EVGA P55 FTW LGA 1156 ATX Motherboard Review
Features, Layout, Included Extras
USB 2.0 Support
- A standard plug and play interface providing easy-to-use connectivity for USB devices.
PCI Express® 2.0 / 1.1 Support
- Allows 500MB a lane or up to 8 GB/s at 16x speeds - allows for full support for new PCI-E 2.0 graphics cards.
Serial ATA II
- Also known as SATA2, features a 3.0 Gbit/s transfer speed, faster than Standard Serial ATA.
- Offers a longer lifespan, better stability when at high frequencies, can operate at higher temperatures, and no longer runs the risk of exploding.
- Consist of a metal heatsink.
On-Board Clear CMOS Button
- An onboard clear CMOS button which allows you to easily clear your BIOS without moving a jumper.
On-Board Power Button with Integrated Power Light
- An onboard power button for easily powering on or off your system. Also shows a power indication light.
On-Board Reset Button with Integrated HDD Activity Light
- An onboard reset button for easily rebooting your system as well as gives current status of your HDD via an activity light.
On-Board Diagnostics LED Readout
- Helpful for when diagnosing a problem is needed.
2-Way SLI® Support
- Feel free to turn up the eye candy and experience the performance of 2 Graphics Cards running together.
Windows XP™ Support
- Windows Vista / Windows 7™ Support
- Full support for the latest in DDR technologies.
- Supports Dual-Channel memory configurations for increased amounts of system memory bandwidth.
Intel® Core i3, i5 and i7 Support
- With an integrated memory controller, Intel® Core i7 (Socket 1366) processors feature amazing performance for however you use your computer.
Delivers up to 600w of CPU Power
Packaging and Board layout
The P55 FTW comes gorgeously packaged in EVGA's custom black and grey marketing scheme for their high-end motherboards. They didn't include a shot of the motherboard itself on the front panel, but they did include logos for core i7, i5, and NVIDIA SLI.
The back panel has a laundry list of features and specifications and touts EVGA's three-year limited warranty. They also toute their free overclocking utility called ELEET and discuss their 90-day Step-Up program for those buyers who want to turn in their board and get credit toward another higher-end motherboard.
Our first impressions of the P55 FTW were very positive because I'm a sucker for black PCBs. I also liked the other color-coordinated items like DIMMs, PCI-E and PCI slots, passive heatsinks, and SATA ports. The board is pretty well designed and nothing seems crowded or out of place. They even included a small post code display and power and reset buttons onboard, which has become pretty common with high-end boards over the past few years.
The back I/O panel includes six USB 2.0 ports, dual Gigabit LAN jacks, eight channel audio, two eSATA ports, optical and coaxial audio out jacks, firewire, and one PS/2 keyboard port. They also added a clear CMOS button next to the USB ports on the left side of the I/O panel.
There are three PCI-E slots that run at x16, x8, and x4 speeds depending on how users configure their PCI-E devices. There are also one PCI-E x1 slot and two PCI slots. This is a pretty flexible configuration that should give users plenty of expandability options.
EVGA included a BIOS select switch that allows users to move between three different BIOS depending on which position this switch is in. This is a lot better than some dual-BIOS solutions that we've tested because they usually have to be changed inside the BIOS. I like the onboard solution better because it is easier to manipulate than searching through the BIOS to find the right option.
The reset, power, and clear CMOS buttons are pretty ordinary, but light up and do the job. They are located at the bottom of the motherboard so they might get covered by other USB or firewire wires. I prefer to have these buttons at the top of the motherboard because they usually are more accessible than at the bottom of the motherboard.
EVGA added an additional firewire header on the board itself for those users who want to add a second firewire port to the back of their PC via a firewire PCI add-on card.
If users max out the six USB 2.0 ports on the back I/O panel, they can always add six more USB 2.0 devices through the headers above.
Here's a quick shot of the post code LED display and front panel headers for the hard drive LED, power LED, power button, and reset button. I like how the front panel headers are color-coded and also included abbreviated names next to the pins because they make installation a lot simpler for new PC builders.
Here's a quick shot of the CFP V2 header to connect the included EVGA Control Panel V2. There is a picture of this external panel in the "Included Extras" section at the bottom of this page.
There are six SATA 3GB/s ports that support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10. They also support hot plug and Native Command Queuing.
These four DIMMs can be maxed out with 16GBs of DDR3 2600MHz memory, which is more than enough for most users. There are actually a few companies this year that have produced 16GB and 32GB DDR3 kits for memory-hungry consumers.
Lastly, the real estate around the CPU socket is pretty free and clear except for the talll passive heatsinks over the power components on the P55 FTW. There are also mounting holes for two types of third-party heatsinks -- LGA1156 and LGA775. Having the LGA775 mounting holes allows users to keep their favorite heatsink from their old systems and use it on their new LGA1156 processors.
One of the best things EVGA added to their bundled accessories was this awesome ECP V2 control panel. This external devices connects directly to the motherboard and gives users access to reset, power, and clear CMOS buttons as well as a nifty post code display. Users can also disable some of the PCI-E slots by removing jumpers and change the voltages on the VCore and VTT.
To give users more expandability options, EVGA added a nice PCI bracket that included two USB 2.0 ports and one firewire port. They also added an SLI bridge for dual video card configurations.
The bundled also has four SATA cables and two molex to SATA power connectors.
The backplate is grey and includes easy to read titles over each port. This is very handy because sometimes poeple have a difficult time plugging in the right devices to the right ports.
For documention, EVGA threw in a detailed installation guide and user manual. As a side note, I looked over these documents intensely throughout all my research and testing of this motherboard and I've never seen such detailed documentation in any motherboard I've reviewed in recent years. Kudos for including these products with all of EVGA's motherboards.
Lastly, there is a driver CD that includes all the software, drivers, and manuals a user will need to successfully get the P55 FTW working in their systems.