In this review we looked at the EVGA Z790 Dark and is virtually identical to the previous EVGA Z690 Dark that we previously reviewed. In fact, most of the Dark series motherboards share some sort of common thread indicating that the engineers are simply tweaking the previous design for chipset compatibility.
As with most modern motherboards the EVGA Z790 Dark doesn’t come with a plethora of additional accessories. You’ll get the minimal components to make the motherboard work. The motherboard supports a number of high-end onboard features like USB Type-C, High-quality audio and WiFi but, has dropped onboard video sockets. Storage on the Z790 Dark is above what you would normally find with up to eight SATA sockets and a total of three M.2 Sockets under an extremely good factory heatsink.
But, What is the Point?
What I have always found interesting about the “Rotated” Dark motherboards is that they seem to be pushing the limit with each subsequent release. The Z390 Dark was pretty basic and came with a HUGE VRM cooler, good audio and kept everything simple. In fact, it looked like an overclocking motherboard. As the series expanded, so did the design to include façade parts to dress up the motherboard when then moved the board from a purpose-built product to a “wanna-be” motherboard which not only competes with their own Z790 Classified but costs more money and is, arguably, not as good.
But the dark is designed for overclocking right?? Yes, it even has stored memory overclocking profiles in the BIOS to help get you started. These profiles remind me of what ASUS does on the ROG boards and allow you to see what they change to get the published overclocking records. Does having these profiles justify the extra cost?? No.
In my opinion the two motherboards are basically the same thing, neither of them have any true message or any reason to exist as separate products and what does separate them is SO niche that it doesn’t matter. Sadly, the Z790 Dark (featured in this review) and Z790 Classified are like that car you modified so much that it becomes undrivable. It might be the fastest thing at the drag strip or take home trophies from the shows but is completely unsuited as a personal daily driver.
Some of what makes this motherboard great can also be its biggest detractor. The most obvious is the size of the motherboard and at 11inches wide will require a pretty big case to install it correctly. The 90-degree power sockets will give you grief when using a “smaller” case so keep that in mind when planning your build. Of course, when this board is on the bench the cable orientation isn’t a big deal and is actually quite nice.
While I usually try to paint the products, I review in a positive light I was left with a rather underwhelming impression of the Z790 Dark. With that, I will also mention that the main reason for it to exist is memory overclocking and general performance tuning. This is quickly becoming a lost art and I applaud EVGA for keeping it alive and hope they continue. However, with that being said, the EVGA motherboard lineup has been suffering from stagnation for several release cycles, the boards are largely the same, they cost too much and seem to only cater to the EVGA enthusiasts and not the larger population.
Overall, would I buy this board? Yes. But, I’m also a little special in what I want from a motherboard. Could EVGA just as easily make the Dark series a stripped down Mini ITX or Micro ATX design? Possibly, there might be an issue making the monster VRM to fit however, there are plenty of Mini ITX motherboards that set memory performance records and they would be exposing the board to a larger market while still keeping with what makes the Dark special.
It will be interesting to see what happens, until then keep your clocks high and temps low.
Oversized VRM Cooler with Active Cooling Backplate!
Unique Motherboard Shape
Great Out of Box Performance
Excellent Memory Performance
Black on Black on Gold Color Scheme
Awesome UEFI Menus
8000Mhz+ DDR5 Performance
Drivers on Flash Drive
Finally Less Exposed Copper
VRM is heavy!
Some 90-degree power connections are difficult to access in a case
Board struggles to have an identity