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EVGA P55 FTW

P55 On Boost: Five LGA 1156 Boards Between $200 And $250
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With a Web price starting at around $200, EVGA’s P55 FTW makes incremental improvements compared to its previously tested P55 SLI without breaking the bank.

As a board marketed primarily towards overclockers, the biggest advancement of the P55 FTW might be its 14-phase CPU power regulator that EVGA rates at 600W peak output. That’s more than even an eight-pin CPU power connector can supply, so EVGA also adds a second eight-pin EPS12V connector.

While the P55 FTW look nearly identical to its less expensive sibling, the biggest change hardcore gamers will notice is the slot order. SLI and CrossFire come to the LGA 1156 processors by splitting their 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes across two slots, and EVGA rearranges those slots so that they are four spaces apart. Unlike the P55 SLI, the P55 FTW puts the four-lane x16 slot in the middle, so that SLI and CrossFire users who need only graphics cards will get the maximum cooling space between them.

EVGA is the only company in today’s roundup to support both LGA 1156 and LGA 775 coolers, giving extreme-overclocking gurus a great reason not to modify their custom LN2 pots or oversized water blocks. LGA 1156 has a slightly shorter installation height that prevents solid-mount LGA 775 coolers, such as Swiftech’s Apogee Drive, from providing proper contact pressure, so the second set of mounting holes should only be used with spring-loaded mounting mechanisms.

EVGA includes a gadget called EVGA Control Panel Version 2 (ECP V2) that extends several motherboard features beyond the motherboard’s surface via cables. Included are power, reset, CLR_CMOS, two core-voltage, and one uncore-voltage (labeled VTT) buttons, a numeric status display, and a set of jumpers for disabling individual PCIe slots. Each voltage button adds 100mV when engaged. That last feature is supposed to be handy in case an overclocked video card prevents a system boot, but what isn’t as handy is that the module itself has no provisions for front-panel mounting.

Other than the changes noted above, there isn’t much to say about the P55 FTW that hasn’t already been said of the P55 SLI in its review. Both boards strive to be nearly legacy-free, yet both include a single PS/2 port that we still occasionally use, and with the exception of the altered slot order, both have the same layout.

BIOS

The P55 FTW continues EVGA’s good overall BIOS layout while adding more reference- and signal-voltage controls. The bottom of the frequency/voltage controls page features a menu for saving custom configurations to a protected portion of the BIOS IC as any of four user profiles.

Automatic configuration per setting eases the alteration of the most familiar memory timings.

Accessories

EVGA includes four SATA cables and a single SLI bridge in an installation kit that stands out mostly for its control module.

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