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Is EVGA's X99 FTW K Motherboard Designed For Overclockers?

EVGA released its new X99 FTW K motherboard, which is targeted at the overclocking community. The motherboard has a number of attractive features that are important to system builders, but the board specs really don’t support EVGA’s claim that the board is “Engineered for the enthusiast.”

What’s Wrong With The Board?

In truth, the board is capable of overclocking and will likely be used as such by some enthusiasts, but EVGA’s description oversells the X99 FTW K. On an enthusiast overclocking motherboard, the power regulation system is probably the most vital component. High-end overclocking motherboards have numerous power phases with beefy heatsinks. The heatsinks are often cooled by fluid-filled pipes, and it is not uncommon for OEMs to include fans to further help keep the power system cool.

The X99 FTW K, though, has just eight power phases covered by a relatively small heatsink. There isn’t any additional hardware included to help keep the power system cool. This is adequate for basic overclocking, but anyone looking to really push their CPU hard will want something akin to Asrock’s X99 Extreme4, which has 12 power phases, a larger heatsink and a lower cost.

Connectivity

Turning to the board’s other features, the X99 FTW K appears to really be designed more like a server or database motherboard. There is a total of 10 SATA-III ports to support a large number of high-capacity storage drives. EVGA added Key-M support for an ultra-fast SSD device as well, but there is only one of these ports; many competing boards offer two or three.

The X99 FTW K has one advantage compared to the other motherboards in EVGA’s product lineup in that it is the only X99 E-ATX board to feature USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) support. The board has two Type-C ports; one uses USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), and the other is USB 3.1 Gen 2. One of the many Type-A ports on the back of the board also uses USB 3.1 Gen 2.

EVGA X99 FTW K Motherboard
CPU SupportHaswell-E And Broadwell-E
ChipsetIntel X99 Express
RAM Support8 x DDR4, Up to 128 GB
Storage10 x SATA-III (6 Gbps)1 x M.2 (32 Gbps)
EthernetKiller E2400 NICIntel NIC
AudioRealtek ALC1150 HD Audio Codec
USB4 x USB 2.04 x USB 3.0 (3 x Type-A, 1 x Type-C)2 x USB 3.1 Gen 2 (1 x Type-A, 1 x Type-C)
PCI-E5 x PCI-E X161 x PCI-E x1
Price$299.99

Other Features

To help increase network performance, EVGA opted for two NICs--one is made Intel, and the other is a Killer E2400. The company also used a relatively high-end Realtek ALC1150 audio codec to provide a decent audio experience.

There are a few safety features, too, such as a dual-BIOS switch in case one of the BIOSes is damaged. There is also an LED debug light that doubles as a CPU temp monitor once the system has booted.

The EVGA X99 FTW K is available now from EVGA’s website for $299.99. Now that it has been released, it effectively replaces the older EVGA X99 FTW, which shared many of the same specs and had the same price, but lacked USB 3.1 support.

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  • Questors
    Wow! Not a kind overview at all. You might want to actually test it before you decide it's lacking, especially when you start comparing it to other boards. If test results prove the MB is lacking, fine, let us know in the review. Meanwhile in other news, as expected, independent benchmarks have determined the GTX 1080, while pretty awesome, doesn't provide double performance of a Titan X. It barely doubles a GTX 970. See what I did there? You can't judge the proverbial book by it's cover. Read it, then decide whether is was great or it horrible.
    AHA! I see what's going on! Tom's got scooped on the first review! Ego much?
    Reply
  • IInuyasha74
    Your reasoning is a little off here. Nvidia claimed it would double performance of the Titan X with the GTX 1080, but in a foot note it clarified that this was in a very specific workload. What Nvidia did was advertise its product using a statistic it came up with while testing its new card, it wasn't completely honest about the general performance of the GPU, but companies make these claims all the time and it really isn't surprising.

    That is completely different than what I did here, where I can actually see all of the parts on the board and get some idea of its abilities from that. The most basic concept about how power phases relate to overclocking potential, is that more power phases leads to better overclocking results. This is because all of the power phases on a board share the task of regulating voltage. Some of the power phases may be used for other components such as memory, PCI-E, the north bridge etc., but most are used for the CPU. If the power phases get too hot, it can lead to thermal throttling, which hampers performance. Because power phases share their work with each other, the effect of having more power phases is that less power needs to run for each individual phase, and thus they remain cooler. This helps to improve overall efficiency, power regulation, overclocking results and has other positive effects on the system.

    The simple fact of the matter is the more power phases a board has, the better at overclocking it is in general. Any board targeted as a high-end enthusiast overclocking motherboard should not limit itself to just 8.
    Reply
  • robustus64
    Correctamundo!
    Reply
  • RedJaron
    MJ, the MSI X99A Godlike Gaming is extended ATX and also has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 connector.

    EDIT: Sorry, I see that you meant this is the only EVGA board to meet that criteria.
    Reply
  • IInuyasha74
    17981888 said:
    MJ, the MSI X99A Godlike Gaming is extended ATX and also has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 connector.

    EDIT: Sorry, I see that you meant this is the only EVGA board to meet that criteria.

    Not a problem, thanks for keeping your eyes out for possible mistakes like that. We are part of the TH team after all.
    Reply
  • Papagiorgio
    I wonder if EVGA will update the top-end X99 Classified now - it is around two years old at this point.
    Reply
  • Lutfij
    MJ,
    in EVGA's defense there are instance where we've seen boards with fewer power phases perform better than boards that had almost 15%more power regulators. I would say if high quality power phases were used like that seen on Gigabyte's IR's then you can say that EVGA did their homework but in your defense, you seem to have the board in your possession and only you can say what the VRM looks like under that heatsink.
    Reply
  • Questors
    First, I wish to offer an apology for the "Ego much" comment. It was meant lighthearted, but certainly doesn't come across that way with the tone of the commentary.

    17988382 said:
    MJ,
    in EVGA's defense there are instance where we've seen boards with fewer power phases perform better than boards that had almost 15%more power regulators. I would say if high quality power phases were used like that seen on Gigabyte's IR's then you can say that EVGA did their homework but in your defense, you seem to have the board in your possession and only you can say what the VRM looks like under that heatsink.

    That was/is my reasoning as well. It is based on user experience, OC forum communities and articles I have read on sites like TH. I still believe the proof is in the pudding. Test it, review it, and print the results.

    This information is taken from the X99 FTW K brochure (PDF): The X99 FTW-K is built with an 8-layer Hybrid Black PCB, featuring a CPU socket with 150% higher Gold content powered by an Advanced 8-phase Digital VRM (IR3563B+IR3350), providing industry-leading stability for all your applications.
    My ASUS R5E also has an 8 phase digital power system and is an overclocker's dream.
    Reply