EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi Overclocking Motherboard Review: Consistent Quality

Today we will review the EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi motherboard as we upgrade the build in one of our favorite cases, the HP Blackbird 002. EVGA has consistently produced quality motherboards that are feature packed in an understated, classy design. The Z490 FTW continues this trend while supporting Intel’s latest LGA 1200 socket-based Comet Lake S processors. Key features include a 14 phase power delivery system, onboard WiFi, 2x M.2 slots, RGB lighting and seven fan headers. Let’s see if it’s as good as the Z370 Classifies K that we enjoyed so much!

Unboxing & Overview

The front of the Z490 FTW WiFi box has EVGA’s branding and a few badges for Intel’s chipset and Core technologies as well as Nvidia SLI support.

evga z490 ftw motherboard review

The back of the box expands on key features such as the 6-layer PCB, RGB lighting, 14 phase power design, etc.

evga z490 ftw motherboard box back

Everything is packaged well as we’ve come to expect from EVGA.

evga z490 ftw motherboard unboxing

The top layer of the box houses a handy installation quick guide well as the accessories including the I/O plate, M.2 thermal pads, case badge, 2 SATA data cables, USB flash drive (with drivers and manual) and WiFi antennae.

evga z490 ftw motherboard included accessories

Everything is packaged in individual anti-static bags. EVGA never disappoints with their packaging!

evga z490 ftw motherboard accessories

The included installation quick guide is actually quite well written and sufficiently detailed for a 1st time builder to efficiently assemble the motherboard, CPU, memory and M.2 storage.

evga z490 ftw motherboard quick start guide

Here’s the opposite side.

evga z490 ftw motherboard quick start guide back

The Z490 FTW WiFi motherboard is also packaged in an anti-static bag surrounded by foam padding, ensuring there is no movement during transport.

evga z490 ftw motherboard packaging

At last, here it is! We love the black/gunmetal silver theme of EVGA motherboards. They look really great in person and are easy to pair with just about any colored GPU/RAM. We also appreciate the lack of gaudy “thermal armor” like you see on many motherboards which honestly just makes them more cumbersome to work on.

evga z490 ftw motherboard

The primary PCI-express slots are reinforced with metal. The M.2 slots are above the first and below the second PCI-express slots. One thing we would have liked to have seen on this board is a 3rd M.2 storage slot. As more and more builders transition to M.2 based storage and the need for storage continues to grow, we will see more two and three M.2 SSD systems. Even if you are not using the 3rd M.2 slot, it’s a nice feature to have for future storage needs. Of course, you can always purchase a dedicated M.2 PCI-express adapter card which can be installed like a graphics or sound card, however I personally find such adapters unsightly.

evga z490 ftw

Here in the top down view you can see all the fan and USB headers are angled down to assist with cable management for cleaner builds. We cut it close in our HP Blackbird 002 case and had just enough room to plug in our HD Audio and front panel connectors. The 24-pin power connector is oddly the only connector that is not right-angled. For CPU power there is an 8-pin as well as an additional 4-pin 12 V ATX connector. There are of course, power and reset buttons present as well. Next to those is a debug LED screen which relays POST codes and CPU temperatures.

evga z490 ftw board

There are two RGB headers, one 4-pin and one 3-pin. There is plenty of room around the CPU socket to accommodate large air coolers, complex custom watercooling setups and of course, the ever popular AIOs. Yes, we still have six SATA ports however I bet we will eventually see those decrease before being eliminated altogether in a future where M.2 based storage rules (as it should!).

evga z490 ftw sata ports

In the HP Blackbird rebuild, we carried over our two M.2 storage drives, a WD Black NVMe SSD and a WD Blue SATA SSD. We also installed 32GB of Patriot memory.

evga z490 ftw nvme ssd

As far as fans, we used two In Win Polaris RGB fans connected to our EVGA CLC 240 AIO CPU cooler. There are a whopping seven PWM headers on the Z490 FTW, plenty for our build.

Here’s the rear I/O, it consists of:

  • 1 x DisplayPort
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x LAN (RJ45)
  • 1 x USB 2.0/1.1
  • 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
  • 4 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
  • 1 x PS/2 keyboard/mouse port
  • 1 x Clear CMOS Button
evga z490 ftw io ports

Pretty much everything you’d want in terms of connectivity options. An Intel I219-AT Gigabit Ethernet controller is used for the ethernet connector. There are plenty of USB, 7.1 audio (Realtek ALC1220 HD audio + EVGA NU Audio SV3H615 headphone amplifier), onboard graphics, etc.

BIOS

The EVGA z490 FTW BIOS is very easy to use while maintaining a great level of customization. When first accessing the bios, you are greeted by an EVGA logo and four options to choose from. The options are advanced configuration mode, default mode, gamer mode, and EVGA OC robot.

evga z490 ftw bios overclocking settings
These screenshots were taken while using our 10900 CPU used to verify onboard graphics function properly.

The advanced configuration mode contains all the usual overclocking settings you would expect, including CPU multiplier, BCLK frequency settings, and voltage controls.

evga z490 ftw bios overclocking

Memory has its own tab as opposed to being put together with the CPU settings. The memory tab includes: XMP profiles, memory multiplier configuration, basic timing configuration, and second/third timing configuration.

evga z490 ftw bios memory settings

The boot tab contains the usual boot options such as fast boot and boot priority.

Overclocking

Our system build is as follows:

evga z490 ftw build

The BIOS version we are using is 1.04. We used the XMP 1 profile on the Patriot Viper Series 4 RAM which had no issues. Occasionally XMP memory profiles out of the box have stability issues and result in BSODs, thankfully that was not the case here. We were able to achieve a stable overclock of 5.1 GHz with 1.32V.

EVGA Z490 FTW vs. Z490 DARK

The Z490 FTW model has a 14 phase power delivery system, whereas EVGA’s top-tier DARK model has an upgraded 18 phase system. The Z490 DARK has a few additional features such as the ability to overclock memory to 4600MHz versus the FTW models 4400MHz limit. The DARK model has better Ethernet, two more SATA ports, an additional USB header and one more PCI-e slot.

evga z490 ftw review

We believe the Z490 FTW to be a perfect motherboard for the average overclocker. Enthusiasts will no doubt gravitate toward the DARK model and for good reason, it’s about as high-end an overclocking motherboard as it gets.

Conclusion

The EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi is an excellent motherboard that checks all the boxes an intermediate overclocking-oriented system builder would want. In addition to a bevy of IO options and high quality components throughout, the Z490 FTW WiFi fits in the upper band of overclocking motherboards while avoiding less important “features” like plastic “armor” and endless accessories that usually stay in the box. This allows it to remain at an affordable price point, delivering essential features while leaving the door open for those who want even more to purchase the upgraded Z490 DARK board.

performance computer editors choice award

As always, EVGA delivered yet again and we had absolutely no issues whatsoever with our test board. We really love the understated, minimal yet refined appearance of the Z490 and our only feature requests are a 3rd M.2 slot and for EVGA to make a high-end ITX board again! Hopefully they will consider doing so for the next generation of processors. Until then, we are more than pleased to award the EVGA Z490 FTW WiFi our Editor’s Choice award!

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