EVGA Z390 Dark gets ready to rocket up the OC leaderboards

Are you planning on a Coffee Lake build and have a penchant for massive overclocking? EVGA would like to show you its Z390 Dark motherboard. If the massive heatsinks atop it weren't enough of a clue, this circuit slab is packed to the gills with power-handling goodies, and pro overclocker Luumi has already used it to break the eight-core Cinebench R15 world record by pushing a Core i9-9900K to 6.987 GHz. If you bleed liquid helium and live for overclocking records, read on.

First up, the company says there's a 17-phase VRM sitting underneath all those heat sinks. The spice flows into it from a pair of eight-pin EPS connectors. There are only two DIMM slots sitting atop the CPU socket, likely to keep trace lengths as short as possible for maximum overclocking stability. We can also spot what appears to be an extra six-pin PCIe power connector on the board's lower left edge for keeping multiple graphics cards happy in extreme OC setups.

There are onboard power, reset, and clear-CMOS buttons for when you inevitably push the CPU too hard, along with two individual alphanumeric displays that can show temperature and voltage info coming in from multiple sensors scattered around the board.

For storage handling purposes, there are a total of eight SATA ports (six from the chipset and two from an ASMedia controller), as well as two M.2 sockets sitting underneath the main PCIe slot. Additionally, you'll find a U.2 connector, likely as a nod towards Optane SSDs. Network connectivity comes by way of two Intel-powered Gigabit NICs and dual-band Wi-Fi (presumably 802.11ac), once again stemming from an Intel chip. EVGA also mentions an E-key M.2 slot, though we figure that's taken up by the Wi-Fi card.

Should you be insane enough to use this board as a daily driver, EVGA puts a whopping six USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the back panel. Four Type-A ports come from the Z390 chipset, while another Type-A port and Type-C port run off an ASMedia controller.

The Z390 Dark will let you flash its BIOS without a CPU installed, and there are three BIOS chips because we know that somewhere, somehow, someone will manage to make two of them unbootable. A Creative Sound Core3D audio chip handles sound waves, and eight fan headers should be enough to control your entire house's cooling system.

There's yet no telling when the EVGA Z390 Dark will arrive or how much it'll cost. We figure that the dollar amount likely falls in the "if you have to ask" category.

Comments closed
    • Forge
    • 9 months ago

    Two ram slots. Meh. I know it’s for m4d Xtr3m3 0v3rcl0x0rz only, but sometimes you want a board you can run 24/7, and then break it down and strap an LN2 pot to it just for a weekend. Two ram slots isn’t enough. I give it one out of four Krogoth mehs.

      • techguy
      • 9 months ago

      You’re the only person that feels this way. Dedicated tools for given tasks is the only way to do it, unless you like wasting time.

    • ptsant
    • 9 months ago

    What kind of PSU has 2xEPS? Any examples you are aware of?

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 9 months ago

      The EVGA P2 1200 and some of the higher wattage seasonic prime PSUs are the ones I know about.

      • Bauxite
      • 9 months ago

      All the recent good modular seasonics I’ve seen have an 8pin output on the PSU that can be either PCIe or EPS, the cable determines the pinout on the other end. The top models have almost a dozen of these 8-pin 12V outs, granted you couldn’t fully load all at once even on a 1600W model.

      You are not supposed to use an adapter on the cable end to convert connections for various reasons, but the PSU side is fine if they design for it.

      Only the 850+ come with two EPS cables but you can always get your own. All of them come with a plethora of PCIe cables, usually some “splitter style” and some one-connector-only cables for the higher-draw cards.

        • ptsant
        • 9 months ago

        Thanks, I have the Seasonic Prime Titanium 750W and it doesn’t have 2xEPS. It being a high-end PSU, I was wondering which models have these. Nice to now.

    • jihadjoe
    • 9 months ago

    Why is the CMOS battery upside down lol

      • Chrispy_
      • 9 months ago

      To trigger people 🙂

      Not only is it upside down, it’s nearly (but not quite) horizontally aligned. Maybe two degrees off?

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 months ago

    I’m not in the market for these things but that is one nice looking board.

    Moving the DIMM slots to the top of the board would be a good idea for any board likely to be used with air coolers (amusingly this board probably won’t be used with air cooling) since it’ll reduce interference between the cooler’s fans and pointlessly-tall RGBLED memory heatspreaders.

    That also seems to mean that the 8-pin CPU power connector(s) can go right next to the 24-pin ATX connector, making everything more logical, neater to route and making them right-angled connectors is just icing on the cake.

    There are so many nice layout ideas on this board that would cost almost nothing to implement across the whole product range, but I suspect many of them will never end up on ordinary boards for the 99% of us.

      • Fieryphoenix
      • 9 months ago

      I also note that the spacing of the first PCIe slot and the m.2 slots is perfect for their customers who bought the three slot Ultra versions of this generation’s cards.

      • wizardz
      • 9 months ago

      it is indeed a very nice layout. all the power delivery is on the right/bottom side.
      maybe the right angle usb/fan headers at the bottom are going to be maybe a tight fit in some ATX cases..

      other than that i really like the layout..

    • DPete27
    • 9 months ago

    Z390 Dark Thirty.
    Did that jump out at anyone?

      • Mr Bill
      • 9 months ago

      L33t! But not till you pointed it out.

    • Shobai
    • 9 months ago

    Any idea what those two connectors above the RAM slots are for?

      • gmskking
      • 9 months ago

      Those are there if you want to SLI your motherboard. 🙂

      • Freon
      • 9 months ago

      Looks like SATA power, my last board had one of those for supplemental PCIe power. Maybe supplemental memory power?

        • jihadjoe
        • 9 months ago

        This. My board uses two of those to power extra on-board devices like SATA controllers.

      • juzz86
      • 9 months ago

      It’s called Probe-It – they turn into easier-to-use DMM monitoring points with a breakout cable.

    • G8torbyte
    • 9 months ago

    I also like the layout of this board with how they notch out the connections. I don’t aggressively OC just mild bump ups so I would probably go for EVGA’s other Z390 board-FTW. That one or MSI’s Z390 Tomahawk if I was to build a new platform.

    • Krogoth
    • 9 months ago

    This board is overkill unless you are going for a world-record suicide run Coffee Lake S overclock.

    Coffee Lake S overclocking is thermally limited(even water cooling is not enough) not power delivery limited on any decent over-engineered Z390 board.

      • techguy
      • 9 months ago

      It’s true. Still though, love the board design, and the RAM performance should be best-in-class. Also, having adequate VRM cooling is big for me, otherwise I have to go with a monoblock which is only good for this specific board. Most CPU blocks are reusable so buying a new one every time you change motherboards is not high on my list of things to do, especially since I change boards every/every other generation.

    • gmskking
    • 9 months ago

    This is how all motherboards should be laid out. Love the power connector locations. Only two RAM slots though?

      • Pulsar_the_Spacenerd
      • 9 months ago

      Using only 1 RAM channel helps with overclocking. This isn’t a motherboard for the majority of people.

        • gmskking
        • 9 months ago

        That makes sense. Still surprised they would do that.

          • Srsly_Bro
          • 9 months ago

          It’s intended for record overclocks. If two slots help achieve that, why would they have 4 when it will reduce the OC potential?

            • techguy
            • 9 months ago

            No idea why you’re being down-voted for this, EVGA makes these claims in their own marketing materials.

            • Srsly_Bro
            • 9 months ago

            My followers are showing their appreciation for me. I wish TR had a system like Facebook just so I can see who cares the most.

            Those same people would also advocate for a 4 door hypercar instead of 2.

        • synthtel2
        • 9 months ago

        They’re using two channels and one slot per channel, not two slots on one channel.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 months ago

      I have never used more than 2 slots of DDR in a machine. Back in the day, (~1997) I cobbled together 32MB of EDO RAM to make an ancient machine tolerable. We had a 21″ black/white monitor for desktop publishing that was great quality, but had a dedicated graphics card to power it. It was ISA (I Think) and didn’t work in any more modern machines, so we kept 1 machine in the lab running WIn3.1 and crammed as much RAM in it to make it semi-usable.

    • techguy
    • 9 months ago

    This board is still not available. Back when Z390 launched I decided this was the only board for me. Wake me up when its actually available.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 9 months ago

    Also some nerd OCed a 9900k to 7.0 on this board and got a little over 3k pts on R15.

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