Board Layout and Pictures
EVGA has always gone their own direction and the Z490 FTW isn’t any different. In a lot of ways, this board looks a lot like previous FTW boards like the Z390 and Z370 models. Mostly because of the silver metal cover over the rear I/o and the otherwise plain styling on the rest of the board. EVGA has always been about simple and black and they always avoid lighting which makes the inclusion of RGB lighting an interesting addition. The FTW is a full ATX board with one notch on the right side. It has a black PCB, black plastic bits, black heatsinks, and even a dark tinted LGA socket bracket as well.
They didn’t skimp on the heatsinks. There are two thick aluminum heatsinks at the top and left side of the CPU socket for the VRM cooling. Both have deep fins on the one side which faces in at the CPU which isn’t completely ideal unless you have a cooler that is blowing air into that area, but an AIO wouldn’t. There is some additional surface area on the back of the top heatsink. You can see 11 caps and chokes on the inside and EVGA has three more up at the top under that extra cooling to make the 14 phase digital VRM that they have listed. The chipset cooler is smaller than most you will see but has that same blacked-out styling with slices in it for additional surface area. This is also where EVGA slipped in their RGB lighting, up under/around this heatsink. I should also note how they didn’t use the chipset cooler as yet another area for branding like most companies, they keep all of their branding simple and in the one area.
Speaking of, this is the area I was talking about. They have the EVGA logo and the Z490 FTW name on the metal cover that goes over the rear I/O. This is the only non-black part of the board as well. You can also see one fan header tucked up under the heatsink for a rear case fan if needed.
So let’s look around the board to see what all EVGA has hidden away starting in the top left ¼ of the board. This is mostly dominated by the rear I/O, the VRM cooling, and the CPU socket itself. There is that one PWM fan header under the heatsink. Then up on the top edge, you also have the two CPU or EPS power connections. One is an 8-pin and the second is a 4-pin. There is a small 6 pin array next to these but the manual doesn’t cover what they are and I didn’t see any obvious legend as the legend above it is for the 4 pin CPU power.
In the top-right section the four DDR4 slots which run up to the top edge so everything is on the right edge. This includes two large buttons for power and reset which are backlit. Next to that, there are two LED readouts. This gives you temperatures and voltages when running. Right with that there is a single USB port that sticks up, this is for BIOS updates. Right above that with the power and reset buttons EVGA also included an RGB header and an addressable RGB header. There is also a 24-pin motherboard power and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 header for cases with Type-C connections on the front panel.
Down in the bottom right corner, normally the chipset heatsink would dominate this area but the smaller heatsink that EVGA went with is nice because it leaves a little extra room. Next to it, they went with a right-angled USB 3.2 header which is where they notched the PCB to help with the always hard to bend USB 3.2 cables. Next to that, there are six right-angled SATA ports as well as a four-pin fan header. Down on the bottom edge in the corner, there is a BIOS select switch to switch between two BIOS’ and a safe boot button as well. Next to that, the front panel header is set at a right angle which is interesting and it has all of the labels right in front. To the left of that is a USB 2.0 header and there is a second slightly to the left of that as well. Both are set at a right angle.
Continuing to the bottom left corner, still, on the bottom edge, there are three more PWM fan headers all at a right angle which makes for a total of 8 on the board. Then on the far left is the front panel audio connection. The main thing going on in the bottom left is of course all of the PCIe slots. EVGA went with two x16 length slots and then one x1 down at the bottom. Due to the limited PCIe lanes on the Intel platform, the two x16 length slots drop down to an x8 bandwidth if you decide to use both, which is standard for the Z490 boards. Both x16 slots have metal shielding that helps strengthen the hold for your heavy video cards as well. The two x16 slots run at a PCIe gen 3 speed but the x1 slot drops down to PCIe gen 2 so keep that in mind as well.
EVGA of course slipped in a few M.2 slots in between all of the PCIe slots. One of the two M.2 slots on the Z490 FTW is up above the top PCIe slot which I love. This still gets some heat from your video card but isn’t up under it in the real heat zone. Both slots support PCIe x4 but only the top slot can handle a SATA drive if you need to run an older SATA M.2. Unlike nearly everyone else EVGA also doesn’t go with a crazy “heatsink” or cover over their M.2 slots. In fact, they include thermal tape and it is for the BOTTOM of the drive in the white line box area in the photos below to still pull heat away but it leaves the top still open. This also means drives with their own heatsinks are also supported.
The onboard audio circuitry stands out, especially if you compare it to any other board on the market. Most companies have been moving toward using Nichicon solid capacitors with that signature gold finish so the side-mounted. EVGA went a completely different direction with Bennic yellow polys which are still high quality. Beyond that, they aren’t using a (visibly) split PCB or any shielding over the Realtek controller. The front panel audio header is set at a right angle and down at the bottom which is nice for wiring.
It’s a small detail but I was hoping to see the Z490 FTW have an integrated rear I/O cover. They make installation much easier and open up options for a few unique cases that don’t have mounts for a shield as well. Beyond that, the FTW does have an interesting combination of connection options. Mainly because of that PS2 connection, you rarely see those anymore. It also has two display connections with a DisplayPort and an HDMI for the onboard video. Down at the end, the small red button is a CMOS reset which is great to have and you don’t have to find a hidden jumper or even open up your case at all. However, that is just one of the areas with a lot of extra space not being used. For USB ports there are a total of six Type-A ports and one Type-C. The two blue ports are a standard USB 3.2. Then all four of the red ports are all USB 3.2 Gen 2 or SuperSpeed 10 and the Type-C is a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 or a Superspeed 20. There is room for more above the Type-C and on the right ports as well. I would be more than happy with more USB 2.0’s even. T two wireless antenna jacks are for the WiFi 6 controller, specifically the Intel AX201. Then the wired NIC is an Intel I219-V which is an interesting choice, this is the NIC that everyone was using previous to the Z490 launch but the Z490 chipset has the option to use the Intel 2.5G NIC, I don’t know why EVGA would skip that one. Then over on the far right, the audio layout is your standard five jacks and one optical SPDIF jack.
Now I mentioned earlier that the board mounted antennas were a weird choice. It remains to be seen how they perform. But because the jacks are mounted above each other and both antennas are the same length they get in each other's way as you can see below.
The backside of the FTW gives us a great look a the sexy black PCB finish and a lot of the traces. There isn’t much going on back here though. It does give us a good look at the notch on the right edge of the board, however.