doubler, which is a smart component that has an added benefit of output balancing for maximum efficiency. The total rated output capacity is 480 amps. With a voltage of 1.40 V, the maximum capability of the core VRM is about 672W, which is more than adequate to power any current CPU that fits in the socket.
Using a stock 10900K, the motherboard and CPU combined can draw over 400W from the wall while running Prime 95 Small FFT. As expected, the VRM will produce substantial heat from extended CPU loads. To deal with it, the FTW implements two very large aluminum heat sinks. With a combined weight of 266 grams and a finned design to increase surface area, the heat sink system appears to be adequate to handle the load, but we’ll take a closer look at that later on.
The story of this board is not just about power delivery. It comes with a few excellent features that overclockers and enthusiasts can appreciate. Up near the 24-pin connector is an overclocking command center of sorts. The highlight of this zone consists of a dual LED display, that displays the POST code and after POST has finished it displays the current temperature or voltage in real-time. In addition to the multi-use display are power/reset buttons and a conveniently located USB port for updating the BIOS and general use.
For memory capability, the FTW has 4 DIMM slots running in dual-channel. There is a combined limit of 128 GB, which is more than enough for a normal desktop motherboard. The memory is rated to run up to 4400 Mhz, we will surely put this to the test later on as well and see how far we can push it.
In terms of PCIe slots, the board is equipped with two full-length PCIe 3.0 x16 slots all of which are x16 electrical and share bandwidth from the CPU as x16/x0 and x8/x8. Both of the slots are reinforced and soldered to the motherboard for added strength and EMI shielding. They’ve also included a single PCIe 3.0 x4 slot which shares bandwidth from the PCH. For M.2 expansion slots, we have two 22110 length slots that accept M-Key storage devices.
For a full list of the specifications, see the table below.
|CPU||Supports Core i9 / i7 / i5 / i3 (10th Gen, LGA 1200)|
|Memory||4 DIMM Dual-Channel supports up to 128 GB 4400+ MHz|
1 x DisplayPort 1.2
1 x HDMI 1.4
|Expansion Slots|| 3 x PCIe 3.0 x16 slots|
1 x PCIe 3.0 x1 slot
|Multi-GPU Support||2-way Nvidia SLI, 2-way AMD Crossfire|
|Storage||4 x SATA 6Gb/s ports|
2 x SATA 6 Gb/s ports from ASMedia 1061
2 x M.2 Key-M (Up to 32 Gbps)
1 x M.2 Key-E 32 mm (Vertical)
1 x Intel i219-V Gigabit Ethernet
Ethernet Teaming Supported
1 x Intel WiFi 6/ BT 5.1 module, preinstalled M.2 Key-E 32 mm Slot
|Audio||7.1 Channel Realtek + EVGA NU Audio|
Audio Controller: Realtek ALC1220 + SV3H615
4 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Port/Controller
6 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Port/Controller
5 x USB 2.0 Port/Controller
|Fan Headers||7 x 4-Pin (2 x CPU PWM, 5 x PWM/DC)|
|Form Factor||ATX Form Factor|
|Price||$329.99 Newegg, Amazon|
We have also included a list of features sourced from the EVGA website:
Retail Packaging and Accessories
The EVGA FTW ships in a well-designed box with plenty of internal structure to keep the motherboard safe. On the outside, we find bold graphics on the front with highly-detailed motherboard information on the back. On the inside, the accessories ride on a cardboard shelf and do not contact the motherboard at all. At the bottom of the box, tucked away safe and snug in custom-designed foam support, and wrapped in an anti-static bag, we find the FTW.
- EVGA Quick Installation Guide
- Rear Case I/O Panel
- 2 x SATA3 6Gbps Data Cables
- 2 x M.2 Thermal Pad
- 2 x Antenna for WiFi
- Case Badge
- USB Flash Drive
+ Contains Driver and Manual
Meet the EVGA Z490 FTW
Amidst a plethora of glowing RGB LEDs and aluminum-clad motherboards featuring backplates and artfully crafted aluminum top plates, EVGA takes the FTW in a different direction. Many of the top companies have opted for an over-built look for their gaming and enthusiast-class motherboards, but the FTW is bare-bones in that regard.
You won’t find a backplate or integrated M.2 heat sinks here, the board is quite simplistic in terms of style. The PCH heat is dealt with by a humble flat-black aluminum heat sink with fins cut into it for extra cooling capacity. The VRM heat sink is composed of two pieces and is adequate, but not flashy. The IO covering is plastic and metal combined, which does class-up the overall look and adds a bit of style. However, we found it to be incredibly flimsy and held on with two small screws. If you pick up the motherboard by the IO cover, it will certainly break.
For RGB lighting there are 5 unique ARGB LEDs under the PCH heat sink, which has been artfully cut to allow light to shine through. The overall look is very understated but still elegant in a circa 2015 sort of way. Motherboard style is admittedly very subjective but compared to other Z490 offerings in the same price range, we find the FTW to be a bit weak in the style department.
A Closer Look
The motherboard armor we so often see today is there for more than just style points. The large aluminum backplates often use pads which contact the underside of the MOSFETs and offer additional heat dissipation. Furthermore, they stabilize the PCB and protect it from bending or flexing. Enthusiasts are constantly tweaking their builds, removing and installing the motherboard in and out often can risk damaging sensitive BGA components such as the PCH. We are a little disappointed that a board of this caliber does not include any motherboard armor. Functionally speaking, the addition of M.2 heat sinks would have been nice for a board in this price range.
While it may not be a beauty queen by modern enthusiast standards, the FTW makes up for that with a powerful VRM and practical overclocking features. EVGA uses a dual BIOS with a mechanical switch to switch between them. This is an excellent feature for overclocking because you can easily switch BIOS’s and test different settings without touching your 24/7 stable overclock profile. Also seen below is the overclocking command center with power/reset buttons and the dual voltage/CPU temperature LED readout.
One thing we notice here is that the DIMM slots are a surface mount device or SMD. Being surface mount, this gives EVGA the opportunity to optimize the traces to the CPU, which in turn should help in memory overclocking, especially considering high frequency. Furthermore, we’d like to point out that the DIMM slots are the 2 lever style. This might be a featured appreciated by extreme overclockers, but for the normal enthusiasts and gamers, it might actually be a detriment. Dual-lever slots produce less wear and tear on memory modules, but they can make memory cumbersome to remove when a graphics card is installed in the first PCIe slot.
If you’d like a detailed view of some of the parts and components on this motherboard, see below.
UEFI BIOS and Overclocking Software
The greatest motherboard in the world would be a paperweight without an equally great BIOS and overclocking software to go with it. Powering up the motherboard for the first time, we are greeted with a nice 4-option menu.
- Enter Setup: Enter BIOS for manual overclocking and general configuration
- Default Mode: Restore BIOS defaults and restart the system.
- Gamer Mode: Configures the BIOS with a basic per-calculated 4.9GHz overclock profile
- OC Robot: Runs an automatic stress testing program that tests the CPU and cooling method to determine a recommended overclocking set up for the given results. We ended up with a recommended overclock of 5.2 GHz @ 1.391 V core, which turned out to be too much voltage for the CPU, even with custom water cooling.
Navigating through the BIOS is easy, as all of the options are clearly defined and easy to understand with small descriptions. We recommend manual overclocking as the automatic solutions are a bit heavy-handed with voltage. On the far left is an extras section with two options to choose from. There’s a CPU stress test program that allows you to easily and quickly assess the stability of a potential CPU overclock before entering the OS. Lastly, through the extras menu, there’s a button to run the same OC Robot as seen on the home screen.
See below if you’d like to take a more detailed look at the BIOS.
Overclocking/Monitoring Software – EVGA ELEET X1
Test Setup and Performance
Here we take a slightly different approach to CPU testing with ours based on a lot of Hwbot.org benchmarks since that is what we are known for, overclocking and benchmarking. We use real-world testing as well with Cinebench, x265, POV-Ray, and 7Zip in order to give readers a good idea of the general performance of the product tested.
All testing is carried out with the CPU at stock settings. We start by restoriong BIOS defaults and then finally applying the XMP profile. In the case of the FTW, we needed to adjust the XMP timing profile because the board did not read it correctly. The point of the testing is to asses the out-of-box performance and see how the board’s compare at stock settings. Furthermore, the 2080Ti was run at stock settings aswell.
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi|
|CPU||Intel Core i9-10900K 10-Core|
|CPU Cooler||Alphacool Eisblock XPX + Custom Water Loop|
|Memory||T-Force Xtreem ARGB 2x 8 GB 3600MHz CL14-15-15|
|SSD||T-Force Cardea Zero Z340 1TB NVMe|
|Power Supply||Enermax MaxTytan 1250W|
|Video Card||EVGA GeForce RTX 2080 Ti K|NGP|N|
The EVGA Z490 FTW and EVGA 2080Ti Kingpin Edition in action!
AIDA64 – Memory Bandwidth and Throughput
|AIDA64 Cache and Memory Benchmark – Raw Data|
|EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi||53310||52467||48965||45.5|
|ASRock Z490 AQUA||52599||52087||49226||40.3|
AIDA64 – CPU Tests
|AIDA64 CPU Benchmark – Raw Data|
|EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi||132781||25101||1081||55886||4744|
|ASRock Z490 AQUA||132446||24929||1076||55885||4745|
AIDA64 – FPU Tests
|AIDA64 FPU Benchmark – Raw Data|
|EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi||11913||104187||54754||14788|
|ASRock Z490 AQUA||11913||104185||45754||14788|
|Cinebench R20/R15, POVRay, x265 (HWBot), 7Zip – Raw Data|
|EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi||6389||2697||5506||71.38||90950|
|ASRock Z490 AQUA||6397||2701||5492||71.79||91584|
Pi and Prime Based Tests
|SuperPi and wPrime Benchmarks – Raw Data|
|Motherboard||Spi 1M||SPi 32M||WPrime 32M||WPrime 1024M||Intel XTU|
|EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi||7.51||394.94||2.28||60.07||4037|
|ASRock Z490 AQUA||7.02||395.81||2.23||57.69||4084|
Across our testing, the difference between our two test boards was incredibly small. There were a few outliers, but in general, the scores and performance landed where we expected. Looking at the average for the Pi and Real-world tests, the ASRock Z490 AQUA came out ahead. However, in the AIDA64 read and write tests, the EVGA Z490 FTW was the clear leader. We were pleased to see almost perfectly matched scores in the AIDA64 FPU tests. Looking at the big picture for a stock CPU and XMP memory, the $329 FTW was evenly matched with the $1099 AQUA.
As with the performance tests, the margin of difference here is negligible. However, it’s worth pointing out that the FTW took the lead in both of our game tests, even if only by a couple of FPS – a negligible difference in the end.
Looking at the graph above, the difference between idle and load power is staggering. We measured over 400W for the Prime 95 tests, which is an astonishing amount of sustained power for a mainstream processor. With no active cooling, the FTW VRM heat sinks were very warm to the touch when running Prime 95. We would suggest as much airflow as possible if you intend to use this motherboard for high power draw conditions for extended periods of time.
*Please note: The wattage results above are the extreme worst-case scenario. The power draw numbers were generated using a KillAWatt p3 device and show the wattage for the entire motherboard, not just the CPU. To make the results as realistic as possible only the motherboard was powered up for the power consumption tests. All other support hardware such as the graphics card, liquid cooling pumps, and fans were powered with a separate power supply.
Overclocking the Z490 FTW is incredibly easy. The BIOS is very well laid out and straightforward to understand. For the CPU, simply apply the all-core frequency you desire and increase the voltage, it’s really that easy. Memory overclocking on the other hand is a very different story. Once you step outside of the XMP boundaries, things can get difficult very quickly. Unfortunately, there are no memory profiles stored in the BIOS to use as a baseline. That’s a feature rarely seen on mainstream motherboards, but we would like to see more of it in the future.
When the dust settled from our Samsung B-Die memory overclocking adventures, we ended up with an acceptable memory overclock. Using 1.50 vdimm, we were able to run 4400 MHz with CL16-18-18 and XMP sub-timings. The board is quite difficult to train memory and just about every train attempt caused it to hang on boot. In order to get it booting again, we had to use the safe-boot button, and on occasion, clear the CMOS. At this point, the BIOS is very early and has not had much time in the field for problems and fixes to occur. As time progresses we would expect the memory overclocking experience to improve.
Our CPU was stable running 5.2 GHz and the motherboard handled that exceptionally well. That high-quality 8-phase core VRM really showed it’s value here and didn’t produce much heat all due to the fact that Cinebench R20 and AIDA64 stress the CPU for less than a minute only.
The EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi came across as a well-appointed motherboard that’s feature-rich but its style is a bit behind the times. Style is subjective, however, and although it might be simplistic looking, it’s not an ugly looking board by any means. With an all-black matte finish, we found it quite attractive for what it is. To fit in better with the competition, we would have liked to see M.2 heat sinks, more integrated RGB lighting, and potentially some additional motherboard armor/shrouds on top. However, both boards in EVGA’s Z490 lineup are intentionally stripped-down and are purpose-built for enthusiasts who don’t want the myriad of RGB lights and motherboard armor in the first place.
In terms of overclocking, the FTW performed admirably. The VRM easily handled the i9-10900k and allowed us to overclock to 5.2 GHz with 24/7 stability in mind. The heat sinks did a great job of keeping the MOSFET temperature down and overall it proved to be a very stable power delivery system. In terms of memory overclocking, the motherboard is rated for 4400 MHz, which we did confirm is possible with tight timings. However, pushing the memory beyond 4400 MHz was not possible. We used exceptionally high-quality Samsung B-Die memory, which has been confirmed to run 5000 MHz in dual channel, but unfortunately, the FTW just hit a wall at 4400 MHz. The frequency limitation, coupled with the XMP detection failure leads us to conclude that the memory overclocking experience could use some improvements. Hopefully, new BIOS versions are able to remove this limit.
Looking at value, the FTW packs a lot in for the money, but could you do better? For $329.99, you’re getting a feature-rich board that is capable of pushing the 10900K to its limit, at least on water cooling. Shopping around a bit, we find the Gigabyte Aorus Ultra and Asus Strix-E feature with comparable specifications, but for around $30 less. However, those boards don’t have interesting overclocking features such as the dual-function LED display and internal USB port.
The VRM on this platform plays a big role, it’s more important now than it ever has been, and the FTW is equipped with a very capable one. Overall we like the board and we believe the extra overclocking features are well worth the price assuming that is your goal. If you’re looking for a competitively priced motherboard to push the 10900K to its limit, then we’d recommend the EVGA Z490 FTW.
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David Miller – mllrkllr88