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EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi Review: Looks Can Be Deceiving

The EVGA Z490 FTW offers solid performance, plus a speedy USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port.

EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi
(Image: © EVGA)

Our Verdict

Its looks may be polarizing, but the EVGA Z490 FTW has what you need to build a solid Z490-based system. The VRMs are more than capable and the ultra-fast USB Type-C port is a plus. If you’re working on an open benching station, the onboard buttons and debug readouts are also handy.

For

  • Capable power delivery
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C port
  • Horizontal fan/USB headers

Against

  • Appearance can be polarizing
  • 1 Gigabit ethernet

In addition to the features mentioned previously, the Z490 FTW WiFi includes Intel Gigabit LAN, six SATA ports, two M.2 sockets (neither with heatsinks), onboard power/reset buttons and seven 4-pin fan/pump headers for cooling. Below is a complete list of specifications from EVGA.

EVGA may be better known for graphics cards and power supplies, but the company has also been pushing into the motherboard realm for years, though with far fewer products than competitors like MSI or Gigabyte.The EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi that we’re looking at here sits at the ‘bottom’ of the company’s Z490 product stack, with the high-end Z490 Dark ($699.99) sitting above as the only other board on Intel’s current platform. You won’t find a Micro ATX or Mini ITX board from EVGA, just the ATX FTW and E-ATX Dark.

For $329.99 (at the EVGA store), the Z490 FTW includes a robust 14-phase VRM, Realtek and NU Audio sound, a USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type-C port, and integrated Intel Wi-Fi 6/AX201 capabilities. All in all, it’s a well-apportioned motherboard, although its looks are somewhat raw compared to similarly priced products.

On the performance front, the Z490 FTW WiFi performed as expected, mostly blending in well with our other Z490 results. Though there weren’t any alarming differences, the board was a bit slower in some tests, but not alarmingly so. The capable VRM handled our power-hungry Intel Core i9-10900K at stock speeds as well as the 5.2 GHz all-core/thread overclock, so there’s no issues on that front.

Specifications - EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi

SocketLGA 1200
ChipsetZ490
Form FactorATX
Voltage Regulator14 Phase (8 Vcore) 60A MOSFETs
Video Ports(1) HDMI (v1.4), (1) DisplayPort (1.2)
USB Ports(1) USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 Type-C (20 Gbps), (4) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A (10 Gbps), (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1, Type-A (10 Gbps), (1) USB 2.0 (update port for flashing BIOS)
Network Jacks(1) 1 GbE
Audio Jacks(5) Analog + SPDIF
Legacy Ports/Jacks
Other Ports/JackWi-Fi Antenna
PCIe x16
PCIe x8
PCIe x4
PCIe x1(1) v3.0 (x1)
CrossFire/SLINvidia 2-Way SLI
DIMM slots(4) DDR4 4400+(OC)
M.2 slots(2) PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA + PCIe (up to 110mm)
U.2 Ports
SATA Ports(6) SATA3 6 Gbps
USB Headers(1) USB v3.2 Gen 2, (1) USB 3.2 Gen1, (2) USB v2.0
Fan/Pump Headers(7) 4-Pin (2 DC only, 5 PWM+DC)
RGB Headers(1) Addressable RGB (3-pin), (1) RGB (4-pin)
Legacy Interfaces
Other InterfacesFP-Audio, TPM
Diagnostics PanelYes, 2x two-character panels
Internal Button/SwitchPower, Reset, Safe Boot, BIOS switch
SATA ControllersASMedia ASM1061
Ethernet Controllers(1) Intel I219-V (1 GbE)
Wi-Fi / BluetoothIntel AX201 Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax, MU-MIMO, 160 MHz) / BT 5.1
USB ControllersASMedia ASM1074
HD Audio CodecRealtek ALC1220
DDL/DTS Connect✗ / Yes
Warranty3 Years

The EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi comes with several accessories to get you started. The box includes SATA cables, installation guides, a rear IO plate, WiFi antenna, and more. Conveniently, instead of a driver disk, EVGA includes a small USB flash drive that contains all of its drivers (and the manual). I wish more partners would start doing this, as optical drives have become increasingly less common in today’s builds. Below is a list of what is included in the box in addition to the motherboard.

  • EVGA Quick Installation Guide
  • Rear Case I/O panel
  • 2x SATA cables
  • 2x M.2 thermal pads
  • 2x WiFi antenna
  • Case badge
  • USB flash drive (drivers)
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(Image credit: EVGA)
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(Image credit: EVGA)
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(Image credit: EVGA)

On the RGB front, the FTW WiFi includes a small strip of addressable RGBs under the right side of the chipset heatsink. The implementation is subtle, but the LEDs bright and the color is saturated. If the integrated lighting isn’t enough, the board has a 3-pin ARGB header and a 4-pin RGB header located by the power and reset buttons to attach more.

The first thing we noticed about  Z490 FTW WiFi is that it bucks the trend, forgoing shrouds and other accouterments designed to cover the PCB. Other boards at similar price points tend to include more flashy  shrouds and other coverings designed to pretty up the board and hide the PCB. That said, this board doesn’t look bad, with its flat-black PCB, slots, and connectors. However, some users may prefer a board with those included, especially at prices above $300.

(Image credit: EVGA)

On the top half of the board, we get a closer look at the matte-black heatsinks covering both VRMs, as well as a vented silver shroud covering the IO bits. On the shroud is the EVGA branding, along with the Z490 FTW model name written in a contrasting black. Nestled between the VRM banks are an 8-pin (required) and 4-pin (optional) EPS connector for sending power to the CPU.

To the right of the socket area are four black DIMM slots with locking mechanisms on both sides. The Z490 FTW WiFi supports up to 128GB of DDR4 with speeds listed to DDR4 4400. The listed specification is lower than several other comparable boards.

Hidden just above the top VRM heatsink are two 4-pin CPU fan headers rated for 24W/2A each. Note that these two headers control fans by PWM only. The other five fan headers support both PWM and DC control, as well as the same 24W/2A output as the CPU fan headers. It’s nice to see all headers support more than the basic 12W/1A, as this yields additional flexibility for stacking fans on any header.

Located on the right edge of the board are power and reset buttons, dual 2-character debug LEDs and a vertical USB port (used for BIOS flashback purposes/easy access when on a benching table). The dual debug LEDs spin through POST codes when powered on and by default settle with temperatures. There are options in the BIOS for these to display different voltages (Vcore, DRAM, System Agent, etc) as well. For the extreme overlocker or those who plan on using this motherboard on a benching station, this can come in handy.

Last up on the top half of the board, below the debug LEDs, is the 24-pin ATX power lead for the motherboard and a front-panel USB 3.2 Gen2 header.

(Image credit: EVGA)

Moving on to power delivery, EVGA lists the VRM as 14 total phases. Power is sent from the EPS connector(s) and handled by an Intersil ISL69138 dual output, multiphase (X+Y ≤ 7) controller. Vcore consists of 8-phases using 60A Intersil ISL99227BFRZ-T single power stages. While not the most robust we’ve seen, it is certainly comparable and capable at the $300-plus price point, handling our Intel Core i9-10900K without issue, even when overclocked.

(Image credit: EVGA)

Looking at the bottom half of the board, the most prominent feature may be the huge yellow audio caps located in the bottom-right corner. These caps are downstream from the premium Realtek ALC1220 codec that’s located above the caps. We don’t see any shielding nor the distinct audio separation line here. However, the integrated audio will still be sufficient for most users.

In the middle of the board are three PCIe slots and two M.2 sockets. On the PCIe side, both slots are full-length and use metal reinforcement around the connector for EMI protection and to prevent shearing. The top slot is the primary GPU slot and works at x16. The second slot will work up x8 when the first is in use. This slot configuration supports up to 2-Way Nvidia SLI. The single x1 slot sources its bandwidth from the chipset and is located below the x16 slots. Thankfully, this slot is a usable location, compared to the layout of some motherboards where it gets blocked by graphics cards.

Around the PCIe slots are the two M.2 sockets. Both sockets support modules up to 110mm long. The top M.2 socket (M.2 2) supports PCIe 3.0 x4 (32 Gbps) devices, while the bottom slot (M.2 1), supports PCI- and SATA-based drives. The Z490 FTW WiFi does not share bandwidth with the SATA ports, as four are native and the other two are controlled by a third-party ASMedia controller.

To the right of the PCIe/M.2 area is a small chipset heatsink that houses the addressable RGB lighting found on the board. The front-panel USB 3.2 Gen 1 header is oriented horizontally and offset from the SATA ports (a ‘notch is taken out of the motherboard so it sits flush with the edge) which helps with cable management.

Just below it are three SATA ports. Four of these (the top four) are native ports, while the ASmedia ASM1061 controller supplies the other two ports. The four native ports support RAID0, 1, 5, and 10. According to EVGA, the third-party ports primarily exist for legacy OS support, mainly for benchmarking and overclocking with specific applications. That said, the board is not guaranteed to fully support any OS prior to Windows 10 x64, as EVGA (other board partners as well) doesn’t offer drivers for legacy operating systems.

Across the bottom edge are a slew of headers and ports, all of which are angled horizontally, again helping with cable management. You’ll find fan and audio ports, USB headers, and more. Below is a complete list in order from left to right.

  • Front panel audio
  • (3) DC/PWM fan headers
  • (2) USB 2.0 headers
  • Front panel connectors
  • BIOS selector switch
  • BIOS SafeBoot button

(Image credit: EVGA)

Flipping the board around to the rear IO, about the only thing that stands out is a lack of an integrated IO plate (though a plate is included in the accessories). At this price, I’d like to see these integrated, but do understand this is more of a purpose-built track car than it is a daily driver with luxury appointments.

That out of the way, we find seven USB ports, Two 3.2 Gen1 ports, Four 3.2 Gen2, and a single USB 3.2 Gen2x2 Type -C port. Video outputs consist of an HDMI port and DisplayPort. In addition to the 5-plug plus SPDIF audio stack, you’ll also find the Wi-Fi antenna connections, a legacy PS/2 port and a BIOS/CMOS reset button. 

  • LordVile
    Why would you spend 330 on a dead end platform?
    Reply
  • ThatMouse
    LordVile said:
    Why would you spend 330 on a dead end platform?

    You're correct on two points. AMD Zen3 and Intel Rocket Lake + Z590. It seems Zen3 with PCIe 4 might be the way to go if you want a PC that will last you the next 6+ years. The next Intel upgrade won't be on shelves for quite awhile.
    Reply
  • eye4bear
    LordVile said:
    Why would you spend 330 on a dead end platform?
    True, didn't I read just this morning that Intel announced they were going to have yet another delay in new processor deliveries.
    Reply
  • LordVile
    eye4bear said:
    True, didn't I read just this morning that Intel announced they were going to have yet another delay in new processor deliveries.
    Intel haven’t had a new processor in years it’s the same but with a more mature process meaning higher clocks. They haven’t been worth buying since the 9th gen
    Reply