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Quite a few of the motherboards we have reviewed over the last month have been aimed at enthusiasts with a penchant for extreme overclocking. Today's review focuses on the EVGA X570 Dark that is more than the usual desktop AM4 motherboard. It's EVGA's first entry into the market for AMD's Ryzen processors, focusing on performance and overclocking more than most other X570/X570S boards currently available. Some of the EVGA X570 Dark's most notable features include two memory slots with support for DDR4-4800, dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2, eight SATA, dual 2.5 GbE, and support for Wi-Fi 6. Is EVGA, which had previously been an Intel and NVIDIA only deal until now enough to tempt you to the 'DARK' side?
EVGA X570 Dark Overview: Ryzen Goes Dark
Vince Lucido, who is better known globally by his KINGPIN brand, isn't just one of EVGA's key employees but is also one of the most famous extreme overclockers. Back on July 12th, he uploaded an image on his personal Facebook page with a picture of a new Dark series branded motherboard captioned “The red pill.” This interested the overclocking community, as Vince's creations are often used in achieving world records. The motherboard in the image not only displayed an AM4 socket but it showed something EVGA hasn't done since 2008; an AMD motherboard.
The EVGA X570 Dark teased by Vince “KINGPIN” Lucido on Facebook.
When EVGA offered us a sample of the X570 Dark to take a look at, I jumped at the chance to see what all the fuss was about. With it being EVGA's first AMD-based motherboard in over 12 years and not just at the entry-level or mid-range offering, EVGA drops its first motherboard for AMD Ryzen in at the deep end. Perhaps a combination of high confidence and successful motherboard launches on Intel's platforms, EVGA seemingly felt now was the time to bring its Dark series to the 'Dark' side.
Like its Intel flavored counterpart, the EVGA Z590 Dark, the X570 Dark follows many of the same design traits, with an RGB enabled logo built into the rear panel cover and a primarily black and silver design throughout. The EVGA X570 Dark also benefits from a passively cooled chipset consistent with other 'X570S' refresh models, which are all relatively new to the market. Perhaps the most notable of the aesthetical traits on the X570 Dark includes a transposed AM4 CPU socket, with the board's two available memory slots located horizontally across the top, which support up to DDR4-4800 and a maximum combined capacity of 64 GB.
Users wondering why so few memory slots for the size of the board (E-ATX), the memory slots have been designed for overclockers looking to try to break world records under sub-ambient cooling methods. The shorter tracks from the memory slots to the CPU socket should theoretically lower latencies for squeezing out those few extra benchmarking points.
Other design traits include a wide variety of right-angled power connectors and front panel headers around the board's edging, with an overclocker's toolkit in the top right-hand corner with dual two-digit LED debuggers power, etc. reset, Safeboot, and clear CMOS buttons. These are right-angled because they are less likely to get in the way during sub-zero record attempts, but for consumer use, larger cases are needed. Further towards the top left-hand corner is a Probelt voltage monitoring header, with cables to accurately monitor voltages in real-time supplied within the accessories bundle.
Looking at the core feature set, the EVGA X570 Dark includes a full deck of PCIe 4.0 support, including two full-length slots operating at x16 and x8/x8, a half-length slot electronically locked down to x4, and two PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slots. Other storage options include eight SATA ports, with six of these including support for RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays. On the controller front, the X570 Dark includes two premium 2.5 GbE controllers and also has support for Wi-Fi 6. The X570 Dark also offers two USB 3.2 G2 Type-C ports, one on the rear and one header, with four USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, and support for up to six USB 3.2 G1 Type-A and two USB 2.0 ports. EVGA also includes an older, yet still premium onboard audio solution which is assisted by one of its NU audio headphone amplifiers
Touching on the performance with is almost certainly EVGA's primary focus here, the X570 Dark performed creditably in all three areas of our testing, including system, compute, and gaming. Some users may be wondering why we've used an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X for our testing and not the flagship Ryzen 9 5950X, and the answer is simple, for comparison against other AM4 models tested. We saw no abnormalities in our power testing in our system tests, although the EVGA blitzed it in our POST time testing with one of the quickest boots into Window we've seen on AM4. In our compute and gaming tests, the EVGA X570 Dark, for the most part, came out on top in the majority in this testing. This shows EVGA has nailed down plenty of solid optimizations within the firmware, the hardware, and everything in between.
The clear focus from EVGA isn't just on making the best X570 board it could in terms of performance, but the X570 Dark is heavily engineered for overclocking. This is apparent in our testing, and the EVGA X570 Dark yielded some of the best potentials we've seen from ANY X570 board so far. We saw very tight levels of VDroop control on the CPU VCore with settings left on automatic, which shows EVGA's firmware is spot on. The biggest win for EVGA is that we managed a completely stable all-core overclock on our Ryzen 7 3700X of 4.4 GHz all-cores at 1.400 V on the CPU VCore. This is impressive and the only AM4 board we've tested so far that's managed to come close to this. On top of that, the VRM thermal performance is also one of the best we've seen, making the EVGA X570 Dark one of the best boards of this caliber we've seen so far.
The EVGA X570 Dark undergoing our VRM thermal testing
Considering the enormous bias on performance and extreme overclocking, the EVGA Dark X570's competition in the market comes from some of the more expensive X570 and X570S motherboards available. While the EVGA X570 Dark has an MSRP of $690, one of the competition models in this ballpark includes the latest ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme ($800), which has much more substance to it overall in both PCIe 4.0 and premium controllers but ultimately offers a much more well-rounded approach in terms of flagship AM4 models. For those interested, we also have the ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Extreme in for testing, and our review of this model is coming soon!
Where the EVGA X570 Dark displays its uniqueness, it's almost designed primarily for extreme overclocking. With such a high-quality pedigree in this market already with its Dark series, it remains of interest to see if extreme overclockers can maximize AMD's Ryzen 5000 further over the coming months. For all of its overclocking traits, it also caters to those looking to run less aggressive cooling types with a decent, albeit not so competitive, feature set compared to the price over other models on the market. It's time to put the EVGA X570 Dark to the test and see what all of the fuss is about.
Read on for our extended analysis.