While MSI readies a dozen boards to compete in the Z170 motherboard market, EVGA plans for a precision strike, firing three boards at key market segments.
Want to know what EVGA has planned for its flagship Z170 motherboard? Well, it's classified, so if I tell you, I'd have to kill you. With that in mind, let's dive into the EVGA Z170 Classified. Like all new Z170 motherboards, these new boards from EVGA take advantage of DDR4 to provide increased bandwidth relative to the older DDR3 standard.
The Classified motherboard is in an E-ATX form factor, which might make it difficult to fit inside of some cases, but it provides extra space on the PCB to fit additional chipsets. Thanks to this, EVGA crammed in two Intel i219/i210 Gigabit Ethernet NICs, an additional two SATA 6 Gb/s ports powered by a Marvell 9220 chip, and two USB 3.1 ports controlled by an ASMedia ASM 1142 chipset. For the audio controller, EVGA opted for a Creative Sound Core3D chipset.
For onboard connectivity, EVGA added no less than five PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots and a PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot. As a result, the board is capable of supporting up to a four-way SLI setup. There are also two M.2 ports located on the board, allowing for fast SSD drives to be connected.
The motherboard is clearly designed for overclocking and high-end gaming. In addition to the plethora of PCI-E ports, there are EVGA heat pipes to cool the chipset and the copious VRMs surrounding the CPU. The board also sports dual 8-pin CPU power connectors. Both of these features are aimed at better cooling and regulating the power systems of the motherboard, which is vital when overclocking.
Moving on to EVGA's second place motherboard, the EVGA Z170 FTW, we see the form factor shrink a bit to the more conventional ATX size. The board loses a lot with this reduction in dimensions, but the feature set employed on this board just feels lacking compared to the Classified model. The LAN config drops to a single Intel i219 Gigabit Ethernet controller, and the audio chipset moves to an unknown Realtek unit. Although the board has just as many PCI-E slots, it drops one M.2 slot, two SATA ports, and USB 3.1 support.
Also lost in the transition is the more advanced chipset and VRM cooling features, as well as the second 8-pin power connection. This is still without a doubt a board meant for gaming, but it stands in the shadow of the much more feature-rich Classified motherboard.
The final motherboard that EVGA announced is the EVGA Z170 Stinger. This board is similar to the FTW board in features, but it moves to a much more confined mITX form factor. As a result, the board drops an additional two SATA 6 Gb ports and all PCI-E connectors, save for a single x16 slot. Both reductions in features are caused by the limited space available onboard. Fortunately, the M.2 slot is not amongst the features that were cut.
EVGA clearly is enacting a different strategy than other companies. While MSI, ASUS, ASRock and other companies have announced as many as 14 motherboards each, EVGA sends out only three to cover the market, attempting to spread them out to all areas of the Z170 market.
Currently, we don't have any pricing information from EVGA.