EVGA Z590 Dark motherboard review: for extreme enthusiasts

Getting the most out of Intel’s Core i9-11900K relies mainly on two main factors: superior cooling for the chip itself and a solid motherboard serving as the foundation. And while motherboard makers such as EVGA can’t do anything against the former, they have had good experience with the latter.

Today we take a look at EVGA’s Z590 Dark motherboard, which puts EVGA’s experience to the test as one of the few LGA1200 motherboards designed for extreme overclocking. A Niche Market Within a niche market, few people really have the need (or the means) to overclock a processor to one centimeter of its lifespan. But for those who do, EVGA has developed a well-deserved reputation with its Dark Series cards for getting the most out of helping overclockers get the most out of their chips. And even for the rest of us who’ll never see a Rocket Lake chip go up to 6GHz, it’s interesting to see what it takes in terms of motherboard design and build to get the job done.

Overview of the EVGA Z590 Dark

EVGA occupies an unusual place in the larger motherboard market. The company has avoided low-end and mid-range motherboards altogether, choosing to focus on high-end cards. Example: among the few motherboards they currently offer, the main ones are Dark cards intended for extreme overclocking.

The bottom line is that while EVGA doesn’t make (or sell) a lot of cards, what they do stand out. And in the case of the Dark series (and therefore the Z590 Dark), it starts with downright over-engineered motherboards to equip them with much more (or much higher quality) components than is actually needed. For a motherboard to operate within its parameters, such as Intel’s default settings on processors, it doesn’t need things like ridiculously high phase counts to achieve this. But for extreme overclocking, that’s another matter.

Some might argue that overclocking isn’t as popular as it used to be, and to some extent it’s true. Due to Intel and AMD advancements in their methods and definitions of “turbo” and “boost”, this is no longer as fundamentally necessary as it used to be.

But don’t say that to the EVGA Z590 Dark. Going so far as to support aggressive sub-ambient CPU cooling methods such as Liquid Nitrogen (LN2) and Dry Ice (DICE), the EVGA Z590 Dark is a serious contender for those looking for maximum performance . An overclocker’s toolkit is designed to make subzero overclocking more accessible, including two Probelt voltage monitoring points and a dual two-digit LED debugger that can even read current VCore and processor temperatures. .

It uses a transposed LGA1200 socket for better mounting of the CPU potentiometer. Above the processor socket are two horizontally mounted memory slots with support for DDR4-5333 out of the box and a maximum capacity of 64GB, more than enough for anyone’s desktop system . Other fancy design features include right angle connectors including power connectors on the right side, USB connectors, and 4 pin fan connectors.

That said, not everything is for overclocking, so the Z590 Dark does come with a solid, fundamental set of features to boot. The storage is very varied with a PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, a PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2, a PCIe 3.0 x4 / SATA M.2, a rare PCIe 3.0 x4 U.2 slot and eight SATA ports. A high-end in-car audio solution and plenty of networking options with two 2.5GbE controllers and an Intel Wi-Fi 6 CNVi are also present. Other features include USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C connectivity on the rear panel via native support for the Z590 chipset, while the Z590 Dark also has four USB 3.2 G2 Type-A ports.

Referring to how the EVGA Z590 Dark performed in our testing, it showed that it was competitive with other Z590 cards we tested. It’s not as power efficient as some other Z590 models, but we did well in our POST time test, and it performed amazingly in our DPC latency tests. The performance of our compute and gaming benchmarks also shows that the Dark is competitive compared to the other models tested.

EVGA Z590 Dark undergoes our VRM thermal tests

When it comes to overclocking, which the EVGA Z590 Dark is primarily designed for, we admittedly didn’t see anything too special compared to other Z590 cards – but we “only” used a Corsair all-in-one. 360mm premium, rather than something more exotic. . Still, the EVGA OC Robot utility built into the firmware was able to provide us with an impressive stable overclock at 5.4 GHz, but with a VCore CPU of 1.541 V and a huge power consumption of 497 W. Pragmatically, this overclock worked with a lag of minus 3 on AVX workloads, which meant it passed our POV-Ray benchmark. Still, we’ve seen thermal throttling due to the insane amount of heat being generated. Power delivery thermals were also respectable, but we would have liked to see better thermal performance than we got given this board has an active cooling design.

Reflecting its high-end nature, the EVGA Z590 Dark is priced at $ 599. And surprisingly enough, that’s not too weird for a passionate grade overclocking motherboard in today’s market, especially when sizing other high-end cards. Still, motherboards like the MSI MEG Z590 Ace ($ 430) offer a much more comprehensive feature set with very competitive performance levels for users who won’t be applying dry ice to their processors. So where the Z590 Dark excels, it will be different from other high-end cards, and that’s something that suits EVGA perfectly.

Read on for our in-depth analysis.

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