EVGA Z77 FTW Review
As we always do, we take off the heatsinks to give this board a proper reviewing. At first glance, you noticed the PCI-E slots were numerous, however, you might have not noticed the PLX8747 because it's usually placed above the PCI-E slots. However EVGA moved it closer to the PCH so that it could be cooled with the same heatsink. However the issue with that is that the PEX8747 outputs about 8W on average and the Z77 PCH outputs about 6.7W. A total of 14.7W, 15W, needs to be cooled by a small heatsink and that is why EVGA used a fan. The fan isn't loud usually, but it isn't optimal for a quiet system.
So EVGA doesn't advertise it, maybe they just didn't know, but the IR3550 are some of the best MOSFETs to be found on a motherboard to date other than DirectFETs. Better than Volterra 45A power stages, the 60A IR3550 are extremely powerful, and can do 50A output at 90% efficiency. They are so powerful that EVGA only needs 7 of them for the CPU VCore, and allowing full range of switching frequency on top of that. On average when you OC and set multiplier control EVGA increase the switching frequency to 800KHz, that should add a lot of heat, however the heatsink isn't hot but rather warm to the touch at 4.8ghz. The PWM in charge is the CHL8328 which is a 7+1 phase PWM, which can actually work at 8+0 mode, but EVGA opted to use 7+1 which is odd because they could have used 8+0 with the same PWM count, but just 1 extra IR3550 and inductor. However IR3550w are expensive and that might be why they didn't add an extra. On other boards with IR3550, manufacturers only use 6 or 8 as the output is more than enough and costs are much as 12 to 16 phase VRMs, so 7 is an acceptable number. Two 8-pin connectors are used here, to make sure power input isn't obstructed. The iGPU uses one un-heatsinked IR3550. A mixture of tantalums and can-types are used. Tantalums are better for cold temps than can-types.
This VRM is one of the best EVGA has made; in 7 phases it easily rivals the 10 phase Volterra VRM from the X58 Classified (that says a lot).
Two IR3553 are used for VCCIO and VCCSA power, you can see them on the left side as they are thinner. One PWM a CHL8325 is a 4+1 phase PWM which runs only these two phases. That means that EVGA could have routed each IR3553 to its own output, and thus total control over each voltage rail independently is then possible.
Here is the memory VRM employing two IR3553 which are 40A variants. The CHL8325 is the same as the other CHL8325 and thus is a 4+1 phase PWM, but only 2 of its phases are being used for the memory. In the above picture we also see a Nuvoton NCT7802, there are two of these on the board as well as Fintek SuperIO, and this is what gives the very thorough fan control through the UEFI.
Here is that voltage read point connector.
The BIOS holder which you see above as opened is really cool. Having 3 ROMs is already over the top, but the fact you can replace on it needed is really cool. There are some jumpers here, the one where it says Dark Mode can turn off the LEDs (except POST Code).
The PEX8747 switch is very useful for the Z77 FTW as it helps expand the lanes.
There are also 12 PCI-E quick switches, ASM1480, which are PCI-E 3.0 certified and can switch 2x in two different directions.
Above is the diagram of how the lanes are distributed. This way provides a total of 32+8 PCI-E lanes as when you feed the PEX8747 8x you will still get 32x output. This method also provides 16x native to bypass the PLX bridge which can cause latency.
Here we have a Fintek F71889A which is a SIO which provides some fan control as well as voltage monitoring. A Realtek ALC898 provides 8 channel audio.
These are two Marvell 88E8059 which are 1Gb/s NICs. EVGA also employed a Marvel SE6121 for eSATA revision II. They also used an ASMedia ASM1042 for extra USB 3.0 on the backpanel.