One of the best things that EVGA has done with the Z170 chipset is to keep things simple. While most of the motherboard manufacturers have a wide range of motherboards based on the Z170 chipset, EVGA has kept it simple with three ATX and one mITX motherboard. In addition, all three of the ATX Z170 motherboards are nearly identical, but separated with added features.
The EVGA Z170 Classified K motherboard is the big brother to the Z170 FTW, there are many similarities between the two boards. Like the Z170 FTW, the Z170 Classified K performs admirably compared to similar motherboards. The overclocking capabilities of the Classified K, allowed us to push our Intel Core i7-6700K ‘Skylake’ CPU and DDR4 memory kit faster than the other motherboards we have tested. Without doing any fine tuning of the settings, we were able to get a stable 5GHz overclock. I have no doubts that if we were to do further tuning on the Z170 Classified K we could go further.
As the Classified K is more advanced than the Z170 FTW, the overall look and feel are identical. However, once you start looking at the specifics of the boards you start to notice the differences. The differences include multiple M.2 slots (RAID 0 M.2 drives), M.2 WiFi slot, additional SATA (and SATA Express) ports, USB 2.0 header, USB 3.1, and dual GBe ethernet connections one provided by Intel’s i219 and the other by Killer’s e2400. For modern motherboards, about the only feature that is missing is a Type-C connection, which really hasn’t taken off yet.
While I didn’t mess with the rear I/O cover this time, it is the same cover that was included with the Z170 FTW. Yes, there are known spacing issues, however the spacing issue isn’t as big of a deal that some make it out to be. With the proper placement of the rear I/O cover, a graphics card with a backplate should be able to fit. The EVGA GTX 970sc that has the EVGA backplate fit onto the Z170 FTW once we adjusted the cover a little. In addition, as EVGA knows that the space is tight, EVGA has placed a piece of heavy duty plastic on the I/O cover to protect against shorts.
The EVGA Z170 Classified K is a great motherboard, made of high quality components by a company that knows how to build enthusiast grade equipment. This is the EVGA motherboard that should be purchased if you are looking for a great Intel Z170 based motherboard that can overclock will be stable and provides all the feature that enthusiasts are looking for. The EVGA Z170 Classified K costs $229.99 with free shipping, making it around $45 more than the EVGA Z170 FTW, that has a few less bells and whistles.
Legit Bottom Line: Depending on your specific needs, either of the EVGA Z170 motherboards will do a great job. The EVGA Z170 Classified K is a great motherboard and one that I would recommend without hesitation as it provides a more advanced feature set for just a little more than the Z170 FTW. Not to mention the increased overclocking capabilities, and better power management.