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EVGA Z170 Classified Review

Skylake processors offer great per-core performance and overclocking capability, but only have sixteen PCIe 3.0 lanes for graphics. EVGA has a solution, but is it worth the added cost?

How We Test & Results

How We Test

Test System Components

We’re using our standardized test system, minus its LGA 2011 motherboard, CPU and DDR4-2400, to measure the performance of every LGA 1151 test board. Replacements for those parts include today’s Z170 Classified motherboard, Intel’s Core i7-6700K, and G.Skill’s overclockable Ripjaws V DDR4-3600.

Drivers

GraphicsGeForce 353.30
ChipsetIntel INF 10.0.27

Benchmark Suite

Synthetics
3DMark 11Version: 1.0.5.0, Benchmark Only
3DMark ProfessionalVersion: 1.2.250.0 (64-bit), Fire Strike Benchmark
PCMark 8Version: 1.0.0 x64, Full Test
SiSoftware SandraVersion 2014.02.20.10, CPU Test = CPU Arithmetic / Multimedia / Cryptography, Memory Bandwidth Benchmarks
Games
Battlefield 4Version 1.0.0.1, DirectX 11, 100-sec. Fraps "Tashgar"Test Set 1: Medium Quality Preset, No AA, 4X AF, SSAOTest Set 2: Ultra Quality Preset,  4X MSAA, 16X AF, HBAO
Grid 2Version 1.0.85.8679, Direct X 11, Built-in BenchmarkTest Set 1: High Quality, No AATest Set 2: Ultra Quality, 8x MSAA
Arma 3Version 1.08.113494, 30-Sec. Fraps "Infantry Showcase"Test Set 1: Standard Preset, No AA, Standard AFTest Set 2: Ultra Preset, 8x FSAA, Ultra AF
Far Cry 3V. 1.04, DirectX 11, 50-sec. Fraps "Amanaki Outpost"Test Set 1: High Quality, No AA, Standard ATC, SSAOTest Set 2: Ultra Quality, 4x MSAA, Enhanced ATC, HDAO
Applications
Adobe After Effects CCVersion 12.0.0.404: Create Video which includes 3 Streams, 210 Frames, Render Multiple Frames Simultaneosly
Adobe Photoshop CCVersion 14.0 x64: Filter 15.7MB TIF Image: Radial Blur, Shape Blur, Median, Polar Coordinates
Adobe Premeire Pro CCVersion 7.0.0 (342), 6.61 GB MXF Project to H.264 to H.264 Blu-ray, Output 1920x1080, Maximum Quality
iTunesVersion 11.0.4.4 x64: Audio CD (Terminator II SE), 53 minutes, default AAC format
Lame MP3Version 3.98.3: Audio CD "Terminator II SE", 53 min, convert WAV to MP3 audio format, Command: -b 160 --nores (160 kb/s)
Handbrake CLIVersion: 0.99: Video from Canon Eos 7D (1920x1080, 25 FPS) 1 Minutes 22 SecondsAudio: PCM-S16, 48000 Hz, 2-Channel, to Video: AVC1 Audio: AAC (High Profile)
TotalCodeStudio 2.5Version: 2.5.0.10677: MPEG-2 to H.264, MainConcept H.264/AVC Codec, 28 sec HDTV 1920x1080 (MPEG-2), Audio: MPEG-2 (44.1 kHz, 2 Channel, 16-Bit, 224 kb/s), Codec: H.264 Pro, Mode: PAL 50i (25 FPS), Profile: H.264 BD HDMV
ABBYY FineReaderVersion 10.0.102.95: Read PDF save to Doc, Source: Political Economy (J. Broadhurst 1842) 111 Pages
Adobe Acrobat 11Version 11.0.0.379: Print PDF from 115 Page PowerPoint, 128-bit RC4 Encryption
Autodesk 3ds Max 2013Version 15.0 x64: Space Flyby Mentalray, 248 Frames, 1440x1080
BlenderVersion: 2.68A, Cycles Engine, Syntax blender -b thg.blend -f 1, 1920x1080, 8x Anti-Aliasing, Render THG.blend frame 1
Visual Studio 2010Version 10.0, Compile Google Chrome, Scripted
WinZipVersion 18.0 Pro: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to ZIP, command line switches "-a -ez -p -r"
WinRARVersion 5.0: THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to RAR, command line switches "winrar a -r -m3"
7-ZipVersion 9.30 alpha (64-bit): THG-Workload (1.3 GB) to .7z, command line switches "a -t7z -r -m0=LZMA2 -mx=5"

Comparison Motherboards

Test Results

Synthetics

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The Z170 Classified runs with the top half of competitors in the majority of synthetic benchmarks, which is good news for us since any standouts usually require in-depth investigation. Simply put, it’s no longer possible to get more performance out of a CPU or GPU without overclocking, and overclocking one product without overclocking its competitors would be unfair.

Gaming

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The Z170 Classified fell slightly behind at the DRAM-bottlenecked “High” preset of Grid 2, but pulled slightly ahead at our “High Quality” settings in Far Cry 3. Retests proved both of these results consistent, and the average of all games shows that the Z170 Classified produces average performance when using a single graphics card on its CPU-connected top slot.

Productivity

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Two of EVGA’s competitors pulled ahead slightly in our Adobe Premiere test, but the Z170 Classified finished so close to the top in so many tests that it retained 99.9% the performance of the average of all tested products.

Power, Heat & Efficiency

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The Z170 Classified needs a few extra watts at idle, probably to power the few extra parts that make it a premium board, but still keeps full-load wattage reasonable. It’s 1.6% above average efficiency results from the Z170-Claymore’s downward pull on the curve.

  • AndrewJacksonZA
    I think I'll add this to my wishlist... I would like for it to be available in white, but then again, if a user is running four graphics cards, how much of the motherboard will actually be seen? :-)
    Reply
  • firefoxx04
    Not sure how I feel about the price. Surely you can get a socket 2011-3 board for the same price?

    Either way you are going to need expensive ddr4 and the cost of the cheapest haswell-e chip isn't that much more than the top of the line skylake i7.

    Going with those board and a quad core might get you support for more gpus but it's still not the same as the native support that haswell-e offers and I bet the price is similar. I don't have time to crunch numbers so it's just speculation.

    I just feel that anyone who needs that kind of graphics power is going to understand why they might want haswell e over skylake right now.
    Reply
  • SylentVyper
    Not sure how I feel about the price. Surely you can get a socket 2011-3 board for the same price?

    Either way you are going to need expensive ddr4 and the cost of the cheapest haswell-e chip isn't that much more than the top of the line skylake i7.

    Going with those board and a quad core might get you support for more gpus but it's still not the same as the native support that haswell-e offers and I bet the price is similar. I don't have time to crunch numbers so it's just speculation.

    I just feel that anyone who needs that kind of graphics power is going to understand why they might want haswell e over skylake right now.

    This. If I'm running 4 GPUs, they're most likely going to be one of the top performing GPUs out anyway, and I wouldn't want a 4c/8t i7 trying to power 4 980 Ti's along with trying to compute what you're going to be running (4k or more).

    5820k with EVGA Classified board:

    (http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TnLtLk) / (http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TnLtLk/by_merchant/)

    Type|Item|Price
    :----|:----|:----
    **CPU** | (http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80648i75820k) | $379.99 @ B&H
    **Motherboard** | (http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-motherboard-151hee999kr) | $374.27 @ Amazon
    | *Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts* |
    | **Total** | **$754.26**
    | Generated by (http://pcpartpicker.com) 2015-11-11 10:37 EST-0500 |


    6700k with Classified:

    (http://pcpartpicker.com/p/FyRfLk) / (http://pcpartpicker.com/p/FyRfLk/by_merchant/)

    Type|Item|Price
    :----|:----|:----
    **CPU** | (http://pcpartpicker.com/part/intel-cpu-bx80662i76700k) | $374.99 @ Newegg
    **Motherboard** | (http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-motherboard-151sse179kr) | $399.99 @ Amazon
    | *Prices include shipping, taxes, rebates, and discounts* |
    | **Total** | **$774.98**
    | Generated by (http://pcpartpicker.com) 2015-11-11 10:38 EST-0500 |


    The Haswell-E is actually slightly cheaper, and you get more brute force. I would probably spring for a higher end chip though, if I'm already spending over $2k on GPUs alone :P
    Reply
  • xenol
    Huh, the broadcasting of PCIe data over the video cards since they're using the same data feels like a pretty damn elegant solution.

    *Armchair engineering moment* Maybe in the future instead of these chips being necessary, the GPUs boot up in PCIe x1 to send data and the CPU can figure out if there's a multi-GPU setup or not, and if there is, broadcast to all the GPUs.

    I'm doubting GPUs need a full x16 duplex communication anyway, most of their bandwidth is receiving.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16930601 said:
    Not sure how I feel about the price. Surely you can get a socket 2011-3 board for the same price?

    This. If I'm running 4 GPUs, they're most likely going to be one of the top performing GPUs out anyway, and I wouldn't want a 4c/8t i7 trying to power 4 980 Ti's along with trying to compute what you're going to be running (4k or more).

    5820k with EVGA Classified board:

    Intel Core i7-5820K 3.3GHz 6-Core Processor $379.99
    EVGA X99 Classified EATX LGA2011-3 Motherboard $374.27
    **Total** | **$754.26**

    6700k with Classified:

    Intel Core i7-6700K 4.0GHz Quad-Core Processor $374.99
    EVGA Z170 Classified EATX LGA1151 Motherboard $399.99
    **Total** | **$774.98**
    EVGA X99 Classified does not support 4-way SLI on the Core i7-5820k :-)

    Then again, 3-way SLI gets more performance per card, maybe you don't need the fourth card.
    Reply
  • kittle
    Neat idea to improve gaming performance. But i suspect it will play major havok with GPU Compute based tasks when it sends the same data to all cards vs selected cards.

    I dont suppose any of the benchmarks verified this?
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16933431 said:
    Neat idea to improve gaming performance. But i suspect it will play major havok with GPU Compute based tasks when it sends the same data to all cards vs selected cards.

    I dont suppose any of the benchmarks verified this?
    I'm pretty sure the entire idea is to combine the fastest CPU with the fastest graphics configuration in games. The switch can still act in non-broadcast mode, but you're probably better off with more cores and more direct lanes if you're running compute apps.
    Reply
  • mapesdhs
    Mbd makers have been doing this sort of thing for years, but it died out after Z77, possibly Z87. Heck, I have an ASUS P55 board that can do x8/x8/x8/x8, I hold a few 3DMark P55 records with it using three 980s.

    Thus, I hope site reviewers don't treat this as something new because it isn't. SylentVyper is right, X99 makes more sense for 3 or 4 GPUs, though I'd use an ASUS board rather than EVGA, it'd oc better. My favourite is the X99-E WS (which supports x16/x16/x16/x16 and is only +50 over the Classified) but I suppose others might opt for the Deluxe or whatever. I wouldn't buy the 5820K though (and one can't if one wants 4-way GPU), it restricts PCIe options too much, affecting other things like M.2 availability, etc.
    Reply
  • Crashman
    16933483 said:
    Mbd makers have been doing this sort of thing for years, but it died out after Z77, possibly Z87. Heck, I have an ASUS P55 board that can do x8/x8/x8/x8, I hold a few 3DMark P55 records with it using three 980s.

    Thus, I hope site reviewers don't treat this as something new because it isn't. SylentVyper is right, X99 makes more sense for 3 or 4 GPUs, though I'd use an ASUS board rather than EVGA, it'd oc better. My favourite is the X99-E WS (which supports x16/x16/x16/x16 and is only +50 over the Classified) but I suppose others might opt for the Deluxe or whatever. I wouldn't buy the 5820K though (and one can't if one wants 4-way GPU), it restricts PCIe options too much, affecting other things like M.2 availability, etc.
    Chill dude, this is the first Z170 tested with the part, we have Z97s and Z87s with the same part. And before that Nvidia had a PCIe 2.0 version.

    Reply
  • dudmont
    Had this in my pcpartpicker skylake build since it came out. Think about this, you can sli and have no less than three m.2 pcie3x4 ssds. Can't do that with a 5820. Probably can't do with a 5930(*pondering Homer Simpson style). Buy 2 PCIE m.2 adapter cards, you could set up 2 950 pro 512, in raid. Lots of interesting options.
    Reply