CPUs and other Hardware Reviews

The EVGA Z370 FTW MB review – the i7-8700K Road to 5.0 GHz

Intro

The EVGA Z370 FTW Motherboard Overclocking Review – the Road to 5.0 GHz

We have recently upgraded our Core i7-6700K Skylake platform to Coffee Lake’s i7-8700K, and have been benchmarking at 4.6 GHz with both CPUs each running on ASRock motherboards.  Since the maximum stable overclock for our i7-8700K topped out at only 4.7 GHz, we asked EVGA for a review sample of their new Z370 FTW motherboard to see if we could achieve a higher overclock.  The last EVGA motherboard that we evaluated was the Z77 FTW which allowed us to reach 5.0 GHz with our Ivy Bridge i7-3770K.  We are going to review the EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard by primarily focusing on gaming performance as we benchmark our Star Wars TITAN Xp and our GTX 1080 Ti using 35 games at 3 resolutions to see how well modern games scale with CPU overclocking.

Coffee Lake is Intel’s latest platform and it brings new features over the Skylake platform although the IPC for gaming is very similar.  So far, we have found that the biggest advantage to the Coffee Lake flagship CPU over Skylake’s flagship processor are the extra two cores of the i7-8700K.  A Core i7 Coffee Lake gamer using 6 cores plus HyperThreading no longer has to concern himself about background processes while gaming, and the extra two cores over Skylake’s CPU may be helpful for the few games that can use them effectively.  In addition, we are also looking for a higher clockspeed above the 4.6 GHz day-to-day overclock of our i7-6700K. 

Overclocking

Core i7-8700 “K” CPUs are multiplier unlocked and can easily be overclocked beyond 4.3 GHz with a decent air cooler.  We have observed that at stock, although all 6 cores are rated to run at 3.7 GHz, all of the cores turbo to 4.3 GHz under PC gaming load.  When we overclock our i7 8700K to match our i7 6700K, we raise the multiplier to 46 for all cores which force them to run at 4.6 GHz.  At this overclock, our CPU is effectively running +300 MHz over stock values, and temperatures are barely affected.  Our goal was to raise the multiplier to 49 and then to 50 which will give us 4.9 GHz and 5.0 GHz respectively  We tested 35 games’ framerate scaling with increasing CPU clock frequencies above 4.3 GHz using the the two top video cards at maximum details and at the primary three resolutions that gamers use.  And we used our EVGA CLC 280mm CPU cooler to keep temperatures under control with an absolute self-imposed Vcore limit of 1.45V.

EVGA’s Z370 Motherboards

EVGA has introduced two new Z370 motherboards in addition to the FTW that we are reviewing – a Z370 Micro and their top board, the Classified K.  The Z370 FTW is currently on “auto-notify” from EVGA for $199, while the EVGA Z370 Micro is available for $179, but the Classified K is not yet available.   The primary difference, besides several added features between the two motherboards, are a 13 phase power delivery system for the Classified K while the FTW is 11 phase.

EVGA’s Z370 FTW MB professional picture by EVGA

The EVGA Z370 FTW is a very small step down from the Classified K. Besides using a 11 phase power delivery instead of 13, the FTW uses a HDMI 1.4 jack instead of the K’s HDMI 2.0 output while also dropping the front panel USB 3.1 header. The dual Ethernet adapters of the Classified K have been substituted for a single Intel solution, and its Creative Labs audio has been replaced by the Realtek ALC1220.  These are not really downgrades for most users.

If you are looking for ultimate overclocking with an extreme watercooler or for LN2 overclocking, the Classified K may offer more stability.  The Z370 FTW and Micro motherboards are both designed with an 8-Phase VCore design and an external clock generator to provide power and stability.  And a motherboard may make a difference to achieving a higher CPU overclock as we found out.  The FTW Z370 MB was able to take our i7-8700K to 5.0 GHz with complete stability while our overclock only topped out at 4.7 GHz with our ASRock Z370 Killer SLI/AC motherboard! 

All EVGA Z370 boards include cable cutouts to make cable arrangement easier. These boards also feature metal-reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots for supporting very heavy video cards, 2-Way SLI/CrossFire support, multiple RGB headers, M.2 slots, Intel or Killer Gigabit NICs, and switchable dual-BIOS.  Realtek’s upgraded 7.1 Channel audio is used for the Classified K, or Creative’s Sound Core 3D Audio is used for the Micro and FTW motherboards.  Here are the EVGA Z370 motherboard features from their website.

Features

  • Intel 8th Generation Core i7/i5/i3 Coffee Lake-S Processors – Discover the power of a 6 Core/12 Thread processor for the first time on an Intel Z-Series motherboard!
  • Intel® Optane™ Memory Ready – Accelerate your PC with Intel’s latest solutions for blistering fast boot times and increased performance for gaming and everyday tasks.
  • Reinforced PCIe and DIMM slots – Use today’s latest, greatest…and heaviest graphics cards and memory and still have Peace of Mind Gaming.
  • Dual BIOS chips on all EVGA Z370 motherboards – Easily switch between BIOS configurations to use a custom BIOS, troubleshoot a problem, or fix a failed BIOS update!
  • Optimized power connector layout for cable management – All EVGA Z370 motherboards feature a new layout for some power connectors to avoid compatibility issues with cases and tight spaces.
  • Killer DoubleShot™ Pro* – Killer DoubleShot™ Pro helps you maintain your network performance while gaming or streaming, so you won’t miss any part of the action.
  • Integrated HDMI 2.0* – The EVGA Z370 Classified K features an HDMI 2.0 port to allow 4K gaming or streaming at 60fps with supported Intel HD Graphics.
  • External Clock Generator** – The EVGA Z370 Classified K and Micro feature an external clock generator to improve overclocking stability and increase your overall performance.

Specifications

Here are the EVGA Z370 FTW motherboard specifications from EVGA’s website:

Warranty & Support

EVGA’s Z370 motherboards come with a 3 year warranty, and registration is recommended.  In addition, EVGA provides truly outstanding support including a 24/7 telephone hotline staffed by English-speaking professionals who are very helpful.  We have had several opportunities to use their hotline over the past few years, and we have always received fast and helpful service even on the weekends.

The EVGA Z370 FTW is a good-looking motherboard with excellent specifications, so let’s unbox it for a closer look before we install, test, overclock, and benchmark it.