You may recall that way back in May when Intel released the Core-X series of high-end desktop CPUs, EVGA announced three motherboards for the new mega-tasking CPUs. The X299 FTW-K and X299 Micro already hit the market, but EVGA held off its most hardcore, overclocker-oriented X299 motherboard until today. The X299 Dark is finally ready for prime time.
Even just by looking at this board, you can tell it's not messing around. The X299 Dark is black-on-black, devoid of gloss or glitz. There are no RGB LEDs or even any accent lighting at all. EVGA remarks (unsurprisingly) that those design choices are intentional, as the board is focused on pure performance. The mobo takes LGA 2066 CPUs up to and including the Core i9-7980XE, and it connects them to four DDR4 DIMM slots (one per channel). EVGA says you can install up to 64 GB of 4000 MT/s memory in quad-channel mode with Skylake-X processors, or 32 GB of 4133 MT/s memory with Kaby Lake-X CPUs in dual-channel mode.
Given the X299 Dark's overclocking focus, there's a whole feast of features for that crowd. Two separate sets of diagnostic LEDs, on-board power and reset buttons, and an easy-to-reach CMOS reset button are just the beginning. This board has three separate BIOS chips with a physical switch to select between them. The PCIe slots have hardware switches so that you can disable them to keep them from interfering with your overclocking efforts. You can even use PS/2 mice and keyboards if you'd rather disable the USB ports.
The design of the board has actually changed slightly since we first saw it back in May. Perhaps in response to the X299 VRM controversy in June—or perhaps due to feedback from in-house pro overclocker Kingpin—EVGA has completely revised the VRM cooling on the X299 Dark. A pair of small axial fans force air across a thick pile of micro-fins, and a heat pipe connects that radiator to another one near the I/O cluster. Given that the aforementioned Kingpin has apparently set 12 world records using this board, we suspect EVGA's cooling solution works.
A slim centrifugal fan rests over the X299 PCH and forces air through the plastic shield over the dual M.2 M-key sockets to keep speedy SSDs cool. That shield will also protect them from any blow-off shed by hot cards installed into the four steel-reinforced PCIe x16 slots. Other storage accomodations include eight SATA ports and a pair of U.2 connections. There's also an M.2 E-key socket ripe for a Wi-Fi card (not included). The X299 Dark does include a pair of Intel-powered Gigabit Ethernet connectors, though. Audio comes courtesy of a Creative Sound Core3D chip.
If you're in the market for this motherboard and somehow haven't already ordered one, you might be waiting a while. For the moment, the board is only available from EVGA's web shop, and it's an "Elite Member Exclusive." That means you have to have purchased and registered an EVGA graphics card or two other EVGA products, or barring that, put up at least 100 posts on the company's official forums. Folks so qualified can buy what is surely one of the most hardcore X299 motherboards for $500.