With a change in Intel Chipsets we get new motherboards based on that chipset. When the Intel Z170 chipset came out, EVGA provided us one of their three ATX Z170 based motherboards, the Z170 FTW. We found that the motherboard provided the basic features that we were looking for in a basic Z170 motherboard; good overclocking features, USB 3.0, and M.2 NVMe support. However, we found that it lacked some of the more advanced features that advanced enthusiasts were looking for; dual M.2 NVMe, and USB 3.1. For these features, you need to look at EVGA’s more advanced Z170 ATX motherboard, the Z170 Classified K.
On the EVGA Z170 Classified K, EVGA expanded the USB offerings to include dual USB 3.1 ports in the Back I/O cluster but also reduced the SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ports from 8 to 6. Technically you still have 8 USB 3.0 ports, just two of them are now compatible with 3.1. Ethernet options were expanded as well, to include dual Gigabit NIC’s, one from Intel and one from Killer. The various storage options has been increased, SATA ports include an additional 4 SATA 6G ports, or two SATA-Express, while the M.2 ports were increased from a single PCIe Key-M slot to dual Key-M and a single Key-E. Memory support has also been updated to include 4x DDR4 up to 3600MHz+.
EVGA does a good job at keeping your motherboard selection easy, by providing three Z170 ATX motherboards with the same core features but slightly different advanced features. This is a big change from many motherboard manufacturers that offer dozen options which can confuse potential users. All of their Z170 ATX motherboards can be purchased at many online locations, and the Z170 Classified K can be found for $229.99 with free shipping while the Z170 FTW is available for a little less at $174.95.
EVGA Z180 Classified K Features and Specifications
Supports i3, i5, and i7
|SLI||2-Way + PhysX|
|SATA||10 SATA 6G|
|RAID||0, 1, 5, 10, JBOD|
|USB||2x USB 3.1 / 6x USB 3.0 / 2x USB 2.0|
|Memory Support||4 DIMM Dual Channel DDR4 3600MHz+ (up to 64GB)|
|Ethernet||1x Killer E2400
1x Intel Gigabit NIC
|Audio||8 Channel High Definition + Optical|
|Video||1x DP 1.2, 1x HDMI 1.4|
|Fan Headers||7 (2PWM, 5DC/PWM)|
|PCI-E Slot Arrangement||3.0 Support
1 x16, 2 x8 + 1 x4 + 2 x1
EVGA does a good job at packaging their motherboards. The retail packaging provides a good overview of the motherboard, and lets you know the key features and specifications, along with presenting an overview of the motherboard. EVGA packages the included accessories individually, and separates the motherboard from the various accessories with a layer of cardboard. On the bottom of the box the motherboard is in an anti-static bag, and a foam sheet to protect the bottom and the sides. This is pretty standard packaging for motherboards, and has been shown to be highly effective.
Since this is a motherboard, not many accessories are needed to get it up and running. A detailed user manual, and a driver/software disk is included to help get you up; it is highly recommended to get the latest drivers from EVGA’s website. In addition, there is a rear I/O shield, two SATA cables, a flexible SLI bridge and the rear I/O key. For a motherboard that supports up to 10 SATA drives, two SATA cables seem to be a little light, most of us that build computers probably have a pile of them though.
One word of warning about the rear I/O shield, if you place a GPU in the first PCIE slot, it will rub against the I/O shield, however EVGA has placed a piece of plastic on that edge to avoid any shorts. If you use a backplate on the graphics card, you will most likely have issues. When testing the EVGA Z170 FTW, we found that even though our test graphics card has a backplate, the EVGA GTX 970 would fit if the retaining screw was loosened a little.
Let’s take a quick look at the Z170 Classified K and the test system before starting it up.